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Doris was a solicitor in Dublin, active in Nationalist politics from the 1880s when he was assistant secretary of the Irish National Land League, and in this role was arrested in November 1881 and imprisoned for six months in Dundalk jail. On 3 December 1892 The Mayo News a local newspaper in Mayo, was co-founded by William and his brother Patrick Doris. The price of The Mayo News was one penny.
In 1898, Mayo County Council was set up under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. Doris was chairman of Westport UDC 1899-1910 and vice-chairman of Mayo County Council 1900-08, speaking at the latter's first meeting on 22 April 1899.
William Doris was a Member of Parliament for the constituency of West Mayo from 15 January 1910 to 14 December 1918 as a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party. His defeat of William O'Brien in West Mayo in 1910 was a decisive defeat for O'Brien's All-for-Ireland League. Doris was first recorded in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, Westminster, on 15 March 1910 on the topic of Old Age Pensions (Ireland). He was last recorded in the Commons, on 14 November 1918 under the topic of Evicted Tenants. He was a Whip of the Irish Parliamentary Party under the leadership of John Redmond during this period.
Like the rest of the Irish Party, William Doris supported the United Kingdom during the First World War, and this led to alienation from his brother Patrick.
In letters to the Irish Independent in 1924, William Doris wrote a stout defence of the Irish Parliamentary Party in relation to Irish partition. He pointed out that one of the principal consequences of the Sinn Féin policy of refusing to take up seats in the Westminster Parliament was that the establishment of a Protestant-dominated parliament in Northern Ireland in the Government of Ireland Act 1920 went through with little opposition. '...the handing over of the lives and properties, and the social, political, commercial and religious interests of 350,000 Catholics and Nationalists in the North to the tender mercies of an Orange parliament in Belfast has been the direct result of the destruction of the Irish Party in 1918. The 1920 Partition Act was carried because there was nobody to oppose it.' The Independent refused to print Doris's letters in full, and they were therefore printed by his former Parliamentary colleague J. P. Hayden in his newspaper, the Westmeath Examiner, 5 July 1924, under the heading 'The Canker of Partition'.
- Patrick Maume, The Long Gestation: Irish Nationalist Life 1891-1918, New York, St Martin's Press, pp.117, 226; Dictionary of Irish Biography.
- Anon. "The Western Problem". Oxford University Press. p. 34. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- Dictionary of Irish Biography; Mayo County Council 1899
- UK Parliament
- Google Map showing Doris Street
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Doris
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for West Mayo
January 1910 – 1918