On this day, after over a month of arduous and sometimes ill-tempered negotiation, delegates representing Dáil Éireann, the break-away Irish parliament, signed an agreement with the British government that brought to an end the political violence that had wracked Ireland since 1919 (some might even say, since 1916).
Its main points were:
- Ireland would become a self-governing dominion, with a status similar to that of Canada.
- It would therefore remain within the British Empire and the Head of State would be the King.
- Ireland’s new status would be reflected in its name, Saorstát Éireann (Irish Free State).
- The agreement was to apply to the whole of Ireland, but the Unionists in the north-eastern counties were to have the right to opt out of this arrangement and thereby remain within the UK.
- If they did so, a commission would be set up to examine where the resulting new border would run.
- The UK retained the use of certain ports in Ireland and specified some other maritime security measures.
- The Free State would accept a portion of British national debt.
The agreement promised a good deal more than the devolved administration in Dublin planned before the First World War but a good deal less than the fully independent republic that had been fought for. The question of whether it was a good deal full stop was to be the subject of angry and acrimonious debate when the delegates returned to Ireland.On this day: The Signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty by Bruce Gaston