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Saturday, 2 March 2013

2 March 1914: John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, agreed to temporarily forego the introduction of Home Rule in the Ulster counties on this day. He was forced to adopt this decision in order to placate the growing opposition in the northeast to the imminent introduction of Home Rule for Ireland.

Up until this point he had vehemently opposed such a measure. But he now felt that to press for a full implementation throughout Ireland would risk a Civil War and a complete break with the Unionists that would become permanent. He wrote to the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith:

We are ready to give our acquiescence to the solution of the standing out for three years by option of the counties of Ulster as the price of peace.   

However Redmond’s decision was to prove a fatal one. For his obvious weakness on this issue further encouraged the Ulster Unionists to hold out for a permanent division. Redmond’s vacillation also disillusioned many on the Nationalist side that compromise was likely to bring about a positive result for Ireland.