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Partition of Ireland did not begin with the events of 1916

It is more than ironic that while urging us “not to mix up historical fact with propaganda”, Liam MacFadden (April 25) indulges in quite a lot of historical revisionism himself. 

His claim that “In 1801, we signed up to go into union with Britain” is both factually incorrect — the vote of The Parliament of Ireland took place in 1800 — and grossly misleading in that no popular vote of the people ever took place. Ireland was carried into the union by a parliament where only Anglicans were permitted to sit and for which only wealthy Catholics were allowed to vote.

This was hardly an exercise in democracy in a country where the majority of the population were impoverished Catholic, with many Presbyterians in Ulster.

His comment that Home Rule was granted in 1914 but “postponed until cessation of fighting with Germany” is equally suspect. The third Home Rule Bill was passed by the House of Commons on May 25, 1914, by a majority of 77 votes. Britain’s war with Germany did not begin until August. Rather than receiving royal assent and being passed into law, it was resistance from Carson and the Irish Unionist Party, along with their Tory allies, that initially prevented the bill from being enacted. Their success can be judged from the fact that by early July, British prime minister HH Asquith was forced to exclude the six counties from the territory of the new Irish parliament and to agree to their continued governance from Westminster.

It is here that the partition of Ireland has its genesis, not in the events of 1916 or subsequent years. The argument about Home Rule is irrelevant anyway as Irish independence was never available through the Home Rule Acts and the Home Rule envisaged by Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party was limited to routine domestic matters with no capacity to conduct international affairs, managed finances or control armed forces.

Finally 1916 was not the year when “men of violence took up arms” in this country. For several years before this, the Tory establishment in Britain backed the creation of the UVF, a standing army ready to block Home Rule by violent means and armed them to the teeth with German Weapons. Over 25,000 rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition were landed at Larne in 1914. “Larne begat Dublin,” succinctly concluded The Glasgow Observer in 1916.

Kevin P. McCarthy,

8 Meadowlands,

Headford,

Killarney,

Co. Kerry.


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