Sectarian Divisions of Ulster Labor Politics 1885-1906

On the 1st of July 1690, William, Prince of Orange, defeated the forces of James II at the Boyne on the Northern shores of Ireland. The significance of this event in Irish history does not lie in its military or political repercussions so much as it does in the religious overtones which were to echo into the next two and one half centuries of Irish politics. The conquering of the Catholic King, by his Protestant archrival, was to become the basis of political, social, and economic separation of an entire population of Irishmen. Religious differences soon evolved into linguistic differences and eventually, cultural distinctions. The development of two distinct traditions, one of Protestant, English and lowland Scottish roots, the other of Roman Catholic, Gaelic, and Celtic heritage, inevitably led to conflicts of competing interests in all areas of life. Had these two traditions been founded on equal footing, the disturbing and violent nature of Irish history may have been a calmer one. But the reality was an existence of a Protestant minority with close ties to the British mainland, which has been endowed with economic and political power over the vast majority of Catholic Irishmen.

Despite various but feeble attempts, by Catholics, to alleviate this disparity, throughout the next two hundred and fifty years, the situation was not to change drastically. However, an avalanche of radical events was to spark the birth of a move towards equality in the latter half of the 19th century that would extend to become Irish Nationalism. Perhaps the most drastic of these changes which were to take place in the northern counties, Collectively known as Ulster, were changes affecting the economic status. It was during this period that the area had become heavily industrialized in relation to the rest of the island. Industrialization had been a result of the modernization of the linen industry, spawned by the cotton famine during the American Civil War, and the migration and establishment of many of the world's largest shipbuilding companies in Belfast. The inevitable demand for skilled, as well as unskilled, labor allowed for the migration of poor tenant farmers into northern cities like Belfast and Londonderry seeking brighter economic prospects. In fact, it was during this period of relative population decline in Ireland as a whole, that Belfast had seen astounding growth of over 47%. The establishment of trade unions and labor organizations was given impetus by mainland labor organizations and, by this time had become, sufficiently well developed in this region. Labor politics in the region had manifested itself soon after becoming closely tied to mainland labor political groups and had developed to levels comparable to the rest of the United Kingdom by the turn of the century.

However well developed the labor movement had become, and however distinct the social and economic conditions between Ulster and the rest of Ireland, in both regions, labor issues were not predominant in Parliamentary politics. It was the genesis of the Home Rule movement that was to take the Parliamentary ``lime light''. The essence of the Home Rule question had begun in Westminster as a question of nationalism, which, in Ireland, was to become equated with religion. This polarization, along these lines, had resulted from Irish Protestant fears that ``Home Rule meant Rome Rule''. The general Protestant sentiment was that without the protection of the British Crown, their religious freedoms would be jeopardized by the Catholic masses. With an overwhelming majority of the Irish population being Catholic, Protestant concerns cannot be seen as being without foundation. However, the movement of Protestants to maintain the Union of the Crown and the Ireland, was to center primarily in the North. Unlike Ireland as a whole, in this region's counties, Protestants were often the majority It is upon this stage that labor politics was to perform its rise and fall during the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries.

To understand the nature of labor politics in Ulster and its attempts to distance itself from the question of nationalism, one must first understand the political, social, and economic nature of sectarian divisions in the region. Without such an understanding much of the political activities that culminated during this period would seem incomprehensible and unreasonable. Líam De Paor, a prominent scholar of the Ulster region, describes the situation in this manner:

In Ulster where industrialisation was more advanced than in any other part of the country, a development of social revolutionary movements might have been expected perhaps by the end of the century, but the working class in Ulster was divided, and the division was fostered and maintained by middle and upper-class interests. Especially after the revival of Orangeism, the workers tended to organise in Orange lodges or in the opposing clubs of the corresponding Catholic organisation .
Organisation of workers into sectarian divisions was prominent in Ireland as a whole, but Ulster, with its majority Protestant population, had seen the rise of Orange recruitment in particular. The Orange movement, with its name taken from William of Orange, was a Protestant organization created to protect Protestant ideals, and came to represent the maintenance of the Union. Its popularity had begun to spread rapidly throughout the region in response to the Catholic push for Home Rule in the late 1880's. While other regions, particularly Dublin, with its large Protestant population, had experienced similar growth, Ulster, with its shear size, had taken the forefront of the movement. However, the diverse nature of Ulster Protestants prevented the development of a coherent Protestant assembly based upon the Orange Order. The development of cleavages within the Unionist movement, as indicated by the internal divisions of the Orange Order, was to play a critical role between spikes of intense Home Rule activity. It was only during these times that Unionists could afford to disagree, since in times of crisis their unity would be necessary to counter the larger Nationalist-Catholic threat.
The causes of these cleavages complex and varied. They are only discussed here to provide a backdrop for their impending consequences in labour politics. The complex nature of the events surrounding the development of these cleavages have led historians to disagree on this issue. Many historians have argued the subject from a socialist perspective. These historians tend to base their analysis on the necessity of an independent Protestant organization to represent the Protestant working man whose identity was separate from that of his employer. This type of analysis is exemplified by this quote:

