3rd Year: Irish Independence: The Home Rule Crisis

John Redmond, leader of
the "Home Rule" Party
Main Page: The Struggle for Independence

By the end of the 19th century (which you studied last year), Irish politicians were campaigning for Home Rule for Ireland. This would have given Ireland control over its internal affairs, while Britain would remain in charge of external affairs such as foreign policy. In 1905, the Sinn Féin party was founded by Arthur Griffith. He proposed a "dual monarchy" - the British King would also be a separate King of Ireland. Most people in Ireland supported the idea of Home Rule, and after several attempts by sympathetic British governments, it was finally promised in 1914...

...but then World War I broke out, and everything was put on hold. Meanwhile, some people in Ireland were turning to a new idea. Instead of just Home Rule, they wanted Ireland to be completely independent of Britain. They wanted a republic. Not to mention that quite a lot of people, especially in Ulster, wanted Ireland to stay inside the United Kingdom, and vowed to fight Home Rule at any cost.

With the war dragging on, and people becoming impatient, what was going to happen?

Continue to The Easter 1916 Rising

  • How to explain nationalism and unionism.
  • Redmond and Home Rule.
  • The Labour movement and the 1913 Lock-Out.
  • How the Home Rule bill was passed.
  • Why unionists were opposed to Home Rule.
  • Carson and the Solemn League and Covenant.
  • Why Redmond encouraged Irish people to fight in World War I.

Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)


Edward Carson, leader of the Irish Unionist Party
A Unionist living in Ulster around 1912-14

This question hasn't been asked recently in an exam, but that doesn't mean it can't be next time.

  • This is a first person question, so introduce yourself: "I am a unionist living in Belfast...". What do you believe Ireland should be? Be a member of the Unionist Party!
  • Once that's done, talk about why you oppose Home Rule. Trade, land, and religion would be your three main reasons here. Explain them.
  • On the subject of religion, don't forget that Home Rule is Rome Rule. Explain what this means.
  • Since you feel so strongly about this, you are helping to organise resistance to the Home Rule bill. You went to Carson's demonstration and you've also signed the Ulster Covenant. Explain each of these things.
  • Next, you've joined the Ulster Volunteer Force. What is that? Why did you join? Do the nationalists have a similar group? Maybe you've been to Larne. What's going on there?
  • War has broken out in Europe so everything is on hold. Here you can talk about how you're going to fight in the war for Britain. Why did unionists do that?

So, in short...

  1. Introduce yourself and explain your beliefs.
  2. Talk about why you oppose Home Rule.
  3. Home Rule is Rome Rule. What does that mean?
  4. Talk about organising resistance: Carson's demonstrations, the Ulster Covenant.
  5. Talk about joining the Ulster Volunteer Force.
  6. Finish up by talking about going to fight in Europe for Britain.

  • write about Carson or Craig. You're not writing about a leader, you're writing about a person who follows them.
  • write about anything irrelevant (unimportant): for example, don't give too much information about what the nationalists are doing. You're writing as a unionist, so that's where your focus should be.

Watch out for bias, prejudice and propaganda!

The Home Rule Crisis 1910-14 
This page has information on the Home Rule Crisis from the Unionists' point of view. It has short biographies of Edward Carson and James Craig, and has information on the key events of the crisis, such as the Parliament Act, the Ulster Covenant and the outbreak of World War I.

Home Rule and Ireland 
This page looks at how the Home Rule campaign played out in the House of Commons in Westminster (the British parliament).

BBC History: Irish Home Rule 
This page is bigger than the other two, but has a lot of background information which isn't part of the course but might still be of interest to you. Information is divided into headings, such as Origins of the Movement, Optimistic Predictions and Cultural Battlegrounds (how the Unionists feared that Home Rule would be Rome Rule).

The Labour Party: Centenary
As the Labour Party celebrates its centenary (100th anniversary) in 2012, it has launched a website dedicated to it. This website has the story of the Labour Party, an interactive timeline of its history, videos, and other features. Keep in mind that this is a group writing about its own history, so beware of bias.