Irish Free State
Overview
 
The Irish Free State (1922–1937) was the state established as a Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand. On the day the Irish Free State was established, it comprised the entire island of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, but Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 almost immediately exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new state. The Irish Free State effectively replaced the self-proclaimed Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

 (itself established on 21 January 1919).
Timeline

1922    Arthur Griffith is elected President of the Irish Free State.

1922    General election in the Irish Free State: a large majority goes to the pro-Treaty Sinn Féin.

1922    The Irish Civil War begins with the shelling of the Four Courts in Dublin by Free State forces.

1922    Michael Collins, Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army is shot dead during an Anti-Treaty ambush at Béal na mBláth, County Cork, during the Irish Civil War.

1922    Author and Irish Republican Army member Robert Erskine Childers is executed by an Irish Free State firing squad for illegally carrying a revolver.

1922    One year to the day after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Irish Free State comes into existence.

1931    The British Parliament enacts the Statute of Westminster 1931, establishing legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Irish Free State, Dominion of Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa.

1937    The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.

1949    The twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State become the Republic of Ireland.

Encyclopedia
The Irish Free State (1922–1937) was the state established as a Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand. On the day the Irish Free State was established, it comprised the entire island of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, but Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 almost immediately exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new state. The Irish Free State effectively replaced the self-proclaimed Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

 (itself established on 21 January 1919). Similarly, the new government of the Irish Free State replaced both the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
The provisional Government of Southern Ireland was the provisional government for the administration of Southern Ireland between 16 January 1922 and 6 December 1922. The government was effectively a transitional administration for the period between the ratifying of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the...

 and the Government of the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

 although W. T. Cosgrave, the first 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...

 had, in any event, led both governments since August 1922.

The Irish Free State came to an end in 1937, when the citizens voted by referendum to replace the 1922 constitution. It was succeeded by the entirely sovereign modern state of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

.

Northern Ireland "opts out"

For about two days from 6 December 1922 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 became part of the newly created Irish Free State. This constitutional episode arose because of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 and the legislation introduced to give that Treaty legal effect.

The Treaty was given legal effect in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922
Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922
The Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, passed in 1922 to confirm the Constitution of the Irish Free State, and to ratify the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty....

. That Act established, on 6 December 1922, the new Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 for the whole island of Ireland. Legally therefore, on 6 December 1922, Northern Ireland became an autonomous region of the newly created Irish Free State. However, the Treaty and the laws which implemented it also allowed Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 to opt out of the Irish Free State. Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland could exercise its opt out by presenting an address to the King
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Treaty was ratified, the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had one month (dubbed the Ulster month) to exercise this opt out during which month the Irish Free State Government could not legislate for Northern Ireland, holding the Free State’s effective jurisdiction in abeyance for a month.

Realistically, it was always certain that Northern Ireland would opt out of the Free State. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland was the de facto head of the Government of Northern Ireland. No such office was provided for in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. However the Lord Lieutenant, as with Governors-General in other Westminster Systems such as in Canada, chose to appoint someone...

, Sir James Craig, speaking in the Parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 in October 1922 said that “when the 6th of December is passed the month begins in which we will have to make the choice either to vote out or remain within the Free State.”. He said it was important that that choice was made as soon as possible after 6 December 1922 “in order that it may not go forth to the world that we had the slightest hesitation”. On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 demonstrated its lack of hesitation by resolving to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State:
Discussion in the Parliament of the address was short. Prime Minister Craig left for London with the memorial embodying the address on the night boat that evening, 7 December 1922. The King received it the following day, The Times reporting:
With this, Northern Ireland had left the Irish Free State. If the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had not made such a declaration, under Article 14 of the Treaty Northern Ireland, its Parliament and government would have continued in being but the Oireachtas
Oireachtas
The Oireachtas , sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the "national parliament" or legislature of Ireland. The Oireachtas consists of:*The President of Ireland*The two Houses of the Oireachtas :**Dáil Éireann...

 would have had jurisdiction to legislate for Northern Ireland in matters not delegated to Northern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act. This, of course, never came to pass.

