February 02, 2016

From United Irishmen to Unionists

Archibald Hamilton Rowan who moved from physical force separatism to parliamentaryism, a precedent set and followed to this day

What happened to the radical presbyterians who made up the United Irishmen, particularly in Belfast and in the north of Ireland? It seems they became unionists, malcontent radicals made content by the prosperity of the Union of 1801.
Irish nationalism is coming to terms with its history of service in the British army. When with Irish Protestant-unionism come to terms with its history of revolutionary agitation and revolt? Chris Donnelly said "Unionism needs to open itself to its United Irishmen links." This is a study into the United Irishmen and their legacy and inheritors in modern Ireland.

Archibald Hamilton Rowan was a Dublin United Irishman who moderated his views as events changed. For the founder of the movement the memory of atrocities witnessed during the Reign of Terror made it impossible for him to join any irish revolutionary enterprise (ibid (p.267)). Hamilton Rowan wrote:
"I congratulate you on the report which spreads here that a Union is intended. In that measure I see the downfall of one of the most corrupt assemblies, I believe, that ever existed."
Wiliam Drennan, a writer and another founder of the movement, was a United Irishman who came to celebrate the Act of Union. Drennan opposed the primacy of the cleric and requested a multi-confessional funeral. Drennan, a self-professed "aristocratical democrat", writing from 1808 to 1814, came to espouse 'A faithful Union, a real assimilation of the countries, in spirit as well as in form, not merely in virtue of parchment'. Yet to this day he is embraced and celebrated by Fianna Fáil.

Samuel Neilson, the son of presbyterian minister, made his fortune as a draper and later became editor of the Northern Star. He came to favour Union (Via Roy Foster, 'Modern Ireland' (p.266)).

Frederick H. Crawford, one of the most passionate ulster loyalists of all time (In the 1890s he floated the idea of kidnapping Gladstone and taking him to a Pacific island), his great-grandfather Cecil Crawford was a united Irishman arrested in 1797 for high treason, and sent to Kilmainham jail he shared a cell with Henry joy McCracken. He said: "I am ashamed to call myself an Irishman. Thank god I am not one. I am an Ulsterman, a very different breed."

Ian McBride wrote in ‘Scripture Politics: Ulster Presbyterians and Irish Radicalism in the Late Eighteenth Century’ (1998):
"Irish nationalists and ulster unionist have thus conspired to detach the United Irishmen from their proper historical context… However, historians have begun to correct this failure… [a] historiographical revolution."


The Belfast and Dublin societies of United Irishmen were founded in the Autumn of 1791. At its inception the organisation was reformist. Reforms came in small measure, ending in 1793 when Britain went to war with France. The society left gradualism for revolutionary separatism, instantiated with the Cave Hill oath of June 1795.

Paul Bew wrote:
"The United Irishmen were middle class and Presbyterian in Belfast. In Dublin they were also middle class, but there was a sprinkling of gentry and aristocracy, with a roughly equal Catholic–Protestant split."
He also wrote:
"In early 1794 Tone prepared his own, empirically rather rough-and-ready, analysis of the disposition of forces in Irish society. 
First, he noted the Protestant members of the Established Church in Ireland, 450,000 strong, comprising the ‘great body of the aristocracy, which supports and is supported’ by England. This was the reactionary, oppressive, elitist segment of society. 
Secondly, he talked of the Dissenters, 900,000 of them, who formed a large and respectable portion of the middle ranks of the community—all, ‘to a man, sincere Republicans, devoted with enthusiasm to the cause of liberty and France’
Thirdly, he noted ‘The Catholics who were 3,150,000 strong. These are the Irish, properly so called, trained (p.11) from their infancy in a hereditary hatred and abhorrence of the English name, which conveys to them no ideas but those of blood, pillage and persecution’."
Bew wrote further:
"For Tone, the recent change in the disposition of the Dissenters was of decisive importance. The Dissenters, in Tone's assessment, had always been inclined to oppose the ‘usurpations’ of England and the Anglican aristocracy. They felt that they had created the wealth of a thriving Belfast, and regarded their achievement with enormous pride. In their ‘Preface’ to the reformist Belfast Politics: Thoughts on the British Constitution, published in 1794, William Bruce and Henry Joy claimed proudly: 
"Belfast, by its consequence on the Scale of Commerce, Manufacturers and Revenue, contributes eminently to the prosperity of the kingdom…When credit was tottering to its base in almost every corner of Europe, here it held its ground. Its merchants blended prudence with enterprise, and reaped the reward for unsullied integrity."
Bew continued:
"Bruce and Joy had to accept that Belfast remained the sole political property of the Marquess of Donegall. Nevertheless, much as they despised the elite above them, the Presbyterians had also despised the Catholic natives as ‘slaves’. But in the years after 1790 the impact of the French revolution—according to Tone—decisively transformed their mentality. They saw that, while they had thought that they were the ‘masters’ of (p.12) the Catholics, they were, in fact, but their ‘jailers’; the establishment of unbounded liberty of conscience in France had mitigated their horror of Popery; 110 years of peace had worn away very much of the old animosity which former wars had raised and fomented. Inspired by the example of France, they understood that the only ‘guide’ to ‘liberty’ was ‘justice’; they saw that they neither deserved nor could obtain independence while their Catholic brethren, as they then for the first time called them, remained in slavery and oppression. Reflecting this analysis, the United Irishmen stressed the common cause of Catholic, Anglican, and Dissenter, and utilized the radical press to produce ground-breaking propaganda."
Hubert Butler wrote:
"[When the American War of Independence broke out] Belfast Protestants lit bonfires and sent congratulations to George Washington while Dublin Catholics sent loyal messages to George III. Ireland might not be the dull, divided little island which it is today if those groups, north and south, to whom the idea of independence is chiefly due, had played a greater part in its realization."
"The Fitzwilliam [Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1795] affair ended a three-year crisis over Catholic emancipation, threw into sharp relief the limitations of constitutional protestant 'nationalism', and heightened sectarian identifications in Irish life. The political establishment withdrew into increasingly conservative attitudes... All this was of great importance for politics outside the establishment, increasingly dominated by United Irishmen... 

Fashionable Irish people had always tended to Francophilia... 

The origins of the United Irishmen Belfast Club may lie in the 1791 celebrations of Bastille Day; the Club was formed the following October (the Dublin United Irishmen, formed a month after the Belfast society). Belfast was notably 'French', Dublin less so. But there, too, was an educated middle-class element...

The traditions of englightenment debate were diffused through Belfast 'society' (notably via education in Glasgow); this encouraged the fashion for Paine (seven irish editions of the Rights of Man between 1791 and 1792) and the full newspaper reports of Convention debates. But deism was never popular, even among the most advanced Belfast United Irishmen. And Northern radicals retained a basic dislike of Catholicism, not only because of its counter-revolutionary implications. (p.265)

The Northern Star and Tone's enthusiastic view have coloured the reputation of Ulster radicalism. But the old siege mentality was still much in evidence in most of the province. Antrim and Down, with very few Catholics and a strong New Light presbyterian tradition, were radical; the rest of Ulster was not...

Francis Hutcheson's ideas of armed militias to protect civil rights may have been returned to Ulster with interest. But many within the movement specifically declared against republicanism, and aired deeply held worries about Catholic emancipation.

