Before been enforced which had changed the lives

Before the act of union was
passed, despite being the majority, Catholics were very much treated as second
class citizens. This was due to the establishment of the Anglican Ascendancy in
Ireland. This allowed the Anglican church of Ireland to dominate politics and
religion in Ireland. This had also limited the power of the Irish parliament
which was also solely Protestant. The catholic majority eventually became
frustrated at the lack of reform which led to a rebellion in 1798 which was led
by the Society of United Irishmen. The rebellion was supported by French
revolutionaries who wanted to help the society of united Irishmen. As a result
of the rebellion, the Prime Minister William Pitt put forward plans for a union
between Great Britain and Ireland saying ‘gradually bringing both parties to
think of a union with this country had long been in my min. the admission of
the Catholics to a share of suffrage would not then be dangerous’. The Act
of Union 1801 was passed with the aim to make the Catholics a minority under
the union rather than keeping Irish Catholics as the majority in Ireland. This
was quite an insignificant event in improving the lives of Irish Catholics.
Nothing had been enforced which had changed the lives of the Irish Catholics
for the better. The Act of Union combined the two protestant churches, the
church of Ireland and the Church of England, into one church called the Church
of Ireland and England. This meant that the protestant ascendancy in Ireland
remained in control of Ireland and its politics. This was further worsened by
the fact that only Irish protestants were able to sit as spiritual lords in the
House of Lords and were, therefore, less likely to support reform for Irish Catholics.
The unionists were mostly protestant and the union had developed ulster’s links
with Great Britain. Nothing came out of the Act of Union for Irish Catholics
other than awareness to Catholic Emancipation, which saw the rise of Daniel


Posterior to the Act of Union
1801 there were many events which improved the lives of Irish Catholics; the
first event being the Catholic Emancipation 1829. Despite this being an
important factor in the improvement of Irish lives it had many limitations and
I would, therefore, argue that it wasn’t the most important factor in the
improvement in the lives of Irish Catholics. The most important factor in
improving the lives of Irish Catholics was the Anglo-Irish war which added fuel
to the fire in the fight for an end to British rule in Ireland. This was the most
significant event which led to the passing of the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921.

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The Catholic Emancipation had
been considered before the passing of the Act of Union by the Prime Minister,
William Pitt. In 1800, William Pitt’s plans for passing the Act of Union along
with catholic emancipation were abandoned and instead prioritised a union with
Ireland to keep the powerful protestant ascendancy in Ireland content. Whilst
George VI was prince regent, 1811-1820, he remained firmly opposed to granting
the Roman Catholics emancipation. As a result the Catholic Emancipation was
prolonged. During this time, O’Connell became an influence over the push for
Catholic Emancipation by creating the Catholic Association which increased the
support for Catholic Emancipation. An emancipation bill was passed through
parliament but it was once again rejected by the House of Lords. However, in
1829 the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed through the House of Commons
successfully; assisted by the Duke of Wellington threatening to resign if the
king and House of Lords didn’t support the bill. The Catholic Emancipation Act
granted Irish Catholics full civil and political rights. This was very
significant in improving the lives of Irish Catholics as it allowed Irish Catholics
to become MPs. As a result, Daniel O’Connell was able to sit in parliament and
lead the Irish parliamentary party. O’Connell was also able to push for reform
for the under represented Irish Catholics, which he wouldn’t have been able to
do without the Catholic Emancipation Act. The catholic emancipation was also a
stepping stone towards home rule. However, the impact it had in improving the
lives of Irish Catholics was limited. First of all, prior to the Catholic
Emancipation Act, Catholics who owned land worth at least 40 shillings earned
the right to vote. However, after the act was passed, the 40 shilling freehold
was increased to a £10 household suffrage where only the male head of the
family who possessed £10 could vote. This worsened the lives of Irish Catholics
as it reduced the electorate, roughly, by 85%. Therefore, Irish Catholics
couldn’t vote for their representatives. Beyond the electorate, the catholic
peasants were becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of reform for the
peasants following the Catholic Emancipation. This was worsened by the fact that
the Catholic Emancipation was heavily in favour of the richer Catholics. For
example, allowing Irish Catholics to sit as MPs was only in favour of those
Catholics who had professional backgrounds, such as Daniel O’Connell.
Therefore, its impact in improving the lives of Irish Catholics was not much;
it only supported the upper class Catholics rather than being aimed to improve
all the lives of Irish Catholics.


Overall, the Roman Catholic
Emancipation Act 1829 was fairly important. It gave Irish Catholics
representation in parliament through O’Connell who later pushed for reforms in
the 1930s. It was most definitely a stepping stone towards home rule. However,
its impact on the lives of Irish Catholics is limited by the fact that it was
heavily in favour of upper class Catholics, who were a minority of Irish
Catholics. Therefore, it didn’t provide improvements to all Irish Catholics.