On 13 December 1922 Prime Minister Craig addressed the Parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 informing them that the King had responded to the Parliament’s address as follows:

Historical background

The Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 of 1916, and in particular the decision of the British military authorities to execute many of its leaders after courts martial, generated sympathy for the republican cause in Ireland. Republicans and some independent Nationalists who led opposition to the idea of compulsory military service for Irish men in the conscription crisis of early 1918. The Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons at...

, who supported the Allied cause in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in response to the passing of the Third Home Rule Bill in 1914
Home Rule Act 1914
The Government of Ireland Act 1914 , also known as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.The Act was the first law ever passed by the Parliament of...

 was discredited by the crisis. In the December 1918 general election, a large majority of Irish seats in the Westminster parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland were won by Sinn Féin, with 73 of 105 constituencies returning Sinn Féin members. Sinn Féin was a previously non-violent separatist party founded by Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 in 1905. Under 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...

's leadership from 1917, it had campaigned aggressively for an Irish republic.

On 21 January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs (who became known as Teachta Dála
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

, TDs) refusing to sit in the British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 at Westminster, assembled in Dublin and formed a single chamber Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann (Assembly of Ireland). It affirmed the creation of an Irish Republic and passed a Declaration of Independence, calling itself Saorstát Éireann in Irish. Although it was accepted by the overwhelming majority of Irish people, only Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 recognised the Irish Republic internationally.

The War of Independence was fought between the army of the Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (known now as the "Old IRA" to distinguish it from later organisations of that name), and the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 of the United Kingdom. On 9 July 1921, a truce was declared. On October 11 negotiations were opened under British Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 and Arthur Griffith, who headed the Irish Republic's delegation. The Irish Treaty delegation set up Headquarters in Hans Place
Hans Place
Hans Place, London, England, is a residential garden square situated immediately south of Harrods in Chelsea. It is named after Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS , who was a physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the British nation which became the foundation of the...

, Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge is a road which gives its name to an exclusive district lying to the west of central London. The road runs along the south side of Hyde Park, west from Hyde Park Corner, spanning the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea...

 and on 5 December 1921 at 11:15 am it was decided by the delegation during private discussions at 22 Hans Place
Hans Place
Hans Place, London, England, is a residential garden square situated immediately south of Harrods in Chelsea. It is named after Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS , who was a physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the British nation which became the foundation of the...

 to recommend the Treaty to the Dáil Éireann; negotiations continued until 2:30 am on 6 December 1921 after which the Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 was signed by the parties.

That these negotiations would produce a form of Irish government short of the independence wished for by republicans was not in doubt. The United Kingdom could not offer a republican form of government without losing prestige and risking demands for something similar throughout the Empire. Furthermore, as one of the negotiators, Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, later admitted (and he was in a position to know, given his role in the independence war), the IRA at the time of the truce was weeks, if not days, from collapse, with a chronic shortage of ammunition. "Frankly, we thought they were mad", Collins said of the sudden British offer of a truce, although it was likely they would have continued in one form or another, given the level of public support. The President of the Republic
President of the Irish Republic
President of the Republic was the title given to the head of the Irish ministry or Aireacht in August 1921 by an amendment to the Dáil Constitution, which replaced the previous title, Príomh Aire or President of Dáil Éireann...

, Éamon de Valera, realising that a republic was not on offer, decided not to be a part of the treaty delegation and so be tainted by more militant republicans as a "sellout". Yet his own proposals published in January 1922 fell far short of an autonomous all-Ireland republic.

As expected, the Anglo-Irish Treaty explicitly ruled out a republic. What it offered was dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 status, as a state of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, equal to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and the Union
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. Though less than expected by the Sinn Féin leadership, it was substantially more than the initial form of home rule within the United Kingdom sought by Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party...

 from 1880, and a serious advancement on the Home Rule Act of 1914 that the Irish nationalist leader John Redmond
John Redmond
John Edward Redmond was an Irish nationalist politician, barrister, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918...

 had achieved through parliamentary proceedings. It was ratified by the Second Dáil
Second Dáil
The Second Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 16 August 1921 until 8 June 1922. From 1919–1922 Dáil Éireann was the revolutionary parliament of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic. The Second Dáil consisted of members elected in 1921...

