Saturday, March 27, 2010
Edward Henry Carson, Baron Carson
9 February 1854, Dublin, Ireland – died 22 October 1935, Kent, England
Carson campaigned against Home Rule. He spoke against the Bill in the House of Commons and organised rallies in Ireland. At one rally, Carson told a crowd of 50,000 that a provisional government for "the Protestant province of Ulster" should be ready, should a third Home Rule Bill come into law.
On 28 September 1912, he was the first signatory on the Ulster Covenant, which bound its signatories to resist Home Rule with the threat that they would use "all means necessary" after Carson had established the Ulster Volunteers, the first loyalist paramilitary group. From it the Ulster Volunteer Force was formed in January 1913, and received a large arms cache from Germany in April 1914.
Imperial Germany was very eager to promote political tension in the United Kingdom at the time, and readily allowed the delivery of arms to both sides of the political divide in Ireland.
The Home Rule Bill was passed by the Commons on 25 May 1914 by a majority of 77 and due to the Parliament Act 1911, it did not need the Lords' consent, so the bill was awaiting royal assent. To enforce the legislation, given the activities of the Unionists, Herbert Asquith's Liberal government had prepared to send troops to Ulster. This sparked the Curragh Incident on 20 March. Together with the arming of the southern Irish Volunteers, Ireland was on the brink of civil war when the outbreak of the First World War led to the suspension of the Home Rule Act's operation until the end of the war. By this time Carson had announced in Belfast that an Ulster Division would be formed from the U.V.F., and the 36th (Ulster) Division was swiftly organised.