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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Was the 1915 "National Registration Act" Extended to Ireland?


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The text of the Act states that registration was compulsory in GB, but extension to Ireland (or parts thereof) appears to have been discretionary (though this may be an artifact of drafting language?). Was the Act actually extended to Ireland, or not?


Edited by Wexflyer
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   The National Registration Act 1915 is still available on our legislation.gov.uk.  The Act did apply to Ireland and the conditions on which it would apply to Ireland are set out in Section 15 of the Act, which-as we know anyway-is markedly different to  England, Wales and Scotland. Looks to me like a Civil Service way of  obscuring and shilly-shallying the reality of lack of register in Ireland, while having a stab at some sort of fiction that the Act applied to all GB and I. 

    Whether the Viceroy's permission was ever given to construct a Register, I do not know- but I would have expected much more backlash and republican violence against such a register had it been authorised and Civil Servants had attempted to construct such a beastie.

   What is interesting is how conscription was gerrymandered to to avoid calling-up Irish men (and, I suppose, notionally Irish women) in mainland UK,yet still being able to draw them over to work in war industries. I am sure this will become a matter of debate and comment on GWF when the 1921 Census is released-and we have a lot more information about the very rapid growth of Irish communities in areas of war industries- the metal-bashing areas of the West Midlands the Clyde Valley, for instance.

   My own view is that British economic management of Ireland during the war is a lot more sophisticated than generally realised (After all, Keynes was at the Treasury)- and the Republican narrative,especially of post -Easter Rising is seriously flawed. Yes, conscription was not seriously attempted in Ireland but the Brits. profited mightily from labour substitution. Irish me-fit and of military age-came over in droves and worked in mainland UK war industries ( and I would hazard a guess that the number of Irishmen in UK war industries far exceeded the number of known Nationalists or republicans extant in Ireland). Thus, the British got:

i) The labour of the Irish when it was needed

ii) Avoided complicaation-which would tie up manpower in Ireland-if conscription was enforced

iii) The people who paid the price for it were Englishmen, Scots and Welsh- who were conscripted lower down the health and age catagories than would otherwise be, in order to make up the manpower loss to the British armed forces of Irish conscripts.


Hope you are now fully well



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Thank you - and I am much better than a few years back (defying entropy!).


I still think you should start a dedicated thread on the economic aspects.  While leadership of the British army in the Great War has been much criticized, one area where Britain clearly outperformed Germany in both world wars was the overall management of the war effort as a whole.

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Could and probably will-  but stats for thwe war years are difficult. Some "annual reports" of statistical stuff exists at our TNA. Supposed historical stats put out by RIA fall short. But Ireland as a food producer, supplier of manpower to the industrial front, etc. seem to me at least to be unexplored territory. I have not done so in the recent past  as it might have become a tad political- not with your good self- but because a key element in UK economic control was the system of Port Control Officers which was a little too raw during the Brexit hoo=ha )the border down the middle of the Irish Sea stuff,etc. 

   This is not to knock Nationalist or Republican traditions. unduly- it still holds up well at a political level. But not I fear at an economic one. 

  I am fortunate that I have a friend and neighbour who is the brother of the late Brendan Bradshaw- the Limericj ccleric cum academic who late in life took on the republican dead hand over Irish historiography. Can thoroughly recommend his last coollection of essays-"And so began the Irish nation"


Keep well.

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