Irish Free State

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°21′N 6°16′W / 53.350; -6.267
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

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".

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).[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[6]

The Dáil ratified the Treaty on 7 January 1922, causing a split in the republican movement.[8] A Provisional Government was formed, with Michael Collins as chairman.[9]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Negara Bebas Irlandia
Bahasa Melayu: Negara Bebas Ireland
Nederlands: Ierse Vrijstaat
Nordfriisk: Iirsk Freistoot
norsk nynorsk: Den irske fristaten
Simple English: Irish Free State
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Irska Slobodna Država