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Irish Influences on Chartism

The 1801 Act of Union brought a closer link between England and Ireland. Ireland acted as a catalyst on English politics.

Irish Grievances

These problems were to the fore of O'Connor's mind and he equated them with English grievances.

There were two levels of Irish radicalism

Chartism had little to offer either form of Irish radicalism and had little impact in Ireland because of

O'Connell opposed Chartism, and lack of Chartist activity in Ireland prevented O'Connor's dream of a united movement against the English ruling class. O'Connellites broke up a Chartist meeting in Dublin in 1839, as they broke up meetings in England later. There was little headway for Chartism in Ireland until 1841.

In August 1841 the Irish Universal Suffrage Association was formed, linking small discussion groups in Dublin, Belfast and other towns. Regular meetings were discontinued in 1844. There was a short revival in 1848.

Dublin Chartists were mainly 40/- freeholders who had lost the vote in 1829. They were led by O'Higgins and the Irish Universal Suffrage Association. Between 1841 and 1844 they sent several petitions to parliament for the Charter and repeal of the Act of Union, which added yet another dimension to Chartism.

Influence on England

The Irish in England contributed an important element to Chartism at all levels. They were national and local leaders of the movement and also formed much of the rank-and-file of Chartism. They were also important in 1848 and in the later days of Chartism - especially for violence. The Irish brought their own grievances and experience into English Chartism. They were also hostile to the English ruling classes.

O'Connor copied O'Connell's scheme of popular agitation, which had succeeded in the 1820s. He constantly sought the support of Irish nationalists in parliament because for both, parliamentary reform was the starting point for what they wanted:

O'Connor hoped that the Irish MPs would advocate his cause in parliament - but unfortunately, O'Connor and O'Connell were sworn enemies. O'Connor had been an O'Connellite MP between 1832 and 1835 and was elected as MP for Nottingham in 1847. The National Charter Association was modelled on the Catholic Association.


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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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