December 1890

Irish Parliamentary Party vote to oust Parnell

In November 1890 Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), was involved in a notorious scandal. In a divorce case taken by Captain O'Shea against his wife Katherine, Parnell was named as co-respondent. Parnell could offer no defence, as he had been having an affair with Katherine for the best part of ten years.

The scandal was reported widely in the media. His behaviour was seen as shocking and immoral. The leader of the Liberals, William Ewart Gladstone called for his resignation, as did the Catholic bishops of Ireland (the Catholic church had previously given strong support to the IPP's campaign for Home Rule).

Parnell refused to step down and the IPP split between pro and anti-Parnell factions. On the 6th December, almost two thirds of the party voted for him to resign. Parnell continued to fight on, but his support was greatly weakened. He died on 6th October 1891.

Freeman's Journal cartoon showing Parnellite John Redmond and anti-Parnellite Justin McCarthy.
National Library of Ireland [Weekly Freeman 1892 Jan 30 (A)]