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Constitution of the Irish Republic


Attempts to detach Ireland from Great Britain have been numerous since the Union was formed in 1801.

The last and most successful of these attempts began with the Easter Rising of 1916. The uprising failed in the pursuit of an independent Republic of Ireland, but the English government's response to the Irish rebellion has created an anti-English sentiment that has had long-term effects . This was exactly the goal of the Sinn Fein movement (Eng. "we ourselves")which has been under the radical leadership of Dublin journalist Griffith since 1905.

The next phase of the Sinn Fein uprising was the election for Parliament at Westminster in December 1918. Sinn Fein campaigned to make the referendum election on the independence of Ireland. This goal worked perfectly. Of the 105 seats in parliament from Ireland, 73 went to Sinn Fein members, 26 went to the Unionists (in Northern Ireland) and 6 to the previous, moderate Irish "parliamentary party". In Ireland, Sinn Fein and their struggle for Irish independence had won a clear victory.

Since the Sinn Fein MPs refused to enter Parliament at Westminster, justifying this with the outcome of the elections, they formed their own assembly and constituted themselves on January 21, 1919 as the Dail Eireann, the parliament of the independent Republic of Ireland, and proclaimed it the republic by means of a declaration of independence by virtue of Easter Monday in 1916.

The Dail passed a provisional constitution on January 21, 1919.

In April 1919 Eamon De Valera was elected President of the Republic and thus Head of State of Ireland and an Irish government was formed from the Dail, which actually exercised state power in parts of Ireland. Great Britain initially waited and took no notice of this secession, but later treated the Dail and its government, although members of parliament in Westminster, as an illegal movement, as insurgents, and denied it the rights of a belligerent party.

From April 1919 a war began between Great Britain and Ireland, which Ireland waged with guerrilla tactics. Great Britain could only maintain its state power in Ireland in the cities, but there, too, it was threatened by constant attacks. In the countryside, on the other hand, the Dail exercised state authority.

The Parliament of Westminister passed the Government of Ireland Act, which had already been passed in 1914 but was immediately suspended, on December 23, 1920, without consulting the Dail, and on this basis elections to the Parliament of Southern Ireland were to take place on May 19, 1921 . The British government officials in Dublin (called the Castle Government) called these elections despite the opposition from the Dail and the fact that they were no longer ruler of Ireland.

As a determining part of the Dail, Sinn Fein, like in 1918, again made the election that was to be boycotted first, a referendum, and achieved a brilliant victory. However, since the Dail had to pay attention to continuity in the state development of Ireland, it also announced new elections for the Dail on the same day, May 19, 1921, so that the Second Dail was also the legal parliament of Southern Ireland. Sinn Fein received all 124 directly elected parliamentary seats. The Dail, however, was not identical to the Southern Irish Parliament under the Governement of Ireland Act, because while the Dail also included the members of Parliament from Northern Ireland elected at the same time, the Southern Irish Parliament only had the legally fixed 128 members (including all directly 124 elected MPs who belonged to Sinn Fein).

With the election to the South Irish Parliament or the Dail, English public opinion was also turned. The outcome was so clear and precise that the British government, which has also seen the effect of the Irish struggle for independence in the intensified efforts for independence in India and Egypt, initiated peace negotiations. The Dail, who feared that their rule over some parts of Ireland would be lost if the war continued, also endorsed them, and so on July 11, 1921, an armistice was reached between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom Ireland. The armistice was the first international agreement between the two parties.

On December 6, 1921, a peace agreement was reached in which Ireland had to make considerable concessions (partition of the island, the king remained head of state of Ireland, restriction of sovereignty), but Great Britain recognized the secession of Ireland from its national territory.

The peace treaty, which received only a wafer-thin majority in the Dail, was very controversial, in particular the oath of the members of parliament on the king was unacceptable for the nationalists. Britain has also put strong pressure on the Dail by threatening martial law and war in Ireland if it refused. De Valera resigned as President of the Republic on December 5, 1921, and on January 10, 1922, the leader of Sinn Fein Griffith, who had been in office since 1905, took over the government. He was appointed Prime Minister of the Irish Free State as created by the Peace Treaty on January 14, 1922 by the Lord Lieutenant, Representative of the Crown and Government of Great Britain in Ireland and Chief of the Castle Government.

In June 1922, the elections for the Third Dail, the constituent parliament of the Irish Free State provided for in the peace treaty, took place. The elections resulted in a victory for those in favor of the treaty and a defeat for the Republicans who refused to recognize them. The Irish Civil War broke out, but remained without major support from the population. The Government of the Irish Free State was not able to fully restore full government authority over its territory until May 1923. Prime Minister Griffith of southern Ireland was killed during the civil war.

This marked the transition from the Republic of Ireland, which had existed since Easter Monday 1916 or January 21, 1919, to the Irish Free State, as the Dominion of Great Britain within the British Commonwealth of Nations. The revolutionary processes which British constitutional law seeks to avoid at all were over, and the rule of law restored.

The Irish Free State was formally first on December 6, 1922 by the entry into force of the Constitution of the Irish Free State built. With this constitution a so-called "republican kingdom" was created.


Sources: Public Law Yearbook, Volume XIII (1925), J.C.B. Mohr Verlag, Tübingen 1925
Public Law Yearbook, Volume 25 (1938), J.C.B. Mohr Verlag, Tübingen 1939
© January 28, 2009 - February 13, 2009
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