Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paul Bew Lecture


At the public lecture, organised by the Ulster Society at Queen's, Lord Professor Paul Bew explored the Foundations of Northern Ireland.

From the Craig-Collins Pact to the talks of the 1990s Professor Bew drew interesting parallels between the two periods of Northern Irelands history.




Above: Members of the Ulster Society with Lord Bew in their new hoodies

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lecture: 'The Foundations of Northern Ireland'

Public Lecture, exploring:

'The Foundations of Northern Ireland'

You are invited to attend a lecture exploring the foundations of Northern Ireland. This will take place on Tuesday 19th February 2008 at 8 PM in the Lanyon Building, Room 1.21.

Guest speaker:

Lord Professor Paul Bew (School of Politics, QUB)

Download flyer:
The%20Foundations%20of%20Northern%20Ireland.pdf

Map to Venue (Lanyon Building): Map%20to%20Lanyon%20121.JPG


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Sunday, November 04, 2007

November meeting

Tuesday 6th November 2007
Peter Froggatt Centre, room 209
6pm SHARP
Guest speaker: Gordon Lucy, Director of the National Ulster Society

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Friday, January 26, 2007

The address by Gordon Lucy, Director of the Ulster Society, at our meeting on the 5th of December 2005

Walter Hume Long: The Forgotten Unionist Leader

As an Englishman, Walter Long may at first sight appear a curious choice to succeed Colonel E. J. Saunderson as leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party on 1 November 1906. However, between March and December 1905 he had been Chief Secretary for Ireland and had proved to be very popular with unionists. Furthermore, throughout his long political career Long had an informed interest in Irish affairs. Arguably, the climax of his long political career was his chairmanship of the Cabinet Committee, which framed the Government of Ireland bill of 1920.

Long, born in Bath in 1854, was the son of Richard Long, a member of a long established Wiltshire landowning family with a parliamentary tradition stretching back to the reign of Henry V. With evident pride, Walter Long once observed, ‘Our parliamentary record is, I believe, unique’. Walter Long entered the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1880 and was an MP for 41 years, representing a wide variety of different constituencies, including South County Dublin between 1906 and January 1910. He was a Cabinet minister for 16 years. Indeed, apart from the ten years of Liberal government from 1905 to 1915, he was continuously in the Cabinet between 1895 and 1921.

Long’s mother and wife, who were both of southern Irish Unionist stock, were responsible for his life-long, although by means all-consuming, interest in Irish affairs and his enthusiasm for the Unionist cause. His mother was Charlotte Anna, the fourth daughter of W. F. Dick, Conservative MP for Co. Wicklow from 1852 to 1880. His wife, whom he married in 1878, was Lady Dorothy Boyle, the fourth daughter of 9th Earl of Cork and Orrery. His interest in Irish affairs was usefully reinforced through the enjoyment he derived from hunting regularly in Meath and Kildare.

Significantly, he made his maiden speech on 26 July 1880 during the third reading of the Compensation for Disturbances (Ireland) Bill. Although Long observed (on the day that Gladstone introduced the first Home Rule bill) that the great majority of English MPs, and Englishmen in general, ‘would be inclined to use strong language if they had been subjected to the same trials and tribulations as the Ulstermen had experienced of late’, Long’s connections were primarily with southern Irish Unionism rather than Ulster Unionism.

Prior to becoming Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1905, A. J. Balfour, the Prime Minister and leader of the Unionist Party, said to Long: ‘I do not ask you to go to Ireland; but if you accept the office of Chief Secretary you will be doing me a great service and rendering a still greater one to your country.’ The great service, which Balfour expected him to perform, was bringing the increasingly wayward Ulster Unionist MPs back into line because George Wyndham, Long’s immediate predecessor, had comprehensively alienated them. Within a short period of time Long skilfully regained their confidence.

Long lost his seat in South Bristol in the Liberal landslide of 1906 but was subsequently returned as MP for South County Dublin. Following the death of his close friend Edward Saunderson on 21 October 1906, Long became leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party.

As leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party, he promoted greater co-operation between the recently formed Ulster Unionist Council and the Irish Unionist Alliance, a mainly southern Unionist organisation, by founding the Joint Committee of the Unionist Associations of Ireland in December 1907. He also set up the Union Defence League to articulate the unionist case to mainland constituencies. As a result, he felt that mainland constituencies had a better grasp of the unionist case in the general election of January 1910 than had previously been the case.