Belfast radicalism also tended to be cynical about the sister movement in Dublin, which got under way slightly later. 

The influence of men like Lord Edward Fitzgerald (the epitome of radical chic) stressed the French connection and "breaking the connection" with England - though it was tacitly admitted that geographical and, by now, cultural propinquity would always necessitate some kind of association. Notions of federalism were being floated even in the late 1790s...

Tone's inconsistency and self-advancement have been much stressed, as well as his inability to recognise the sectarian underpinning of all political activity in Ireland, outside the small Francophile intelligentsia.

Even in his days as a spokesman of the Catholic committee, he held to the fundamental Irish-protestant belief that Catholicism was a dying superstition - though this did not prevent his 'Argument on Behalf of the Catholics' (September 1791) from being a brilliant pamphlet that persuaded many Dissenters that it would be dangerous not to join the emancipation cause...
Extreme reactions were further encouraged by Fitzwilliam's recall and the refusal of Catholic emancipation. Most of all, the resort to international conspiracy on the part of radicals was encouraged by the hope that domestic discontent was reaching a level where it would predispose "the people" to a mass rising. 

Taxation certainly provided a diffused discontent... The year 1797 has, indeed, been pinpointed as "a turning point in Irish fiscal history". 

Even if tax increases were small in proportion to the general expense of rural inhabitants, they had to be settled in cash, and so were doubly resented. 

Combined with the protestant-Catholic tension latent in most areas, notably were those were a settlement "frontier" or a deliberate immigration policy can be discerned, the stage was set for emotional resistance to the highly charged issue of tithes; and, eventually, for the sectarian grand peur that swept the countryside at all levels and facilitated rural mobilisation in 1798. 

Moreover, a form of rural agitation was already in existence that utilise this framework: 'Defenderism'.

It also managed to absorb French ideology even without the help of the United Irishmen - though Defenderism tended to identify the French cause as Catholic and anti-English rather than "republican." And the sectarian tinge characteristic of the movement in the north gradually took over. 

The Armagh linen culture has become used as an explanation why protestant tenants there became orangemen rather than United Irishmen: an alliance with landlords was necessary to maintain perceived economic status as much as protestant ascendency. 

In Armagh... From the mid-1790s, protestant aggression became more and more clearly articulated. 

Defenderism was in one sense a "defense" against this. By the mid-1790s, local cause celebres like the battle of the Diamond near Loughgall, County Armagh, on 21 September 1795, which inaugurated the Orange Order, had taken a definitively sectarian tinge. 

In these conditions, Defenderism rapidly became an 'anti-Protestant, anti-state ideology'; it was also anti-English and capable of spectacular violence. 
By 1797 the reorganised United Irishmen were powerfully established in Leinster; then Munster, and by 1798 Connacht. Here, though, the Defender influence predominated; even in the towns, Defender oaths were sworn by urban radicals from 1795. The 90,000 'United Irishmen' in Cork in 1798 may have been largely indistinguishable from Defenders. Middle-class radicalism was by now in close alliance with rural agitation. 

Nonetheless, the United Irishmen retained middle-class strengths. Thy represented members of the army, the law, medical science, the Church (Dissenting and Catholic) and the gentry, as well as booksellers, Brewers and tradesmen. 

In late October 1796 habeas corpus was partially suspended. Constitutional opposition was at a discount. Gratton had seceded from parliament; others joined the government side; opposition Whigs lost all radical credibility. 

The flow of "information" reaching the government stressed gossip, fears, predictions and innuendo; some of their informers, significantly were ex-United Irishmen who had become offended by the movement's "Popish" tendency. 

In April 1797 the authorities came down strongly on the Belfast radicals. 

By 1798 every contemporary correspondence conveys a general mentality of fear. Sedition was seen everywhere, whole villages fled to sleep out of doors on nights of supposed massacres; civil war a la vendee was threatened. 

The language of political extremism held sway, and with it the reassertion of older identifications. A letter to Lord Charlemont in May 1797 told him: "Your old Ballymascanlan Volunteers, who six months ago were all United Irishmen, are now compete orangemen, which is more congenial with their feeling."...

Thus when the crisis came, in Marianne Elliott's words, 'the rebellion was not a United irish one as it would have been a year earlier, but a protective popular uprising which a spent United Irishman leadership failed to harness."

Nor was it the "war" Tone wanted. It broke out around Dublin from 23 May 1798, and owed little to the plans for co-ordinated attack on the centres of government power that had been canvassed over the previous year. 

What did happen rapidly adopted a sectarian rationale, and reflected the hysteria of local gentry and Orange recruits as much as supposedly deliberate provocation by the government. 

What did not happen in the north is as important as what did in the south; the geographical index of intensity runs from Wexford and Wicklow in the east to Sligo and Mayo in the west, while ulster and the south-west were hardly affected - outside some action in Antrim and Down, still adhering to the cause of radical Presbyterianism. The organisation was no sophisticated in military terms, tending to revolve round bands of pikemen with local leaders; local pressures rather than ideological attitudes seem to have brought about enlistment. 

There may have been plans for a June Rising: certainly, an air of improvisation hangs over the events of May. 

A campaign marked by horrific and unforgotten atrocities on both sides - already described as protestant and catholic - ended in the rout in Vinegar Hill, 21 June 1798 and left an inheritance of heightened sectarian animosity. 

When the Wexford pattern was known in Ulster, many insurgents defected, or even became Yeomen.

Castlereagh remarked:

"The religious complexities of the Rebellions in the south gradually separated the protestant from the Treason, and precisely in the same degree, appeared to embark the Catholics in it."

And when the new Viceroy, Cornwallis, arrived, he was surprised that the reductionist Catholic-Protestant interpretation was held by everyone. 

By the end of the summer, the death-roll on both sides, from various causes, has been estimated at 30,000. 

Tone has been, in a sense, outpaced by events, and his contemporary reputation was, ironically, much less than that of the ridiculous Napped Tandy. But the revelations of the extent of the French connection in United Irish trials stunned contemporaries, and was seen as Tone's achievement. His reputation also gained from the great forensic tradition of Irish nationalism epitomised in Curran's speeches, which established the United Irish martyrology and invoked a historic continuum of resistance that had not necessarily occurred to the people he was defending." (p. 280)

