Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. V. 1782.—: Abolition of certain Penal Laws. Consequences of the Declaration of Parliamentary Independence. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1
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Sect. V. 1782.—: Abolition of certain Penal Laws. Consequences of the Declaration of Parliamentary Independence. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.
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Sect. V. 1782.—
Abolition of certain Penal Laws. Consequences of the Declaration of Parliamentary Independence.
The movement of the volunteers, which produced the declaration of independence by the Irish parliament, had two very distinct effects—the one general, which interested all the inhabitants of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant; the other special to the Catholics.
In the first respect, the independence of the Irish parliament, though profitable to all, was especially an advantage to the Protestants, who, being in possession of all social advantages, were the more impatient to acquire a free government. Those who are dying of hunger do not look upon parliamentary independence as a means of getting bread; they are too wretched to envy political rights; their ambition leads them only to the immediate object of their wants, and they do not consider that political liberty is the best instrument for constructing social happiness.
Nevertheless, the Irish parliament, though exclusively Protestant, could not recover its independence without manifesting it by some acts favourable to the Catholics.
Thus, at the same date, (1782, by Act 21 and 22 George III., ch. xxiv.) the laws were abolished which hindered Catholics from acquiring, disposing, selling, purchasing, inheriting, and possessing property like Protestants. This was the completion of the law of 1778; it was the concession of the right of property without restriction; henceforth the Catholic was not a mere tenant on lease, but might be a proprietor like the Protestant.
The law was repealed that prohibited Catholics from possessing a horse of higher value than five pounds, and which permitted the horses of Catholics to be seized in time of war, or in case of invasion. Catholics were, therefore, free to possess any goods or chattels.
The law was repealed that inflicted punishment on a Catholic priest for performing any office according to the ritual of the Catholic church. The only penalty left was for officiating in a chapel with a bell and steeple.
The law was abolished which subjected to imprisonment every Papist who refused to denounce a priest and his assistants for celebrating mass. It was a step to the full toleration of the Catholic worship; the Catholics could not, it is true, perform their worship with pomp and splendour, but still they could pray in silence, according to the forms of their religion. The penalties of imprisonment and transportation denounced against the Catholic priests were repealed.
Finally, the law was revoked which prohibited Catholics from being instructors of youth, and guardians to their own children, or those of others.*
This was the second act of Catholic emancipation; from this epoch also two changes date, which, though equally advantageous to Protestants and Catholics, ought to be considered especially useful to the latter; to wit, the law which secured their places during good behaviour, (quamdiu se bene gesserunt, and not durante bene placeto,) and a similar law of habeas corpus to that possessed by England. These laws were particularly favourable to the Catholics, for guarantees and tutelary laws are most needed by the poor and oppressed.
[*]The sacramental test, which excluded Presbyterians and Protestants from offices of trust under the crown, was also repealed in the session of 1782.—Tr.