protection and compensation payments. Ultimately the land question in Ireland was an inimical situation which was desperately in need of major reform. Further the issue of land was powerful political tool for Irish nationalists to exploit.

Gladstone made a genuine effort to solve problems with his vague 1870 Land Act. The Act was intended to provide Catholic tenants with greater security, but ultimately it failed. It inadequately defined the 'Ulster Custom' and made no attempt to extend it to the whole of Ireland, rather increasing the complexity of the situation and procedures. Nothing was done to prevent arbitrary increases in rents and evictions. The attempt to assist tenants in buying up land was a failure as its provisions (i.e. one-third of the total value) were grossly inadequate for such an impoverished tenant class - clearly seen in that there were only 877 takers. Though the 1870 Land Act was a movement in the right direction, it was also like many of the British measures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a half-hearted attempt at solving the worst grievances of the Irish against undertaking thorough and much-needed reforms. This is certainly how the Irish saw matters and by 1871, Gladstone's idealism of 1868 was still far off.

Irish protestation was so vociferous and violent that Gladstone's government resorted to the familiar approach of British governments to disturbance, coercion. In 1871 a Coercion Act was passed, a renewable law that suspended normal legal procedures to allow an assault on Irish troublemakers. To the Irish this was yet another example of British obstinacy to address the issue of independence and infringement of their rights. To the British government however it was a judicious measure necessary for the protection of landlords and their properties and the maintenance of law and order.

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