What was the inheritance? For one thing, an organised peasant underground. Defenderism lasted in Ireland, while the United Irishmen became merely a diplomatic presence in Hamburg and Paris. And the sectarian rationale had triumphed."
ATQ Stewart wrote:
"The extent to which each of the northern counties was involved in the insurrection appears to be in inverse proportion to its Catholic population."
Roy Foster wrote in ‘The Irish Story - Telling Tales and Making it up in Ireland’:
"The tensions that came to the fore were those between protestant, Catholic and dissenter. Nancy Curtin’s work confirms this. Musgrave’s picture of presbyterian Irishmen (still often called “the scotch” by contemporaries) never quite coalescing with Catholic defenders is borne out by many witnesses. And after their failed rising, there is a different record of victimisation and violence compared to the south-East: there were proportionally ten times as many claims for compensation in Wexford and Wicklow as in Antrim and Down, and Presbyterians were in no way harassed like Catholics. The elision of what was happening in Ulster and Wexford in the summer of 1798 required cutting a good many corners. 
It is true that too much has been made of the presbyterian United Irishman James Dickey’s supposed statement on the scaffold, that the “eyes of the Presbyterians had been opened too late” to the sectarian nature of the Wexford rising. Like other such statements, it may have been orchestrated by the authorities. But the speed with which presbyterian radicals shifted their ground from 1798 still tells its own story. They were heavily influenced by negotiations with the government over their regium donum grant, and by the attractions of a Union which did away with a parliament in which they had not been represented. First survivalism, then respectability, enforced a deliberate distancing from the protestant United Irishmen tradition. The reaction to O'Connellism, and the rise of the presbyterian leader Henry Cooke, would solidify the process. 
But there is also the fact, not mentioned by commemorationists but comprehensively demonstrated by Ian McBride in Scripture Politics, that for the Presbyterian radicals of the new French dawn had seemed to promise the twilight of Roman Catholic “superstition”. 
Their own millennial surge had therefore very different roots from the Jacobite tradition clearly discernible in the polemic of the southern rebels, and their civic republicanism was far from being proto-nationalism. Certainly when the old presbyterian radical Henry Joy, in his Historical Collections of 1818, advanced the case that Wexford had shown “all the bigotry and intolerance of the Middle Ages”, he was not saying so on government orders."
Henry Joy (1754-1835), the uncle of Henry Joy McCracken (hanged in 1798 for being a leader of the United Irishmen), was a member of one of Belfast’s most notable entrepreneurial families of the eighteenth century, he wrote in 1817, ‘Historical collections relative to the town of Belfast: from the earliest period to the Union with Great Britain’:
"Whatever may have been their private opinions at that period they appear now to be fully convinced of the necessity of an incorporation of the two Kingdoms, which by delivering us from dependent independence has moved the danger of a fatal rupture of the politics connection of the two islands. After a lapse of 16 years, all opposition on this head except among Roman Catholic leaders, and the selfish and monopolising corporation of Dublin has gradually disappeared and its most ancient and inveterate opposers are now among the foremost in declaring their assent to a measure of such infinite necessity and wisdom.
Dr Drennan’s spoke at a town meeting in Belfast, as reported by the News Letter February 13 1817:
"Dr Drennan "begged leave he said, to differ from his Dublin friends, and to assert, that on the event of a full, free and frequent representation of the people in the parliament for the whole empire he would be reconciled to the Union. He would, not unwillingly, merge his country in a fair and faithful representation of these realms - for what is country justly considered, but a free constitution, and give him that well guaranteed, he should consider himself more an Irishman on the banks of the Ohio or Mississippi, than he does now on the banks of the Lagan.” 
The interval which elapsed between the year 1801 and 1817 is not marked with any occurrence of much importance in the annals of this town. Impressed with the strongest conviction of the impracticability of a successful revolt against the power of Great Britain, and of the dreadful anarchy and fanatical horrors which must have ensued, had that revolt succeeded according to their wishes, the inhabitants appear to have relinquished every idea of revolution, and to have reposed with complacency under the shelter of the existing constitution, with all its imperfections. The audacious insurrection of Emmet and Russell in 1803, afforded an ample demonstration of this alteration in their political feelings."
Historian John A Murphy wrote:
"According to Sinn Féin, partition institutionalised sectarianism and the ills that flowed from it. But sectarianism flourished long before partition." 
Read the biography of Wolfe Tone here. By Theobald Wolfe Tone, 'An Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland' (1791). In 1792 William Todd Jones wrote a pamphlet that sought to assuage anti-Catholic prejudices held by people working the Societies of United Irishmen, ‘A letter to the Societies of United Irishmen of the Town of Belfast: upon the subject of certain apprehensions which have arisen from a proposed restoration of Catholic rights.’


Wolfe Tone said:
"At length, Mr Burke's invective [Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790] appeared; and this in due season produced Paine's reply, which he called The Rights of Man. This controversy, and the gigantic event which gave rise to it, changed, in an instant, the politics of Ireland."
Edmund Burke, who opposed the ancien regime in America but supported it in Ireland, published his pamphlet Reflections on November 1 1790. Thomas Paine replied with 'The Rights of Man', published on 13 March 1791. 

Bew wrote:
"The ‘lethargy’ of Irish political life in the late 1780s was, however, shaken up by the impact of the French revolution; more than that, before the end of the decade the entire life of the island was to be convulsed by it. 
The years 1791 and 1798 became a kind of contest between the British government and the militant elements of the Society of United Irishmen (founded in 1791) to influence the Catholics of Ireland."
Edmund Burke wrote in a November 17 1796 letter to John Keogh:
"I can not conceive that a man can be a genuine Englishman without being a true Irishman… I think the same sentiments ought to be reciprocal on the part of Ireland, and, if possible, with much stronger reason."
He wrote elsewhere:
"The closest connection between Great Britain and Ireland is essential to the well-being, I had almost said to the very being of the two kingdoms."
Burke added:
"By separation Ireland would be the most completely undone country in the world, the most wretched, the most distracted and the most desolate part of the inhabitable globe."
John Philpot Curran, defence advocate for many of the arraigned revolutionaries, said in 1794 (as paraphrased by Frederick Douglass:
"I speak in the spirit of British law, which makes Liberty commensurate with, and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims Liberty even to the stranger and sojourner. The moment he sets his foot on British earth, the ground on which he treads is holy. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter in what disastrous battle his Liberty may have been cloven down; no matter what obligation incompatible with freedom may have borne upon him; no matter with what solemnity he has been devoted on the alter of slavery; the moment he stands on British earth the alter and the God tumble to the dust; his spirit walks forth in its majesty, his body swells beyond the measure of his chains that burst from round him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, disenthralled by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation."
Curran also said:
"No matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted on the altar of slavery, the moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains which burst from around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation."
Burke wrote in December 1796:
"That unwise body, the United Irishmen, have had the folly to represent those evils as owing to this country, when, in truth, its chief guilt is in its total neglect, its utter oblivion, its shameful indifference, and its entire ignorance of Ireland, and of everything that relates to it, and not in any oppressive disposition towards that unknown region. No such disposition exists. English Government has farmed out Ireland, without the reservation of a pepper-corn rent in power or influence, public or individual, to the little narrow faction that domineers there. Through that alone they see, feel, hear, or understand, anything relative to that kingdom. Nor do they any way interfere, that I know of, except in giving their countenance, and the sanction of their names, to whatever is done by that junto."


