Vol. 12: O’Flaherty, Eamonn.

Type: Article

O’Flaherty, Eamonn. ‘Burke and the Catholic Question’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 12 (1997), pp 7-27.

This article examines Edmund Burke’s writings on the Catholic question, which span nearly four decades and “contain important evidence of the development of Burke’s ideas about the nature of law and obligation and the relationship between religion and the constitution”. O’Flaherty discusses Burke’s long and passionate involvement in Irish politics, his association with Charles O’Conor and John Curry and their commitment to re-writing Irish history and his involvement with the Catholic case against the Penal Laws. He also considers Burke’s opposition to the Quebec Act and its implications concerning Irish catholics, his Tracts relating to Popery Laws, his role in the 1778 Relief Act, his dismissal of the term ‘Protestant ascendancy’ and the “political vocabulary of the ascendancy party”, and his belief in the importance of the British constitution for Irish citizens. O’Flaherty concludes that “Burke’s thoughts on the Catholic question in his last years were affected… by an increasingly religious theme in his discussion of Catholicism, part of his general belief in the importance of religion as a counter-revolutionary force, but also evidence of the depth of his roots in Catholic Ireland of the eighteenth century”.