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All-Ireland Parliament

Volume 149: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1921

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What is the decision we have come to in this Treaty? Ulster has her option either to join an All-Ireland Parliament, or to remain exactly as she is. No change from her present position will be involved if she decide, by an Address to the Crown, to remain where she is. It is an option which she may or may not exercise, and I am not going to express an opinion upon the subject. If she exercise her option with her full rights under the Act of 1920, she will remain without a single change except in respect of boundaries. We were of opinion—and we are not alone in that opinion, because there are friends of Ulster who take the same view—that it is desirable, if Ulster is to remain a separate unit, that there should be a readjustment of boundaries.

I stated that there are people who express that opinion, and I think it is wise. Just see what it means. There is no doubt—certainly since the Act of 1920—that the majority of the people of two counties prefer being with their Southern neighbours to being in the Northern Parliament. Take it either by constituency or by Poor Law unions, or, if you like, by counting heads, and you will find that the majority in these two counties prefer to be with their Southern neighbours. What does that mean? If Ulster is to remain a separate community, you can only by means of coercion keep them there, and although I am against the coercion of Ulster, I do not believe in Ulster coercing other units. Apart from that, would it be an advantage to Ulster? There is no doubt it would give her trouble. The trouble which we have had in the South the North would have on a smaller scale, but the strain, in proportion, on her resources would be just as great as the strain upon ours. It would be a trouble at her own door, a trouble which would complicate the whole of her machinery, and take away her mind from building. She wants to construct; she wants to build up a good Government, a model Government, and she cannot do so as long as she has got a trouble like this on her own threshold, nay, inside her door.