AN ULSTER VIEW OF HOME RULE.
One of the most difficult features of th< problem of how hest to settle the Iris! question, nay, we might write the most difficult feature, is the fact that Irishmen themselves entertain diametrically opposite views on the subject. There i£ one powerful party which ascribes all the ills of Ireland to the fact that she is governed from Westminster by a Parliament the great bulk of whose members are supremely ignorant ol Ireland's wantß and Ireland's feelings, and many of whom regard Irish matters as an unmitigated nuisance, while others treat them and the wrongs of Irishmen with supreme indifference. According to this party the true remedy is to relegate the management of purely Irish affairs to Irishmen themselves, by granting some form of Home Kule and restoring the Parliament of College Green.. Another powerful party declares that Home Rule spells anarchy, and that England would but abandon the island to internecine disorder if she took the step which Mr Gladstone urges and for which the Parnellite party are contending and plotting and intriguing. The case of the Home rulers has often been ably and eloquently put forward, but it is not often that that for the other side is so clearly stated as m a letter addressed to the Bight Hon W. E . Gladstone the other day by a correspondent signing " Robert Mctfeagh," which appears m the columns of the " Weekly Northern Whig," a journal published at Belfast. The following is the text :— " Sir, — A warm sympathiser with the men of '98, and an apologist, to some extent, of the men of '48, I take the liberty of addressing the revered political chief to whom for more than thirty years I gave unwavering allegiance. You have frequently, reproached the men of Belfast and Ulster with political degeneracy and apostasy from the revolutionary principles ot their grandfathers. It is true that the grandfathers of many Ulstermen were rebels and Republicans — not the majority, however-^and that their grandfathers are to-day sincerely loyal to the Throne, and attached to Imperial rule ; but, sir, are there no extenuating circumstances m the altered state of the political position to moderate the severity of your condemnation, and to soften your resentment ? We Ulstermen think there are, if from this one consideration only— that, though we cherish the memory of our ancestors and the principles they contended for, and would emulate their virtues and public spirit, yet (tempora mutantur et noa mutamur m Mis) we feel utterly bereft ot the incentives to disaffection and digloyalty whioh goaded them to insurrection. The commercial and manufacturing restrictions that oppressed our grandfathers have long since been abolished, and our trades and industries are now unfettered and free ; the civil and religious disabilities they groaned under have all been swept away ; the tithe system that galled them is a thing of the old past ; no State Church now lords it, and extorts reluctant tribute ; complete religious equality exists, and religious animosities are fast dying away ; our educational privileges are unsurpassed, and within reach of the poorest classes j our Parliamentary representation exceeds proportionately that of any other part of the United Kingdom, and we have the protection oi the ballot ; and, above all, the occupiers of the soil hold their homesteads and farms— not, as their fathers did, at the pleasure or caprice of a despotic landlord, under cruel arbitrary exactions and degrading serfdom, but as joint owners m the land they till, with a fixed and secure tenure, subject only to a rent which is equitably determinate. All these vast reforms — with so many of which your own name will be for ever associated — amounting m themselves to a glorious revolution, our fathers longed to see, but only saw far off m dim hope and m the set purpose to work towards them ; but we, their more fortunate sons, who have secured these great blessings, and shall transmit them as an inheritance to onr children, are not ungrateful for them, nor uninfluenced by them, nor unmindful that they have been, every one of them, obtained through Imperial legislation. Yes; Ulster has gained all our fathers fought and bled for, and has thriven and prospered under the United Parliament. Her capital, Belfast, has grown m population since the days of our grandfathers from a small town of some 15,000 inhabitants to * stately city of some quarter of a million ; and has advanced, without State aid or patronage, simply under Imperial protection, from the humble condition of a petty resort of coasting trade to the high, rank of third port of revenue m the United Kingdom, surpassed only by London and Liverpool If Ulstermen, then, have realised all, and more than all, the highest aspirations of their grandfathers fqr a clear stage for th.eir energies and enterprise, and if theirexertions have beep crowned with unparalleled success, why should they renew a wail of lamentation which has long since been drowned m a proan of gratitude and gladness ? No, we would not reverse the past, and we cannot ignore the present. The muskets of '98 have been beaten into ploughshares, and the pikes into pruning hooks, and the cursed arts of civil war have been abandoned for the bleßsed industries of peace. And that mockery, an Irish Parliament— the most bigoted and incompetent and corrupt that ever befooled a people — has gone to the limbo of such rotten institutions, and with, \t the intolerant religjou.B ascendancy " 'ijus sns^ained jt, atip] that w*s m tqra sustained by it. flut, sir, reverse ati this —-force a Dublin Parliament on Ulstermen. anew, and so re-establish a more ignorant and intolerant ascendency, and it will soon be seen that the spirit of the sires yet lives m the sons, and that Ulstermen have still m them the stuff] to make rebels." Those who hold/ opposite views on the $om,e Ruje. question, }o type p^t forth by M? M pijje'agh ara not at all likely to be convinced by his statement of, the case, bait nevertheless it is not to be denied that he presents m a ve^y clear light a nu.mber of benefits which can be set as a f&r twfr'4 to the ills that Ireland has suffered at the hands of her English rulers.
Permanent link to this item
AN ULSTER VIEW OF HOME RULE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2040, 18 January 1889
AN ULSTER VIEW OF HOME RULE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2040, 18 January 1889
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.