A National Convention

Justin McCarthy
Chapter IX | Start of Chapter

They called together a great national Convention for the purpose of discussing the grievances to which Ireland was subjected, and of organizing a combined demand for the independence of the Irish Parliament. Grattan was not a member of this Convention, but was in thorough harmony with its purposes, and identified himself with the resolutions it adopted. He saw that the time had come to make the national movement a success. He set forth the demand of the Irish people, and at such a time there was no possibility of its being denied or treated with disregard by the English Government. All the military strength the Government could bring to bear was still needed for the struggle with Washington and the American Colonists, and if the Irish national claim had been rejected the Volunteer army would have been quite ready to turn its political agitation into open rebellion. The Government had no alternative but to give way. The statutes which made the Irish Parliament an assembly only qualified to bring forward a motion of any kind with the previous consent of the Sovereign and his Council were promptly repealed. The Peers and Commons of Ireland were enabled to initiate and discuss such measures as seemed beneficial for Ireland, and to pass them, if they could, under the same conditions as those to which the English Parliament itself had to submit. One of the greatest speeches ever delivered by Grattan was that in which he told the House of Commons that he had now to address a free representative Chamber, and invoked the spirit of Swift and the spirit of Molyneux to guide them in their future efforts for the good of the nation.