Daniel O'Connell Introduces Debate on Repeal of Union Bill in the House of Commons

  • April 22, 1834

Daniel(I) O’Connell (6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator,[1] was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland’s Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisation of Catholic Ireland, down to the poorest class of tenant farmers secured the final instalment of Catholic emancipation in 1829 and allowed him to take a seat in the United Kingdom Parliament to which he had been twice elected.

At Westminster, O’Connell championed liberal and reform causes (he was internationally renowned as an abolitionist) but he failed in his declared objective for Ireland—the repeal of the 1800 Act of Union and the restoration of the devolved Irish Parliament. Against the backdrop of a growing agrarian crisis and, in his final years, of the Great Famine, O’Connell contended with dissension at home. Criticism of his political compromises and of his system of patronage split the national political movement that he had singularly led.

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