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That Coming Storm 

by Steve Payne


Author says: the failure of the Government of Ireland Bill 1886 was blamed in part on its secret drafting. Ninety-three members of the ruling Liberal Party - including leadership figures such as Joseph Chamberlain - voting against. In this alternative history, we imagine that William Gladstone had consulted Irish MPs and his ministers during his preparation of the bill. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 1886, the Government of Ireland (Home Rule) Bill 1886 narrowly passed through the House of Commons by a margin of 341 for with 311 voting against.

In which "Rome Rule" is dead, but not buried

The passage of the act was a personal triumph for Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone (pictured, left) who had beseeched parliament to grant Home Rule to Ireland in honour rather than being compelled to one day in humiliation. And yet the result was not due to his famous Irish Home Rule speech, rather the fruit of his decision to engage both Irish MPs and his own ministers from participating in the drafting.

"Think, I beseech you, think well, think wisely, think, not for the moment, but for the years that are to come, before you reject this Bill" The reaction from Unionists and the Orange Order was even more fierce than expected; their belief that the Roman Catholic Church would gain political control over their interests led to the coining of the term "Rome Rule". Because as his carriage rumbled over the cobblestones of Palace Yard that evening, William Gladstone was shot dead by an unmarked gunman.

"Ireland! Ireland! That Coming Storm!" The Ulster Unionist Leader Colonel Saunderson scribbled a note to his wife saying "Rome Rule is dead, but not yet buried". And the day of humiliation that Gladstone had predicted was not long in coming, although utterly different to what he imagined. Because as party leaders paid tribute to his open coffin in Westminister Hall, a brisk trade in chamberpots displaying his image was reported in Belfast.

Author says, considerable amounts of source material have been repurposed from the source articles from the December 2009 Edition of History Today Magazine, "Gladstone and his cloud in the West" by Kevin Haddick Flynn and Wikipedia.

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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