Irish Nationalists and Ulster Unionists

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Irish Nationalists and Ulster Unionists

The question of the division of Ireland between the predominantly Protestant North and the Catholic South is a long-standing, deep seated and highly complex issue which still continues to be controversial to this day. There have been many attempts to resolve the problems in order to restore peace to this small island, however none have been found. The Irish Nationalists and the Ulster Unionists both had powerful reasons for fighting their own cause, and both sides claimed small victories towards their ultimate goal over the years but 1914 was a year when the balance could have been tipped one way or the other if it had not been for the advent of World War I.
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This injustice sparked off riots in Ireland and in an attempt to restore peace, Robert Peel passed the Catholic Emancipation act in 1829 even though he personally believed in Protestant supremacy. O'Connell was consequently given his seat in the House of Commons. This was seen as a victory by the Irish Nationalists, as they now had a voice in parliament, and saw it as a significant step towards achieving Home Rule, but the Protestants were troubled by this event and feared that the privileges they had enjoyed by being loyal to Britain would be undermined by Catholic equality.

O' Connell now turned his full attention to the Abolition of the Act of Union, which had always been his primary goal. A speech he made in 1809 illustrates how passionately he felt about it.

"We have been robbed of our birthrights, our independence. England that ought to have been a sister and a friend - whom we had loved, and fought and bled for - stole upon us like a thief in the night and robbed us of the precious gem of our liberty…..The real cause of the Union is the religious dissensions which the enemies of Ireland have created, separating us into wretched sections…"

He was an astute man who realised that the political climate was not conducive to achieving his aims at the time, so he
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