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'114 commissions and 60 committees': phantom figures from a surveillance state

Niall Ó Ciosáin
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature
Vol. 109C (2009), pp. 367-385
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40657914
Page Count: 19
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'114 commissions and 60 committees': phantom figures from a surveillance state
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Abstract

It has been suggested by historians and other critics that following the Act of Union in 1801, Ireland was the object of unusually intense interest on the part of the London parliament and the British public. This assumption is often supported by the observation that 114 parliamentary commissions were established to investigate Ireland between 1800 and 1833. This figure is, in fact, entirely false, the real amount being closer to fourteen. Here the history of this implausible statistic is traced from 1834, when it originated, through to 2008. Some reasons why such an improbable figure was accepted and repeated are suggested, and the preconceptions among historians about nineteenth-century government and Anglo-Irish relations that are implied by that acceptance are explored.

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