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Legislation on Home Rule fanned sectarian tensions in Belfast and was accompanied by deadly riots; some , signed the Ulster Covenant in refusing to recognize an Irish parliament, and unionists began to militarize to resist it. The idea of resolving the Irish demand for self-rule with strong opposition in the north by dividing the island in two was initially introduced by British negotiators as a poison pill. Nationalists were told that any partition would be temporary.

Unionists were told that the aim was to keep the entire island within the U. These promises were used to help recruit some , men to fight for Britain in World War I.

Catalog Record: The Irish free state, its government and politics | HathiTrust Digital Library

What ultimately happened was the partition of six counties in Ulster rather than nine, in order to ensure a stable unionist majority, while Britain agreed to an Irish Free State that went significantly further than Home Rule. For unionists, it was abandonment. For nationalists, partition and the requirement that members of the new Irish parliament would have to swear loyalty to the king was so bitter it provoked a civil war. The division was particularly traumatic for those who found themselves on the wrong side of the border.

Northern nationalists had believed they would soon live under all-island rule. De Valera refused, as it would entail stationing British forces across the island, and he did not trust that the promise would be kept. It makes no sense for someone with any sense of the Anglo-Irish relationship for hundreds of years, or the benefits that Ireland gets from its European Union membership now.

History offers countless examples of policy set in London wreaking havoc in Ireland, not least in the Great Famine of the s, which devastated the Irish population through starvation, emigration and disease. Log in to access content and manage your profile. If you do not have a login you can register here.

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Legal opinion favors Oriol Junqueras seeking immunity from prosecution. The case for a policy boost to maximize the enabling potential of digital access. Search Term Search. Login Register. Brussels Commission Parliament Council. Share on Twitter. With two rival Irish armed forces now in the country, civil war looked likely from the spring of Three events set it off. While it is not clear who ordered the killing, the British government assumed it was the anti-Treaty IRA and ordered Collins to act against them or risk armed British intervention to do it.

This combination of events forced the Collins government to assault and take the anti-Treaty positions in Dublin, which it succeeded in doing after a week's fighting in July A further military offensive secured Free State control over the other major towns and cities in its territory by the beginning of August. Despite their defeat in open warfare, the IRA regrouped and took up a guerrilla campaign, as they saw it, to restore the Irish Republic. The war dragged on in a guerrilla form until April In August , the Free State was rocked by the death of its two main leaders.

Michael Collins was killed in an ambush at Beal na mBlath, Cork, on 22 August and Arthur Griffith died of a stroke a week earlier. Cosgrave assumed control of both the Irish Republic's cabinet and the Provisional Government and both administrations disappeared simultaneously shortly afterwards, replaced by the institutions of the Irish Free State on 6 December However, without the same degree of popular support, they were less effective.

By late , the Irish National Army had taken all the major towns in the country and reduced the IRA's campaign to small scale attacks. A very large number of anti-Treaty fighters, some 12, in all, were interned by the Free State. Moreover, as it went on the war produced acts of great cruelty on both sides. The Free State embarked on a policy of selective executions — 77 prisoners were judicially shot with over more 'unofficially' killed in the field.

The anti-Treaty forces assassinated one pro-Treaty member of Parliament, and several other civilian politicians, wounded more and burned their houses. However the Free State's tactics of internment and executions combined to cripple the anti-Treaty forces by April The death in action of Liam Lynch in this month led to the anti-Treaty IRA, under the orders of Frank Aiken and on the urgings of civilian leader de Valera, calling a ceasefire and to "dump arms".

There was no negotiated end to the war however. The Civil War between Irish nationalists created a great deal of bitterness and the Civil War cleavage also produced the two main parties of independent Ireland in the 20th century. The number of dead has yet to be accurately counted but is considered to be around 2,; at least as high as the number killed in the preceding War of Independence.

However the pro-Treaty side, organised in Cumann na nGaedheal , won a comfortable majority and went on to form the government of the new state until The Cumann na nGaedheal governments, led by WT Cosgrave, were highly conservative — being more concerned with establishing the state's basic institutions after the havoc of the Civil War than with social or political reform.

According to Kevin O'Higgins, the Minister for Justice, "we were the most conservative group of revolutionaries ever to have carried out a successful revolution".


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The Irish Civil Service was largely inherited intact from the British and senior civil servants such as C. Gregg were 'lent' to the Irish from London to get the new state's bureaucracy off the ground. The new service, and especially its comptroller, Joseph Brennan were initially most concerned with balancing the state's budget and avoiding long-term in-debtedness [28] The Free State printed its own notes the punt , and minted its own coins but their value remained tied to British sterling currency until the s.

Whereas the British had devolved much power to local government in the s, one of the Free State's first acts was to abolish many of the powers of County Councils and replace them with unelected County managers. On the economic front, the Cosgrave administration saw its role as supporting the Irish agricultural export sector by consolidating farms and improving the quality of their produce. The Cumann na nGeadhael governments did not see providing social services as a priority and instead cut income tax from 5 shillings to 3 shillings.