Adam Smith wrote in his magnum opus, 'The Wealth of Nations' (1776):
"By a union with Great Britain, Ireland would gain, besides the freedom of trade, other advantages much more important, and which would much more than compensate any increase of taxes that might accompany that union. By the union with England, the middling and inferior ranks of people in Scotland gained a complete deliverance from the power of an aristocracy which had always before oppressed them. By a union with Great Britain, the greater part of the people of all ranks in Ireland would gain an equally complete deliverance from a much more oppressive aristocracy, an aristocracy not founded, like that of Scotland, in the natural and respectable distinctions of birth and fortune, but in the most odious of all distinctions, those of religious and political prejudices.... Without a union with Great Britain, the inhabitants of Ireland are not likely, for many ages, to consider themselves as one people."
On the 1801 Act of Union, Professor Paul Bew wrote:
"At the heart of this relationship is the problem of the management of enmity. The Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801 was, above all, presented as a sophisticated attempt to manage that enmity: a new benign framework for Irish development. Not everyone accepted British professions of good faith. At the time, anti-Union writers seized on the reference to "an Union" in Hamlet as a suitably ambiguous and threatening image: after all, the King wishes to place "an Union" (a jewel) in Hamlet's goblet at a moment when he wants to see Hamlet destroyed. Did not Britain, despite all the deceitful Claudius-like professions of good-will, not really wish to destroy Ireland? All the other great experiments since - Home Rule, partition and independence, the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998 - have been conceived as attempts to divert the full flood of rage into a place of relative calmness. Partition based on the principle of consent remains the order of the day in Ireland: but it is also the case that the recently revised constitution of the Irish Republic declares it to be the 'firm will' of the Irish people to achieve political unity on the island of Ireland, admittedly only with the support of a democratic majority in Northern Ireland." 
Edward Carson wrote in 1912:
"We who are Unionists believe first and foremost that the Act of Union is required “for the safety, honour and welfare, of our Sovereign and his dominions.” We are not concerned with the supposed taint which marred the passing of that Act; we are unmoved by the fact that its terms have undergone considerable modification."
W.H. Maxwell wrote in 'History of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 with Memoirs of the Union and Emmet's Insurrection in 1803':
"The insurrectionary movements of '98, followed by the political tempest of conflicting opinion which accompanied the union of the kingdoms during its progress, had for several years distracted the Irish people, and totally inhibited any advances in national prosperity. Men now began with a renewed confidence to return to their former pursuits — the north was perfectly tranquillized — the manufacturer and agriculturist resumed the shuttle and the spade — and as events subsequently proved, the Presbyterians, with a very few exceptions, had thoroughly detected the fallacy of ideal liberty, and become sincere converts to the solid advantages which a well-ordered constitution secures to the community.  
In other parts of the kingdom, though the flame was openly extinguished, the embers smouldered — desperate individuals still held out — and life and property were rendered insecure. The spread of French principles had been progressive and extensive — and although the many had repudiated the foul doctrines which denounced a king and denied a god, still the pest was not eradicated, and for years afterwards the plague-spot was discovered occasionally." 


The United Irishmen wanted a secular enlightened republic, whereas the fenians and the Republican brotherhood wanted a catholic, socialist, brigadoon republic.

Foster made an important remark in his book 'Modern Ireland', distinguishing the United Irishmen from fenians and modern physical force republicans steeped in gaelic culture, he said:
"Nationalism as such has not been part of the original United irish package. They were internationalist liberals, anti-government rather than anti-English. Even when anti-Englishness took over, they had little time for “ethnic” considerations; recent fashions for traditional music and poetry, and archeological divinations of the ‘Celtic’ past, seemed to middle-class radicals at best silly and at worst savage. The United Irishmen were modernisers: they appealed, as they themselves put it, to posterity, not ancestors. (Given the way that the ancestors of Belfast radicals had treated the Gaelic Irish, this was just as well.) They looked to Hutcheson, to Locke, to America, and most of all to France."
John Devoy wrote in 'Recollections of an Irish Rebel':
"The United Irishmen who planned the Insurrection were led entirely by Protestants, and the greater number of the Rebels in Ulster were Presbyterians descended from the Scotch and English Colonists planted on the soil by James I."


Pearse wrote in 1913:
"When we go to Wolfe Tone's grave next Sunday we should remember with bitterness that we suffer the ignominy which he died rather than endure. If we mean to go on suffering it, we have no business going in pilgrimage to that dead man's grave. If we do not really mean to carry on his work, why disturb the quiet of Bodenstown with protestations?"
But Pearse's claim to the United Irishmen is illegitimate. The United Irishmen, like Martin McGuinness today, converted to parliamentaryism. But the question remains. Was it material prosperity than turned anti-establishment separatists into establishment unionists? It would appear so.

