HC Deb 23 February 1871 vol 204 c759

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether it is the intention of the Government to extend the Volunteer system to Ireland; and, if not, why not?


Sir, my hon. Friend will probably remember, or if he does not remember, he will find by reference to the Parliamentary Debates, that, in the year 1863, the Government of Lord Palmerston declined to extend the Volunteer system to Ireland, not, as was explained by Lord Palmerston, because there was any reason to doubt the loyalty of the great majority of the Irish people, but on account of the unfortunate existence of strong religious dissensions in that country. There was a great danger that the Volunteers might assume a sectarian character, and that the formation of Volunteer corps might be productive of collisions and breaches of the public peace. I hope that those circumstances may not constitute a permanent obstacle to the raising of a Volunteer Force in Ireland; but I am unable to say that the times are so completely altered that those obstacles are already removed.