Irish Free State

The Irish Free State (Irish: Saorstát Éireann pronounced [ˈsˠiːɾˠ.sˠt̪ˠaːt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]; 6 December 1922 – 29 December 1937) was a state established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. That treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British Crown forces.

The Free State was established as a Dominion of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It comprised 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland. Northern Ireland, which comprised the remaining six counties, exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new state. The Free State government consisted of the Governor-General, the representative of the King, and the Executive Council (cabinet), which replaced both the revolutionary Dáil Government and the Provisional Government set up under the Treaty. W. T. Cosgrave, who had led both of these governments since August 1922, became the first President of the Executive Council (prime minister). The Oireachtas or legislature consisted of Dáil Éireann (the lower house) and Seanad Éireann, also known as the Senate. Members of the Dáil were required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of the Free State and to declare fidelity to the king. The oath was a key issue for opponents of the Treaty, who refused to take the oath and therefore did not take their seats. Pro-Treaty members, who formed Cumann na nGaedheal in 1923, held an effective majority in the Dáil from 1922 to 1927, and thereafter ruled as a minority government until 1932.

In 1931, with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, the Parliament of the United Kingdom relinquished its remaining authority to legislate for the Free State and the other dominions. This had the effect of making the dominions fully sovereign states. The Free State thus became the first internationally recognised independent Irish state.

In the first months of the Free State, the Irish Civil War was waged between the newly established National Army and the anti-Treaty IRA, who refused to recognise the state. The Civil War ended in victory for the government forces, with the anti-Treaty forces dumping their arms in May 1923. The anti-Treaty political party, Sinn Féin, refused to take its seats in the Dáil, leaving the relatively small Labour Party as the only opposition party. In 1926, when Sinn Féin president Éamon de Valera failed to have this policy reversed, he resigned from Sinn Féin and founded Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil entered the Dáil following the 1927 general election, and entered government after the Irish general election, 1932, when it became the largest party.

De Valera abolished the Oath of Allegiance and embarked on an economic war with the UK. In 1937 he drafted a new constitution, which was passed by a referendum in July of that year. The Free State came to an end with the coming into force of a new constitution on 29 December 1937 when the state took the name "Ireland".

Irish Free State

Saorstát Éireann (Irish)
1922–1937
Anthem: "Amhrán na bhFiann"[1]
"The Soldiers' Song"
Location of the Irish Free State. Northern Ireland is in light green.
Location of the Irish Free State. Northern Ireland is in light green.
StatusBritish Dominion
Capital
and largest city
Dublin
53°21′N 6°16′W / 53.350°N 6.267°W
Official languages
Irish
Demonym(s)Irish
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Monarch 
• 1922–1936
George V
• 1936
Edward VIII
• 1936–1949
Arguably George VI
(more information)
Governor-General 
• 1922–1927
Timothy Michael Healy
• 1928–1932
James McNeill
• 1932–1936
Domhnall Ua Buachalla
President of the Executive Council 
• 1922–1932
W. T. Cosgrave
• 1932–1937
Éamon de Valera
LegislatureOireachtas
Seanad
Dáil
History 
6 December 1921
6 December 1922
29 December 1937
Area
Until 8 December 192284,000 km2 (32,000 sq mi)
After 8 December 192270,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi)
Population
• Estimate
2,948,000 (1937)
CurrencyPound sterling (1922–27)
Saorstát pound (1928–37)
Time zoneUTC
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (IST/WEST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideleft
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United Kingdom
Ireland

Background

The Easter Rising of 1916 and its aftermath caused a profound shift in public opinion towards the republican cause in Ireland.[2] In the December 1918 General Election, the republican Sinn Féin party won a large majority of the Irish seats in the British parliament: 73 of the 105 constituencies returned Sinn Féin members (25 uncontested). The elected Sinn Féin MPs, rather than take their seats at Westminster, set up their own assembly, known as Dáil Éireann (Assembly of Ireland). It affirmed the formation of an Irish Republic and passed a Declaration of Independence.[3] The subsequent War of Independence, fought between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British security forces, continued until July 1921 when a truce came into force. By this time the Ulster Parliament had opened, established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, presenting the republican movement with a fait accompli and guaranteeing the British presence in Ireland.[4] In October negotiations opened in London between members of the British government and members of the Dáil, culminating in the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921.[5]

