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Five million Irish

Tory diehards 100 years ago exhibited the same kind of passion against Home Rule as they did against Maastricht

By John Major   May 2000

The aftermath of the crumbling of the Belfast (“Good Friday”) agreement is a good moment to look again at the three Home Rule Bills which dominated British policy towards Ireland in the 30 years before 1914. Edward Pearce’s book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the political passions which dominate the Emerald Isle. He describes the visceral response to Home Rule from a strand of Conservative opinion which was convinced that the British empire itself would flounder if Gladstone’s Irish policy succeeded. (There are echoes here of the more extreme opposition to Irish policy over the last decade,…

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