James Quinn, Executive Editor of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography, wrote:
"While Emmet prepared for rebellion in Dublin Russell went north claiming that he would raise an army of 50,000 men. However, he had not set foot in the province for over six years and was sadly out of touch with the way in which opinion had changed after the crushing defeat of 1798. He rode throughout Antrim and Down exhorting the people to rise but the response he met was typified by that of a farmer from Clough, County Down, who claimed ‘they would be hanged like dogs’ if they took up arms. This reluctance was confirmed by news of Emmet’s failure in Dublin on 23 July 1803."
ATQ Stewart wrote:
"His [William Drennan, founder of the United Irishmen] son, John Stanwick Drennan, who greatly admired his father, became a liberal unionist and wrote verses to celebrate unionist resistance to home rule in 1892. The political independence of Ulster Presbyterians was always more significant than either nationalism or their unionism, and this is still true today."
Reverend Henry Cooke, speaking before the Lords Select Committee in Ireland, said in 1825:
"There is one class of persons who inevitably joined the Establishment from the Dissenters; that is the people who grow rich."
Cooke's biographer, his son-in-law J. L. Porter said:
"Henry Cooke was as popular in the North as Daniel O'Connell was in the South."  
Cooke said in a speech addressed to O'Connell:
"Look at the town of Belfast. When I was a youth it was almost a village. But what a glorious sight does it now present? The masted grove within our harbour — our mighty warehouses teeming with the wealth of every clime — our giant manufactories lifting themselves on every side — our streets marching on, as it were, with such rapidity, that an absence of a few weeks makes us strangers in the outskirts of our town. And all this we owe to the Union. No, not all — for throned above our fair town, and looking serenely from our mountain’s brow, I beheld the genius of Protestantism and Liberty, sitting inseparable in their power, while the genius of Industry which nightly reclines at their feet, starts with every - morning in renovated might, and puts forth his energies, and showers down his blessings, on the fair and smiling lands of a Chichester, a Conway, and a Hill. Yes, we will guard the Union, as we will guard our liberties, and advance and secure the prosperity of our country."
Edward Carson wrote in an 1918 open letter to Woodrow Wilson: 
"There is, however, one matter to which reference must be made, in order to make clear the position of the Irish minority whom we represent. The Nationalist Party have based their claim to American sympathy on the historic appeal addressed to Irishmen by the British colonists who fought for independence in America a hundred and fifty years ago. By no Irishmen was that appeal received with a more lively sympathy than by the Protestants of Ulster, the ancestors of those for whom we speak to-day—a fact that was not surprising in view of the circumstance that more than one-sixth part of the entire colonial population in America at the time of the Declaration of Independence consisted of emigrants from Ulster. 
The Ulstermen of to-day, forming as they do the chief industrial community in Ireland, are as devoted adherents to the cause of democratic freedom as were their forefathers in the eighteenth century. But the experience of a century of social and economic progress under the legislative Union with Great Britain has convinced them that under no other system of government could more complete liberty be enjoyed by the Irish people."
Carson had said in 1913:
"It was the Ulster-men who, when driven by bad trade to leave Ulster, and go to the United States, and being unfairly treated there, drew up the Declaration of Independence."
It was said that in the age of the Irishmen "There was scarcely a family in the north of Ireland which did not have relatives living in the colonies". It is also said that some 250, 000 Presbyterians emigrated to the US from Ulster from 1717 to 1776. Newton Emerson wrote:
"Is the leader of the DUP and first minister 'going native'? For hundreds of years it was well understood that there were three tribes in Ulster - the Irish, the English and the Scots - and that the Scots were the wobbly leg on this three-legged stool. The Scots were with the English during the Plantation, against them during the civil war, with them during the Glorious Revolution, against them during the American Revolution and half-in half-out during the 1798 Rebellion. 
Protecting the spoils of the industrial revolution brought the Scots and the English together again in a marriage of convenience that ultimately led to the creation of Northern Ireland itself, which appeared to cement the relationship forever."
Alvin Jackson wrote in an essay, ‘What If Home Rule Had Been Enacted in 1912?’:
"If there is a danger of oversimplifying the politics of Irish Catholicism, or of supplying an over-determined analysis, then these pitfalls are also present in the interpretation of Irish protestant politics in the nineteenth century. Irish protestants were not automatically unionist, any more than Irish Catholics were natural separatists. In the eighteenth century Irish protestants had urged the case for legislative autonomy in the context of a prevailing connection with Britain and within a protestant dominated constitution; northern Presbyterians, though politically divided, had supplied enthusiastic recruits to the rebel armies of the 1798 Rising. Economic prosperity under the Union, combined with the growth of a strong regional identity in Ulster and the spread of ‘Britishness’ - British royal and imperial imagery and attitudes - helped to suppress these earlier political attitudes: in addition, indeed critically, the rise of a self-confident and popular Catholic nationalism appeared to create a variety of political and cultural challenges which Irish Protestants believed might only be overcome within the context of the Union. But to try to explain the evolution of late-nineteenth-century protestant patriotism is perhaps to miss the point: many of the Irish patriotic notions of the eighteenth century continued to live on within the (apparently) coherent British Unionism of the Home Rule era."
Nelson McCausland wrote that "most of the United Irishmen in Ulster, both leaders and rank and file, soon became unionists":
"Dr William Drennan... was born in Belfast and was the son of a Presbyterian minister.  He was the real founder of the United Irishmen and one of the most interesting.  It is also noteworthy that in later years he became a unionist... 
In a speech delivered at a town meeting in Belfast in 1817 Drennan said, 'that, in the event of a full, free and frequent representation of the people in Parliament for the whole empire he would be reconciled to the Union.  He would not unwillingly merge his country in a fair and faithful representation of these realms.'  
In 1891, the centenary of the founding of the Society of United Irishmen, for which Drennan wrote a prospectus, Irish nationalists and republicans tried to lay claim to Drennan.  However they were answered by his son John Swanwick Drennan (1809-1893). The same thing happened in 1897 and this time they were answered by Drennan's grand-daughter, Mrs Maria Duffin, who said of him, "Dr Drennan was at first opposed to the Union but afterwards modified his view of it"." 
Roy Foster wrote in Modern Ireland:
"In the age of the Union... The composition of local governing bodies like grand juries and town corporations remained invincibly protestant; bough inefficiencies were tackled in the reforms of the 1830s, the composition of the ruling class was left undisturbed. The unionist mentality transcended the many differences that stratified protestant society; no matter how many levels of status and degrees of resentment existed between grand aristocrats, minor gentry, strong farmers, Dublin professionals and urban tradesmen, if they were protestants they were, perforce, Unionist."
Conor Cruise O'Brien said:
"Politically, Protestants, however liberal, were generally Unionist by tradition and symbolic habit."
David Trimble, on the links between unionism and the United Irishmen, wrote in his 1992 pamphlet, 'The Easter Rebellion of 1916':
"Irish republicans today like to project their ideals back to the United Irishmen of the 1790s, but this is not true. Modern Irish republicanism (like the nationalism of which it became the cutting edge) is a post-famine creation, which can be traced back thought the Irish republican brotherhood to the Fenians. The earliest forebearer is perhaps the Young Ireland movement in 1848 but between then and sixty years earlier, lies a gulf. The United Irish sought reform in government; they were perhaps, even revolutionary in socio-economic matters in a way that modern Irish republicanism has never been, but except for the faction around Wolfe Tone, they were not separatist. This, of course, is why so many United Irishmen welcomed the replacement of the corrupt Dublin administration with a parliament which promised reform."
He also wrote in the Times Literary Supplement:
"Modern Unionists have a good direct claim to be considered the inheritors of the United Irishmen."
Paul Bew explained that Many of the descendants of the United Irishmen became the staunchest supporters of the Union. He wrote:
"While while the stories of Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and other United Irish rebels remain central to Republican folklore, the truth is that many of the descendants of the United Irishmen became the staunchest supporters of the Union within the first few decades of the nineteenth century. This has been seen as a defining ‘transformation’ in Irish history, and the emergent Unionism of former separatist and radical Ulster Presbyterians has often been explained by fear of resurgent Catholicism or the growth of evangelical Protestantism. But, in professing their attachment to the British connection decades before there was any hint of Home Rule, the liberals of Ulster - the sons and grandsons of those who had rebelled for independence in 1798 - felt perfectly vindicated in the consistency of their principles."
Noel Browne said of mid-century Northern Ireland:
"With all its warts the North represents the Europe of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the French revolution, the industrial revolution, and much else."
Geoffrey Wheatcroft said:
"Unionists  were the heirs of the 18th-century Irish “patriots”, who believed that they, the Protestant Ascendancy, were the true Irish nation."
Geoffrey Wheatcroft also said:
"After the Free State was born in 1922... It was odd on the face of it, as Noel Browne implied, that radicals should side with green against orange. From well before Marx, the simplest shorthand definition of “the left” in European history has been anti-clericalism and hostility to the Church of Rome. Hence the French gauchiste to whom the poet Derek Mahon once tried to explain the conflict in his native Ulster. “So,” the Frenchman said, “these ‘loyalists,’ they must be the catholics, and the ‘republicans’ are the protestants, non?”- which is what continental history and terminology would lead you to expect."
Answering the question why the radicalism of United Irishmen disappeared, Maire and Conor Cruise O'Brien explained in ‘Ireland: A Concise History’:
"The alignment of forces in Ireland after the Union resembled in some ways the alignment of the late seventeenth century… The keys words once again were “protestant” and “papist”… The fragile unity of the United Irishmen was gone too. The Presbyterians, as a body, ceased to have any revolutionary inclinations: they became pillars of the Union, and of the Orange Order… 
An alliance of settlers and dispossessed natives was necessarily a precarious affair, and lacked - as we can see from the Drennan letters - any great cordiality… 
News like that of Wexford… Was bound to frighten people who, on grounds of abstract principle and general policy, and contrary to their own traditions and early prejudices, had sought to ally themselves with the suppressed majority which now seemed to intend their destruction. 
Protestants began to see dependence on England not as the odious thing it had seemed to the self-confident patriots of the eighteenth century, but as the best guarantee of their own lives and liberties, threatened by a revengeful Catholic jacquerie. 
For this group the representative voice was to become that of Mrs McTier: “I begin to fear these people.” 
The lines, which had been shifting for so long, soon became clear and hard again. “Protestant” and “unionist” were to become virtually synonymous… 
For the Catholics, the protestants were no longer champions of “the Irish nation” containing, in however shadowy a form, an ideal of unity and freedom. They had become again, with few but noticeable exceptions, certainly by 1820, what they had been in 1690: England’s garrison in Ireland."
J. L. Porter, son-in-law and biographer of Henry Cooke, wrote:
"Under the influence of O'Connell, a system of agitation was inaugurated which changed the whole tone of society in Ulster. A newspaper called The Vindicator was established in Belfast, whose chief mission was to inflame sectarian passion, and stir up Roman Catholics against their Protestant fellow-countrymen. Unfortunately the Roman Catholic clergy became the tools of O'Connell. Roman Catholics were reminded of their vast numerical preponderance. They were told that they had a light to proportional influence, power, and representation in all government, local as well as Imperial. Protestants were denounced as heretics, usurpers, aliens. It was shown how they had taken Ireland by the sword; how they had driven out or murdered its patriotic native chiefs; how they had enslaved their brave and attached subjects. It was a touching picture, and though utterly false, its effects upon an uneducated and excitable people were lamentable. Most of them believed it to be literally true. 
They groaned in agony when addressed as "Hereditary Bondsmen.” They were inspired with intense hatred of Protestants. They looked upon them as enemies and oppressors. They could not as yet drive them from the country, or appropriate the fruits of their toil and industry; but they could, and they did eventually, stir up a spirit of enmity which has destroyed the peace, and materially retarded the prosperity of Ulster.
Hubert Butler wrote in 'Portrait of a Minority', 1954:
"We protestants of the Irish Republic... a generation ago we were regarded dramatically as imperialistic blood-suckers, or, by our admirers, as the last champion of civilisation in an abandoned island. That is the way the Roman settler may have appear to himself and others, when the legions had departed from Britain and he was left alone with the tribes he had dispossessed. 
Our brothers in the north are still discussed in such colourful terms."
J. L. Porter explained the visit of O'Connell to Belfast:
"In Belfast and Ulster generally, the tidings of O'Connell’s visit, and its attendant processions, were received by all the lovers of order with feelings of alarm and indignation. The Protestant population were already excited by the calumnies of The Vindicator, and the Roman Catholics by the inflammatory teachings of their clergy. Apprehensions of the most serious character were entertained. A spark might set the whole province in a flame. A religious war, if once kindled, might, under existing circumstances, endanger the integrity of the Empire. 
The Roman Catholics had a vast numerical majority. If they could, by force or fear, crush the Protestants, Repeal of the Legislative Union could only be prevented by the presence of an overwhelming English army. 
Dr. Cooke saw the danger, and resolved to avert it. He determined by a bold stroke to stop the progress of Repeal in the North. He knew the chivalrous nature of the Irish people. He knew how dearly they loved a battle of any kind — physical or intellectual." 
Also, what hasn't been noted is that the Hanoverian despotism of the British monarchy of the United Irishmen era was qualitatively different from later manifestations of the House of Windsor.

