Thomas Sexton (Irish politician)

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Justin McCarthy, 1891.jpg
John Dillon LOC 25678086606.jpg
Sexton joined the likes of Justin McCarthy and John Dillon in the Anti-Parnell Irish National Federation party

Following the party split over Parnell's leadership, Sexton sided with John Dillon's anti-Parnellite faction. Sexton felt that Parnell had to step aside in order for the Irish to maintain their political alliance with William Gladstone's Liberal party, however, Parnell refused to do so. Sexton also came to write for the Anti-Parnellite paper the National Press, launched in March 1891. The National Press merged with the more well known Freeman's Journal in March 1892 and Sexton served as the Chairman of the newly merged board. [4]

Sexton lost his seat in Belfast West in 1892 but won another seat in North Kerry in the same election. During this final run as an MP, Sexton was struck by the callousness of the in-fighting in the Irish National Federation between one faction supporting John Dillon and one supporting T. M. Healy. Sexton tried to remain above the disputes. [4] In 1896, following the resignation of Justin McCarthy as leader of the Irish National Federation, Sexton was offered the role but instead not only opted to decline, but he also retired from parliamentary politics, disgusted at the bitter factionalism following the failure of the second Home Rule bill. [1] [5] [4]

Sexton seemed to come to regret this decision and thereafter tried to use his role as Chairman of the Freeman's Journal to influence his former colleagues, leading Dillon to complain about Sexton in 1899. Sexton continued to be an issue following the reunification of the Irish Parliamentary Party under John Redmond in 1900. By 1903, Sexton's Freeman's Journal was staunchly critical of the party, particularly over the issue of a land purchase scheme introduced by George Wyndham. Sexton criticised the scheme as both too generous to landlords but also for seeming, to him, to have the objective of "killing home rule with kindness". After Wyndham's land act came into law, John Dillon joined Sexton in rejecting the policy of seeking further areas of ‘conciliation’ between the IPP and the landlords. "Conciliation" had been seen by William O'Brien, who negotiated the scheme, and others as the basis for future progress. Redmond, while sympathetic to ‘conciliation’, refused to dissociate himself from the views of Dillon, Sexton and the Freeman. Dillon would not risk splitting the party again and so the policy of ‘conciliation’ was effectively at a dead end, put down largely thanks to Sexton and the Freeman. [4]

Sexton was a member of the Committee, chaired by Hugh Childers, to enquire into the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland. In the report of the committee, published in 1896, he wrote a minority report showing that the tax burden on Ireland had been steadily increased throughout the nineteenth century, at the same time as its people were steadily impoverished. [6]

He was hostile to the Land Purchase (Ireland) Act 1903 on financial grounds, and regarded by William O'Brien as one of the principal players involved in his subsequent marginalisations from the Irish Party. [1] Sexton continued to be a leading ally of Dillon as Chairman of the board of the Freeman's Journal from 1893 to 1911; [1] however, his policy of cutting investments to maintain dividends led to the demise of the paper through William Martin Murphy's Irish Independent . [1]

During Sexton's time as Chairman of the Freeman's Journal, the paper began to suffer financially, struggling with competition from the National Press and from 1891 onwards, the pro-Parnall Irish Daily Independent. In the face of this competition, the Journal found it difficult to attract new investment and Sexton was unwilling to sell his shares in the paper for fear of losing control over it. In 1900 the Irish Daily Independent was purchased by William Martin Murphy and in 1905 transformed it into the Irish Independent, which sold at half the price of the Freeman's Journal and in a more popular format. The Freeman was unable to offer a response and began losing money. Sexton continued to try and hold on, but eventually the leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party stepped in and forced his resignation. The paper had to be subsidised by the party in the following years until it was shut down in 1918 following the Irish Parliamentary Party's catastrophic loss to Sinn Féin in the 1918 Irish general election. [4]

Later life

After retiring from the Freeman's Journal he became Chairman of Boland's Mill, and during World War I denounced wartime taxation and in 1918 endorsed Sinn Féin. [1] At the end of his career he supported Fianna Fáil because it promised tariff protection for flour-milling. [1]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Maume, Patrick (1999): The long Gestation, Irish Nationalist Life 1891–1918, "Who's Who" p.243, Gill & Macmillan, ISBN   0-7171-2744-3
  2. 1 2 3 Boylan, Henry (1999). A Dictionary of Irish Biography. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. p. 393. ISBN   0-7171-2945-4.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Shepherd (2006), p. 140.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Larkin, Felix M. "Sexton, Thomas". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  5. In the House of Commons Information Office publication Appointments to the Chiltern Hundreds and Manor of Northstead Stewardships since 1850, Thomas Sexton is recorded as having taken the Chiltern Hundreds on 19 February 1895. However, this appears to be an error. The London Gazette lists him as having been returned for North Kerry at the general election in August 1895 (see London Gazette, Issue 26651 published on the 9 August 1895, and the writ for the by-election was moved in April 1896 (see House of Commons Debates 14 April 1896 vol 39 c882). The date of his resignation is therefore listed here as 19 February 1896, rather than 1895.
  6. "Ireland's Financial Burthen", Auckland Star, 11 January 1897, p. 3
Thomas Sexton
Thomas Sexton, circa 1880s.png
Sexton, c. 1880s
Member of Parliament
In office
18801885
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for County Sligo
18801885
With: Denis Maurice O'Conor, to 1883
Nicholas Lynch, from 1883
Constituency divided
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Sligo
18851886
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Belfast West
18861892
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for North Kerry
18921896
Succeeded by
Civic offices
Preceded by Lord Mayor of Dublin
1888–1889
Succeeded by

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