The Treaty allowed for the creation of an independent state to be known as the Irish Free State, with dominion status, within the then British Empire—a status equivalent to Canada.[5] The Parliament of Northern Ireland could, by presenting an address to the king, opt not to be included in the Free State, in which case a Boundary Commission would be established to determine where the boundary between them should lie.[6] Members of the parliament of the Free State would be required to take an oath of allegiance to the king, albeit a modification of the oath taken in other dominions.[5]

The Dáil ratified the Treaty on 7 January 1922, causing a split in the republican movement.[7] A Provisional Government was formed, with Michael Collins as chairman.[8]

Northern Ireland "opts out"

The Treaty, and the legislation introduced to give it legal effect, implied that Northern Ireland would be a part of the Free State on its creation,[9][10] but legally the terms of the Treaty applied only to the 26 counties, and the government of the Free State never had any powers—even in principle—in Northern Ireland.[11]

The Treaty was given legal effect in the United Kingdom through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922. That act, which established the Free State, allowed Northern Ireland to "opt out" of it.[9] Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland could exercise its option by presenting an address to the King requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Irish Free State Constitution Act was passed on 5 December 1922, the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had one month (dubbed the "Ulster month") to exercise this option during which month the Government of Ireland Act continued to apply in Northern Ireland.[12]

Realistically it was always certain that Northern Ireland would opt out of the Free State. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, speaking in the Parliament in October 1922 said that "when 6 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 be 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".[13] On the following day, 7 December 1922, the Parliament resolved to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State:[14]

MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.

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:[15]

YORK COTTAGE, SANDRINGHAM, DEC. 8. The Earl of Cromer (Lord Chamberlain) was received in audience by The King this evening and presented an Address from the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland, to which His Majesty was graciously pleased to make reply.

If the 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 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 informing them that the King had responded to its address as follows:[16]

I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed.

Governmental and constitutional structures

Saorstát Éireann
A symbol most often associated with the new state's postal system.

The Treaty established that the new Irish Free State would be a constitutional monarchy, with a Governor-General as representative of the Crown. The Constitution of the Irish Free State made more detailed provision for the state's system of government, with a three-tier parliament, called the Oireachtas, made up of the King and two houses, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate).

Executive authority was vested in the King, with the Governor-General as his representative. He appointed a cabinet called the Executive Council to "aid and advise" him. The Executive Council was presided over by a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council. In practice, most of the real power was exercised by the Executive Council, as the Governor-General was almost always bound to act on the advice of the Executive Council.

Representative of the Crown

The King in the Irish Free State was represented by a Governor-General of the Irish Free State. The office replaced the previous Lord Lieutenant, 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 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 King of the United Kingdom. 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 (IRB), of which he was the secret head. In its structure, it was also partially based on the form and structure used for 'Dominion status'.

Although 'a new departure', and notably indirect in its reference to the monarchy, 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, survived, he might have been able to clarify its actual meaning, but with his assassination in August 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, had also died in August 1922). The Oath became a key issue in the resulting Irish Civil War that divided the pro- and anti-treaty sides in 1922–23.

Irish Civil War

The compromises contained in the agreement caused the civil war in the 26 counties in June 1922 – April 1923, in which the pro-Treaty Provisional Government 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, the main Sinn Féin organizer. On resigning, he then sought re-election but was defeated two days later on a vote of 60–58. The pro-Treaty Arthur Griffith followed as President of the Irish Republic. Michael Collins 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 the Irish Free State in accordance with the Treaty. The general election in June gave overwhelming support for the pro-Treaty parties. W. T. Cosgrave's Crown-appointed Provisional Government effectively subsumed Griffith's republican administration with the death of both Collins and Griffith in August 1922.

