with the rebels proclaiming the establishment of an Irish Republic. The Rising failed against the force of the British Army, with hundreds of casualties and thousands of arrests. Fifteen of the leaders were tried and shot, creating a new generation of Nationalist martyrs. Eammon de Valera, one of the most prominent ringleaders in the Rising was imprisoned because he possessed an American passport.
From the English perspective the events of 1916 were clear. Subjects of the crown, citizens of the United Kingdom had undertaken armed rebellion and Casement had been guilty of heinous treason collaborating with the nation's enemies during the middle of a war marked by atrocities. The government felt it had been moderate and humanitarian in executing only a handful of the most militant leaders, imprisoning the majority. A complicating factor was American opinion, already notable for its high moral tone against British imperialism and Ireland.
Had it been possible to resist the force of Unionism in Britain itself future evils and martyrs of 1916 might have been avoided. Asquith made a final attempt to bring reason into the Irish problem. Lloyd George was delegated the task of finding a working settlement, for which he formulated the idea of Home Rule for the South with no change to the status of Ulster, and continued full Irish representation at Westminster. The remaining issues would be left to a post-war Imperial Conference. The proposals were the best that could be expected from Lloyd George, and while Sinn Fein rejected them Carson agreed. However in this he lacked the consensus of the majority of northern Unionists who favoured continuation of repression and denial of Home Rule.
Though W.B. Yeats said of the Easter Rising 'All changed, changed utterly / A terrible beauty is born', the violence and terror that has marked Northern Irish affairs during the twentieth century has meant 'beauty' has been nothing more than poetic. For Unionists the 1916 Easter Rising strengthened their resolve against Home Rule and fostered a view of the nationalists as the most treacherous subjects, who waited until Britain was on its knees enduring a bloody conflict in the Flanders mud.
Unionist extremism hindered further efforts to compromise with the Nationalists and the attempt to introduce conscription in Ireland did not fulfil expectations of drawing men away from Sinn Fein, rather it brought them closer to it. To join the Irish Volunteers allowed a young Irishman to become a patriot and avoid the horror of the Western Front.
In the election of 1918 Sinn Fein won 73 seats outside Ulster, thus only six Nationalists went to Westminster. The Sinn Feiners abstained their places in Parliament and constituted themselves in the Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish republic. They appealed to the peacemakers in 1919 to grant the Irish the same national recognition as was being given to eastern Europeans. In 1919 Sinn Fein prepared for the destruction of British authority in Ireland. After Michael Collins had masterminded his escape from prison, de Valera toured the United States in search of support. Despite encountering resistance among some Irish American opinion, de Valera secured considerable American financial contribution for the nationalist cause. In Ireland Collins and Griffith generated funds, trained men in terrorist tactics and began sabotage and violence against British rule.
The British government declared Sinn Fein and the Dail illegal in 1919, the chief of the Metropolitan Police was sent to serve as commander-in-chief, and the RIC bolstered by the 'Black and Tans' ex-soldiers who volunteered their service and Auxiliaries. There developed a violent and bitter conflict, the British Army and the RIC combating the IRA. There were numerous incidents of brutality by both Black and Tans and IRA, subject to great distortion in the Press. The atmosphere of the times supported self- determination (the Great War itself had been fought in part for the small nations of Europe) and the British government won no sympathy for its attempt to suppress Irish nationalism by force. That is, outside Ulster Unionism. The British government could claim moral grounds in protecting Ulster Protestants, though little was heard of this during 1919- 1921.
There were moves during the Anglo-Irish War to bring stability. The Government of Ireland Act (1920) provided for Irish Home Rule with two parliaments and a 'council of Ireland'. The measure failed to satisfy
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