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Ireland

Diary entry for 10 June 1824 (Ne 2F/1/1 pp 198-199)

A committee of the H. of Lords to enquire into the state of Ireland in the disturbed districts is now sitting - It has already made a short report, stating that it will be necessary to reinforce the Insurrection act - No other report will be made this Sessions [sic] - I have been assured by a most intelligent & well informed Member of the Comm[itt]ee that nothing more has been done to repress Ireland than is absolutely necessary & indeed that more might have been done - that the great misfortune is absenteeship, that at one time, during the war [with France] few local Magistrates could be found, that now they are very scarce, & that in Some districts none are to be had, that the want of proper Magistrates led to the appointment of unfit persons who abused their trust, but that wherever a breach has been discovered there the offender has been dismissed - that it must end in some measure to commit the Magistracy to persons selected & paid for the purpose with such a salary as to make it worth the while of a proper man to under take it - The benefits which have resulted to Ireland from the Union greatly outweigh the disadvantages, almost the only disadvantage is the inducement to Irish members of Parl[iamen]t and others to resort to England & in many in stances to Reside almost entirely here - The advantages are too numerous to recount - The participation in all the prosperity of England, a consolidation of the Exchequer, free trade & intercourse with England, an unrestricted interchange of resources of every kind and in short a treatment & consideration of Ireland upon the Same footing and as an integral part of Great Britain - Without the Union Ireland would have become a Roman Catholic country & have been lost to England, the 40s freeholders would soon have accomplished this - A Viceroy is highly desirable, without such a one there would be no means of upholding good and repressing evil, (Supposing the Viceroy a good one;) Dublin has lost greatly by the Union, the removal of the Viceroy would be the ruin of the Town - It is supposed that L[or]d Wellesley has done more mischief & less good than any L[or]d L[ieutenan]t who Ever preceded him - But for the benefit of Dublin the Ld Lt Should frequently hold Courts & give entertainments - for every £1000 that he spends £100,000 would be spent by others - There will probably be a struggle before long, the contemptible & divided policy of Ministers has brought this on, they have much to answer for before God & their country -

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All debates on Ireland in the nineteenth century were conducted with reference to the Act of Union of 1800. The Union signalled the end of the Irish Parliament, which was abolished.

In its place, Ireland was represented at Westminster (after 1 January 1801) by 100 M.P.s in the House of Commons and 28 Irish representative peers (chosen by election) in the House of Lords. Before the passage of the Catholic Relief Act in 1829, Catholics could vote in parliamentary elections but could not stand as M.P.s, unless they were willing to subscribe to the Protestant oaths taken when assuming their seat.

Between the 1820s and the 1840s, there was a series of pressing political, social and cultural tensions between Britain and Ireland. Newcastle's diary entry here provides a useful summary of some of them: the law and order issue; absenteeism on the part of landowners and magistrates; and the divided policies of governments which tried to resolve Ireland's political problems.

Supporters of the Union, like Newcastle, were quick to note the many benefits which Ireland had gained through its connection with Britain. For them, the Union had provided Britain with the means to secure Ireland from Catholic domination.

 

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