"Freedom to achieve freedom"

Irish Free State passport
Irish Free State passport (holder's name removed)

Governance

The following were the principal parties of government of the Irish Free State between 1922 and 1937:

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. Although an Irish republic had not been on offer, the Treaty still afforded Ireland more internal independence than it had possessed in over 400 years, and far exceeded the most optimistic goals of the Home Rule movement. However, a number of conditions existed:

  • The King remained king in Ireland;
  • Britain retained the so-called strategic Treaty Ports on Ireland's south and north-west coasts which were to remain occupied by the Royal Navy;
  • Prior to the passage of the Statute of Westminster, the UK government continued to have a 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, 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). The letters patent to the first Governor-General, Tim Healy, explicitly named Bills that were to be rejected if passed by the Dáil and Seanad, such as any attempt to abolish the Oath. In the event, no such Bills were ever introduced, so the issue was moot.
Irish Free State Butter, Eggs and Bacon for our Breakfasts Du beurre, des œufs et du bacon de l’État libre d’Irlande au déjeuner
Poster promoting Irish Free State farm goods for breakfast to Canadians ("Irish Free State butter, eggs and bacon for our breakfasts").
  • As with the other dominions, the Irish Free State had a status of association with the UK rather than being completely legally independent from it. However the meaning of 'Dominion status' changed radically during the 1920s, starting with the Chanak crisis in 1922 and quickly followed by the directly negotiated Halibut Treaty of 1923. The 1926 Imperial Conference declared the equality [including the UK] of all member states of the Commonwealth. The Conference also led to a reform of the King's title, given effect by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, which 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. 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 was the King's title in Ireland just as elsewhere in his Empire.[17]
  • 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 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. 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 Saorstát Éireann which was carried out on behalf of the Government by Hugh Kennedy.

The Statute of Westminster (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. This change made the dominions, including the Free State, de jure sovereign nations – fulfilling Collins' vision of having "the freedom to achieve freedom".

The Free State symbolically marked these changes in two mould-breaking moves soon after winning internationally recognised independence:

  • It sought, and got, the King's acceptance to have an Irish minister, to the complete exclusion of British ministers, formally advising the King 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 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, 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 on the reverse. It is now on display in the Irish National Museum, Collins Barracks 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".

The Statute of Westminster 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 (which Cosgrave intended to do had he won the 1932 general election), the Senate, university representation in the Dáil, and appeals to the Privy Council. One major policy error occurred in 1936 when he attempted to use the abdication of King Edward VIII 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 the necessary elements. De Valera retroactively dated the second act back to December 1936.

Currency

The new state continued to use sterling from its inception; there is no reference in the Treaty or in either of the enabling Acts to currency.[18] Nonetheless and within a few years, the Dáil passed the Coinage Act, 1926 (which provided for a Saorstát [Free State] coinage) and the Currency Act, 1927 (which provided inter alia for banknotes of the Saorstát pound). The new Saorstát pound was defined by the 1927 Act to have exactly the same weight and fineness of gold as was the sovereign at the time, making the new currency pegged at 1:1 with sterling. The State circulated its new national coinage in 1928, marked Saorstát Éireann and a national series of banknotes. British coinage remained acceptable in the Free State at an equal rate. In 1937, when the Free State was superseded by Ireland (Éire), the pound became known as the "Irish pound" and the coins were marked Éire.

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, Britain, 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.[19]

After the Irish Free State

In 1937 the Fianna Fáil government presented a draft of an entirely new Constitution to Dáil Éireann. An amended version of the draft document was subsequently approved by the Dáil. A referendum was held on 1 July 1937, the same day as the 1937 general election, when a relatively narrow majority approved it. The new Constitution of Ireland (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 was instituted in place of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State. The new constitution claimed jurisdiction over all of Ireland while recognising that legislation would not apply in Northern Ireland (see Articles 2 and 3). Articles 2 and 3 were reworded 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".

With respect to religion, a section of Article 44 included the following:

The State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens. The State also recognises the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution.

Following a referendum, this section was deleted in 1973.

