This chapter deals with the United Irish movement. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, long-term grievances over the domination of the Irish parliament by the Imperial government, and the subsidiary status of Ireland's economy to that of Britain, led to a movement for reform. These so called ‘patriots’ sought to take advantage of the climate of fear created in Whitehall by the events in America to obtain the lifting of trade restrictions and legislative independence for the Irish parliament. These dual objectives were achieved in 1779 and 1782 respectively. Yet the executive branch of the Irish government remained responsible to the Imperial cabinet. The Reform Act of 1782 failed to address the aspirations of the Protestant middle classes, which largely remained excluded from the political process. By the second half of the eighteenth century, middle-class resentment, particularly amongst the Presbyterians of Ulster, centred on the continued denial of political participation.
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