This chapter centres on the activities of groups preoccupied with, apparently, traditional agrarian concerns in south Leinster. The origins of the white terror in County Wexford can be traced to the expansion of the Orange Order into south Leinster in early 1798. This growth was part of a wider counter-insurgency campaign on the part of conservative elements within the Irish government. Centred on the unofficial cabinet of Cooke, Fitzgibbon, Beresford and Foster, these ultras endeavoured to create a counterweight to the United Irishmen who, starting in north Wexford in early 1797, had been spreading throughout south Leinster with increasing rapidity. The driving force behind this policy was the Under Secretary Edward Cooke, who organized pro-government factions from within the loyalist gentry and magistracy of the affected counties.
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