, splitting Sinn Féin in the process.

Governmental and constitutional structures

The Treaty established that the new Irish Free State would be a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, with a Governor-General. The Constitution of the Irish Free State
Constitution of the Irish Free State
The Constitution of the Irish Free State was the first constitution of the independent Irish state. It was enacted with the adoption of the Constitution of the Irish Free State Act 1922, of which it formed a part...

made more detailed provision for the state's system of government, with a three-tier parliament, called the Oireachtas
Oireachtas of the Irish Free State
The Oireachtas of the Irish Free State was the legislature of the Irish Free State from 1922 until 1937. It was established by the 1922 Constitution of Ireland which was based from the Anglo-Irish Treaty...

, made up of the King and two houses, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann (Irish Free State)
Seanad Éireann was the upper house of the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State from 1922–1936. It has also been known simply as the Senate, or as the First Seanad. The Senate was established under the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State but a number of constitutional amendments were...

 (the Irish Senate). Executive authority was vested in the King, and exercised by a cabinet called the Executive Council
Executive Council of the Irish Free State
The Executive Council was the cabinet and de facto executive branch of government of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Formally, the role of the Executive Council was to "aid and advise" the Governor-General who would exercise the executive authority on behalf of the King...

, presided over by a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council
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...

.

The Representative of the Crown

The King in Ireland was represented by a 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...

. The office replaced the previous Lord Lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, who had headed English and British administrations in Ireland since the Middle Ages. Governors-General were appointed by the King initially on the advice of the British Government, but with the consent of the Irish Government. From 1927 the Irish Government alone had the power to advise the King whom to appoint.

Oath of Allegiance

As with all dominions, provision was made for an Oath of Allegiance. Within dominions, such oaths were taken by parliamentarians personally towards the monarch. The Irish Oath of Allegiance
Oath of Allegiance (Ireland)
The Irish Oath of Allegiance was a controversial provision in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which Irish TDs and Senators were required to take, in order to take their seats in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann .-Text of the Oath:The Oath was included in Article 17 of the Irish Free State's 1922...

 was fundamentally different. It had two elements; the first, an oath to the Free State, as by law established, the second part a promise of fidelity, to His Majesty, King George V, his heirs and successors. That second fidelity element, however, was qualified in two ways. It was to the King in Ireland, not specifically to the British King. Secondly, it was to the King explicitly in his role as part of the Treaty settlement, not in terms of pre-1922 British rule. The Oath itself came from a combination of three sources, and was largely the work of Michael Collins in the Treaty negotiations. It came in part from a draft oath suggested prior to the negotiations by President de Valera. Other sections were taken by Collins directly from the Oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century...

, of which he was the secret head. In its structure, it was also partially based on the form and structure used in the Dominion of Canada.

Although controversially moderate by other dominion standards, and notably indirect in its reference to the monarchy (and hence widely criticised by unionists and other dominions), it was criticised by nationalists and republicans for making any reference to the Crown, the claim being that it was a direct oath to the Crown, a fact demonstrably incorrect by an examination of its wording. But in 1922 Ireland and beyond, it was the perception, not the reality, that influenced public debate on the issue. Had its original author, Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, survived, he might have been able to clarify its actual meaning, but with his assassination in 1922, no major negotiator to the Oath's creation on the Irish side was still alive, available or pro-Treaty. (The leader of the Irish delegation, Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

, had also died in August 1922). The Oath became a key issue in the resulting Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 that divided the pro- and anti-treaty sides in 1922–23.

The Irish Civil War

The compromises contained in the agreement caused the civil war
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 in the 26 counties in June 1922–April 1923, in which the pro-Treaty Provisional Government
Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
The provisional Government of Southern Ireland was the provisional government for the administration of Southern Ireland between 16 January 1922 and 6 December 1922. The government was effectively a transitional administration for the period between the ratifying of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the...

 defeated the anti-Treaty Republican forces. The latter were led, nominally, by Éamon de Valera, who had resigned as President of the Republic on the treaty's ratification. His resignation outraged some of his own supporters, notably Seán T. O'Kelly
Sean T. O'Kelly
Seán Thomas O'Kelly was the second President of Ireland . He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government and Minister for Finance...