This switch from physical force republicanism to parliamentaryism was a precedent set by the United Irishmen, followed by some fenians, the pro-Treatyites, the anti-Treatyites, the old-IRA and now the Provisional IRA.

Captain O'Meagher Condon, an original Fenian of Manchester infamy, returned from America to tour Ireland in 1909 for five weeks. They went for a tour of 1798 battle sites in Wexford. John Redmond of the IPP took him in his car around the countryside and O'Meagher was most impressed by the notable improvement in affairs and the administration. Condon said:
"If they had seen with their own eyes the improvements made over the country, and were especially impressed by the restoration of the evicted tennants."
Dermot Meleady said:
"He [O'Meagher Condon] never expected to see that affected without recourse to force and he was glad and proud to admit that he was mistaken and that the Irish [Parliamentary] Party had been able to achieve results which they who believed in force had not been able to accomplish."


Writing in ‘The Narrow Ground - Aspects of Ulster, 1609-1969’ (1977) (pp. 106-110) A.T.Q. Stewart wrote:
"What happened in Belfast in 1791 has created a legend in Irish history, the legend that the Presbyterians and the Catholics completely forgot their long history of sectarian hostility and joined in a national effort to free Ireland from English rule. At first constitutional, this activity became secret and revolutionary, and in 1798 dissenter and catholic rose in rebellion and fought side by side against the British army for French democracy and Irish freedom.
This poses on of the most puzzling questions in Irish history. Why did the northern Presbyterians, who had been nationalists and radicals in 1798, so quickly become unionists and conservatives thereafter? 
The more closely we examine the whole pattern, however, the less sharp the antithesis appears. 
  • In the first place it is simply not true that the Presbyterians as a body held radical opinions between 1790 and 1800. Throughout the whole period the majority of ministers in the General Synod of Ulster was conservative, suspicious of Catholic political designs and critical of those Presbyterians who became infected with French revolutionary ideals… We can easily forget, in making generalisations, that the Presbyterians were not totally nationalist in 1798 and totally unionist in 1886… In later times, the conservative stratum was so obvious that the radical traditions inherent in Ulster Presbyterianism were completely forgotten. Indeed this is true today… In the North, only Belfast and its hinterland in Antrim and Down produced United Irishmen in large numbers… The nature of presbyterian reaction to the United Irish philosophy depended on the balance of population between protestant and catholic and on a variety of local factors. 
  • Secondly, because the very foundations of the United Irish political programme was that Catholic and Protestant should unite to reform or overthrow a corrupt government, it is natural to assume that protestant United Irishmen had overcome their attitudes of distrust towards Catholics. This is far from being the case… The correspondence of Dr. Drennan is full of references to his distrust of Catholic political motives. 
  • Thirdly, almost everyone has tended to assume, like the United Irishmen themselves, that because unity was proclaimed, it was also in some way achieved. But a closer look at the texture of Northern society at this time shows unmistakably that this was not true. No hiatus in fact occurred in the centuries-old strife between the religious sects; if anything, sectarian tension increased at this time."
He concluded:
"Large numbers of Catholic Defenders were brought into the movement after 1796, and many of these took to the field in 1798. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that 1798 witnessed scenes of sectarian massacre, notably in Wexford, and that the United Irish rebellion, as it is called, was in so many aspects the antithesis of everything that the United Irishmen had stood for in 1791. The killing of protestants on Wexford bridge and at Scullabogue had an immediate effect on Northern presbyterian opinion, reviving all the fears of 1641. These fears had indeed intensified before 1798."
He also wrote:
"The United Irishmen held the view that no reform or political progress was possible in Ireland until dissenter and catholic United to isolate the Irish executive and overthrow the power of the Anglican Protestant Ascendency. The age of the protestant nation ended with the United Irish insurrection of 1798 and the Act of Union which followed it in 1800. Many of those protestants who had spoken up most vociferously for the rights of Ireland then became fervent supporters of the British connection and left the national cause to the catholic majority."
He also wrote:
"In the first half of nineteenth century the protestants, aware that they were becoming a minority in the political sense, ceased to be nationalists and clung to the union with Britain. In the long run they created unionism very largely in reaction to the new forms which Catholic nationalism was taking."
He gave some more information:
"In 1791 Belfast was still a relatively small market town with a harbour, but by 1825 it had already assumed its present status as an industrial city and port. As it grew, its relation to Ulster, and to Ireland, changed, and its economy became more closely linked with that of Great Britain. Although the Union was blamed for retarding the industrial development of the rest of Ireland, it brought prosperity to Belfast and to the fertile Lagan Valley in which it was situated. 
At the end of the eighteenth century the population of Belfast was predominantly presbyterian, but because the dissenters were legally debarred from sitting on corporations, the borough was controlled by the nominees of the Chichester family. The proportion of Catholics living in Belfast was very small, less than 5%, and this was one reason why the Presbyterians of Belfast after 1780 became enthusiastic in the cause of toleration. The politics of Presbyterians in Armagh or Cavan were, as we have seen, of a very different cast."
He continued:
"During the first half of the nineteenth century this cordiality between protestant and catholic in Belfast rapidly disappeared. One widely accepted explanation of this is that it was the consequence of "the rise of the bigots”, the triumph of the reactionary elements in the presbyterian community over the liberal, and the spread of the Orange order among the episcopalians. But this is to mistake the consequence for the cause. The real reason for the increasing hostility was the rapid increase in the catholic population. The remarkably swift industrialisation of Belfast after 1800 drastically altered the plantation mosaic of settlement in eastern ulster, by drawing into Belfast vast numbers of workers, not only from the hinterland, but from Catholic areas in the west and the south. By the mid-century the Catholic proportion of the population was 35%."