There were two things [working] men were willing to fight and die for, religion and politics -- a religion they had not got and a politics they did not understand.
However, the majority of this type of analysis requires a great deal of foresight on behalf of historical participants. They imply that independent leaders understood that they would be forced outside the main stream of politics while more traditional political organizations adopted their posture. Other historians have argued the problem along political lines, describing the formation of independent Protestant organizations as the product of the coalition of the Liberal and Conservative Unionist factions, but this argument also presents problems for it does not explain the subsequent alliance of these organizations with labour. In either case, the fact that the establishment of an Independent Orange Order in the region was to come to the aid of labour politics is undisputed. The interesting fact remains that Ulster Labour had attempted to bond with the Independents, who were more centerist in their ideology, while its southern counterparts had aligned itself with radical Nationalist organizations like Sinn Féin. Explanation for the more moderate stance of Ulster Labour will be provided in subsequent paragraphs, but here, it serves to emphasize the clear sectarian differences that can be seen in the politics of Ireland as a whole, and the distinctive quality of Ulster politics.
For the most part, political and sectarian divisions were one in the same during each of the Home Rule crises. This is exemplified by the resolution of the first Home Rule push in 1886, the Ulster and Dublin Protestant members of Parliament formed a coalition separate from the traditional Conservative and Liberal parties to maintain the Union. The Ulster Liberal Party, after much delaying, voted overwhelmingly to reject their mainland leadership on the 19th of March, 1886, siting Gladstone's support of the Home Rule movement. The subsequent month they formed the Ulster Liberal Unionist Committee and vowed to cooperate with Conservatives to defeat Home Rule. This organization was later to coalesce with its Conservative counterpart into the Ulster Unionist League. The movement of Liberals can be seen as a direct response to the need of a Unionist alliance with British Tories to combat the mainland Liberal and Nationalist alliance. Although these political organizations were not directly associated with the Orange Order, they drew a large percentage of their constituency from them . Their, at times, shaky alliance served to provide the populist basis for Unionist support during each of the subsequent Home Rule drives. However, the grouping of these players was to become the focus of Labour's political rise and subsequent decline during the succeeding years prior to 1910. With voting blocks coalesced, many who had once voted Liberal or Conservative, may have been left open to pursuit by Labor, if they disagreed with either party's Unionism. This factor was to become increasingly significant with the alliance of the Independent Orange Order and Labour.

Labour Politics was undoubtedly influenced by the economic conditions of Ulster during this period. By 1881, 44% of Ulster's population was employed by industry, comprising the largest employed subsection of the population. This was not the case in Ireland as a whole where only 24% of the population was employed by Industry. The wages of industrial employees can be easily separated into two categories: those of skilled workers, and those of unskilled workers. While wages of skilled workers was comparable to those in Great Britain as a whole, those of the unskilled worker were significantly less than that of the their mainland British counterparts. This had primarily been the result of the lack of organization of unskilled workers comprised primarily of women in the linen industry, and their vast supply, drawing from a large group of Catholic migrants from economically agrarian based counties who were willing to work for low wages. The largest portion of the work force, women workers of the linen industry, were not organized until 1910 and even then only represented some 10% of the female textile workers. This was in contrast to skilled workers in the shipbuilding and steel industries who had been organised by the 1850's and in large numbers. By 1901, the population of Belfast, the industrial center of Ulster, had been approximately 24.1% Catholic while the Catholics, during this period, never represented more than 12% of the ``skilled'' labour force (i.e. Engineers, boilermakers, etc.). In contrast, the Catholic minority represented a majority of the unskilled linen industry (made up, primarily of women and girls), and 41% of the dockers. The net result was the creation of labour representation, which had primarily drawn from skilled unions, that was heavily Protestant in composition. Although heavily favouring Protestants, its positions on religious issues provide evidence against the nationalist/socialist principles avowed by Irish contemporaries of the period such as James Connolly, leader of the southern socialist movement and a staunch nationalist, who claimed divisions of labour by religion, which amount to the establishment of a ``labour aristocracy,'' created by Protestant business owners. This more radical view has been rejected by modern socialists in favour of a view Strauss has adopted:

