Government of Ireland Bill 1886

The Government of Ireland Bill 1886,[1] commonly known as the First Home Rule Bill, was the first major attempt made by a British government to enact a law creating home rule for part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was introduced in 8 April 1886 by Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone to create a devolved assembly for Ireland which would govern Ireland in specified areas. The Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell had been campaigning for home rule for Ireland since the 1870s.

The Bill, like his Irish Land Act 1870, was very much the work of Gladstone, who excluded both the Irish MPs and his own ministers from participation in the drafting. Following the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1885 it was to be introduced alongside a new Land Purchase Bill to reform tenant rights, but the latter was abandoned.[2]

First Home Rule Bill
Flag of the United Kingdom
Name and origin
Official name of legislationGovernment of Ireland Bill 1886
Government introducedGladstone (Liberal)
Parliamentary passage
House of Commons passed?No
House of Lords passed?Not applicable
Royal Assent?Not Applicable
Which HouseHouse of Commons
Which stage2nd stage
Final voteAye: 311; No 341
Date8 June 1886
Details of legislation
Legislature typeunicameral
Unicameral subdivision2 Orders
Name(s)not given
Size(s)1st Order – 100 (25 peers, 75 elected)
2nd Order 204–206 members
MPs in Westminsternone
Executive headLord Lieutenant
Executive bodynone
Prime Minister in textnone
Responsible executiveno
Act implementednot applicable
Succeeded byIrish Government Bill 1893
William Mecham Modern St. George and The Dragon 1888 Cornell CUL PJM 1100 01
This map, named "Modern St. George and The Dragon", satirizes the Irish Home Rule crisis of 1886 and appeared two years later in the Conservative St. Stephen’s Review. Lord Salisbury as St George spears the dragon Gladstone.

Key aspects

The key aspects of the 1886 Bill were:


  • A unicameral assembly (deliberately not called a parliament to avoid links with the former Irish parliament abolished in 1800 under the Act of Union) consisting of two Orders which could meet either together or separately.[3]
    • The first Order was to consist of the 28 Irish representative peers (the Irish peers traditionally elected by all Irish peers to sit in the House of Lords at Westminster) plus 75 members elected through a highly restricted franchise. It could delay the passage of legislation for 3 years.[4]
    • The second Order was to consist of either 204 or 206 members.[4] It had not been decided whether to have two members elected by the graduates of the Royal University to match the two members traditionally elected by graduates of the University of Dublin (Trinity College).
  • All Irish MPs would be excluded from Westminster altogether.


Reserve powers


When the bill was introduced, Charles Stewart Parnell had a mixed reaction. He said that it had great faults but was prepared to vote for it. In his famous Irish Home Rule speech, Gladstone beseeched Parliament to pass it and grant Home Rule to Ireland in honour rather than being compelled to one day in humiliation. Unionists and the Orange Order were fierce in their resistance; for them, any measure of Home Rule was denounced as nothing other than Rome Rule. In the staunchly loyalist town of Portadown, the so-called 'Orange Citadel' where the Orange Order was founded in 1795, Orangemen and their supporters celebrated the Bill's defeat by 'Storming the Tunnel'.[5] This was the headline in the local paper where it was reported that a mob attacked the small Catholic/Nationalist ghetto of Obins Street.[6]

The vote on the Bill took place after two months of debate and, on 8 June 1886, 341 voted against it (including 93 Liberals) while 311 voted for it. Parliament was dissolved on 26 June and the UK general election, 1886 was called. Historians have suggested that the 1886 Home Rule Bill was fatally flawed by the secretive manner of its drafting, with Gladstone alienating Liberal figures like Joseph Chamberlain who, along with a colleague, resigned in protest from the ministry, while producing a Bill viewed privately by the Irish as badly drafted and deeply flawed.[7]


  1. ^ Hansard 1803-2005 - GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND BILL, April 1886
  2. ^ Alvin Jackson, Home Rule: An Irish History 1800—2000 p.69.
  3. ^ "Government of Ireland Bill 1886". Article 9, Act of 1886.
  4. ^ a b "Government of Ireland Bill 1886". Article 10, Act of 1886.
  5. ^ Orange Citadel
  6. ^ UUC History Faculty: The 1886 Home Rule Riots Archived 4 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Jackson, op.cit. P.74.

See also

Further reading

External links

Clan na Gael

The Clan na Gael (in modern Irish orthography: Clann na nGael, IPA: [ˈklˠan̪ˠ n̪ˠə ˈŋeːlʲ], family of the Gaels) was an Irish republican organization in the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries, successor to the Fenian Brotherhood and a sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. It has shrunk to a small fraction of its former size in the 21st century.

Government of Ireland Act 1914

The Government of Ireland Act 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5 c. 90), also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide home rule (self-government within the United Kingdom) for Ireland. It was the third such bill introduced by a Liberal government in a 28-year period in response to the Irish Home Rule movement.

The Act was the first law ever passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom that sought to establish a devolved government in any part of the UK. However, the implementation of both it and the equally controversial Welsh Church Act 1914 was formally postponed for a minimum of twelve months with the outbreak of the First World War. The continuation of the war beyond 1915 and subsequent developments in Ireland led to further postponements, meaning that the Act never took effect; it was finally superseded by a fourth home rule bill, enacted as the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which partitioned Ireland, creating Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, both intended to have Home Rule.