Paul Bew has also written about the liberalism of the Ulster Gladstonian tradition. Andy Pollak asked, 'What happened to the North’s Progressive Presbyterians?' And said
"[The freethinking, left-of-centre Presbyterian tradition]… has largely disappeared in the past 50 years as Northern Irish society and politics have become more polarised than ever between the extremes of unionism/loyalism and nationalism/republicanism... But in this new, relatively peaceful era… is it wishful thinking to wonder if a renewal of this progressive element of Northern Protestantism might be contemplated? Is it impossible that this attractive radicalism might be re-discovered by a new generation of younger people from this important Protestant tradition?"
Kylie Noble wrote:
"To me and many of my Protestant peers the unionism of 2014 seems by and large caught in the past. It is a great shame that the majority of our unionist politicians seem to have forgotten or are not aware of the hidden history of Protestants and radicalism."
I have written that by failing to encourage diversity of opinion and ideas, unionism disempowers itself. Louis Paul-Dubois wrote in 1908:
"Fanaticism will one day be killed by radicalism in Ulster, but the struggle is not yet near its end."


Speaking here grandson of Eamonn de Valera and Fianna Fail grandee puts Ireland into its European historical context. He contrasts Eamonn de Valera’s Ireland with HItler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain.

If he can put Ireland into a historical context for the 20th Century, can he do it for the 17th, 18th and 19th when the continent was rocked by savagery, defined by religious sectionalism and racked by penal laws.

France imposed penalties on protestants who were deemed “heretics”. A regard for context would considerably dilute the enmity held towards Britain in Ireland. Yet one further example of the duplicity and doubletalk in Irish history and cultural narrative.

White Christian Europeans en masse conquered and colonised each other, others, and I'm turn the colonised would also colonise.

If we are to demonise one, demonise them all.
Edward Carson wrote in 1912:
"In 1795, when the French had made themselves masters of Brabant, Flanders, and Holland, the rebel government of United Irishmen was so well-established in Ireland that, as Lord Clare, the Irish Chancellor, subsequently admitted in the House of Lords, Ireland was for some weeks in a state of actual separation from Great Britain. When the great Rebellion of 1798 broke out, the French Directory sent assistance to the Irish rebels in order to facilitate the greater scheme—the conquest of England and of Europe. When we come to estimate the danger which the grant of Home Rule to Ireland would bring to the safety of England, we are faced with two considerations. In the first place, the movements of the French in the past were, as we have said, strategic. Given an Irish Parliament that was hostile to England, or at least dubious in her loyalty to this country, the movement of a hostile fleet against our communications would be as dangerous now as it was in the past. 
When we try to estimate what would be the feelings of an Irish Government when England was at war, we have to consider not only the speeches of avowed enemies of the Empire like Major McBride and the Irish Americans, but we have also to remember the attitude adopted upon all questions of foreign policy by the more responsible Nationalists of the type of Mr. Dillon. Not only have the Irish Nationalist party consistently opposed every warlike operation that British Governments have found to be necessary, but they have also fervently attacked the Powers on the Continent of Europe that have been suspected of friendship to England. We have only to imagine the element of weakness and disunion which would be introduced into our foreign policy by an Irish Parliament that passed resolutions regarding the policy of the Governments, say, of Russia and of France, in order to realise the immense dangers of setting up such a Parliament when we are again confronted with a mighty Confederation of opponents in Europe. It is admitted that the next European war will be decided by the events of the first few days. In order to succeed, we shall have to strike and strike quickly. But in order that there should be swift and effective action, there should be only one Government to be consulted. The Irish Ministry that was not actively hostile, but only unsympathetic and dilatory, might, in many ways, fatally embarrass Ministers at Westminster."
"The connections between ireland and France during the Revolutionary era have been brought only recently into focus by historians. For the French, Ireland was the traditional backdoor to England, as it had been for Spanish strategy in the sixteenth century; the ideas mooted by the radical wing of the United Irishmen also fitted with the revolutionary tactic of puppet republics.... 
From 1792 schemes for French aid, and hypothetical offers from Paris, were the currency of radical conspiracy. And more effectively, from late 1793 the French leadership was interested in Ireland as a base for destabilising England. This was no less true for being a point constantly emphasised by Pitt's government."
He also wrote:
"Tone made the vital connection with Carnot and the generals… His memoranda to Carnot show an adroit exaggeration of public discontent in Ireland, and an impressive command of military arguments. 
In Lazare Hoche he discovered a kindred spirit - an energetic enthusiast out to make his reputation. Thus the invasion of Ireland became absorbed into the Hoche-Bonaparte rivalry: it could have played the part in Hoche’s career that Italy did in Bonaparte’s. And Hoche’s premature death in 1797 closed a chapter for Ireland as it opened one for Napoleon."
John Philpott Curran said in his defence of Owen Kirwan that a victory for the rebels underwritten by the French, would have led to the French possession of and despotism in Ireland.
"Are your opinions of modern and subjugated France the same that you entertained of popular and revolutionary France fourteen years ago? Have you and hope that if the first consul got possession of your island, he would treat you half so well as he does those countries at his door, whom he must respect more than he can respect or regard you? And do you know how he treats those unhappy nations? You know that in Ireland these is little personal wealth to plunder - that there are few churches to rob. Can you then doubt that he would reward his rapacious generals and soldiers by parcelling out the soil of the island among them, and by dividing you into lots of serfs to till the respective lands to which they belonged? Can you suppose that the perfidy and treason of surrendering your country to an invader, would to your new master be any pledge of your allegiance? 
Are you protestants? He has abolished Protestantism with Christianity. Are you Catholics? Do you think he will raise you to the level of the pope?"
Edmund Burke wrote:
"Ireland [could not be] separated from England, she could not exist without her; she must ever remain under the protection of England, her guardian angel."
William Drennan in 1795 wrote:
"I forgot a phrase which O'Connell made use of when the conversation hinted at a connection between France and Ireland. He said that Britain would then be between the blades of the scissors, and she knew well that her own existence would be in such jeopardy as not to resist such a connection to the last drop of her blood."
William Pitt the Younger said:
"Ireland is the point in which the enemy thinks us the most assailable."
J.R. Fischer wrote in ‘Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union’ (1912):
"From that time [the Tudor era] till the legislative Union every enemy of England could safely count on finding a foothold and active friends in Ireland." 
James Napper Tandy, contemporary of Wolfe Tone, was spared death when Napoleon Bonaparte refused to sign the Treaty of Amiens until Tandy was released. Willie Redmond explained why he joined the British Army:
"I am firmly and absolutely convinced that the future freedom, welfare and happiness of the Irish people depend on the part Ireland plays in the war - There may be a few who think that the Germans would not injure Ireland, and that they would even benefit her. I hope the Clare people will rely on no such statements. If the Germans come here ― and they will if they reach Great Britain ― they will be our masters and we shall be at their mercy. What that mercy is likely to be, judge by the treatment given to Belgium. The Belgians never did the Germans any harm, and yet Belgium was invaded and the Belgian people massacred, and their homes and churches destroyed. A niece of my own, a nun, has been a victim ― driven from her convent home by shot and shell."
Bonar Law said:
"To anyone who knows the history of Ireland who knows the history in our own lifetime, and the part which has been played by Nationalist Members in this House and Nationalist Members in Ireland—to anyone who recalls the state of this country during the whole of the Napoleonic Wars, when Ireland was a constant source of danger to Great Britain, it is not a small thing, it is a very great thing, that for the first time in our history the official representatives of the Nationalist Party are openly and avowedly on the side of Great Britain."
R.R. Madden wrote:
"At the opening of this sessions [of 1793] every man thought... That the Catholics must be completely emancipated, and a radical reform in parliament effectuated, but the delusion was soon removed. It was suddenly discovered that it was necessary to have a strong government in Ireland... The war had been approved by parliament..."
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in July 1913 in the Irish Review:
"I would venture to say one word here to my Irish fellow-countrymen of all political persuasions. If they imagine that they can stand politically or economically while Britain falls, they are woefully mistaken. The British Fleet is their one shield. If it be broken, Ireland will go down. They may well throw themselves heartily into the common defense, for no sword can transfix England without the point reaching Ireland behind her."
This was in response to the famous 'Shan Van Vocht' article of 1913 which rubbished the idea that Ireland is destined to be dominated, if it wasn't Britain it would be another European super-power. The writer wrote:
"The British view of the fate of Ireland in the event of British defeat may be stated as two-fold only two contingencies are admitted. Either Ireland would remain after the war as she is to-day, tied to Great Britain, or she might be (this is not very seriously entertained) annexed by the victor. No other solution, I think, has ever been suggested. Let us discuss..."
Martin Mansergh TD wrote in a letter to the Irish Times in November 2010:
"Probably neither the 1916 Rising nor the 1798 Rebellion would have taken place without the leaders being able to hold out some prospect of foreign military assistance (“gallant allies in Europe”, “the French are on the sea”). Indeed, Tone was captured off the Donegal coast wearing a French officer’s uniform."
IMPORTANTLY, Mansergh concedes:
"Both times, there was some speculation about the political price that might be exacted, a German prince, a French pro-consul." 
Michael O'Cathail from Dun Laoghaire wrote to the Sunday Times:
"Flanagan states that commemorating the Rising will be done in an inclusive manner. I hope, therefore, that the extermination of the Armenian people (1.5m) and Assyrian people, carried out by what Ireland’s 1916 proclamation calls its "gallant allies”, Turkey and Germany, will be acknowledged by his government."


