April 1918: Irish Nationalists unite to resist conscription

parentheses

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
14,246
In March 1918 the British army suffered one of the greatest crises of World War One when the Germans launched the "Operation Michael" offensive.

British divisions in the path of the offensive suffered devastating losses. At the same time Britain was suffering a manpower crisis. One of the last pools of manpower available to Britain was the unconscripted men of Ireland. On 27th March Lloyd George presented a plan to cabinet to conscript another 555,000 men of whom 150,000 would come from Ireland.

It was the Catholic hierarchy who galvanised the initial resistance to conscription. Their example quickly encouraged other elements of nationalist Ireland to join the anti-conscription campaign.
The Catholic hierarchy and clergy initially galvanised the Irish people against conscription in 1918. Politicians and labour representatives then built on this initiative.
The hierarchy’s influence during the conscription crisis may explain why de Valera was always so accommodating with them afterwards. Indeed, when push came to shove, few politicians dared to stand up to, or defy, the hierarchy in the following decades.
The anti-conscription campaign boosted the popularity of Sinn Fein greatly while undermining the Home Rule Party. In December 1918 Sinn Fein enjoyed a sweeping victory in the General Election

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/conscription-crisis-of-1918-the-triple-alliance-835308.html
 


PAGE61

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
1,171
Cuman na Mban and the anti conscription league who got the ball rolling and it was not until after the meeting in the mansion house' when momentum was gained and the bishops got word from Rome that they then supported it.The one day general strike in April also played an important part in cementing the anti conscription mindset as did the anniversary of the rising
 

The Field Marshal

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
43,651
So then the Irish Vatholic hierarchy provided the impetus for the Irish War of Independence?
 

The Field Marshal

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
43,651
Hmmm. that is stretching it a bit
Is it?
At that time the vast bulk of the population were devout and obedient Roman Catholics.

If the bishops were resisting lawful authority on concscription (something that didn’t happen to Catholics in England who were conscripted)
Then it’s not a big jump for all Irish Catholics to conclude that British rule in Ireland was unlawful and the bishops approve.
 

PAGE61

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
1,171
That is a valid point and I would imagine it had impact from the pulpit but after the the Somme/verdun/Ypres etc the returning injured or dead would have portrayed a different side to the war than what was being portrayed which aided anti conscription The WOI was initiated in Frongoch. The church had not supported 1916 but it did not stop it from happening. I don't think they supported the WOI either
 

shutuplaura

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
2,056
Is it?
At that time the vast bulk of the population were devout and obedient Roman Catholics.

If the bishops were resisting lawful authority on concscription (something that didn’t happen to Catholics in England who were conscripted)
Then it’s not a big jump for all Irish Catholics to conclude that British rule in Ireland was unlawful and the bishops approve.
Catholic bishops in Australia also campaigned to block conscription there. Successfully I should add. There was no War of Independence there. The two don't go hand in hand. Though I think the unpopularity of the war in Ireland was a major impetus to the Irish people seeking independence, cans their anti-conscription campaign fed into that.
 

McTell

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
7,306
Twitter
No

The Field Marshal

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
43,651
Catholic bishops in Australia also campaigned to block conscription there. Successfully I should add. There was no War of Independence there. The two don't go hand in hand. Though I think the unpopularity of the war in Ireland was a major impetus to the Irish people seeking independence, cans their anti-conscription campaign fed into that.
Australia then was not a catholic country with only a small number of Catholics.
So claiming that the catholic bishops were instrumental in preventing conscription does not really carry weight.

Ireland was a primarily catholic country in 1918 and the bishops exercised enormous social authority.
Any move by them to block conscription was naturally interpreted by a majority of the Irish as an anti British government move.

The same can not be said of the Australian situation.

Most historians have always viewed the resistance of the Irish bishops to conscription as a pivotal factor in turning the population against the British govt.
 

shutuplaura

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
2,056
I don't think this is a serious analysis.

What proof is there that we were thought malingerers by the US and French for not having conscription? In the first place.

In any scenario, it seems unlikely that the French would have listened with any seriousness to an Irish delegation. Doing so would surely have strained the Entente.

And anyway, in pure emotional terms their British allies had suffered enormous casualties. They were going to stick together on an issue where France had no interest.
 

Analyzer

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
45,623
That was the OLD empire.

Now...we are in a nEU imperial racket.
 

The Field Marshal

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
43,651
That was the OLD empire.

