Monday, May 26, 2014

Today -100: May 26, 1914: Let the curtain ring down on this contemptible farce

The Irish Home Rule Bill’s third reading passes the House of Commons 351-274. It will set up an Irish parliament and a senate, which will not have powers over foreign or military affairs, foreign trade, or the currency, and will not be able to establish or ban a religion. Irish representation in the UK Parliament will be reduced from 103 to 42.

There are no provisions to exclude Ulster, but Asquith has promised to bring in an amending bill later, although he won’t say what changes he plans, just vote for this now and, you know, trust him to make it better. An odd way to run a railroad, if you ask me. Tory leader Andrew Bonar Law uses that as an excuse to refuse to debate the bill, saying, “Let the curtain ring down on this contemptible farce. It is only the end of an act, and not of the play. The Government can carry the bill through Parliament, but the concluding act of the drama will be in the country, where an appeal to the people will not end in a farce.” That last sentence could mean the next general election – and no doubt if he were called out on it that’s what he would claim he meant – or it could mean violent resistance.

1,000 armed police have been moved into Northern Ireland, but things are quiet so far. Nationalist leader John Redmond says “the assembling of the Irish Parliament is as certain as the rising of tomorrow’s sun” and suggests that those Ulster Loyalists (who he pointedly calls “our fellow-countrymen”) who are “genuinely nervous as to their position will abandon unreasonable demands and enter into a conciliatory discussion with their fellow country-men upon the points of the bill upon which they would desire further safeguards.” Because nothing says Northern Ireland like “conciliatory discussion.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Militants Hiss the King.”

The European Powers are discussing sending an international military force into Albania.

The National Association for the Study of Epilepsy calls for the establishment of colonies for epileptics (on the leprosy model, I guess) in every state.

The US Supreme Court rules that lawsuits from the Titanic sinking may be filed in the US regardless of the nationality of claimants, but the White Star Line’s liability will be limited to $91,000 – total. The law reaches that figure by adding the total value of the ship AFTER it crashed into the iceberg (which amounts to the total value of the lifeboats) plus the amount of the fares and freight money for the voyage.

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