Irish Reform between 1829-1840 was limited
The early 19th century marked a great turning point in how Ireland would be governed in the future, no longer were the needs of the Irish Catholics being overlooked by Protestant landlords who cared little for the people. Daniel O’Connell the ‘Great Emancipator’ had opened the started the landslide of new reforms when he had secured his position in parliament. However events such as the aftermath of the Emancipation Act and the Tithe War showed that this reform that occurred was really having little effect on the violence and unrest that was occurring in Ireland at the time.
However the Emancipation Act and the number of further reforms later that followed it showed this new freedom was really pushing the boundaries of what Irish Catholics could do and giving rights back to the Irish finally. The Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 really pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable at the time in British politics. For the first time ever the British government had given an Irish Roman Catholic a seat in Parliament which showed that O’Connell reforming and campaigning was really reforming Irish rights giving Irish people the right to stand as an MP legally due to the alteration of the Oath of Supremacy.
This also showed an example of long term change as before Irish Catholics had little to do with British politics and the people who controlled the interests of the Irish population were ‘the Castle’ who consisted mainly of English lords and aristocrats who cared little about the Irish. But now due to the work of the Catholic association many Irish were starting to vote for pro-reform politicians rather than just for their landlords.
This showed that reform was actually occurring in Ireland and that the old British established order was being politically upset. In addition to this, a series of further reform occurring after the Emancipation Act of 1829 were also helping to change the island massively, this included the ability of Irish politicians to be appointed to the ‘Castle’, a new national police force to prevent crime and the curbing of power of the extremist protestant groups in Ireland like the Orange Order.
All of this meant that Irish Catholics were indeed starting to gain more respect and power due to these reforms and that Ireland was changing for the better. This was also another example of long term change and showed that reforms were not limited during this period as the Irish were experiencing freedoms they had never experienced before under British control. As well as these acts being introduced, with the overthrow of the Tory party a new Irish-Whig alliance was formed creating a new Irish political powerhouse that actually had influence in parliament.
Coupled with the fact that in 1833 there were 39 O’Connellite MP’s, it showed that there was a serious amount of reform and newly found freedom in this period as only 4 years Irish people were not being represented at all in parliament. On the other hand, the reform that took place during this period had some limitations; this included the way in which some British politicians acted after the Act. This included the new ? 0 household suffrage which was seen by many as an act of political spite against O’Connell, this act limited the amount of people in Ireland who could vote and showed that although the Emancipation Act passed there were still other ways in which disgruntled British politicians could get back at the Catholic Association. This was reinforced by the Coercion Act of 1833 where the Whigs, O’Connell’s ally created a bill to control law and order in Ireland where the authorities were giving a wider range of power to imprison people and break up meetings.
This showed that the amount of reform was being limited by the fact that neither both the British or Irish politicians really trusted each other and there was still political hatred between the two factions, showing that although there was some reform it was still limited in some respects. Furthermore, the unrest due to the Tithe Wars from 1831 to 1838 showed that the Emancipation Act was not enough reform and change for some Irish middle class members who had resolved to violence to achieve their aims.
This shows that the reforms during this period were indeed limited as they did not fulfil the needs of some Catholics in Ireland resulting in increase in crime, the posting of soldiers and police officers and the breakdown of order in many parts of Ireland. This was an example of short term continuity as it reflected what was happening only 30 years before during the 1798 and 1803 Rebellions. This showed that the reforms that occurred did not change much in the long run and that there was always going to be unrest and violence in Ireland.
In conclusion, the reforms were not limited as they paved the way for further changes and campaigns in order to give the Irish Catholics more freedom. This was shown in the increase of pro-O’Connell MP’s that were able to participate in parliament and the ability for Irish people to hold nearly any position in British government. It also showed the flexibility of the British government as they were able to alter the Oath of Supremacy and allow Irish MP’s into government, showing that the reforms were not limited at all.
However even though there was some violence in Ireland and there were some civil liberties taken away from the Irish, this did not last long and this unrest would always occur as long as the British had any presence in Ireland as shown in the centuries of Irish violence that had occurred before the Emancipation Act and the further reforms. Although these reforms had some downsides, the overall effect was positive and showed that the reforms were not limiting in the long run.