By John Kendle
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Additional info for Walter Long, Ireland, and the Union, 1905-1920
He had little sympathy or time for the Nationalists, no tolerance for those who broke the law in pursuit of their beliefs, and was convinced that both the numbers and the morale of the Royal Irish Constabulary had to be strengthened. His nine months in office were to be one of the shortest terms for a chief secretary, but they were to be decisive in reaffirming the commitment of the Unionists to a firm law-andorder, maintenance-of-the-union policy and for providing a benchmark by which Unionist policies and attitudes were established and assessed in the crucial prewar years.
The greater the publicity, the more pressure there would be on his fellow English Unionists to confirm the strength of the ties with their Irish colleagues. MacDonnell pointed out that the agreement he had made was not with Wyndham but with the British government. Long disputed this, saying he would never have been able to regard MacDonnell as a colleague. As far as he was concerned, the agreement had ceased to exist the moment he had replaced Wyndham. How could MacDonnell claim that it had continued?
But since the election lasted for two weeks, he was able to rebound quickly. He was offered the Unionist nomination in South County Dublin. Buoyed by this show of confidence, he campaigned vigorously in the few days left and was returned with a 1343-vote majority. This was the only Unionist victory in Ireland, outside Ulster, and it was a splendid affirmation of Long's standing in the Irish Unionist community. It meant that he was well positioned to keep the defence of the union at the centre of his party's agenda and to counter any hint of devolution or home rule emanating from the new Liberal government.