The Volunteers Disbanded

Justin McCarthy
Chapter IX | Start of Chapter

The resistance offered by the Irish Parliament to Grattan's further reforms had much to do with the promotion of the new troubles which were to come upon Ireland. Grattan's own popularity was for a time somewhat shaken by the course he took after the Irish Parliament had thus been made comparatively free. He was willing to accept the terms on which the English Government had granted independence to the Irish Parliament as satisfactory and as offered with sincere intentions. Flood thought that not enough had been done by legislation to make Ireland feel secure that the English Sovereign and his advisers would never attempt to evade the terms of the constitutional agreement. Grattan, who was a thoroughly constitutional statesman, believed that the work of the Volunteers had been fully accomplished, and that they ought to be disbanded and allowed to return to civilian life. Flood maintained that the Volunteers should be kept in force as a sort of national standing army to deter the English Government from any new encroachment on the liberties of Ireland. This difference of opinion seems the more remarkable when we remember that Grattan was the champion of religious emancipation and that Flood was still one of those who would have maintained some system of exclusion against his Catholic fellow subjects. Grattan's policy prevailed. The Volunteers disbanded and dispersed, not without many indignant protests and gloomy prophesyings from Flood and those who felt with him. A large proportion of the Irish people were dissatisfied with the disbanding of the Volunteers, and Grattan's failure to carry a complete measure of Catholic emancipation caused many Catholics to lose faith in the new independent Irish Parliament.