“Was Ireland a colony of the British Empire?”
The literal definition of a colony is: “A subject territory occupied by a settlement from the ruling state.” Whether or not Ireland fell under this classification, in its unionist days, is hotly debated. One could argue that because Ireland was incorporated into Great Britain as a single kingdom, was included in parliament and involved in colonial affairs, that it was not a colony itself. However one could also argue that Ireland was significantly worse off in the kingdom and was treated similarly to the colonies of Great Britain making it a colony in all but name.
It can be said that Ireland was not a foreign territory occupied by the British Empire. Geographically Ireland is closer to the British Empire than any of her colonies. It has a history of invading the Empire and vice versa, before colonialism was thought of by the British. One could argue that the British sought out colonies for its own economical and trading purposes; however this was not entirely the case with Ireland due to its proximity. Ireland was more of a buffer state rather than a resource as it was not as prosperous as other colonies. Ireland also differed from the colonies as it was legally included in both houses of parliament and had a certain amount of influence in legislation. The Irish unlike the colonies contributed to the national debt of the Empire and did not regulate its own taxes and duties. Not only did Irish peoples financially support the Empire but practically as well. Many Irish men and women played an integral part in expanding the Empire by immigrating to its colonies or even helping to set up the colonies. Even today parts of Ireland are still incorporated in Great Britain. Therefore one could view Ireland as not being subject to the Empire but included.
However it has been debated that regardless of Ireland being a part of Great Britain; it was not treated equally...
Bibliography: Marjie Bloy. Britain and Ireland 1789- 1801. http://www.victorianweb.org/history /ireland/index.html
Paul Gough. Why Ireland Wasn’t a Colony. http://www.victorianweb.org/history/ireland2.html
Adrian Guelke. The Political Impasse in South Africa and Northern Ireland: A comparative Perspective.
Andrew Porter. “The Oxford History of The British Empire”. The Nineteenth Century. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
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