It was left to the initiative of de Valera's successors in government to achieve the country's formal transformation into a republic. A small but significant minority of Irish people, usually attached to parties like Sinn Féin and the smaller Republican Sinn Féin, denied the right of the twenty-six county state to use the name Ireland and continued to refer to the state as the Free State. With Sinn Féin's entry into Dáil Éireann and the Northern Ireland Executive at the close of the 20th century, the number of those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the state, which was already in a minority, declined further. After the setting up of the Free State in 1923, some Protestants left southern Ireland and unionism there largely came to an end.

See also

References

  1. ^ Officially adopted in July 1926. O'Day, Alan (1987). Alan O'Day, ed. Reactions to Irish nationalism. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-907628-85-9. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  2. ^ Marie Coleman, The Republican Revolution, 1916–1923, Routledge, 2013, chapter 2 "The Easter Rising", pp. 26–8. ISBN 140827910X
  3. ^ J. J. Lee, Ireland 1912–1985 Politics and Society p.40, Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 9780521266482
  4. ^ Garvin, Tom: The Evolution of Irish Nationalist Politics : p.143 Elections, Revolution and Civil War Gill & Macmillan (2005) ISBN 0-7171-3967-0
  5. ^ a b c Lee (1989), p. 50
  6. ^ Lee (1989), p. 51
  7. ^ Lee (1989), pp. 53–4
  8. ^ Lee (1989), pp. 54–5
  9. ^ a b "The Boundary Question: Debate Resumed, Dáil Éireann, 20 June 1924". Oireachteas.ie. Retrieved 30 September 2015. Article 12 of the Treaty reads: 'If before the expiration of the said month an address is presented to his Majesty by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to that effect, the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.' By implication that is a declaration that it did extend, but after the exercise of its option this power was no longer extended.
  10. ^ Martin, Ged (1999). "The Origins of Partition". In Anderson, Malcolm; Bort, Eberhard. The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture. Liverpool University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0853239517. Retrieved 8 September 2015. It is certainly true that the Treaty went through the motions of including Northern Ireland within the Irish Free State while offering it the provision to opt out
  11. ^ Morgan, Austen (2000). The Belfast Agreement: A Practical Legal Analysis (PDF). The Belfast Press. pp. 66, 68. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  12. ^ Gibbons, Ivan (2015). The British Labour Party and the Establishment of the Irish Free State, 1918–1924. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 107. ISBN 1137444088. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  13. ^ Northern Ireland Parliamentary Debates, 27 October 1922
  14. ^ Dunning, Alastair (1 October 2006). "The Stormont Papers – View Volumes". stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk.
  15. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times".
  16. ^ Dunning, Alastair (1 October 2006). "The Stormont Papers – View Volumes". stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk.
  17. ^ Long after the Irish Free State had ceased to exist, when Elizabeth II ascended the Throne, the Royal Titles Act 1953[1] was passed, as were other Acts concerning her Style in other parts of the Empire. Until then the British monarch had only one style. The King was never simply the "King of Ireland" or the "King of the Irish Free State".
  18. ^ Except perhaps by inference: the Treaty assigned to the Irish Free State the same status in the Empire as Canada and the latter had already [1851—59] replaced the British Pound (with the Canadian Dollar).
  19. ^ Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume XVIX, Issue 971, 11 March 1924, Page 1

Further reading

Coordinates: 53°20′52″N 6°15′35″W / 53.34778°N 6.25972°W

1922 Irish general election

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 Irish political history, this served as the election to the Third Dáil; under the provisions of the treaty it was a provisional parliament replacing the parliament of Southern Ireland. From 6 December 1922, it was the Dáil Éireann of the Irish Free State.

The election was under the electoral system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

1933 Irish general election

The Irish general election of 1933 was held on 24 January 1933. The newly elected members of the 8th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 8 February when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of the Irish Free State were appointed. Fianna Fáil retained power, though fell one seat short of an overall majority.

The general election took place in 30 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Irish Free State for 153 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.

1937 Irish general election

The Irish general election of 1937 was held on 1 July 1937, just over two weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 14 June. A plebiscite to ratify the Constitution of Ireland was held on the same day. The newly elected 138 members of the 9th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 21 July 1937 when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of the Irish Free State were appointed. Fianna Fáil retained power, though it failed to achieve an outright majority.

