Act of Union (Ireland)

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The Act of Union (Ireland) (1801) established the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. It united the Parliaments of the two lands, and gave Irish representation in both Houses of Parliament in London.

One immediate affect was the sudden increase in migration from the “rural slums” of Ireland to the “urban slums” of England as border controls were done away with. Much of the colonisation of Australia during the first half of the nineteenth century was Irish – both as free settlers and as convicts.

It was intended to prepare a course towards Catholic emancipation in Ireland but George III refused to give his assent. Thus the Act was extremely unpopular amongst the Catholic Irish, who agitated against it almost unceasingly until its repeal, leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in 1921, which would later become the modern Republic of Ireland (Eire).

The United Kingdom then became “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The modern flag still represents the three original countries with the Cross of St Patrick having been incorporated into the amalgam of those of St. Andrew and St. George in 1801.


References

”The Oxford Companion to British History”, 1997, p944
”Select Documents in English Constitutional”, 1937, pp 497-506