"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle


The Home Rule Crisis 1912 – 1914

20th Century Ireland



Unionist Opposition to 3rd Home Rule Bill



In 1886 & 1893, the Home Rule Party had unsuccessfully attempted to force Home Rule onto the table of British politics. The House of Lords, many of whom had connections with Ireland and were generally steadfast supporters of the British Empire, refused to allow it to pass. On both occasions, it was vetoed by the House of Lords.

In 1911, The Parliament Act (1911) was passed. This reduced the veto of the House of Lords to a delay, effectively ending the House of Lords blocking of Home Rule. the 3rd Home Rule Bill was tabled in the House of Commons in 1912.

Unionist Reaction:

Realising that the House of Lords could no longer guarantee the security of Unionism in Ireland, Edward Carson and 470,000 Unionists in the north of Ireland signed the Solemn League & Covenant in September, 1912. In this declaration, they declared that they would use:

“…any means necessary…”

to prevent the introduction of Home Rule in Ireland. Unionists feared Home Rule for three reasons:

  1. As Unionists were mostly Protestant, they felt that they would become a minority in a Catholic-dominated Home Rule Ireland.
  2. Unionists were proud of their association with the British Empire and felt it was their duty to protect its integrity in Ireland.
  3. Unionists feared that the industrialised areas of the north of Ireland, such as Belfast, would suffer economically from the breaking up/ weakening of the union between Ireland & UK.


  • The Ulster Volunteer Force


  • The Irish National Volunteer Force


  • Gun-Running at Larne (UVF)


  • Howth Gun-Running (IVF)

Comments are closed.