Majority Rule


The delusion was successfully propagated in Ireland and in England that Mr. Dillon represented the principles of "Unity" and "Majority Rule," of which those of us who stood fast by the Land Conference Policy of Conciliation plus Business were the violators. The truth is directly the reverse. Nobody who investigates the facts can by any possibility dispute that it was the self-constituted defenders of "Unity" and "Majority Rule" who themselves defied these principles and destroyed them. The Land Conference Policy was ratified by the entire body of the Irish Parliamentary Party, with the solitary exception of Mr. Dillon, and was adopted as the authorised National Policy "with substantial unanimity" (as the Freeman itself confessed) by the sovereign authority of the National Convention (from which Mr. Dillon of set design absented himself). In his first overt proposal for the repudiation of that Policy he could not find a seconder at the meeting of the Party. The only two men of consequence who joined in his "determined campaign" at the outset were Mr. Davitt, whose attitude as a fanatical Land Nationalizer every body made allowance for, and Mr. Sexton who had seven years previously withdrawn from the Party and from public life in a mood of disappointment and despair, and had only obtained his appointment as Business Director of the Freeman's Journal on an express public pledge that he would not interfere with the faithful support of the policy of the Irish Party in its pages. These gentlemen will not think of contesting that during more than six months, they carried on with the tremendous assistance of the Party's own official organ a bitter daily campaign with the avowed object of wrecking the Land Conference Settlement on grounds which are now universally acknowledged to have been wrong-headed and even childish—in open defiance of every representative authority in the Party and in the country, and in flagrant violation of those principles of "Unity" and "Majority Rule" in virtue of which they subsequently had the effrontery to claim the allegiance of the country. No sharper condemnation of Mr. Dillon's revolt could well be penned than his own admission in the last letter which to my keen regret was ever to pass between us: (11th February, 1903): "Redmond Harrington and you are at all events in a position to say that you have received from the country an absolutely overwhelming vote of confidence so far as your Conference proceedings go."

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The Irish Revolution

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William O'Brien was a County Cork M.P. who participated in the negotiations for Home Rule in Ireland. In this account, first published in 1923, he provides an insight into the politics and politicians of the time - John Redmond, John Dillon, Arthur Griffith, Sir Edward Carson, Bonar Law, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, etc. - and gives his analysis of the origins of the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent Irish Civil War. From his own perspective, O'Brien was very much anti-Partition, and was evidently frustrated at the failure to give adequate reassurance to the Northern Unionists.

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