The general election took place in 34 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Irish Free State for 138 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.

For this election the number of seats in the Dáil was reduced by 15, from 153 to 138 seats.

Anglo-Irish Treaty

The Anglo-Irish Treaty (Irish: An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of Independence. It provided for the establishment of the Irish Free State within a year as a self-governing dominion within the "community of nations known as the British Empire", a status "the same as that of the Dominion of Canada". It also provided Northern Ireland, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, an option to opt out of the Irish Free State, which it exercised.

The agreement was signed in London on 6 December 1921, by representatives of the British government (which included Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who was head of the British delegates) and by representatives of the Irish Republic including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. The Irish representatives had plenipotentiary status (negotiators empowered to sign a treaty without reference back to their superiors) acting on behalf of the Irish Republic, though the British government declined to recognise that status. As required by its terms, the agreement was approved by "a meeting" of the members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and [separately] by the British Parliament. In reality, Dáil Éireann (the legislative assembly for the de facto Irish Republic) first debated then approved the treaty; members then went ahead with the "meeting". Though the treaty was narrowly approved, the split led to the Irish Civil War, which was won by the pro-treaty side.

The Irish Free State as contemplated by the treaty came into existence when its constitution became law on 6 December 1922 by a royal proclamation.

Attorney General of Ireland

The Attorney General of Ireland (Irish: An tArd-Aighne) is a constitutional officer who is the legal adviser to the Government and is therefore the chief law officer of the State. The Attorney General is not a member of the Government but does participate in cabinet meetings when invited and attends government meetings. The current Attorney General is Séamus Woulfe, SC.

Blueshirts

The Army Comrades Association (ACA), later the National Guard, then Young Ireland and finally League of Youth, but better known by the nickname The Blueshirts (Irish: Na Léinte Gorma), was a Right-wing movement in the Irish Free State in the early 1930s. The organisation provided physical protection for political groups such as Cumann na nGaedheal from intimidation and attack by the anti-Treaty IRA. Some former members went on to fight for the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. (It had been dissolved before the civil war started.)

Most of the political parties whose meetings the Blueshirts protected would merge to become Fine Gael, and members of that party are still sometimes nicknamed "Blueshirts".

Chief Justice of Ireland

The Chief Justice of Ireland (Irish: Príomh-Bhreitheamh na hÉireann) is the president of the Supreme Court of Ireland. The current Chief Justice is Frank Clarke.

Under the Constitution of Ireland, the Chief Justice also occupies certain ex officio positions:

a member of the Presidential Commission;

a member of the Council of State (a position retained on retirement).

Comhairle na dTeachtaí

Comhairle na dTeachtaí was an Irish republican parliament established by opponents of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and the resulting Irish Free State, and viewed by republican legitimatists as a successor to the Second Dáil. Members were abstentionist from the Third Dáil established by the pro-Treaty faction. Just as the First Dáil established a parallel Irish Republic in opposition to the British Dublin Castle administration, so Comhairle na dTeachtaí attempted to establish a legitimatist government in opposition to the Provisional Government and Government of the Irish Free State established by the Third Dáil. This legitimatist government, called the Council of State, had Éamon de Valera as President. In 1926 de Valera resigned as President, left the Sinn Féin party and founded Fianna Fáil, which in 1927 entered the Fourth Dáil. Comhairle na dTeachtaí, never more than a symbolic body, was thereby rendered defunct. In 1930 Cumann na nGaedheal TDs alleged in the Dáil that de Valera had addressed Comhairle na dTeachtaí in December 1926, after the foundation of Fianna Fáil; this was to cast aspersions on de Valera's commitment to the Constitution of the Irish Free State.