Although they were not better treated by their masters than the Protestant workers of Great Britain by theirs, Ulster Protestant workers were in a privileged position compared with their Catholic competitors. This modest share of the fruits of colonial conquest was perhaps the strongest tie between them and their masters.
However the statistics are interpreted, they point to an underrepresentation of Catholic labourers within the skilled unions which will, in turn, provide an understanding of the labour hierarchy's policies towards Catholics and the Home Rule Question.
The development of the Independent Orange Order in 1903 had marked the final stage of the devolution of a separate, political, Protestant entity, with Labour support, that was to be independent of Conservative, Liberal, or traditional Unionist Politics. The rise of the labour politics during this period had resulted from the ascendency of a new wave of Labour Party leaders who brought forth a socialist analysis to labour conflicts. This had been in sharp disparity with the labour leaders of the past decade who had advocated a conservative alliance in the face of the Home Rule crisis. The changing of Labour's traditional role in Irish politics from a passive supporter to an active advocate had come amidst strategic changes in the political landscape of Ulster. Although historians have argued in regards to when the shift had occurred, there is a general consensus that Labour's shift from its traditional conservative political base to a more radical socialist ideology was sudden (within a decade or so) and completed by the turn of the century. A more significant disagreement can be found in the differing characterizations of Labour's position on the Home Rule issue. Although they are clearly militant in regards to their stance on questions regarding labour disputes such as unemployment and poor laws, their stance on sectarian politics in the beginning of the 1900's does not support the claim made by historians such as Patterson who characterizes them as ``extremist''. On the contrary, as J.W. Boyle suggests, their attitude towards sectarian problems advocates a more moderate stance. Views of their militancy, in sectarian terms, were founded upon their desire to prevent ``Rome Rule'' without ``Home Rule,'' i.e. giving concessions to Catholics while avoiding Home Rule. On the surface, this stance may seem precariously militant, their attitudes towards Catholics and Home Rule were decidedly mild compared to their Unionist Counterparts. But this only offers a myopic view of their stance. In fact, Labour had supported Nationalist candidates with labour views such as Joseph Devlin. Furthermore, the IOO's Magheramorne Manifesto was supported by Leaders such as Tom Sloan, who had represented Labour interests. The contrast of views on the subject can be seen in the following quotes, the first from the period of traditionalist labour leader Thomas Johnston in 1892:

A good many Roman Catholics seemed to think that if Home Rule were granted all they would have to do would be to seize upon their neighbor's property. But the Unionists of Ulster had had to work for what they had, and they intended to stick to it. ... The Home Rule policy was a policy of plunder .
while the second is from Labour leader Ramsay McDonald in 1905:
We want to influence the Labour Party here in the direction of socialism and won't interfere in the Home Rule question until we are compelled -- and then the majority of our members would favour that policy I think.
The sharp difference in policy towards the question of Home Rule can be attributed to the rise of the socialist Labour leadership which attempted to distance itself from the issue.
This attitude towards the Home Rule crises ran parallel to the ideology of the Independent Orange Order. The development of the two institutions in the late 1800's, share so many aspects that they cannot simply be considered separately. Every historian referred to by this text has not failed to emphasize the nature of the interaction between these two organizations and the political significance in their overlap during the campaign of Tom Sloan, member of Parliament for the South Belfast constituency. It is clear that both organizations had developed as a result of the Liberal-Conservative coalition which had left a constituency of Labour and Nationalists without representation. The primary reason for this was a shift of the Unionist policies of the coalition, in response to the threat of Home Rule, towards militancy, thus leaving moderate Unionists in a political limbo. The alliance of Labour with the IOO was an attempt to capture the centerist constituency. The result was to be the formation of strong Labour candidacies, especially in the Belfast Area where the phenomenon was centered, during the early 1900's.