The American War of Independence was a civil war between Anglicans and Presbyterians. Kevin Whelan wrote in his essay on the United Irishmen, ‘Three Revolutions and a Failure’:
"Presbyterians [in Ireland] were keenly aware of the great victory achieved by American dissenters in establishing the separation of church and state in the American institution. This was a tremendous victory for them over the Anglicans, and in one point of view, the American War of Independence can be viewed as a civil war between Anglicans and Presbyterians."
Jeremy Black said on Radio 4, ‘The Prime Ministers - William Pitt the Younger’:
"The American war of independence was not some distant war of choice this was a civil war in the empire. A war between cousins and brothers which had gone completely pear shaped, which had left the king threatening abdication, the political system in ruins and the country in an unprecedented debt."
Niall Ferguson wrote in the FT:
"I have written with irony about the way Americans misremember the second British civil war, which they prefer to call their war of independence."
Charles Cooke wrote:
"You have this revolution in America in which the British fight the British and then they codify classical liberal values into a Constitution and it’s great. That’s not how it goes down normally… Especially in the Middle East, what they want to replace their dictatorship with, if you look at the polling, is Sharia law."


George Bernard Shaw wrote:
"It was proposed to me that I should help to uplift my downtrodden country by assembling with other Irishmen to romance about 1798. I do no take the slightest interest in 1798. Until Irishmen apply themselves seriously to what the condition of Ireland is to be in 1998 they will get very little patriotism out of yours sincerely GBS."
Edward Carson said in a Speech in Torquay, 30 January 1921:
"There is no one in the world who would be more pleased to see an absolute unity in Ireland than I would, and it could be purchased tomorrow, at what does not seem to me a very big price. If the South and West of Ireland came forward tomorrow to Ulster and said – “Look here, we have to run our old island, and we have to run her together, and we will give up all this everlasting teaching of hatred of England, and we will shake hands with you, and you and we together, within the Empire, doing our best for ourselves and the United Kingdom, and for all His Majesty’s Dominion will join together”, I will undertake that we would accept the handshake."
John Hume wrote in 1964:
"Another positive step towards easing community tensions and towards removing what bigotry exists among Catholics would be to recognize that the Protestant tradition in the North is as strong and as legitimate as our own. Such recognition is our first step towards better relations. We must be prepared to accept this and to realize that the fact that a man wishes Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom does not necessarily make him a bigot or a discriminator."


Patrick Pearse wrote:
"O'Connell said long ago that he would rather be ruled by the old Protestant Ascendancy Irish Parliament than by the Union Parliament; “and O'Connell was right,” said Mitchel. He certainly was. 
It is unquestionable that Sir Edward Carson’s Provisional Government would govern Ireland better than she has been governed by the English Cabinet; at any rate, it could not well govern her worse. 
Any six Irishmen would be a better Government of Ireland than the English Cabinet has been."
Echoing, Trotskyist false-consciousness notions, Pearse also wrote:
"It has become clear within the last few years that the Orangeman is no more loyal to England than we are. 
He wants the Union because he imagines that it secures his prosperity; but he is ready to fire on the Union flag the moment it threatens his prosperity. The position is perfectly plain and understandable... 
Foolish notions of loyalty to England being eliminated, it is a matter for business-like negotiation."
In the Irish Echo it was proposed that Andrew Jackson hasn’t been adopted by the Irish-American community because he was a Protestant. Ian Paisley in 1976 wrote 'America’s Debt to Ulster.' 

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