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History 111

Eleventyone years ago today, the House of Lords rejected the People’s Budget of Lloyd George.
Furious, Lloyd George pushed through the Parliament Act in 1911, limiting the Lords veto to two years.
As a result of the Lords loss of veto, the third Home Rule bill passed in 1912, and would go into effect in 1914.
Between 1912 and 1914, unionists organised to oppose Home Rule, eventually forming the Ulster Volunteer Force, pledged to oppose a Dublin parliament by force of arms.
In response, nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers.
Both sides drilled, practised military manoeuvres, gave themselves martial-sounding titles, and made attempts to import guns.
The 1914 deadline was postponed though, as the world — or at least, Europe — went to war.
Many UVF members joined the British army to fight in Flanders and prove their loyalty.
The Irish Volunteers split, some going to fight in France, arguing this proved they deserved their own parliament, others saying Irish people had no business dying in English wars.
What matters though, is that as a result, there was a body of men primed and ready when the IRB conspirators decided to make their move in 1916. That move failed, but it led in turn to a decisive electoral victory in December 1918, and a campaign of violence followed.
Twelve years and six days after the Lords vetoed his budget, Lloyd George signed a treaty with Michael Collins, agreeing the partition of Ireland with not one, but two home rule parliaments, one in Dublin, one in Belfast.
Collins died in the civil war that followed in Ireland. After the treaty was ratified, the Irish Free State was ruled by his party for a decade, and then by his civil war opponents, Fianna Fáil, who systematically dismantled the Free State constitution.
There are a lot of dates when you could mark Irish independence. 24 April 1916. 21 January 1919. 29 December 1937. 18 April 1949. I’ve even heard arguments for 13 March 1979 (the day Ireland joined the EMS, breaking the link with the pound sterling, in case you’re wondering.)
But 30 November 1909 was the day the Lords accidentally broke the Union.

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