PARLIAMENT MENACED BY IRISH UPHEAVAL

THE worst discredit to the British system was the case of Ireland. Ireland was represented in the House of Commons by a hundred members, eighty of whom belonged usually to the Home Rule party, being representatives of the Southern Irish Catholics. They were usually gentlemen who would normally have been Conservatives but who, for the sake of Home Rule, were prepared to ally themselves with Liberals and to employ revolutionary tactics. During the second half of the nineteenth century the claims of Ireland were asserted by organisations such as the Fenian Society, which organised rebellions-always abortive-and assassinations. Campaigns of outrage and intimidation were carried on in Ireland against the Protestant landlords, and at Westminster the Irish members under Charles Stewart Parnell's leadership, set out to make business as nearly impossible as they could, by systematic waste of time within the legal limits, and when that failed, by hooliganism.

They at last induced the Liberals to support their Home Rule proposals. Those proposals were resisted by some of the Liberal party, who would not hand over the Irish Protestants to a Catholic majority. The scheme failed in the eighties and broke the Liberals, but was revived actively between 1906 and 1914. It was now resisted in arms by the Ulster Protestants, with the active support of their numerous English sympathisers. At the same time, some of the advocates of Women's Suffrage were employing methods resembling the Irish tactics of the 1880's. There can be little doubt that these resorts to violence encouraged England's continental rivals to think that the Parliamentary system was collapsing.