. On resigning, he then sought re-election but was defeated two days later on a vote of 60-58. The pro-Treaty Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 followed as President of the Irish Republic. Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 was chosen at a meeting of the members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland (a body set up under the Government of Ireland Act 1920) to become Chairman of the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
Chairman of the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland
The Chairman of the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland was a transitional post established in January 1922, lasting until the creation of the Irish Free State in December 1922 in the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland....

 in accordance with the Treaty. The general election
Irish general election, 1922
The Irish general election of 1922 took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State...

 in June gave overwhelming support for the pro-Treaty parties. W.T. Cosgrave
W.T. Cosgrave
William Thomas Cosgrave , known generally as W. T. Cosgrave, was an Irish politician who succeeded Michael Collins as Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government from August to December 1922. He served as the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to...

's Crown-appointed Provisional Government of Southern Ireland effectively subsumed Griffith's republican administration with the death of both Collins and Griffith in August 1922.

The "freedom to achieve freedom"

Governance

The following were the principal parties of government of the Irish Free State between 1922 and 1937:
  • Cumann na nGaedheal under W. T. Cosgrave (1922–32)
  • Fianna Fáil
    Fianna Fáil
    Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

     under Éamon de Valera (1932–37)

Constitutional evolution

Michael Collins described the Treaty as 'the freedom to achieve freedom'. In practice, the Treaty offered most of the symbols and powers of independence. These included a functioning, if disputed, parliamentary democracy with its own executive, judiciary and written constitution which could be changed by the Oireachtas
Oireachtas of the Irish Free State
The Oireachtas of the Irish Free State was the legislature of the Irish Free State from 1922 until 1937. It was established by the 1922 Constitution of Ireland which was based from the Anglo-Irish Treaty...

. However, a number of conditions existed:
  • The King remained king in Ireland;

  • Prior to the passage of the Statute of Westminster
    Statute of Westminster 1931
    The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

    , the U.K. government continued to have a significant role in Irish governance. Officially the representative of the King, the Governor-General also received instructions from the British Government on his use of the Royal Assent
    Royal Assent
    The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

    , namely a Bill passed by the Dáil and Seanad could be Granted Assent (signed into law), Withheld (not signed, pending later approval) or Denied (vetoed). Letters patent
    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...

     to the first Governor-General Tim Healy
    Timothy Michael Healy
    Timothy Michael Healy, KC , also known as Tim Healy, was an Irish nationalist politician, journalist, author, barrister and one of the most controversial Irish Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

     had named explicitly Bills that if passed were to be blocked, such as any attempt to abolish the Oath. In the event, no such Bills were ever introduced, so the issue was moot.

  • As a British Dominion, The Irish Free State, had limited autonomy. Entitlement of citizenship of the Irish Free State was defined in the Irish Free State Constitution, but the status of that citizenship was contentious. One of the first projects of the Irish Free State was the design and production of the Great Seal of Sáorstát Éireann
    Great Seal of the Irish Free State
    The Great Seal of the Irish Free State is the seal which was used to seal official documents of the Irish Free State by the Governor-General. The Great Seal is currently on public display at National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.Both sides of the Great Seal feature an image of...

     which was carried out on behalf of the Government by Hugh Kennedy
    Hugh Kennedy
    Hugh Kennedy was the only Attorney-General of Southern Ireland and the first Attorney-General of the Irish Free State, and later the first Chief Justice of the Irish Free State. As a member of the Irish Free State Constitution Commission, he was also one of the constitutional architects of the...

    .