Tom Sloan became the first candidate to capitalize on the situation in his 1902 by-election candidacy for the South Belfast MP. His election was the first sign of support for Independent Orange-Labour support in Ulster. The events of the preceding year and the resignation of the last conservative leaders from the Belfast Trade Council allowed him to gain support from within the council and its political wing, the Independent Labour Party. Although he was not officially endorsed by the council, he ran on a platform appealing the ``Protestant Working Man''. His campaign was decidedly sectarian; Sloan played to an audience of Protestants who were disillusioned with the concessions of their traditional Conservative representatives to Catholics, and their opposition to labour legislation. Because of his public declaration of religious partiality he was not to be endorsed by the BTC, who, by charter, were obliged not to support a candidate taking a stand on the issue. It was in fact, his unquestionable Protestant attitude that was to act as the nemesis for his opponent, the Conservative-Liberal coalition candidate, C. W. Dunbar-Buller, who was attacked for his lack of support for ``Protestantism, ... trade unionism, and in a word he was fighting Protestant Belfast''. Dunbar-Buller was defeated by a 826 vote majority, a margin of more than 14%. Sloan's campaign was to become the hallmark to the Independent Labour movement which was to center around the ILP and its candidates. The end of Conservative-Liberal domination which began with his victory, was to instigate a series of attacks upon traditional bastions of Unionist Control. The year following his election sparked the beginning of the working class revolt of the old Orange Order led by Lindsay Crawford and the new Independent Orange Order. In subsequent elections, Sloan was to return to Parliament under the auspices of the Independent Orange Order and Lindsay Crawford, its founder. Historians agree that Sloan's success was, at least partly, a result of his appeal to the working classes and labour issues, but the degree to which the labour factor had played a significant role is a matter of debate. Boyle and Clarkson have argued this on socialist lines citing this factor as the main impetus for voters to chose Sloan. This view is not held by Patterson, Morgan, or Beckett who have assigned a greater significance to Sloan's appeal to Protestants as being more Protestant than his opponent. In some sense, both analyses are flawed in that they do not adequately explain the results of Labour candidates in similar elections, particularly in the districts of West Belfast and North Belfast.

Had Sloan's success been simply due to his appeal to the working class's labour interests, narrow losses by his fellow labour representatives would be left explained. Clearly, the use of the religious trump card was a significantly advantageous ploy. The Northern Belfast district election during the years that followed help to illustrate this point. The ILP which had been in existence since the early 1890's, had not been able to put forth a viable candidate for MP until 1905. It was in this year that Sir James Haslett who had held office for nine years passed away, leaving a vacancy in North Belfast. The Labour Representation Council (the leadership of the ILP) felt that the vacancy presented an opportunity for Labour to seize an electoral seat. William Walker was chosen to run, over a fellow Labour representative by the LRC because of his rhetorical abilities. His ascendency was by no means sudden. He had been president of the Trades Council after the departure of Sam Monro, a Conservative Unionist, and had been the de facto leader of the socialist wing of the ILP during Monro's term. The previous year, Walker had taken seat in Duncairn ward in North belfast to solidify his position in the region. His candidacy was then supported by the Irish Trade Unions Council as well as the Dublin and Belfast branches. His solid backing by the Labour hierarchy and his funding by the LRC seemed to indicate that his candidacy would be in a good position to capture North Belfast's working class constituency. The economic conditions of the time tended to support this idea. The area had witnessed an economic recession in the years of 1904 and 1905 with unemployment in some industries reaching as high as 19%. The position of the TUC and its members had been seen as that of protector of local jobs following its lead of a 1904 demonstration against the contracting of the local tramway system to outside firms. The working class constituency was assumed to be quite large given the presence of both of Belfast's largest shipbuilding yards in the district (Harland and Wolff, and Workman Clark and Company). The economic indicators seemed to further suggest that working class support would lie with Walker. Politically, he seemed a good match for his opponent, the Conservative Lord Mayor Sir Daniel Dixon, a staunch conservative, who had been opposed by Liberal Unionists, and criticized by Protestant press, particularly the The Irish Protestant. Furthermore, his alignment, although not overt, with the IOO should have further strengthened his ties with the Protestant workers while not alienating their Catholic counterparts. However, it was this sectarian policy which was to cost him his candidacy.

