To contemporaries Ireland's contribution to Britain's security and wealth was of the utmost importance. Effective British control was therefore deemed to be essential. This control was seriously threatened in the last years of the American War when the Irish parliament, backed by a large movement of armed Volunteers, forced Britain to concede that its parliament had no authority over Ireland. Irish gains turned out, however to be limited. Britain still controlled the executive government of Ireland which was usually able to dominate a parliament elected by very few voters. Attempts to widen the Irish electorate, which were part of widespread movements of discontent, were defeated. In resisting popular turbulence the British regime increasingly identified itself with the maintaining the dominance of Irish Protestants over the Catholic majority of the population.
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