The Success of Sir Robert Peel’s Irish Policy Essay

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The Success of Sir Robert Peel’s Irish Policy Sir Robert Peel’s strong-nerved and far-sighted approach to Ireland’s social discontent demonstrated all the best attributes of the innovative politician that he was. However, the minimal effect felt by Irish people highlights the eventually fatal inefficiency of his leadership. Peel’s policies were largely based on the principle of “coercion and conciliation”: at first he took an authoritarian stance, and only later looked to be persuasively appeasing. In doing so, Peel hoped to promote Unionism, and hence to instil in the Irish a sense of loyalty towards Britain. He aimed to stop Ireland’s radical threat by winning over the Irish Catholics, and to…show more content…
First, Lord de Grey, seen as an obstruction to the implementation of Catholic Emancipation, was replaced by Lord Heytesbury as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. De Grey had appeared determined to ensure that the Protestant minority withheld their outrageously out-of-proportion leasing rights and, as a result, that this elite was able to persevere in their attempts to persecute Catholics and so retain their archaic privileges. The situation under de Grey was regarded by Peel as “unjust… dangerous… and utterly impracticable.” Heytesbury’s arrival was supposed to assure the recruitment of Catholics into the magistracy and civil service, thus leading them away from what was previously their only option: Irish nationalism. Most Irishmen, however, saw one Englishman replace another, and to little effect. In actions such as this, one can see that Peel failed to engage whatsoever with the Irish people. From his privileged position in Westminster, he was blind to the concerns of the people suffering in deprived Ireland. This disengagement is again evident in Peel’s Colleges Bill of 1845, which induced serious disapproval amongst the Catholic elite. Peel’s initiative was to create new colleges of higher education in Cork, Galway and Belfast, which would aim to develop an educated middle class grateful to Britain’s help. However, the non-religious nature of these universities angered Catholic

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