‘Après la guerre’: John Redmond, The Irish Volunteers, and Armed Constitutionalism, 1913–1915

McConnel, James (2016) ‘Après la guerre’: John Redmond, The Irish Volunteers, and Armed Constitutionalism, 1913–1915. The English Historical Review, 131 (553). pp. 1445-1470. ISSN 0013-8266

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Abstract

The received narrative of the Ulster crisis relegates John Redmond to the role of bystander as parliamentary politics were sidelined by paramilitarism. Only the First World War, in this account, arrested the advance of armed force in Irish politics. This article seeks to disrupt this narrative by demonstrating that Redmondites were not untouched by the militarist turn which Ireland experienced in these years. Instead, home rulers developed an armed strategy of their own in response to the advent of militant extra-parliamentary politics. Having taken over the Irish Volunteers in spring 1914, Redmondites began to arm their supporters in defence of self-government. Separatists were scornful of these efforts, and it is true that Redmondites initially saw this activity primarily in political terms. But the outbreak of war persuaded Redmond that the eventual return of loyalist soldiers to Ireland at the end of the conflict could be decisive if the Ulster crisis resumed. Believing that nationalists needed to plan for this contingency, Ireland’s prime minister-in-waiting resolved to use the war to build a home rule army. Initially, pro-war nationalists hoped that this could be achieved through the Volunteers becoming a government-sponsored home guard, but War Office opposition forced Redmond to the conclusion that only British military service could ensure a sufficient force to secure the future of self-government. Though this strategy of armed constitutionalism had unravelled by Easter 1916, that it was attempted suggests that late Redmondism should not be conceived of only in terms of Redmond’s public rhetoric of orange and green reconciliation through common battlefield sacrifice.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: V100 History by period
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 15:29
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2017 00:33
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/28090

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