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The Unity of Ulster Unionism

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These parties were in opposition, and the year 1890 produced a change in the Unionist party that was the result of the disintegration of the home rule party.&nbsp.&nbsp.These parties were in opposition, and the year 1890 produced a change in the Unionist party that was the result of the disintegration of the home rule party.&nbsp.&nbsp. To understand the events that occurred in the Unionist party in 1890, a little background on the weakening of the home rule party is in order.&nbsp. This party was led by Charles Stewart Parnell, a charismatic figure who was committed to bringing home rule to Ireland, which called for an autonomous Irish Parliament, and was brought to the forefront of Irish politics in 1885-1886 (Foster &amp. Jackson, 2009, p. 414). Parnell also endorsed an agrarian policy that would have been revolutionary, as he was also president of the National Land League, and the policies of this League were that tenant farmers should hang on to farms, refuse to pay excess rents, and boycott rack-renting landlords.&nbsp. The ruling class of landlords and Conservatives saw this as a dangerous class war against property owners (McCaffrey, 1968, p. 113).&nbsp. However, in 1890, Home Rule endured a split because of a divorce scandal involving Parnell, and this weakened the nationalist party considerably (McCaffrey, 1968, p. 134).&nbsp.&nbsp.

The scandal occurred when Parnell was named in a divorce proceeding involving the wife of one of his followers, with whom he was conducting an affair.&nbsp. The liberals seized upon this, demanding that Prime Minister Gladstone repudiate his alliance with the Irish party so long as Parnell was at the head (Beckett, 1966, p. 402).&nbsp. However, Parnell himself showed no signs of going anywhere, which forced members to support either him or Gladstone, who was against Parnell because he had to appease his own Liberal Party base, a base that wanted Parnell gone (Curtis, 1963, p. 315).&nbsp. This split the Irish party, as some members stood by Parnell, while others stood by Gladstone, who now wanted Parnell replaced (Beckett, 1966, p. 403).&nbsp. This led to a broken Nationalist party that remained broken until 1900, and, even when they were unified in 1900, they were still weakened, as the old wounds never completely healed (Mcdonough, 1977, p. 64).&nbsp.