Walker's district of North Belfast was relatively Protestant having a Catholic minority of approximately 12%. This was half the city-wide average of 24% and would seem to make North Belfast a district suited for an independent Protestant Candidate. Choosing to run his campaign on labour issues alone (as specified by the LRC and TUC charters), he attempted to avoid questions of religion and Home Rule policy. Here Ramsay McDonald, Walker's election agent, offers a sample of the political deflection of religious issues here:

Catholics and Protestants, though not agreeing on certain grounds, should agree on others when it was a question of the Workman's Compensation Act, the amendment of the Factories Act, and the Old Age Pension scheme.
Walker's intention to fight his opponent solely on labour issues left him open to attacks by his opponent on the sectarian issue. With consistent attempts to deflect religious questions, he made is position on the Home Rule problem questionable in the minds of Protestant voters. His opponent successfully used his attempts to distance himself from the Home Rule problem by attacking his willingness to maintain the Union. Such ploys were exemplified by Dixon's attacks on McDonald, who, he had claimed, was a Catholic sympathizer and a Home Ruler. Many such attacks were ignored or deflected by campaign officials, and Walker himself. His response to attacks on McDonald were to change the focus of discussion and target a labour concern or attack Unionism or some combination of the two. This tactic is illustrated here, where he responds to a circulated placard portraying McDonald as a Home Ruler by attacking Unionism:
The miners of Durham, Staffordshire, Wales and Ayrshire did not understand Irish politics, did not understand the difference between Unionism and Nationalism ... The miner's sole aim was to reduce his hours of labour... For twelve years the miners' Eight Hour Bill had been before Parliament and with the exception of Mr. Sloan (Cheers), every Unionist in Ireland had voted against it. ... the party that was opposing Home Rule was voting against their material wants in the House of Commons.
Even this could not have eroded his support among the Protestant electorate to such a degree as to cost him a victory. As effective as such attacks were, they serve to illustrate Dixon's weakness on issues of labour, since Dixon likewise, had attempted to refocus Walker's attacks upon his support for labour issues such as the outside contracting of the local tramway system, onto the sectarian question.
The situation would thus appear to be a question of importance between two issues: labour and religion. Given the economic conditions and the seemingly dead status of Home Rule (although it was still an ever present threat), labour issues would logically have taken the forefront. Although most historian have concurred on this issue to some degree, their views of the relative strength of labour concerns varies widely. Clarkson suggests that labour issues were ``the very incarnation of capitalist industrialism in its most nakedly brutal form'' and argues that Dixon, representing capitalist interests used Walker's vagueness on the Home Rule question to discredit him, thus arguing Walker's loss on a class basis influenced by sectarian concerns. Patterson and Boyle have attempted to show the importance of Protestant doubt as to the Walker's stance on religious problems. Although neither side is quick to oppose the other's argument, there is a clear disagreement as to the nature of Walker's defeat. The arguments offered by both sides on the matter are compelling but fail to emphasize internal divisions in labour itself. Patterson recognizes that Walker's nomination for election in North Belfast was not without challenge from within his own party. In fact, his nomination had come only after the ILP nomination vote ended with a tie between himself and Robert Gageby, a Conservative trade unionist who had been closely associated with the old guard of the BTUC leadership. The final decision to chose Walker, was based upon his abilities of rhetoric, and his higher viability as a candidate. His less than smooth nomination process illustrates the underlying problem, of transition between the newer socialists and the more traditional conservatives within the Labour hierarchy.

Walker's campaign was to end in September, in a narrow defeat, with Walker losing by 474 votes. But this loss was not to come before the candidate was to make a tactical error that would swing a significant portion of the estimated 1,000 Catholic voters away from Labour. Some months before the election proper, the Belfast Protestant Association had pressured both candidates to answer a questionnaire to determine their resolve to uphold Protestant policy in Parliament. Dixon had refused to cooperate until Walker answered, on the grounds, that his ``Protestantism'' was not in doubt. Walker, after attempting to evade the survey, was cornered by the BPA's secretary a week before the election, and without consultation from his election committee answered the survey. His replies were subsequently printed in Protestant and Unionist papers throughout the city, resulting in internal disapproval from his election councillors. Dixon's campaign, upon seeing Walker's replies, declined to answer the survey, and instead, circulated flyers on election day containing their own version of the survey. Walker's replies, although satisfactory to Protestant organizations, were clearly indicative of his bigotry towards Catholics. One question asked: ``Will you, in all things, place the interests of Protestantism before those of the political party to which you are attached?'', Walkers response was, although somewhat evasive, a clear sign of his aversion to Catholicism: `` Protestantism means protesting superstition, hence true Protestantism is synonymous with labour''. He had identified labour as equivalent to Protestantism and, furthermore, the remaining replies illustrated an attitude that was not only Anti-Nationalist, but also blatantly Anti-Catholic.

