Home Rule for Ireland receives Royal Assent
Government of Ireland Act suspended until war ends
London, 19 September 1914 - There were remarkable scenes in the House of Lords yesterday when the King’s Assent to the Home Rule Bill was signified.
A loud cheer from nationalists and from some Liberals rent the air.
Members of the House of Commons who were in the chamber to witness the moment, then returned to their own chamber. The House of Commons was then formally informed of the Royal Assent and there was, once again, cheering from supporters of Home Rule. At that point a Labour MP, Will Crooks, began to sing ‘God Save the King’ and other members joined in.
As John Redmond walked from the House a Liberal member shouted at him: ‘God save Ireland!’ And Mr. Redmond replied: ‘God save England!’ Mr Redmond pulled away from Westminster in a motor car adorned with a green flag and to great cheers from supporters.
The passing of a Suspensory (Home Rule) Act means that the entire operation of the Government of Ireland Act will be suspended for the duration of the war, or for a period of at least 12 months if the war ends within that time.
Reaction in Ireland was muted. The extended delays, the immediate suspension of the Act and the fact of war limited celebrations to a fireworks display on Parnell Square, although numerous telegrams of congratulations were sent to John Redmond.
The Home Rule Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 11 April 1912. It was supported by Commons, but immediately rejected by the House of Lords. It was the same story in 1913. Under the terms of the 1911 Parliament Act, however, the Lords can only reject a bill twice if it has been accepted by Commons. Since the Home Rule Bill was passed by the lower house for a third time in May of this year, the Lords, although still opposed to the legislation, could no longer prevent its passage onto the statute books, and it was submitted for Royal Assent.
The implacable opposition of Ulster unionists remains unresolved and, despite the objections of nationalists, some form of partition seems certain when Home Rule finally becomes operational.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]