The British withdrew from Ireland with great speed and remarkably little bloodshed.

Essay by yoshimiCollege, UndergraduateC+, April 2004

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Few would argue that the history of British rule in Ireland is a long and bloody one. However in order to assess the true nature of Britain's withdrawal from Ireland it is necessary to select a reasonable time frame within which the first steps towards Independence were taken and the eventual end of British rule in Ireland. Some would argue that the rebellion of 1798 saw the commencement of Ireland's bid for sovereignty thus extending the period of British withdrawal substantially. Alternatively one could argue that Britain has yet to complete its withdrawal from Ireland thus attributing the decades of violence in Northern Ireland to this withdrawal process. For the purpose of this essay I have taken the view that the process of withdrawal began with William Gladstone's premiership during which the first practical steps were taking by any British government towards ending British rule in Ireland. Similarly I have chosen the approval by the Dail of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922 as the point at which the withdrawal process was completed.

Gladstone was elected Prime Minister in 1886 and upon entering office he declared that it was his mission to 'pacify Ireland' , pledging firstly the disestablishment of the church of Ireland along with sweeping land reforms. Over the following twenty-two years he would make great strides towards the withdrawal of the British institutions in Ireland. This was in response to political pressure placed on him by Charles Stuart Parnell's extremely efficient Irish Parliamentary Party (I.P.P.), but also a genuine will to, 'act justly in Ireland' . However the ageing Gladstone was forced to retire after his second Home Rule Bill was defeated by the Conservative dominated House of Lords. This was to spell a major change of British policy in Ireland. Not only had his successor, Lord...