Union Is Strength

“Colonel Edward Saunderson MP, UDU founder, leader of the Irish Unionist Party. 1837-1906. Union is strength. ‘We must be prepared for every possible eventuality’ – on the issue of Home Rule 1893.”

The dates given are the span of Saunderson’s life, not his political career, which began in 1865 as MP for his home county of Cavan.

The bill under consideration in 1893 was the second Home Rule bill, which the UDU was formed to resist. The UDU initially met in Belfast in March; the manifesto of the meeting can be read on page 5 of the [Sydney] Freeman’s for 1893-04-29.

On June 8th, 1893, the Westminster government asked the police for a report on the Union, fearing its goal was armed resistance to Home Rule, and considering declaring it an illegal organisation ([Sydney] Daily Telegraph, 1893-06-10 page 5).

In September, the bill was passed in the Commons but defeated in the Lords. An account of the October meeting quotes Saunderson saying that the organisation should maintain itself by “if the necessity arose” “proving – not by words, but by deeds – that they meant what they said.” (Gympie Times & Mary River Mining Gazette, 1893-12-07 page 3).

Saunderson at the time was (also) leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance (here called the “Irish Unionist Party”) and he went on to be the first leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, from 1905 to 1906 (WP), when he died of pneumonia (WP).

The Ulster Defence Union is employed as an origin-story by the Troubles-era UDA as the UDU formed an ‘Ulster Defence Association’ – see UDU-UFF-UDA and UDU-WDA-UDA-UFF – and the name is used by the post-Agreement UDA – see Daffodil Days.

Owenreagh Drive, Newtownabbey

Click and click again to enlarge (to 750 x 1000)
Copyright © 2022 Paddy Duffy

Click and click again to enlarge (to 1000 x 750)
Copyright © 2022 Paddy Duffy
T01223c T01222

One thought on “Union Is Strength

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.