Ulster v Eire: The Unification Question (1938)

An ex-colleague sent me this link. It’s apparently a contemporary newsreel, and the general tone is all very much of its time.

It’s quite odd, though, and a bit inaccurate too. At 1 min. 28 they show what must be a mock-up of de Valera’s 1937 constitution. The paper document pictured is labelled “The Constitution of the Republic of Eire”, which is not the correct title. (The “Preamble” has been considerably shortened too.) In fact, the actual constitution very carefully avoids the word “Republic” throughout.

I can understand that a newsreel like this, to be shown in cinemas, required visuals and that it was probably easier to quickly make a prop and film it than try to obtain a copy of the real thing. After all, it was only needed for about seven seconds.

According to The March of Time on Wikipedia, “The March of Time was an American short film series sponsored by Time Inc. and shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951.” However, this episode is not among those listed in that article.

What’s interesting is that the wrong title suggests that some people in America must have viewed Ireland as being an independent republic by that stage, even though this status was only officially claimed in 1948, when taoiseach John Costello announced his government would repeal the External Relations Act of 1936 (which it did the following year). It was probably an honest mistake – after all, the Americans managed to gain independence from Britain without the lengthy constitutional manoeuvrings the Irish had to go through in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment of the Free State.

Ulster v Eire: The Unification Question (1938) by