By I. Gibbons

This booklet examines the speedily evolving dating among the British Labour celebration and the rising Irish nationalist forces, from which was once shaped the 1st executive of the Irish unfastened country as either metamorphosed from competition in the direction of changing into the governments in their respective states.

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Over that period, this British Labour and Irish Nationalism, 1914–1921 39 form of exclusivist and separatist militant nationalism totally eclipsed the traditionalist constitutional imperial nationalism of John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party. It is surely one of the major ironies of Irish history that unionist obduracy ultimately ensured that the majority of the island ended up outside the United Kingdom. At the outset of the First World War, British Labour Party policy on Ireland was strongly influenced by its role as an adjunct to, and pressure group on, the Liberal government.

The Government of Ireland Act is a reflection of this, illustrating a recognition by the Conservative-dominated coalition government that account had to be taken of Ulster unionist fears and a debt had to be repaid for the unionist alliance with the Tories against the Liberals in the years immediately before the war. The unionists, however, were initially suspicious of what was being offered to them – status as a semi-detached part of the United Kingdom with their own local parliament – but quickly realised the opportunity for protection and self-survival that it provided (as long as it controlled only six rather than nine counties).

1 At the 1918 Labour Party conference, Ireland was the subject of a specific resolution. e. 2 The debate was notable not for the interest shown in Ireland (only five speakers contributed) but for an amendment which for the first time stated the Sinn Fein position at a Labour Party conference. Moved by N. S. 3 This was the first time this phrase had been used at a Labour Party conference, and although the amendment was defeated, it signified a growing difference of opinion inside the party between those who believed that Irish national aspirations could be met inside the United Kingdom, or at least the Empire, and those to whom ‘self-determination’ implied complete separation in the Sinn Fein sense.

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