In 1886, the Government of Ireland (Home Rule) Bill 1886 narrowly passed through the House of Commons by a margin of 341 for with 311 voting against.
That Coming StormThe passage of the act was a personal triumph for Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone (pictured) who had beseeched parliament to grant Home Rule to Ireland in honour rather than being compelled to one day in humiliation. And yet the result was not due to his famous Irish Home Rule speech, rather the fruit of his decision to engage both Irish MPs and his own ministers for participation in the drafting of the text.
"Think, I beseech you, think well, think wisely, think, not for the moment, but for the years that are to come, before you reject this Bill"The reaction from Unionists and the Orange Order was even more fierce than expected; their belief that the Roman Catholic Church would gain political control over their interests led to the coining of the term "Rome Rule". Because as his carriage rumbled over the cobblestones of Palace Yard that evening, William Gladstone was shot dead by an unmarked gunman.
"Ireland! Ireland! That Coming Storm!"The Ulster Unionist Leader Colonel Saunderson scribbled a note to his wife saying "Rome Rule is dead, but not yet buried". And the day of humiliation that Gladstone had predicted was not long in coming, although utterly different to what he imagined. Because as party leaders paid tribute to his open coffin in Westminister Hall, a brisk trade in chamberpots displaying his image was reported in Belfast.