11 May 2012
The only copy of the 1913 Ulster Proclamation of a Provisional Government known to have survived is to be auctioned at Bonhams Book, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs Sale in London on 12 June. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.
The Proclamation, dated 24 September 1913, takes the form of a poster, printed in blue, declaring the formation of a Provisional Government with the proviso that it would not take executive power until needed to resist the formation of a Nationalist Government in Dublin.
The previous day, 23 September, the prominent Unionist, Sir Edward Carson, had persuaded the 500 delegates to the Ulster Unionist Council to endorse the proclamation as part of his tactic to secure exclusion for Ulster from the Irish Home Rule Bill then passing through Parliament.
After initially regarding the demand for exclusion as a tactic to wreck the Bill, Carson had come to see it as a potential solution to satisfying the wishes of the largely Protestant population in the north east of Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. The previous year, nearly 500,000 people had signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant in opposition to the Home Rule Bill and in early 1913 a 100,000 strong militia the Ulster Volunteer Force - was set up.
The Home Rule Bill was eventually enacted, but set aside for the duration of the First World War, and the question of Ulster eventually resolved by partition in 1921, following events which started on Easter Sunday 1916 when Nationalists in Dublin issued their own Proclamation of a Provisional Government.