Irish Unionists Threaten to Refuse to Pay Taxes Under Home Rule

Here’s an example of (the threat of) tax resistance being used in the Irish unionist movement, in this case in reaction to the First Home Rule Bill which would have given Ireland some limited autonomy. This coverage comes from the edition of The Spectator:

A great meeting of Orangemen was held on on the Racecourse, Belfast, at which the following resolution was accepted unanimously:—“That, should this measure of the Prime Minister be forced upon us, and we are handed over to the government of those who have been our bitterest enemies and the foes of the Crown and Constitution, and whose first efforts will be directed against our religions and commercial interests, we hereby solemnly and calmly declare that we shall not acknowledge that government, that we shall protest against taxation by an Irish Parliament, and will refuse to pay taxes imposed by it; and further, that we shall resist to the uttermost all attempts to enforce such payment, and we call upon the men of England, Scotland, and the Colonies who are with us in this great crisis in our history to support our protest now as well as hereafter, should we be compelled to take a more determined stand for the maintenance of the civil and religions liberties which their forefathers and ours obtained for us.” That is, of course, a declaration that Home-rule will be followed by an insurrection in Ulster, in which British troops will be required to fire upon Scoto-Irishmen for being too loyal to Great Britain.

A later editorial () noted that as tax resistance was a time-honored tactic of Irish nationalists, it ought to be respected by them when coming from their foes:

If Ulster determines on the policy of refusing to pay taxes to a Dublin Parliament, the Ulstermen may (if they choose) shelter themselves under the authority of the Archbishop of Cashel (Dr. Croke), who gave-in his deliberate approval to that course of action in a letter dated , in which he said:—“I opposed the ‘No-rent’ manifesto six years ago because, apart from other reasons, I thought that it was inopportune, and not likely to be generally acted on. Had a manifesto against paying taxes been issued at the time, I should certainly have supported it on principle. I am precisely in the same frame of mind now.” And again in the same letter:—“We pay taxes to a Government that uses them not for the public good and in accordance with the declared wishes of the taxpayers, but in direct and deliberate opposition to them. We thus supply a stick to beat ourselves. We put a whip into the hands of men who use it to lash and lacerate us.” Clearly the Ulstermen could use all this language word for word, and Archbishop Croke would not find it easy to reply to himself, if his fellow-countrymen proposed to reduce the Ulstermen to submission. Mr. Michael Devitt, too, who gave his hearty approbation to this letter, would find himself in a rather difficult position if he did not allow that its principle justifies Ulster in refusing to pay taxes. We do not say that the authority, as authority, of either of these Home-rulers is worth anything. But, at least, it ought to prevent them from attacking Ulster for insubordination.