Now...we are in a nEU imperial racket.
Moving rapidly toward a federation similiar to the USA and its infamous draft conscription policy.

This is what the EU federalists are herding all of Europe into.
 

leftsoc

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Messages
2,796
I don't think this is a serious analysis.

What proof is there that we were thought malingerers by the US and French for not having conscription? In the first place.

In any scenario, it seems unlikely that the French would have listened with any seriousness to an Irish delegation. Doing so would surely have strained the Entente.

And anyway, in pure emotional terms their British allies had suffered enormous casualties. They were going to stick together on an issue where France had no interest.
'What proof is there that we were thought malingerers by the US and French for not having conscription? In the first place.'

The French might have been more concerned with their Canadian cousins who more or less defied the imposition of conscription in Quebec.
 

leftsoc

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Messages
2,796
In March 1918 the British army suffered one of the greatest crises of World War One when the Germans launched the "Operation Michael" offensive.

British divisions in the path of the offensive suffered devastating losses. At the same time Britain was suffering a manpower crisis. One of the last pools of manpower available to Britain was the unconscripted men of Ireland. On 27th March Lloyd George presented a plan to cabinet to conscript another 555,000 men of whom 150,000 would come from Ireland.

It was the Catholic hierarchy who galvanised the initial resistance to conscription. Their example quickly encouraged other elements of nationalist Ireland to join the anti-conscription campaign.



The anti-conscription campaign boosted the popularity of Sinn Fein greatly while undermining the Home Rule Party. In December 1918 Sinn Fein enjoyed a sweeping victory in the General Election

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/conscription-crisis-of-1918-the-triple-alliance-835308.html
I think most historians saw the church as reluctantly backing the campaign, since they had no choice really. Irish bishops, like bishops everywhere, were loath to condone any opposition to lawful authority, even protestant authority , unless it directly effected the church's own interests. It was the trades unions , through a general strike, that actually won the campaign.
 

parentheses

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
14,246
Revolution of the bishops: Conscription Crisis of 1918 impacted Irish history more than the Easter Risin
The priests called on the men to take off their headgear and raise their right hand and solemnly repeat the pledge. Although it was actually drafted by de Valera and presented to the Archbishop of Dublin, many people thought the bishops drafted it.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/revolution-of-the-bishops-conscription-crisis-of-1918-impacted-irish-history-more-than-the-easter-rising-835050.html
 

The Field Marshal

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
43,651
I think most historians saw the church as reluctantly backing the campaign, since they had no choice really. Irish bishops, like bishops everywhere, were loath to condone any opposition to lawful authority, even protestant authority , unless it directly effected the church's own interests. It was the trades unions , through a general strike, that actually won the campaign.
The Irish Bishops, not the trade unions controlled the hearts and minds of the Irish 1918 population.

Trade union membership was not high even amongst the few that were actually employed.


So stop trying to steal the credit from the Irish Bishops who were pivotal in promoting Irish residence to British Imperial rule.
 

Schuhart

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
4,831
So, without a compaign over conscription, would we still be in the Union?

Is Irish independence just another unplanned outcome of WWI.
 

Dasayev

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Messages
2,811
Conscription was part of it but not the reason for independence. It served to undermine the credibility of the Home Rule Party.

However, the Rising is still the main driving force behind what became an unstoppable movement towards independence.

I put together a little list in a previous thread to demonstrate a trend towards the 1918 election.


- The executions of the 1916 leaders.
- Internment after the Rising.
- Death of Thomas Ashe by force feeding in 1917.
- Sinn Féin becomes organised right across the country, a kind of political GAA.
- Sinn Féin allows women into the party on an equal footing.
- No emigration - Young people couldn't leave Ireland.
- Conscription Crisis.
- "German Plot" - Internment of Sinn Féin members.
- Voting franchise greatly increased for the 1918 General Election.
 

Schuhart

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
4,831
Conscription was part of it but not the reason for independence. It served to undermine the credibility of the Home Rule Party.
Grand, but isn't there an issue around a "first past the post" system amplifying the impact of that. The IPP got over 20% of the national vote, but less than 6% of seats.

On the other hand, SF got 47% of the national vote but nearly 70% of seats.

There's no easy way of figuring out how much of that 47% joined SF because of the anti-conscription campaign. Just something to give pause for thought.
 

Dame_Enda

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Messages
55,299
Some Unionists were not as upset as they pretended that this campaign was successful as they feared Catholics would use the guns against British rule.
 


New Threads

Most Replies

Top