Wicklow Unionists pledge to resist Home Rule

Conservative Party leader plays golf in Dublin

Published: 23 May 1913

The leading barrister and author, T.S.F. Battersby claimed that the Irish Parliamentary Party had been financed by criminals for the past 25 years. He continued: ‘We will not be put under the heel of these men. They have declared again and again that they have no part or parcel with the Unionists of Ireland.’ 

‘They want to drive us bag and baggage out of the country. That is what they want. They will not get it.’ 

Mr. Battersby told the meeting of the Bray Unionist Club that he was proposing a resolution against Home Rule because it would deprive Irish unionists of the protection of the parliament of Great Britain, would place them in the hands of those who were their declared enemies, and would, by its financial provisions, cripple the prosperity of Ireland. 

The truth about Irish Home Rule : a Unionist pamphlet sets out the case against self-government for Ireland even before the Third Home Rule had been published. Speaking about the Irish Party last night in Bray, T.S.F Battersby remarked: ‘We will not be put under the heel of these men.’ (NLI,  LO 6532)

Home Rule for Ireland was opposed by Unionists throughout the island. This is the cover of a pamphlet published by the Unionist Associations of Ireland in 1911 Speaking about the Irish Party at the May 1913 meeting in Bray, T.S.F Battersby remarked: ‘We will not be put under the heel of these men.’ (National Library of Ireland, LO 6532)

His speech was greeted with shouts of acclaim and the resolution was endorsed by a series of speakers until, during a speech given by a Presbyterian clergyman, Rev. Prenter, the electricity failed and the meeting was plunged into darkness. It proved impossible to restore light to the room, but the resolution of opposition to Home Rule was carried.

Reference was made at the meeting to the fact that the leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Bonar Law, was then holidaying in Ireland. Mr. Bonar Law had been in Dublin for the weekend visiting the Unionist MP for Dublin University, James Campbell. 


View The Limerick Riots - Oct 1912 in a larger map

The Unionist gathering in Bray passed off without incident. However, in October 1912, a similar anti-Home Rule gathering in Limerick led to two nights of rioting in the city. This map illustrates the scale of the unrest and the damage that resulted (Courtesy @Luimneach1913 Limerick City Library)

Mr. Bonar Law stayed in a suite of rooms at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, Co. Dublin. He was part of a group of men who played golf last Saturday morning at The Island Golf Club. The members of the club were reported to be ‘highly gratified’ by the visit. 

When approached by representatives of the press at his hotel, Mr. Bonar Law – whose visiting party included two other MPs, Sir John Jackson and Colonel John Rutherford – stated that his visit was purely to play golf in Dublin. 

Nonetheless, when pressed for comment on whether he endorsed the militant speech made by Sir Edward Carson in Belfast in which he pledged there would be no compromise in the resistance to Home Rule, Mr. Bonar Law said: ‘Certainly. That goes without saying.’

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