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Unsettled Island: Irish Nationalism, Unionism, and British Imperialism in the Shaping of Irish Independence, 1909-1922

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Unsettled Island: Irish Nationalism, Unionism, and British Imperialism in the Shaping of Irish Independence, 1909-1922

Rast, Michael Christopher (2017) Unsettled Island: Irish Nationalism, Unionism, and British Imperialism in the Shaping of Irish Independence, 1909-1922. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the convoluted process by which Irish nationalists, Irish unionists, and British politicians negotiated Irish self-government in the first two decades of the twentieth century. In December 1909, a modest form of self-government known as home rule within the British Empire for all of Ireland became a practical issue in United Kingdom politics again, after the failure of two previous home rule bills in 1886 and 1893. After a decade that witnessed a world war and a revolution in Ireland, two new Irish polities emerged by June 1922. Northern Ireland, a majority-unionist state comprised of six counties in the province of Ulster, acquired a limited form of home rule within the United Kingdom. Covering the rest of the island, the Irish Free State secured significant control of its domestic affairs as a dominion of the British Empire, though not the complete independence demanded by Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which had waged the revolution.
How did the main political parties and actors in Britain and Ireland arrive at this settlement, especially as it was so different from how elites had envisioned Irish self-government in 1909? Using archival material and public discourse, this dissertation seeks to answer this question by methodically analyzing the political decisions taken by British and Irish political parties and movements between 1909 and 1922. It challenges historical conceptions that the settlement enacted by the Government of Ireland Act (1920) and the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) was an inevitable evolution in Anglo-Irish relations, that it marks the British government’s recognition of the Irish right to self-determination, or the triumph of Irish democracy. Instead, I argue that the settlement was highly contingent upon prevailing political circumstances, heavily influenced by British interests, and often defied the democratic demands of Irish people, both nationalist and unionist. Partition, the separation of Ireland into two different states, was achieved through the acquiescence of British politicians to the demands of Ulster unionist leaders, without reference to public opinion in any part of Ireland.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Rast, Michael Christopher
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:History
Date:16 January 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Foster, Gavin M.
Keywords:Ireland, Northern Ireland, British Empire, Dominions, Political Theory, Irish War of Independence, Sinn Fein, Irish nationalism, Irish unionism, home rule, partition
ID Code:982128
Deposited By: MICHAEL RAST
Deposited On:31 May 2017 18:47
Last Modified:29 Jan 2019 16:22
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