  • The meaning of 'Dominion status' changed radically during the 1920s, starting with the Chanak crisis
    Chanak Crisis
    The Chanak Crisis, also called Chanak Affair in September 1922 was the threatened attack by Turkish troops on British and French troops stationed near Çanakkale to guard the Dardanelles neutral zone. The Turkish troops had recently defeated Greek forces and recaptured İzmir...

     in 1922 and quickly followed by the directly negotiated Halibut Treaty
    Halibut Treaty
    The Halibut Treaty was a 1923 Canadian–American agreement concerning fishing rights in the northern Pacific Ocean.The treaty established the International Pacific Halibut Commission as a mechanism for the joint management of the Pacific halibut which, at that time, was in severe decline...

     of 1923. A reform of the King's title following an Imperial Conference decision and given effect by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
    Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
    The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 [17 & 18 Geo. 5 c. 4] was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that authorised the alteration of the British monarch's royal style and titles, and altered the formal name of the British Parliament, in recognition of much of Ireland separating from...

    , changed the King's royal title so that it took account of the fact that there was no longer a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

    . The King adopted the following style by which he would be known in all of his Empire: By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India. That title was the Kings' title in Ireland just as elsewhere in his Empire.

  • In the conduct of external relations, The Irish Free State tried to push the boundaries of its status as a Dominion. It 'accepted' credentials from international ambassadors to Ireland, something no other dominion up to then had done. It registered the treaty with the League of Nations
    League of Nations
    The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

     as an international document, over the objections of the United Kingdom, which saw it as a mere internal document between a dominion and the United Kingdom.


The Statute of Westminster
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

 (of 1931), embodying a decision of an Imperial Conference, enabled each Dominion to enact new legislation or to change any extant legislation, without resorting to any role for the British parliament that may have enacted the original legislation in the past.

Ireland symbolically marked these changes in two mould-breaking moves:
  • It sought, and got the King's acceptance, to have an Irish minister, to the complete exclusion of British ministers, formally advising the king by in the exercise of his powers and functions as King in the Irish Free State. Two examples of this are the signing of a treaty between the Irish Free State and the Portuguese Republic
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     in 1931, and the act recognising the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 separately from the recognition by the British parliament.

  • The unprecedented replacement of the use of the Great Seal of the Realm and its replacement by the Great Seal of the Irish Free State
    Great Seal of the Irish Free State
    The Great Seal of the Irish Free State is the seal which was used to seal official documents of the Irish Free State by the Governor-General. The Great Seal is currently on public display at National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.Both sides of the Great Seal feature an image of...

    , which the King awarded to the Irish Free State in 1931. (The Irish Seal consisted of a picture of 'King George V' enthroned on one side, with the Irish state harp and the words Saorstát Éireann ('Irish Free State') on the reverse. It is now on display in the Irish National Museum, Collins Barracks
    Collins Barracks (Dublin)
    Collins Barracks is a former military barracks in the Arbour Hill area of Dublin, Ireland. The buildings are now the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History...

     in Dublin.)


When Éamon de Valera became President of the Executive Council (prime minister) in 1932 he described Cosgrave's ministers' achievements simply. Having read the files, he told his son, Vivion, "they were magnificent, son". One issue that remained to be resolved was issue of Britain's retention of control of a number of ports in the Irish Free State, called the Treaty Ports
Treaty Ports (Ireland)
Following the establishment of the Irish Free State, three deep water Treaty Ports at Berehaven, Queenstown and Lough Swilly were retained by the United Kingdom as sovereign bases in accordance with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December 1921...

. However, the Ports were returned to Ireland in 1938.

The Statute of Westminister allowed de Valera, on becoming President of the Executive Council (February 1932), to go even further. With no ensuing restrictions on his policies, he abolished the Oath of Allegiance
Oath of Allegiance (Ireland)
The Irish Oath of Allegiance was a controversial provision in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which Irish TDs and Senators were required to take, in order to take their seats in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann .-Text of the Oath:The Oath was included in Article 17 of the Irish Free State's 1922...

 (which Cosgrave intended to do had he won the 1932 general election
Irish general election, 1932
The Irish general election of 1932 was held on 16 February 1932, just over two weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 29 January. The newly elected 153 members of the 7th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 9 March 1932 when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of...

