Why was there a rebellion?

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There were many reasons why the rebellion of 1798 started in Ireland. One reason was that there was discrimination against certain religions and certain groups who were not rich. In the 1790s, groups such as the Presbyterians and the Catholics were denied many of their rights. At the time, the richest group, called the Ascendancy, were in power in Ireland. The Ascendancy were from the ruling classes. They were Protestant and had seats in the Irish Parliament.  

Poorer people had no say in how the Irish Parliament worked, even though they made up most of the population. At that time, no Catholic could sit in Parliament or become a Member of Parliament (MP). Even though there was a Parliament in Dublin, most of the power was in London.

The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, with its ideals of liberty, equality and brotherhood, caused many Irish people to consider changes which could take place in Ireland to give everybody better rights. Laws known as the Penal Laws had brought discrimination against Catholics and Presbyterians, however these were ended in 1792 and 1793.

Another reason for unrest in Ireland was due to many secret societies which developed in the countryside and sought rights for farmers and other people who worked on the land. Some of the names of these groups were the ‘Whiteboys’ and ‘Peep O’ Day Boys’. Many of these groups went out at night and damaged the property of some landlords in their area. They wanted cheaper rents and better conditions for the people who worked on the land.