By 1900, there was mounting pressure in Ireland for repeal of the 1801 Act of Union. The Irish Nationalist Party (INP), led by John Redmond, championed the ‘Home Rule’ movement. Two previous Home Rule Bills (1886, 1893) had been blocked by the House of Lords. However, the 1910 election resulted in a coalition government, with the Liberals only retaining power through INP support: the 1911 Parliament Act effectively removed the Lords’ blocking powers. Now the main obstacle to Home Rule was the fanatical opposition of the Unionists of Ulster. Ulster had a (slight) Protestant majority, concentrated in its eastern counties, which feared religious discrimination from a Catholic Irish government. Ulster was also Ireland’s industrial hub, and its overwhelmingly Protestant business and social elite feared that Home Rule would undermine this economic dominance. Led by Sir Edward Carson, the Unionists, backed by the Orange Order, mobilized militias to defend their position.
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