), the Senate, university representation in the Dáil, and appeals to the Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

.
One major policy error occurred in 1936 when he attempted to use the abdication of King Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

 to abolish the crown and governor-general in the Free State with the "Constitution (Amendment No. 27 Act)". He was advised by senior law officers and other constitutional experts that, as the crown and governor-generalship existed separately from the constitution in a vast number of acts, charters, orders-in-council, and letters patent, they both still existed. A second bill, the "Executive Powers (Consequential Provisions) Act, 1937" was quickly introduced to repeal necessary the elements. De Valera retroactively dated the second act back to December, 1936.

Demographics

According to one report, in 1924, shortly after the Irish Free State's establishment, the new dominion had the "lowest birth-rate in the world". The report noted that amongst countries for which statistics were available (Ceylon, Chile, Japan, Spain, South Africa, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Australia, United States, Scotland, Britain [sic], New Zealand, Finland and the Irish Free State). Ceylon had the highest birth rate at 40.8 per 1,000 while the Irish Free State had a birth rate of just 18.6 per 1,000.

After the Irish Free State

In 1937, de Valera's majority government presented a draft of an entirely new Constitution to the Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

. An amended version of the draft document was subsequently approved by the Dáil. A referendum was then held on the same day as the 1937 general election, when a relatively narrow majority approved it. The new Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 (Bunreacht na hÉireann) repealed the 1922 Constitution, and came into effect on 29 December 1937.

The state was named Ireland (Éire in the Irish language), and a new office of President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 was instituted in place of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State. The new constitution claimed jurisdiction over all of Ireland while recognising the reality of the British presence in the northeast (see Articles 2 and 3
Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland
Article 2 and Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland were adopted with the constitution as a whole on 29 December 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took effect on 2 December 1999...

). The draft document was reviewed by the Vatican twice before it was presented to Dail Eireann. It recognised the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, while also recognising the existence and rights of other faiths, specifically the minority Anglican Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 and the Jewish Congregation in Ireland. This article was repealed
Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland removed from the constitution a controversial reference to the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church as well as recognition of certain other named religious denominations...

 in 1973.

Articles 2 and 3 were reworded
Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
The Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland introduced changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution required by the 1998 Belfast Agreement . Prior to 1999, Articles 2 and 3 made the controversial claim that the whole island of Ireland formed one single "national territory"...

 in 1998 to remove jurisdictional claim over the entire island and to recognise that "a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island."

It was left to the initiative of de Valera's successors in government to achieve the country's formal transformation into a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. A small but significant minority of Irish people, usually attached to parties like Sinn Féin and the smaller Republican Sinn Féin
Republican Sinn Féin
Republican Sinn Féin or RSF is an unregisteredAlthough an active movement, RSF is not registered as a political party in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. minor political party operating in Ireland. It emerged in 1986 as a result of a split in Sinn Féin...

, denied the right of the twenty-six county state to use the name Republic and continued to refer to the state as the Free State. With Sinn Féin's entry in the Republic's Dáil
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 and the Northern Ireland Executive
Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

 at the close of the 20th century, the number of those who refuse to accept the legitimacy, which was already in a minority, declined further.

See also

  • Irish states since 1171
    Irish states since 1171
    Irish states have existed under a number of different names for nearly a thousand years. A unified Irish proto-state had been coalescing from the multitude of small tribal kingdoms that existed circa AD 500, similar to the pattern elsewhere in Europe...

  • "Series A" Banknotes
    Series A Banknotes (Ireland)
    The Series A Banknotes were introduced by the Irish Free State in 1928 and were the first banknotes created by and for the state; the series continued to be issued when the Free State became the Republic of Ireland...

     – First issued by the Irish Free State in 1928

Further reading

  • Tim Pat Coogan, Éamon de Valera (ISBN 0-09-175030-X)
  • Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins (ISBN 0-09-174106-8)
  • Lord Longford, Peace by Ordeal (Though long out of print, it is available in libraries)
  • Dorothy McCardlee, The Irish Republic (ISBN 0-86327-712-8)
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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