In 1882 he changed the name of the Home Rule League to the Irish Parliamentary Party and introduced a strict party whip and formal party structure. The Irish Parliamentary Party is generally seen as the first modern political party, the main British political parties later used the Parnellite model for their party structures. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments during the 1880s depended upon Parnell’s unified Irish bloc to form coalitions. The prospects of these alliances shocked Unionists, the Orange Order was re-established to oppose the Land League. In 1887, Parnell was accused by the British newspaper, The Times of supporting the Phoenix Park Murders, letters were published in support of these claims. However, the letters were later revealed to be forgeries, Parnell entered the House of Commons to a standing ovation from his fellow parliamentarians. Parnell was at this stage at the peak of his career, however in 1889 it was revealed that Parnell had been conducting a long term relationship with Katharine O’Shea and had fathered three of her children. Prime Minister Gladstone insisted that Parnell had to stand down from leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party, Parnell refused and the party was split down the middle. Deposed as leader, Parnell embarked on a political tour of Ireland to drum up popular support. His health began to rapidly deteriorate and he died on 6 October 1891, aged just forty-five. His estate in Avondale, Co. Wicklow is open to the public; the capital city has commemorated Parnell with the naming of Parnell Square, Parnell St. after him and with the erection of the Parnell Monument on O’Connell St.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: http://www.exploringireland.net