Constitution of the Irish Free State

The Constitution of the Irish Free State (Irish: Bunreacht Shaorstáit Eireann) was adopted by Act of Dáil Éireann sitting as a constituent assembly on 25 October 1922. In accordance with Article 83 of the Constitution, the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 of the British Parliament, which came into effect upon receiving the royal assent on 5 December 1922, provided that the Constitution would come into effect upon the issue of a Royal Proclamation, which was done on 6 December 1922. In 1937 the Constitution of the Irish Free State was replaced by the modern Constitution of Ireland following a referendum.

As enacted, the Constitution of the Irish Free State was firmly shaped by the requirements of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that had been negotiated between the British government and Irish leaders in 1921. However, following a change of government in 1932 and the adoption of the Statute of Westminster a series of amendments progressively removed many of the provisions that had been required by the Treaty.

The Constitution established a parliamentary system of government under a form of constitutional monarchy, and contained guarantees of certain fundamental rights. It was intended that the constitution would be a rigid document that, after an initial period, could be amended only by referendum. However, amendments were made to the Constitution's amendment procedure, so that all amendments could be and were in fact made by a simple Act of the Oireachtas (parliament).

Executive Council of the Irish Free State

The Executive Council (Irish: Ard-Chomhairle) was the cabinet and de facto executive branch of government of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Formally, executive power was vested in the Governor-General on behalf of the King. In practice, however, it was the Council that governed, since the Governor-General was (with few exceptions) bound to act on its advice. The Executive Council included a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council and a deputy prime minister called the Vice-President. A member of the Council was called an executive minister, as distinct from an extern minister who had charge of a department without being in the Council.

The President of the Executive Council was appointed by the Governor-General after being nominated by Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament), and the remaining Executive Ministers were nominated by the President. The Executive Council could also be removed by a vote of no confidence in the Dáil.

For formal and diplomatic purposes the description "His Majesty's Government in the Irish Free State" was sometimes used.

FAI Cup

The Football Association of Ireland Senior Challenge Cup (FAI Cup), known as the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup for sponsorship reasons, is a knock-out association football competition contested annually by teams from the Republic of Ireland (as well as Derry City from Northern Ireland). Organised by the FAI (Football Association of Ireland), the competition is currently sponsored by the Irish Daily Mail. It was known as the Free State Cup from 1923 to 1936. Shamrock Rovers hold the record of most wins with 24.

As of November 2018, the current holders are Dundalk

Governor-General of the Irish Free State

The Governor-General (Irish: Seanascal) was the official representative of the sovereign of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1936. By convention, the Office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial. Nonetheless, it was controversial, as many Irish Nationalists regarded the existence of the office as offensive to republican principles and a symbol of continued Irish involvement in the United Kingdom, despite the Governor-General having no connection to the British Government after 1931. For this reason, the office's role was diminished over time by the Irish Government.

The 1931 enactment in London of the Statute of Westminster gave the Irish Free State full legislative independence. However, the Irish considered that full legislative independence had been achieved in 1922. The role of Governor-General in the Irish Free State was officially abolished on 11 December 1936, at the time of Edward VIII's abdication as king of the United Kingdom and all the Dominions.

High Court (Ireland)

The High Court (Irish: An Ard-Chúirt) of Ireland is a court which deals at first instance with the most serious and important civil and criminal cases. When sitting as a criminal court it is called the Central Criminal Court and sits with judge and jury. It also acts as a court of appeal for civil cases in the Circuit Court. It also has the power to determine whether or not a law is constitutional, and of judicial review over acts of the government and other public bodies.

Monarchy in the Irish Free State

From its foundation on 6 December 1922 until 11 December 1936, the Irish Free State was in accordance with its constitution, governed formally under a form of constitutional monarchy. The monarch exercised a number of important duties, including appointing the cabinet, dissolving the legislature and promulgating laws. Nonetheless, by convention the monarch's role was largely ceremonial and exercised on his behalf by his official representative, the governor-general. The monarch's role and duties under the constitution were ended under a constitutional amendment adopted in 1936. From that point, the monarch no longer played any role in appointing the cabinet, dissolving the legislature or promulgating laws. Nor was the monarch mentioned anywhere in the constitution. Under separate legislation also adopted in 1936 it was provided that Irish diplomatic representatives would be appointed on the authority of the cabinet alone and international agreements would be concluded with the authority of the cabinet alone. At the same time, that legislation also created a new role for the king in his capacity as the "symbol of [the] co-operation" of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa for so long as the Irish Free State was associated with those states. The new role of the king in that capacity alone was to act on behalf of the Irish government with respect to the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements when advised by the cabinet so to do. The role of the king in acting on behalf of the Irish government with respect to appointing diplomats was not ended until 1949 and under United Kingdom law the king is regarded as having been the sovereign until that time but not under Irish law.