It is generally accepted that this critical error was the cause of his loss in 1905. Joseph Devlin, publisher of the Northern Star, a Labour newspaper, and, later, West Belfast MP, described the event as follows:

Mr. Walker might have counted on the Nationalist vote had he been a genuine labour candidate, professing merely Unionist proclivities, for, as between two Unionists the Nationalist Party ever supports the more tolerant and progressive of the two, especially if he happens to be a Labour candidate. But Mr. Walker showed himself to be not only a violent Unionist, but a rabid bigot to boot.
In a word, Sir Daniel Dixon played his cards admirably, completely outwitting the Labour nominee. He refused to be badgered into signing the blasphemous declaration consisting of a series of questions put to him by the Belfast Protestant Association of bigoted guttersnipes.

In the following year, Walker's potential condemnation by his own ILP and the British and Irish trade councils was narrowly averted despite dissension from within the his own ranks. The primary reason being that he seemed a viable candidate for the regular elections in 1906 of which he was to make substantial headway, gaining a larger percentage of the electorate, but again losing to Dixon. The 1906 election year would be the last in which Walker would make any such gains, subsequent elections are beyond the scope of this paper, but suffice it to say that although representatives of labour interests were to win election in the Western and Southern districts, they did not run on behalf of the Labour party alone. These candidates including Tom Sloan, and Joseph Devlin, had openly declared themselves to be Unionist and Nationalist respectively, and endorsed by Labour in subsequent elections. Although the 1906 election did represent the height of Labour's political presence, it would also be the beginning of Labour's retreat from Ulster politics into a more revolutionary posture. The overwhelming burden of sectarian cleavages was to bring an unavoidable end of Labour's appeal to the partitioned electorate. Many historians tend to agree with McDonald who argued for a complete removal of Labour candidates from the sectarian issue. His argument was put forth in this manner:
My own feelings always have been that the business [the election] was muddled from beginning to end. I was never more sick of an election than that at North Belfast and then the religious replies coming at the end of it knocked everything out for me. I am afraid that those answers of his [Walker] will make it impossible for Walker to win the constituency.
However, this policy would be an unlikely panacea. A campaign of ambivalence towards the religious problem would likely have bred suspicion on the part of voters, which may have evolved into discontent. Furthermore, even if Walker were elected in 1905, his reelection in the years of crisis directly preceding the first World War would likely have forced him to align with either the Nationalists or the Unionists.
This argument is supported by the elections of 1906 and the more radical activities of the years that were to follow. In retrospect, the activities of leading Irish socialists can be seen as an indirect consequence of Walker's earlier push in Labour Party politics. Leaders such as Larkin and Connolly represented a fundamental shift that was to result in the creation of the Labour-Nationalist alliance. The shift had resulted from the reestablishment of Unionism as a coherent force. Labour problems had become more and more severe as firms began to combine bargaining power in labour disputes combating the trade union's traditional sympathy strikes, and collective bargaining powers. The result of these two changes was a labour movement that was to become militant and radical in tone, and was to forego traditional Parliamentary avenues to pursue political change. The roots of both changes lie in the tremendous threat Labour politics had presented to the traditional parties as illustrated in the 1905 and 1906 elections. Walker's campaigns, although unsuccessful, acted in tandem with forces from the IOO, and Nationalist powers. This was evidenced in the height of Labour's success during the 1906 Parliamentary elections in which it had placed three candidates for election, as, what was billed at the time, ``The Three-Leaved Shamrock''. But by this time, it had become apparent that the IOO was no longer expanding, and Unionist forces had begun to adopt many of the IOO's policies in regards to Protestant issues. The retrieval operation, as mounted by the Conservative-Liberal alliance would eventually bring back the IOO's members. The revitalization of Conservatives, and the increasing marginalization of Labour concerns due to the reemergence of the Home Rule question were to act in tandem, creating an impenetrable barrier for Labour Party politics in subsequent years as illustrated here:

In their endeavor to keep the allegiance of the Protestant masses, the Ulster businessmen had no need to be afraid of Devlin and Redmond. Their real antagonists were Larkin and Connolly.
The reference of Redmond and Devlin as a lesser threat to the upper and middle classes, suggests the mobilization of labour leaders, like Larkin becoming a their major opponents. So, although the movement towards Labour politics was brief and underdeveloped, its limited successes did act to assure Ulster politics of a movement towards its inevitable revolutionary stance in the pre-war era. Its repercussion can still be heard today in the partition of the Irish state and the militant political environment that has evolved from these first movements and their impending consequences.

by Wade Shen


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