On This Day [in 1916]: Carson Backs ‘Exclusion’ of 6 Counties

Posted By: June 22, 2016

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

            A meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council was held yesterday in the Ulster Hall, Belfast. The proceedings were in private but it is understood that Sir Edward Carson, the Marquis of Londonderry, and delegates from various parts of Ulster were present. The object of the meeting was to consider the proposed terms of settlement of the Home Rule question put forward by Mr Lloyd George [Minister of Munitions].

            Sir Edward Carson said that the whole situation was altered by the outbreak of war. It was Ulster’s duty to give her undivided support to the Empire in carrying out victory. With the rebellion in Ireland, most people had said this was an end of Home Rule but this had not been the case. As leader of the Ulster Unionist Party he was asked would he confer with Mr Lloyd George and he conceived it to be his duty to do so. But the decision must be given by the people of Ulster.

            It is understood that the suggestion which Sir Edward was asked to submit to the delegates was that six of the Ulster counties should be excluded from the operation of the Home Rule Act during the pleasure of the Imperial Parliament, but there would be no county option and there would probably be a branch of the Home Office in Belfast to administer the Six Counties.

            Statistics were given of the Loyalist and Nationalist populations of the entire province and also of the Six Counties. Towards the conclusion of his address the signing of the Covenant by the Loyalist population in 1912 was raised. Sir Edward greatly and deeply sympathised with the three counties, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan, which it was proposed to include under the Dublin Parliament. If these men agreed to the waiving of the Covenant that difficulty could be got over for the rest of the province.

            Similar proposals, he said, had been made to the Nationalist leaders, who, he understood, would submit these to their party and their following. Delay in coming to a conclusion could only be seized upon by the other side. (This was the first public airing of the so-called ‘Lloyd George scheme’ for six-county partition with immediate Home rule for the south and direct rule for the six Northern counties. Lloyd George’s proposals were deliberately ambiguous on whether exclusion would be temporary or permanent. Carson, however, had a written assurance that partition would be permanent while Redmond portrayed the scheme as temporary.)