National Army (Ireland)

The National Army, sometimes unofficially referred to as the Free State army or the Regulars, was the army of the Irish Free State from January 1922 until October 1924. Its role in this period was defined by its service in the Irish Civil War, in defence of the institutions established by the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Michael Collins, was the army's first chief of staff from its establishment until his death in August 1922.

The army made its first public appearance on 31 January 1922, when command of Beggars Bush Barracks was handed over from the British Army. Its first troops were those volunteers of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the "Provisional Government of Ireland" formed thereunder. Conflict arose between the National Army and the anti-Treaty components of the IRA, which did not support the government of the Irish Free State. On 28 June 1922 the National Army commenced an artillery bombardment of anti-Treaty IRA forces who were occupying the Four Courts in Dublin, thus beginning the Irish Civil War.

The National Army was greatly expanded in size to fight the civil war against the anti-Treaty IRA, in a mostly counter-insurgency campaign that was brought to a successful conclusion in May 1923. From 1 October 1924, the Army was reorganised into a smaller, better regulated force; the term "National Army" was superseded by the legal establishment of the Defence Forces as the Irish Free State's military force.

Partition of Ireland

The partition of Ireland (Irish: críochdheighilt na hÉireann) divided the island of Ireland into two distinct jurisdictions, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. It took place on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Today the former is still known as Northern Ireland and forms part of the United Kingdom, while the latter is now a sovereign state also named Ireland and sometimes called the Republic of Ireland.

The Act of 1920 was intended to create two self-governing territories within Ireland, with both remaining within the United Kingdom. It also contained provisions for co-operation between the two territories and for the eventual reunification of Ireland. However, in 1922, following the War of Independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the southern part became the Irish Free State, while Northern Ireland exercised its option to remain in the United Kingdom.

Since partition, a key aspiration of Irish nationalists has been to bring about a reunited Ireland, with the whole island forming one independent state. This goal conflicts with that of the unionists in Northern Ireland, who want the region to remain part of the United Kingdom. The Irish and British governments agreed, under the 1998 Belfast Agreement, that the status of Northern Ireland will not change without the consent of a majority of its population. In its white paper on Brexit, the United Kingdom government reiterated its commitment to the Belfast Agreement. With regard to Northern Ireland's status, it said that the UK Government's "clearly-stated preference is to retain Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position: as part of the UK, but with strong links to Ireland".

President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State

The President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State (Irish: Uachtarán ar Ard-Chomhairle Shaorstát Éireann) was the head of government or prime minister of the Irish Free State which existed from 1922 to 1937. The president was appointed by the Governor-General, upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament) and had to enjoy the confidence of the Dáil to remain in office. The office was succeeded by that of Taoiseach, though subsequent Taoisigh are numbered from the first President of the Executive.

Seanad Éireann (Irish Free State)

Seanad Éireann (Irish pronunciation: [ˈʃan̪ˠəd̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]; Senate of Ireland) was the upper house of the Oireachtas (parliament) of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1936. It has also been known simply as the Senate, First Seanad, Free State Senate or Free State Seanad. The Senate was established under the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State but a number of constitutional amendments were subsequently made to change the manner of its election and its powers. It was eventually abolished in 1936 when it attempted to obstruct constitutional reforms favoured by the government. It sat, like its modern successor, in Leinster House.

Éire

Éire (Irish: [ˈeːɾʲə] (listen)) is Irish for "Ireland", the name of an island and a sovereign state.

Irish Free State
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Medieval period
Modern period
Twentieth century
Notable declared states
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