Anglo-Irish Agreement

Anglo-Irish Agreement - The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 The...

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The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 was a landmark piece of legislation for both parties involved—the British and the Irish—but for different reasons. The Treaty, from the British government’s viewpoint, was a most liberal and tolerant offer of compromise for Ireland, yet it created a bitter divide amongst the people of the newly created Saorstát Éireann that would soon lead to civil war in Ireland. Relatively little, considering the significance of the treaty, has been written specifically on the subject or about the great debates and negotiations that went on for months before the final signing of the Anglo- Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921. The aim of this paper, then, is to examine the treaty negotiations and goings on behind-the-scenes by analyzing primary source material, such as letters and newspaper articles from 1921, in order to delve deeper into the compromises made by both sides in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The treaty, officially titled the “Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland”, was signed in the middle of the night on 6 December 1921. The treaty was a derisive issue in Ireland from the moment it was signed; so much so, in fact, that Michael Collins, one of the most prominent Irish delegates at the negotiations, is rumored to have responded to British Lord Chancellor Birkenhead’s statement that, “I may have signed my political death warrant,” by saying that “I may have signed my actual death warrant.” The signing of the treaty immediately polarized the country, because, despite its granting to Ireland more concessions than Britain ever had in her several hundred year history of colonisation in Ireland, it still failed to appease or fulfill the demands of a 20 th century Ireland that was gripped by nationalism.
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It is essential to first lay out the terms of the treaty, to examine what Ireland was and was not granted, in order to better understand the negotiations that led to the signing of the final document. Firstly, the Anglo-Irish Treaty re-established an Irish Parliament (which ended the legislative union that had existed between Britain and Ireland since the Act of Union in 1800) and created what “shall be styled and known as the Irish Free State.” Inherent in this statement, however, is the fact that Ireland was not yet entitled to the status of Republic, much to the dismay of the majority of the Irish population. Another contentious issue was the oath of allegiance to the King of England clause. The oath, which was required to be taken by members of the Irish Free State Parliament, was officially set out in the treaty as follows: I….do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established and that I will be faithful to H.M. King George V., his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HIST 301 taught by Professor Lipschitz during the Spring '08 term at UMass Lowell.

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Anglo-Irish Agreement - The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 The...

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