Why was Ireland so important to Peels career
The relation between Sir Robert Peel and Ireland has always been a significant one, as the society of Ireland clearly had some effect on Peels life, political position and power. Peel had prior to being prime minister, was chief secretary of Irelandin the period 1812-1818. He was considered an expert of Irish affairs and was commonly known as the first ever politician to have some graspe of understanding the complexities of Irelands position. However to the Tories he essentialyl a ‘safe pair of hands’, so clear were his anti -catholic feelings that he was given the nickname ‘Orange peel’.
This stance won many supporteers in his own party as many thought that Peel would do anything to uphold the interests of The Anglecan Church as he was a hard line protestant. They were wrong. Peels carrer was undoubtedly affected by Irish cocerns throughout the period 1829-46, starting with the passage of Roman -Catholic emancipation. He had previously openly ciritised the corruption of Irish Mp’s and the attitudes of protestant minority, whilst continuing to defend the system. He realised that there were 2 main obstacles in the way of curing Irelnd.
One was that there had always been poor relations between tenants and landlors, and the other was that there were also bad relations between the British government on the one side and the Catholic middle class+ the moderate clergy. Peel wanted to saolves these crisises, and the first major breakthrough was in 1829 when Roman Catholic emancipation was introduced. In 1828 parliment had repealed the Test and Coporation Acts, thereby ending all legal restrictions on the civil rights of Dissenters.
This meant that it became extremely difficult for Peel and Wellington to ignore the issua of granting emancipation, especially since resistance against this had been weakening from 1812 onwards. The graning was sparked by the views of a famous Dublin lawyer by the name of Daniel O ‘Connor who was not allowed to take his seat in parliament due to being Catholic. This caused a massive uprising in Ireland, the people were fuming with rage and anger and Peel had little choice but to give in. This was because of not only the danger, but the inconvenient range of accessibility via the English Channel.
This meant that Ireland posed a major threat to England and became something that Peel could not afford to leave behind. Thus, there was a major impact on the party, Peel was accused of betrayel, a man who had turned his back against his own party. Peel argued that it would prevent widespread disturbances and possible revolution. By avoiding civil war and anarchy, Peel was still accused of going against the ancient constitution, and this left a major amount of bitterness and doubt in Peels career was party leader. Peel regarded this as a defeat by the Dublin prodigy Daniel O ‘Connel.
By becoming heavily critised by Tory ultras for his humiliating U-tung Peel resolved to never be beaten by O’Connel again. Tis sparked a rivalry and meant that Ireland would always be a integral idea on Peels mind. This escalated further in 1841 when the sword oof O connel and Peel crossed swords once more. On this occasion the Act Of Union became the major The repeal association led by O Conner was determined to put this issue at the forefront of politics, he was convinced that a mass movement would force Peel to give in once more. The movement was absed on loosng the landlord control of Ireland, and the Catholic church.
It had many forms of support such as young extremist groups such as the Young Ireland. Peel was in a very awkward condition. He knew he could not give in to O’Connoel once more and face the warth of his own party. So he had to think very carefully. His problems were furthered by the introduction of a new group labelled The Chartists who would use moral and physical force to get what they wanted. Their aim was to give men the vote, in oder to save the Union. Peel was in a major dilemma at this point by facing a battle on both points of the political spectrum.
However in 1843 a huge meeting was oorganised by the Repeal association at a place called Clantof. Peel knew this was his chance to eradicate any threat from O’Connel and acted swiftly to arrest him. Devoid of its leadership the repeal movement collapsed and on this occasion Peel had kept his nerve and resolve. This whole episode with O’Connel meant that Irelands grievances was put at the start of his views. In 1843 Peel therefore appointed Lord Devon to investigate the main problems of Ireland such as education,rents and leases. Rents were extremely high as a result of a growing population.
Many peasents were landless and forced to live on potatoes. The devon commission reported its findings exclaiming that a bill in support on limited compensation should be introduced. This issue was defeated by the Lords. Having not dealt with this issue adequately Peel turned to education. He was convinced that the rate of the presithood needed to be re-examined. This is because Priests provided a vital link between Rulers and and the ru;led and were very influential in Irish life.