Anglo-Irish Treaty

Anglo-Irish Treaty
Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland
Signature page
Signed6 December 1921
Location10 Downing Street, London
Effective31 March 1922,[1] fully implemented on 6 December 1922
ConditionCreation of the Irish Free State, later Ireland
Signatories Irish Republic
 Text of the Treaty
Constitutional documents and events relevant to the status of the United Kingdom and its constituent countries
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Treaty of Union1706
Acts of Union1707
Wales and Berwick Act1746
Irish Constitution1782
Acts of Union1800
Parliament Act1911
Anglo-Irish Treaty1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act1927
Statute of Westminster1931
United Nations Act1946
Parliament Act1949
EC Treaty of Accession1972
NI (Temporary Provisions) Act1972
European Communities Act1972
Local Government Act1972
Local Government (Scotland) Act1973
NI Border Poll1973
NI Constitution Act1973
Referendum Act1975
EC Membership Referendum1975
Scotland Act1978
Wales Act1978
Scottish Devolution Referendum1979
Welsh Devolution Referendum1979
Local Government (Wales) Act1994
Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act1994
Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act1997
Scottish Devolution Referendum1997
Welsh Devolution Referendum1997
Good Friday Agreement1998
Northern Ireland Act1998
Government of Wales Act1998
Human Rights Act1998
Scotland Act1998
Government of Wales Act2006
Northern Ireland Act2009
Welsh Devolution Referendum2011
European Union Act2011
Fixed-term Parliaments Act2011
Scotland Act2012
Edinburgh Agreement2012
Scottish Independence Referendum2014
Wales Act2014
European Union Referendum Act2015
EU Membership Referendum2016
Scotland Act2016
Wales Act2017
EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act2017
Invocation of Article 502017
European Union (Withdrawal) Act2018

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.[2] 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 ratified 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 ratified the treaty; members then went ahead with the "meeting". Though the treaty was narrowly ratified, 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 giving the force of law to the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922.

Content

Page from a draft of the Treaty, as annotated by Arthur Griffith

Among the treaty's main clauses were that:[3]

  • Crown forces would withdraw from most of Ireland.
  • Ireland was to become a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, a status shared by Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
  • As with the other dominions, the King would be the Head of State of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) and would be represented by a Governor General (See Representative of the Crown).
  • Members of the new free state's parliament would be required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Free State. A secondary part of the oath was to "be faithful to His Majesty King George V, His heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship".
  • Northern Ireland (which had been created earlier by the Government of Ireland Act) would have the option of withdrawing from the Irish Free State within one month of the Treaty coming into effect.
  • If Northern Ireland chose to withdraw, a Boundary Commission would be constituted to draw the boundary between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland.
  • Britain, for its own security, would continue to control a limited number of ports, known as the Treaty Ports, for the Royal Navy.
  • The Irish Free State would assume responsibility for a proportionate part of the United Kingdom's debt, as it stood on the date of signature.
  • The treaty would have superior status in Irish law, i.e., in the event of a conflict between it and the new 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State, the treaty would take precedence.
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