The Act of Union

The Irish question was becoming increasingly popular. Ireland and the idea of Home Rule dominated Gladstone's third and fourth ministries. The idea of Home Rule and the real split with the party came in 1886 but prior to this legislation was being passed in Irelands favour. Ever since Gladstone's, 'mission to pacify Ireland' he tried to resolve their grievances. The Disestablishment Of Church Of Ireland 1868 (DOCOI) and The Irish land Act 1870 was followed by the Second Land Act in 1881.

These acts were in accordance with Gladstone's idea of justice and liberty. These acts gave rites to Irish tenants to use and improve their land. The DOCOI 1868 took the power away from the Protestant Church in Ireland and gave more to Catholics. Although it didn't get rid of the tax they had to pay to the Church Of England, it lowered it dramatically. The Second Land Act finally granted the "Three Fs", namely Fixity of tenure for peasant farmers, the Free sale of their crops, and Fair rents, that the Irish had been seeking for so long but this wasn't' enough.

England for years had misunderstood the situation and thought that the Irish, once their justified grievances had been redressed and Ireland recognised as an equal and distinct society within the United Kingdom, would peacefully recognise the mutual benefits of the Act of Union. Englnad could not come round to addressing a straightforward Irish question before the Irish had already changed it to something else, and this brought along the idea that, "whenever the English solved the Irish question, the Irish changed the question.

" The English thought by passing small Acts they could justify what they were doing, but Ireland under their, 'Uncrowned King' Parnell, was more determined to attain Home Rule. Parnell was the driving force behind them. At root, the Irish question did not change much over the second half of the nineteenth century, but people in Ireland began to voice out aloud what they had thought quietly for many years and Parnell was the one that behind this. It was Gladstone who realised that the only way to stop all this chaos and problems was to grant Home Rule.

Many say this was because of his genuine moral belief of equality whereas others believe this was a tactical move but whatever his motives behind the move it caused great discontent both within the country and his party. The Whigs were shocked at the agitation and disorder and were against the idea of 'improving legislation. ' This is probably the reason why the Coercion Act was passed. This gave the authorities special powers to arrest but Gladstone was quick to let Parnell go after his arrest in 1882, showing that really he wasn't in favour of repression.

The radicals wanted remedial measures and were also against repression. However neither of them were as radical as to want Home Rule and Gladstone saw no other way him turning to Home Rule was what united these two distinct groups to turn against his leadership. Therefore in conclusion it can be seen that both the Liberal party and its ministers was beset with fundamental problems which inevitably had an effect on legislation. The party couldn't unite on one front because of the clash between party members. The party in essence was made up of two differing schools of thought and this caused hostility within the party.

If a party didn't agree on anything, passing legislation on it was somewhat impossible. The Whig element of his party contradicted his belief of liberty and justice, and also went against the Radicals in the group and Gladstone had the task of trying to maintain these personalities and unite them on one aim . However Gladstone himself began to concern himself with Ireland and his second, third and fourth ministries were devoted to that. With no one to act as the,' cement' of the party and their leader trying to change something the majority of the country was against