In the general election of January 1910, to the consternation of many Irish unionists, Long abandoned the ultra-marginal South County Dublin seat for the safe London constituency of the Strand, which had the added advantage of being conveniently close to Westminster. Some unionists, perhaps unfairly, held Long responsible for the lost of South County Dublin in the general election of December 1910. Nevertheless, when A. J. Balfour stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party in the autumn of 1911, most Irish Unionists favoured Long rather than Austen Chamberlain when Sir Edward Carson indicated he was not in the running. In the event neither Chamberlain nor Long inherited Balfour’s mantle because Andrew Bonar Law emerged as an acceptable compromise candidate.
During the third Home rule crisis Long was privately more extreme than he was in public. It is not without significance that his principal parliamentary lieutenant was Sir William Bull, the MP for Hammersmith, was deeply involved in gunrunning. Long may even have had advance knowledge of the Larne gunrunning and may have even helped fund the operation. While Carson was prepared to support the Agar-Robartes amendment to exclude Antrim, Armagh, Down and Londonderry from the operation of the third Home Rule bill for tactical reasons, Long was implacably opposed and adamant that the Agar-Robartes amendment was a trap designed to divide the forces of Unionism. Furthermore, he insisted that ‘as an Englishman connected by the closest ties with … Leinster and Munster’ he was not prepared to ‘sacrifice his friends there’.
This was only one of a number of occasions when Long sought to embarrass and to outflank Carson on the right. Another obvious example occurred in the summer of 1916. Much to Carson’s intense annoyance Long sabotaged Lloyd George’s attempt to ‘solve’ the Irish problem in the immediate aftermath of the Easter rebellion. Carson’s anger is evident in a letter to his wife: ‘The people who oppose this settlement don’t realise how hard we fought to get Ulster excluded and what an achievement it is to have got that’. Carson feared having to fight that battle all over again.

In October 1919 Long, much to his surprise, was appointed to chair the Cabinet committee tasked to draft the Government of Ireland Bill. Almeric Fitzroy, quoting some one else, possibly Carson, observed that ‘to set Walter Long drafting a Home Rule Bill is like asking the Bishop of London to draft the regulations of a maison tolérée [i.e. a brothel]’. Long’s committee proposed the establishment of Northern and Southern Irish parliaments, with a view to restructuring the whole of the United Kingdom on a quasi-federal basis, often inaccurately described before the war as ‘Home Rule all round’. Long favoured the creation of a nine-county Northern Parliament but James Craig’s insistence on a six-county Ulster prevailed.

The views, which Long held after the Great War were conspicuously different from those to which he had subscribed before the war. Before 1914 Long was unsympathetic to the ‘Home Rule all round’ project. Yet by 1918 ‘Home Rule all round’ had become his favoured option. Up to at least the summer and autumn of 1916 Long was a great champion of the southern Unionist cause. Yet by January 1920 he was harshly complaining about ‘the attitude of the [southern] Irish Unionists, which consists of crying for the moon and appealing to us here [in England] to protect them from their local enemies’. He accused them of refusing ‘to face patent facts’ and ‘crying like spoilt children for that which they cannot get’. Ironically, Carson – despite his southern Irish birth, upbringing, family ties, education and early professional life – had sadly reached a broadly similar conclusion as early as the autumn of 1913. How may the change in Long’s worldview be explained? Unlike Winston Churchill’s ‘dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone’, the Great War, especially the loss of his son’, ‘Toby’ Long, a young and highly decorated brigadier-general, killed by a shell in France in January 1917, had a profound impact on Long, undermining or demolishing some of the verities of his hitherto comparatively uncomplicated and straightforward Unionism.

Although Long was an influential voice in Irish affairs for several decades, drafting the Government of Ireland bill was his last major contribution to Irish politics. Raised to the peerage as Viscount Long of Wraxall, he died at Rood Ashton on 26 September 1924. Few men can have been so influential and yet so quickly forgotten.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Formal Meeting III (2006/2007)


Tuesday, 30th January 2007
6PM
Venue: Room 204 PFC
Mini-Movie: "Brethren In Arms" - The Stirring Story of the 1798 Rising in Down
Also new projects and officer positions.

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