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The Act Of Union Between Ireland And Britain History Essay

Info: 1292 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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The Act of Union between Ireland and Britain brought the end of the Irish Parliament and created a new political unit known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This union completed the process of political unification of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Following that those states were now governed by one parliament at Westminster in London. The members of the new parliament were exclusively Anglican and neither Catholics nor members of other religions could be members of the Parliament. In addition, it was forbidden for peasants or lower class people to vote, as well as women could not vote or to be elected as members of the parliament.

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Daniel O’Connell was born in 1775 at Cahirciveen, County Kerry. The family of O’Connell were minor Catholic landowners. Daniel O’Connell was adopted by his wealthy uncle at early age. He was sent to France to the school of St. Omer and Dauai where he was receiving a Catholic education until 1792 [1] and with the rise of French Revolution was transferred to school in London. He was a witness of the violent French Revolution which left him with a lifelong distain for violence. In 1792, when careers in law had been opened to Catholics O’Connell attended Lincoln’s Inn in London and then King’s Inn in Dublin, before he became a member of the Irish Bar in April 1798 [2] . He was a member of the United Irishmen and at the same time as he joined a Lawyers’ Artillery yeoman corps in Dublin, organized to discourage revolution. Daniel O’Connell was opposed to the use of violent force during the Revolution of 1798.

Daniel O’Connell, the great leader of the Irish Catholic movement, was disappointed with the Act of Union between England and Ireland set in 1800. But it was not until 1830’s that there was formed a campaign of a repeal for the Act of Union. O’Connell was an opponent of the Act of Union since the Act was signed between Ireland and Britain in 1800. Between 1800 and 1830’s Daniel O’Connell was trying to get people together to fight against that reform. He wanted Ireland to be a sovereign state, without any dependence of Britain: ‘My first object is to get Ireland for the Irish.’ [3] , as by the Act of Union, Irish Catholics were deprived of some civil and political rights.

Thus in 1811 O’Connell established the Catholic Board which campaigned only for the Catholic Emancipation and became an opportunity for Irish Catholics to become Members of Parliament. But the Union of Great Britain and Protestant Ireland saw Ireland as a Protestant island rather than Catholic; therefore the Catholic middle classes were refused their full political rights. In April 1829 the Catholic Emancipation Act was put through the parliament. The Act allowed Catholics to sit as ministers at Westminster; Catholics were eligible for all public offices except the higher ones; Irish regulations of Forty Shilling Freehold qualifications was to be raised to £10 householder, which minimised the number of peasant votes. Nevertheless O’Connell accepted the Act. However, he was now seen as a traitor in the eyes of peasants.

In 1823 there was formed a movement called the Catholic Association with Daniel O’Connell as their leader. Catholic agents were acting as recruiting agents by calling peasants into the movement. Catholic peasants accepted O’Connell’s invitation to join the movement by paying a shilling per year. Daniel O’Connell was promising people of Ireland to free the state and Irish people will have their own land. He believed that democracy was the step into future. Daniel O’Connell was against the violent force on people or government. The French Revolution of 1789 and Irish Rebellion of 1798 left him with a lifelong distain for violence. O’Connell’s main principle of giving freedom to Irish people and freedom to Ireland was the nonviolent struggle for political change.

Fighting for the civil and political rights for Irish Catholics, Daniel O’Connell shifted his agitation campaign to the repeal of the Act of Union. For the abolition of the Act of Union, O’Connell formed another political organization based on religious and common Irish national antagonism. Nevertheless, many upper and middle-class allies had different views on the repeal question. O’Connell believed that England was ignoring the history of Ireland, using the land and people of Ireland for its own purposes. ‘Alas! England, that ought to have been to us as a sister and a friend- England, whom we had loved, and fought and bled for- England, whom we have protected, and whom we do protect…- England stole upon us like a thief in the night, and robbed us of the precious gem of our Liberty..’ [4] English government was doing so, as it was trying everything it could to stop O’Connell’s attempts at rallying the Irish people for the Repeal of the Act of Union.

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There was doubt that O’Connell would have launched the campaign with a great success without the support of Irish peasants. Nevertheless, on the first meeting of the Repeal Association on 15 April 1840 only about fifty people attended. Robert Peel accounted later the Repeal movement as ‘a failing concern’. To gain some support and gather people O’Connell a small group of so called O’Connell’s key lieutenants consisting mainly of his family and friends. To bring the attention of the Catholic population, O’Connell held ‘monster meetings’, meetings where he was giving speeches where he promised to free Irish people and Ireland from British rule. Numbers of meeting were held around Ireland. The first ‘monster meeting’ took place in Trim, Co. Meath, on 16 March 1843, where 30000 people attended. Repeal meetings were held in Limerick, Sligo, Mullingar, Cork and many more where O’Connell was addressing to people about freedom and self-government, Catholic state and o dependence from Britain.

As well as during the Emancipation campaign, during the Repeal agitation, O’Connell managed to keep Ireland quiet. Though, people of Ireland wanted to use force and violence against Britain, they did not want to tolerate the oppression of the Protestant law courts and police force. During the Emancipation campaign O’Connell hoped for great things for Irish Catholics, but his hopes were only partly released, whereas during the Repeal campaign he knew from the very beginning that his policy will be a failure, but still hoped and made people home for the independence and Ireland within its power. The parties of Tories and Whigs were maintaining the position of Protestant dominance in Ireland and could not let Catholics to the office. However, in 1834 general election the Whigs lost their overall majority and were forced to collaborate with O’Connell if they wished to stay within government. As a result the Protestant government was broken and Catholics were appointed to the civil service, the judiciary and high posts in a police force.

British politics were looking at the Repeal Association with


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