Edward Carson: How He Loves It!

Dublin Evening Telegraph, 3 May 1921

The Government of Ireland Act, which partitioned Ireland into two Home Rule states of Northern and Southern Ireland, officially came into force on 3 May 1921. In a stirring speech, Sir Edward Carson, former leader of the Ulster Unionists, appealed to Unionists to 'close ranks' ahead of the elections to the new Northern Ireland parliament. His speech was well received in Unionist circles, but heavily criticised elsewhere, as in this article from the Dublin Evening Telegraph. The writer claimed that Carson wanted to secure nothing other than a homogeneous, 'Orange' Ulster state, at the expense of the Catholic minority in what was now the six counties of Northern Ireland.

How He Loves It!

Sir Edward Carson has sounded his last call to the followers whom he left in the lurch in order to take a quiet and comfortable judicial office in England. He appeals to them to close up their ranks and to apply themselves ‘to the founding of a Parliament which will be worthy of their community and which will be equal to the great and responsible task of establishing a firm, just and honest Government for the Northern area’. That new Government should, he says, have the power to bring about such reforms as will ensure contentment, happiness, and civil and religious liberty to all creeds and classes. 

Sir Edward Carson preaches of ‘liberty’, but he takes no pains to disguise the meaning which he attaches to the word. It is Orange ascendancy writ large. The rights and liberties of the minority in the Six Counties are negligible quantities in his calculations. He makes a straight appeal to the inherited fears and prejudices of the mob. He knows how the dice have been loaded against the Catholics and Nationalists in the North by his friends at Westminster and their agents in Ireland. 

There is no question that his influence has been all-pervading in the arrangements for the elections to the Belfast ‘Parliament’. His followers were dismayed when they learned that the whole strength of the Nationalist and democratic forces was being mobilised for the fight against the dismemberment of Ireland. They feared that a free exercise of the franchise under the system of proportional representation would expose the hollowness of their pretensions to speak for a homogenous ‘Ulster’. Their campaign is directed to preventing an unfettered expression of the people’s will.

… The present British government have enlisted large numbers of the Ulster Volunteers in a special constabulary, and have armed them at the expense of the State. They will be on hand for duty near the polling booths on election day, strictly as neutral peace-promoters! 

Sir Edward Carson’s love of liberty so far possesses his soul that he would do all in his power to ensure that priceless possession for all, excepting only the minority in the partitioned area and the nine-tenths of the population in the rest of Ireland.