Random Ramblings from a Republican
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Parnell's Years of Prominence

Parnell's time spent in the British Parliament helped many Protestant landowners and members of the Ascendancy realise their Irish heritage and value it. National aspiration for self determination spread across the land owners of Ireland, not reaching many, but still enough to shake the establishment. This seems rather counter-productive considering Parnell's agitation against the landlord class. He demanded the 3 F's: fair rent, freedom to sell, and fixed tenure. The agrarian masses gathered around this great figure, the president of the Land League. He became known as the "uncrowned king of Ireland," a term which originally was used to describe the "Liberator" Daniel O'Connell.

For a man of his renowned status in Parliament, Parnell was not much of a speaker. However, his strength lie in his ability to organise and plan things never before perceivable for Irish MPs. All of his MPs voted as one block on all issues, forming a unified front. If it were not for this unity, the Home Rule Party would have been fractured as the many Irish parties before it.

Parnell's involvement in the Land League put him in prison on numerous occasions. His colleagues in that organisation also suffered prison terms of varying lengths. These men included John Dillon, William O'Brien, and Tim Healy.

Meanwhile, the First Home Rule Bill was brought to the Commons in 1886. By this time, some of the most prominent political figures of Ireland were under the umbrella of the Irish party. Some of these included: Dillion, O'Brien, Michael Davitt, and Swift MacNeill, amongst many others. The bill these politicians attempted to push thru the House of Commons was squashed. It would take another 7 years to gain the necessary alliances within the Commons to pass the Home Rule bill.

In 1882, an event that the British media tried to pin on Parnell occurred; the Phoenix Park murders. The Times, in 1887, presented documents that implicated Parnell in the murders of Chief Secretary for Ireland Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary T.H. Burke. These men were killed by Fenian extremists, who acted on their own whim and were denounced later on.

Forgeries penned by Richard Piggott, an anti-Parnell journalist, were exposed as such and Parnell was vindicated. Piggott would eventually kill himself after the wave of charges rained down on him from the courts. A commission set to try Parnell on the murder charges freed him, and he won his libel case in the British courts.

In 1893, a Home Rule Bill was introduced in the Commons which called for a bicameral legislature which held almost no power. It would only have powers of local legislation and would still be overruled by Westminster at any whim. The bill eventually was passed by the Commons and mercilessly dumped by the Lords.

*Tomorrow, Parnell's fall and the split of the Irish party. 
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Ta ar la anois.

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