Executive Powers (Consequential Provisions) Act
The Executive Powers Act, 1937 was an Act of the Oireachtas which retrospectively completed the abolition of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...


In December 1936, then President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
The President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State was the head of government or prime minister of the Irish Free State which existed from 1922 to 1937...

 Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 had ensured the passage of the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act, intended to abolish the office of governor-general. However he was advised by his Attorney-General, James Geoghegan
James Geoghegan
James Geoghegan was an Irish politician, and later a justice of the Supreme Court.He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election on 13 June 1930 as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for the Longford–Westmeath constituency. He served in Éamon de Valera's first cabinet in 1932–33 as Minister for...

, the Secretary to the Executive Council, Maurice Moynihan and Mr Matheson of the Parliamentary Draftsman's office that that Act did not actually abolish the office. They informed de Valera that removing the governor-generalship from the Irish Free State Constitution in itself did not abolish the office, as the office had an existence independent to the constitution in a number of sources, namely
  • Letters Patent from the King constructing and regulating the office
    Letters patent
    Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

  • Orders in Council
  • Statutory Instrument
    Statutory Instrument
    A Statutory Instrument is the principal form in which delegated or secondary legislation is made in Great Britain.Statutory Instruments are governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. They replaced Statutory Rules and Orders, made under the Rules Publication Act 1893, in 1948.Most delegated...

  • Statute law

and in other sources. To conclusively abolish the office, all mention of the governor-generalship would need to be removed from these and others also. In May 1937 de Valera introduced the Executive Powers (Consequential Provisions) Act, 1937 to do that.

The Act had three main aims:
  1. to re-abolish the governor-generalship in those areas where the office had legally survived
  2. to retrospectively resolve constitutional and legal problems that the removal of the office from the constitution in December 1936 had created, notably
    • the installation of the Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court, who had been legally required to make a declaration of office in front the governor-general, but did not do so on the (unfounded) basis that the office had ceased to exist. The installation had not complied with existing statute law and was thus invalid. The recent Courts of Justice Act (which had established a new installation procedure) was equally invalid.
    • the installation of three judges of the Supreme Court, all of whom made their declarations of office in front of the (invalidly installed) new Chief Justice, were equally invalid.
    • the installation of a new Attorney-General was also invalid since it was in breach of the requirement of the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924
      Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924
      The Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 was one of the key statute laws enacted by the Irish Free State. Two years earlier the Irish Free State Constitution had provided for the formation of a cabinet called the Executive Council...

      that only the governor-general could appoint him.
  3. The granting of a pension to the 'former' governor-general, Domhnall Ua Buachalla. This was invalid since the post remained legally in existence.

The media and the opposition focused exclusively on the issue of the pension and failed to draw the public's attention to the fact that the new Bill was re-abolishing an office that de Valera had told them he had already abolished. By focusing on the pension (as he had hoped) the opposition failed to make capital out of one of de Valera's most dramatic and potentially humiliating mis-judgments, his first failed attempt to abolish the office of governor-general.

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