Importance of Ireland to Peel Essay

Submitted By TobyBonnett
Words: 1708
Pages: 7

Why are Irish issues so prominent and controversial during Peel’s career? – Toby B
Throughout his career Peel wished to defend the established order from attacks over ‘proven abuses’. The question of the legitimacy of the established orders’ protestant rule was far more pronounced in Ireland than in England. Ever since the act of union (1800), the Irish Catholics had resented seemingly legitimate ownership of land by Protestants, as well as the lack of recognition for the prevailing church, which was obviously catholic and not Protestant. Peel, with his pragmatic nature, saw that concessions had to be made to the Catholics in Ireland in order to quell the unrest which developed throughout his time in parliament. It was peels appeasement of the catholic population in his attempt to preserve the excising order in Ireland which lead to most of the controversy in his career.
Beginning with his post as chief secretary based in Ireland 1812, Peel appeared to have an unmatched devotion to limiting and attempting to solve Irish problems, which was not noticeable in previous secretaries or Lord Lieutenant’s in Ireland. It was seemingly Peels Irish policies during his time in government and as prime minister that appeared to sympathise with the Irish Catholics, as well as damage protestant ascendency and the aristocracy’s grip upon power and rule in Ireland. Peel approached Irish problems with his characteristic pragmatism which left the Ultra Tories within the party rather angry, as well as the public who were more hostile towards the catholic than those gentlemen in parliament. Furthermore for politicians such as Bentinck, peels policies in Ireland were too liberal and showed a severe lack of party loyalty.
The first example of a controversial Irish issue in Peel’s career was that of Catholic emancipation. This issue may not have been of huge importance, if it were not the issue upon which peel made his name and furthermore won his desired seat of Oxford University, doing so by speaking brilliantly against Grattan’s proposed catholic emancipation Bill. It was known that before this moment peel was an uncompromising opponent of those in favour of catholic emancipation. After all he had secured his job as Irish secretary in 1812 largely because of his parallel view to the Lord Lieutenant the duke of Richmond who was also a fierce opponent to admitting Catholics to parliament. Peel himself had written to the duke arguing that ‘so long as the catholic admits the supremacy in spirituals of a foreign earthly potentate… I will not consent to admit them’. Following Peel’s speech picking apart and denouncing the principals of Grattan’s bill it was defeated by 24 votes. The speech was widely publicised and peel was dubbed a protestant hero – ‘the driving force behind the protestant argument against emancipation’. it is no great secret that this lead to Peel’s election to the seat of Oxford University in 1817 over Canning who has dangerous views over catholic matters in the eyes of many academics.. It was also well known that Peel had threatened to resign over Francis Burdett’s emancipation bill in 1826 which had passed in the commons. The return of Daniel O’Connell from county Clare in 1828 had a profound impact on Peel’s view of this Irish question. This demonstrated to peel the damage that the catholic association could do given the support they so badly wished for, this lead Peel to seemingly overnight juxtapose his previous views on this issue and wish for Catholic admission to the commons. This is likely to be because peel had now realised that the events of county Clare were likely to spread to many other Irish seats (100 in total), leading to Catholics winning elections and being unable to take their seats. Although Peel’s principal view on the issue remained unchanged, he had decided pragmatically that the damaged caused by the current system was significant enough to warrant a view which contrasted that of his own party. The