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Duffy was speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1877 to 1880, but the role finally bored him into leaving for France.

Image title:
Sir Charles Gavan Duffy

State Library of Victoria

Charles Duffy (1816–1903)

Irish rebel, premier of Victoria and supporter of Federation

In Dublin, Duffy ran a newspaper called the Nation, to inspire the Irish people to claim their independence from Britain. Duffy and his friends were ready to use force against Britain and, in 1848, took part in a small, short-lived rebellion. Duffy was tried and convicted, but a higher court let him off. He was then elected to a seat in the British Parliament. In 1855, thinking there was no hope for Irish independence, he left for Australia.

In Melbourne he was welcomed by the Irish as a hero, and was soon elected to the Victorian Parliament. In 1871 he was briefly premier. In a colony where most people were Protestants from England and Scotland, there was a lot of prejudice against Duffy because he was Catholic and Irish.

Long before other politicians were interested, Duffy thought the Australian colonies should federate into a nation that would not have to join in Britain's wars. That seemed disloyal to many people and his plans came to nothing. He left Australia in 1880 and lived in France.