Ronald McNeill

The term "Ulster," except when the context proves the contrary, is used in this book not in the geographical, but the political meaning of the word, which is quite as well understood.

The aim of the book is to present an account of what I have occasionally in its pages referred to as "the Ulster Movement." The phrase is perhaps somewhat paradoxical when applied to a political ideal which was the maintenance of the status quo; but, on the other hand, the steps taken during a period of years to organise an effective opposition to interference with the established constitution in Ireland did involve a movement, and it is with these measures, rather than with the policy behind them, that the book is concerned.

Indeed, except for a brief introductory outline of the historical background of the Ulster standpoint, I have taken for granted, or only referred incidentally to the reasons for the unconquerable hostility of the Ulster Protestants to the idea of allowing the government of Ireland, and especially of themselves, to pass into the control of a Parliament in Dublin. Those reasons were many and substantial, based upon considerations both of a practical and a sentimental nature; but I have not attempted an exposition of them, having limited myself to a narrative of the events to which they gave rise.

Having been myself, during the most important part of the period reviewed, a member of the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council, and closely associated with the leaders of the movement, I have had personal knowledge of practically everything I have had to record. I have not, however, trusted to unaided memory for any statement of fact. It is not, of course, a matter where anything that could be called research was required; but, in addition to the Parliamentary Reports, the Annual Register, and similar easily accessible books of reference, there was a considerable mass of private papers bearing on the subject, for the use of some of which I am indebted to friends.

I was permitted to consult the Minute-books of the Ulster Unionist Council and its Standing Committee, and also verbatim reports made for the Council of unpublished speeches delivered at private meetings of those bodies. A large collection of miscellaneous documents accumulated by the late Lord Londonderry was kindly lent to me by the present Marquis; and I also have to thank Lord Carson of Duncairn for the use of letters and other papers in his possession. Colonel F. H. Crawford, C.B.E., was good enough to place at my disposal a very detailed account written by himself of the voyage of the Fanny, and the log kept by Captain Agnew. My friend Mr. Thomas Moles, M.P., took full shorthand notes of the proceedings of the Irish Convention and the principal speeches made in it, and he kindly allowed me to use his transcript. And I should not like to pass over without acknowledgment the help given me on several occasions by Miss Omash, of the Union Defence League, in tracing references.

R. McN.

February 1922.

Read "Ulster's Stand for Union" at your leisure

Ulster's Stand for Union

Read Ulster's Stand for Union at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

Ronald McNeill provides a truly fascinating account of the Home Rule Crisis of 1912 from a Unionist perspective. The book covers, inter alia, the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the drafting and signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, gun-running to Larne and Donaghadee, Ulster in the Great War, and the establishment of the Ulster Parliament in 1921.

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