The French Revolution revived radical enthusiasm in Ireland, notably with the establishment of the United Irishmen. The government, concerned to contain disaffection, forced through a major Catholic Relief Act. But by this time, sectarian conflict between the Protestant Orange Society and the Catholic Defenders, was rising out of control. The United Irish rebellion of 1798, ostensibly in support of a secular, democratic republicanism, degenerated in some areas into vicious sectarian warfare. The government's decision, immediately afterwards, to end Ireland's status as a separate kingdom reflected a longer term frustration with the unmanageable demands of Irish patriotism, as well as a belief that religious conflict could be satisfactorily resolved within the framework of an act of union.
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