While the last prisoners of the Civil War were released in , the Free State retained extensive emergency powers to intern and even execute political opponents, under a series of Public Safety Acts , and However, they entered the parliament in , in part to disassociate themselves from the killing of Kevin O'Higgins.

Initially Cumann na nGaedheal had been popular as the party that had established the state, but by , their economic conservatism and continued repression of anti-Treaty Republicans was becoming unpopular. They would be in government without interruption until and for much of the rest of the 20th century. IRA members began attacking Cumann na nGaedhal supporters, who they considered "traitors" at rallies.

There were frequent riots and occasional shootings between the two factions in the early s. Not long afterwards, in , de Valera made a clean break with political violence when he banned the increasingly left-wing IRA after they murdered a landlord's agent, Richard More O'Farrell, in a land dispute and fired shots at police during a strike of Tramway workers in Dublin. They also set up a large number of semi-state companies such as the Electricity Supply Board and the Turf Development Board.

While this state-led strategy had some positive results, emigration remained high throughout this period, with up to 75, leaving for Britain in the late s. The British in retaliation raised tariffs on Irish agricultural produces, hurting Ireland's export trade. De Valera in turn raised taxes on the importation of British goods.

Irish Free State

The burden of this standoff fell on the cattle farmers, who could no longer sell their cattle at competitive rates in Britain. Police and sometimes troops were used to seize cattle off farmers who would not or could not pay. Farmers aggrieved at these policies were one of the principal support bases of the Blueshirt movement [33]. The dispute with Britain was finally settled in Half of the land annuity debt c.


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  5. The British also returned to Ireland the Treaty ports, which they had retained since the Treaty of Irish control over these bases made possible Irish neutrality in the looming Second World War. The Free State from — was a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned from with the title " King of Ireland ". The Representative of the Crown was known as the Governor-General. The head of government was called the President of the Executive Council. This document was drawn up by the de Valera administration. It was approved by the electorate in a plebiscite by a simple majority.

    The Governor-General was replaced by a President of Ireland and a new more powerful prime minister, called the " Taoiseach ", came into being, while the Executive Council was renamed the " Government ". Though it had a president, the new state was not a republic. The British monarch continued to reign theoretically as "King of Ireland", and was used as an "organ" in international and diplomatic relations, with the President of Ireland relegated to symbolic functions within the state but never outside it.

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    The Anglo—Irish Treaty provided that should Northern Ireland choose not be included in the Free State, a Boundary Commission would be set up to revise the borders between the two jurisdictions. The Irish perspective was that this was intended to allow largely nationalist areas of Northern Ireland to join the Free State, and shortly after the establishment of the Free State this commission came into being. However the commission concentrated on economic and topographic factors , rather than the political aspirations of the people who would be living near the new border.

    In the Boundary Commission report, contrary to expectations, proposed ceding some small areas of the Free State to Northern Ireland. The outbreak of the Second World War put the state and the de Valera government in a difficult situation. It came under pressure from Britain and later the US, to enter the war, or at least to allow the allies to use its ports.

    However, there remained a minority who felt that national independence had yet to be achieved and who were resolutely opposed to any alliance with Britain. For this reason, de Valera ensured that the state remained neutral throughout the War which was officially known as the " Emergency ". The state's decision to adopt neutrality was influenced by memories of the Anglo—Irish War and the Civil War, and the state's lack of military preparedness for involvement in a war.

    The remnants of the IRA, which had split several times into ever smaller groupings since , embarked on a bombing campaign in Britain see Sabotage Campaign IRA and some attacks in Northern Ireland see Northern Campaign , intended to force a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. De Valera, considering this activity a threat to Irish neutrality and therefore to the state's vital interests, interned all active IRA members and executed several. Another was hanged in Northern Ireland for shooting a policeman.

    Behind the scenes the Irish state worked with the Allies; in , the government agreed provisionally with Britain that it would accept the entry of British troops and put its own armed forces under their command should the Germans invade Ireland — see Plan W. There was a provisional German plan for an invasion of Ireland, known as Operation Green , but it was never carried out. Additionally, Irish fire fighters were sent to Northern Ireland to help fight the fires caused by the German bombing of Belfast in See Belfast Blitz.

    There were a number of further examples of cooperation. German pilots who crashed in Ireland were interned while Allied airmen were returned to Britain. There was also mutual sharing of intelligence. For example, the date of the D-Day Normandy landings was decided on the basis of transatlantic weather reports supplied by the Irish state. It is estimated that between 50, and , men from Ireland took part, with that number roughly evenly divided between Northern Ireland and the southern state.

    Conversely, following the suicide of Adolf Hitler , de Valera, following diplomatic protocol, controversially offered condolences to the German ambassador.

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    Economically, the war was a difficult time for the state. Due to the war, imports to Ireland dried up, leading to a drive for self-sufficiency in food and strict rationing, which continued until the s. Nevertheless, as a result of neutrality, Ireland emerged from the war having been spared the physical destruction and extreme hardship undergone by combatant nations on the European mainland. On 18 April the Republic of Ireland Act , which had been enacted by the Oireachtas , came into force.