The British Government Was Responsible For The Irish Famine. Do You Agree Or Disagree With This – Coursework Example

The British Government Was Responsible for the Irish Famine The Great Irish famine is one of the most devastating disasters that have ever hit Ireland1. The famine which occurred in the 19th century led to the immigration of thousands and the death of millions. In fact, the population of Ireland is said to have decreased by about 25% after the famine2. Over the years, many different reasons were suggested to have been the causes of the devastating famine. The British government, which was at the time in charge of running the affairs of the country, has been criticized for not acting early or fast enough to stop the famine3. Although all the blame cannot be laid on the British government, I do agree that they had a huge role to play to stop the famine and they did nothing.
The food problem in Ireland had persisted for a many years even before the famine started. However, the government did not act swiftly to mitigate the effects of food shortages and poverty that threatened the highly vulnerable country at the time4. Several commissions had been set up to find out what the situation was and their findings did spell disaster. The reports painted a picture of a people on the verge of starvation and living in appalling living conditions5. Yet despite these alarming findings, the British government was slow to act. The agricultural policy introduced in the country also meant that the Irish mostly depended on potatoes, whose production was dealt a great blow by blight which precipitated the famine6. The British laws also supported the idea of absentee English and Anglo-Irish landlords who owned gigantic tracts of land at the expense of the poor majority who would have used the lands to cultivate food for their own personal consumption7. These are some of the reasons why partial responsibility for the Irish famine falls on the British government.
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Donnelly, J, The Irish Famine, BBC, 2011, retrieved 9 October 2011,
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Hachey, T, & McCaffrey L, The Irish Experience Since 1800: A Concise History, M.E. Sharpe, New York, 2010.
Kinealy, C, A Death-Dealing Famine: The Great Hunger in Ireland, Pluto Press, London, 1997.