On Tuesday 1 July Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, led a special event hosted by the Irish Embassy in London to mark the centenary of the Irish Home Rule Bill being signed into law. Among the speakers were former Taoiseach John Bruton, Lord Paul Bew (QUB), Professor Michael Laffan (UCD), and Professor Richard Toye (University of Exeter). Fergal Keane of the BBC moderated the proceedings.
The passage of the Home Rule Bill for Royal Assent was the culmination of the Irish Parliamentary Party’s long campaign for Home Rule, and marked the high point of the career of their then leader, John Redmond. The outbreak of World War One led to the suspension of the Bill for the duration of the conflict and subsequent events ensured that the Bill was never implemented.
Speaking in advance of the event, Minister Deenihan commented that ‘the Home Rule Bill is one of the defining moments in the relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom and was one of the most significant pieces of legislation relating to Ireland to be passed in Westminster between 1800 and 1921. Building on the work of Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and the Land League, John Redmond and his Irish Parliamentary Party finally delivered the Home Rule Act in 1914, which was widely greeted with enthusiasm in Ireland at the time. In many ways, it can be argued that Redmond’s contribution to the creation of modern Ireland has not been fully acknowledged. As part of our decade of commemorations, it is fitting that we acknowledge Redmond and the many Irish parliamentarians who worked to keep the cause of self-determination alive, and stayed hopeful throughout some of the darkest periods’.
Minister Deenihan outlined the series of events taking place in Ireland to commemorate the momentous events between 1912 and 1922 and said that John Redmond’s decisive speech at Woodenbridge in September 1914, when he encouraged Irish participation in the World War, will also be remembered.
Guest speakers outlined their individual perspectives on the Home Rule Act in the context of relations between Ireland and Britain, its evolution and its implications for the struggle for Irish independence and subsequent developments. A lively exchange of views ensued, including several questions from the floor. The distinguished audience comprised a range of Westminster parliamentarians including Northern Ireland Minister Andrew Robathan and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Ivan Lewis MP, along with MPs and Peers from a range of Westminster parties, academics including Vernon Bogdanor, Ronan Fanning, Sean McConville, Diane Urquhart and Marianne Elliott, officials, Irish community, cultural and business representatives and media. The event will be broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 5 July at 9pm.
The event was part of a series organised by the Irish Embassy in London. Previous events have included a discussion with Professor Ronan Fanning about his book: ‘Fatal Path’, and a discussion with Professor Sean McConville about political prisoners.
From Century Ireland: Home Rule Bill passes the House of Lords.
From Century Ireland: What was Home Rule?