Government of Ireland Bill

The Government of Ireland Bill may refer to

Government of Ireland Bill 1886

Government of Ireland Bill 1893

Government of Ireland Bill 1914

Government of Ireland Bill 1920

Government of Ireland Bill 1893

The Government of Ireland Bill 1893 (known generally as the Second Home Rule Bill) was the second attempt made by William Ewart Gladstone, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to enact a system of home rule for Ireland. Unlike the first attempt, which was defeated in the House of Commons, the second Bill was passed by the Commons only to be vetoed by the House of Lords.

Irish Boundary Commission

The Irish Boundary Commission (Irish: Coimisiún na Teorainne) met in 1924–25 to decide on the precise delineation of the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ended the Irish War of Independence, provided for such a commission if Northern Ireland chose to secede from the Irish Free State, an event that occurred as expected two days after the Free State's inception on 6 December 1922. The governments of the United Kingdom, of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland were to nominate one member each to the commission. When the Northern government refused to cooperate, the British government assigned a Belfast newspaper editor to represent Northern Irish interests.

The provisional border in 1922 was that which the Government of Ireland Act 1920 made between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Most Irish nationalists hoped for a considerable transfer of land to the Free State, on the basis that most border areas had nationalist majorities. However, the Commission recommended relatively small transfers, and in both directions. This was leaked to The Morning Post in 1925, causing protests from both unionists and nationalists.

In order to avoid the possibility of further disputes, the British, Free State, and Northern Ireland governments agreed to suppress the overall report, and on 3 December 1925, instead of any changes being made, the existing border was confirmed by W. T. Cosgrave for the Free State, Sir James Craig for Northern Ireland, and Stanley Baldwin for the British government, as part of a wider agreement which included a resolution of outstanding financial disagreements. This was then ratified by their three parliaments. The commission's report was not published until 1969.

Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1885

The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict. c.73), commonly known as the Ashbourne Act is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, passed by a Conservative Party government under Lord Salisbury. It extended the terms that had been achieved under the Kilmainham Treaty. It set up a £5 million fund and any tenant who wanted to buy land could do so. One could take a loan from the government and would pay it back in monthly installments.

The Act was effected by, and informally named for, Edward Gibson, 1st Baron Ashbourne, the then Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

The loans would be paid back over 48 years and the rate of interest would be fixed at 4% per annum. This made the loan repayments affordable, and more people could benefit from the Act as they would now be able to buy their own land. It strengthened the original Irish Land Acts as they had enabled tenants to buy land in restricted circumstances. The Ashbourne Act formally gave this right to the tenants and funded the Land Commission

It has been argued that the Act was passed to win the support of Charles Stewart Parnell. Salisbury knew that his government would not last long as the Liberal Party had an overall majority. Salisbury realised that he would need Irish Party support to maintain power. Therefore, the Ashbourne act was a way to win over Parnell while keeping William Ewart Gladstone on the backbenches. This failed, as Gladstone came into government soon after and introduced the Government of Ireland Bill 1886; which however also failed.

The Ashbourne Act was extended in 1889. It increased the government grants for loans by a further £5 million and became law in August 1891.It was one of the Land Purchase (Ireland) Acts.

Reserved and excepted matters

In the United Kingdom reserved matters and excepted matters are the areas of government policy where the UK Parliament had kept the power (jurisdiction) to make laws (legislate) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each of these nations has been granted autonomy within the UK; therefore some power has been decentralised to them from the central government at Westminster and some has been withheld.

They are also known as reserved matters and act as a guide for which areas are devolved to those three nations and which are not. The powers are set out in three main laws for each of those nations and subsequent amendments which further devolved powers to the respective legislatures:

Scotland Act 1998 amended by the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016.

Northern Ireland Act 1998 amended by the Northern Ireland Act 2006.

Government of Wales Act 1998 amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Wales Act 2014 and the Wales Act 2017In Scotland, a list of matters is explicitly reserved in the Scotland Act. Any matter not explicitly listed in the Act is implicitly decentralised to the Scottish Parliament.

In Northern Ireland, the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly do not cover reserved matters or excepted matters. In theory, reserved matters could be devolved at a later date, but excepted matters were not supposed to be considered for further devolution. In practice, the difference is minor as Parliament is responsible for all the powers on both lists and must give its consent to devolve them.

In Wales, by contrast, a list of matters was explicitly devolved to the National Assembly for Wales and any matter not listed in the Act was implicitly reserved to Westminster. However, Wales has now moved to a reserved powers model (similar to Scotland) under the provisions contained within the Wales Act 2017.

Shankill Road

The Shankill Road (from Irish: Seanchill, meaning "old church") is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast, in Northern Ireland. It runs through the working-class, predominantly loyalist, area known as the Shankill.

The road stretches westwards for about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from central Belfast and is lined, to an extent, by shops. The residents live in the many streets which branch off the main road. The area along the Shankill Road forms part of the Court district electoral area.

It is known as Auld Kirk Gate ("Old Church Way") in Ulster-Scots and as "Bóthar na Seanchille" in Irish.

Thomas Welbank Fowle

Thomas Welbank Fowle (29 August 1835 – 14 January 1903) was an English cleric and writer, known as a social reformer.

Timeline of Irish history

This is a timeline of Irish history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Ireland. To read about the background to these events, see History of Ireland. See also the list of Lords and Kings of Ireland and Irish heads of state and the list of years in Ireland.

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