|The partition of Ireland after 1920|
Foster writes that
'The First World War should be seen as one of the most decisive events in modern Irish history.’
By April 1916 about 150,000 Irishmen were in active service in the war. The Unionist community was deeply committed to the war effort and John Redmond, the parliamentary leader of the constitutional nationalists also gave strong support to the war, trying to demonstrate that Home Rule was not incompatible with loyalty to the British state. However, the Irish radicals, represented by Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Brotherhood took the view that this was a British imperial war. The Irish Volunteers, previously united, were now split over the question of whether to support the war.
The 1916 RisingBy early 1916 the IRB were looking to the Germans for help. The Germans offered to send 20,000 arms and ten machine guns by Easter Sunday, but this was vague and bad planning meant that the arms never reached Ireland. On 21 April Roger Casement was arrested, having been put ashore in County Kerry.
|Roger Casement 1864-1916|
The election of 1918In December a general election was held, the first for eight years. Sinn Féin won seventy-three out of the 104 Irish seats to the Irish Parliamentary Party’s six. They were elected on a programme of withdrawal from Westminster and resistance to British power ‘by any and every means’. Their numbers included Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament.
|Countess Markievicz, 1868-1927|
born Constance Gore Booth.
The Anglo-Irish WarThis is also known as the Irish War of Independence. On the same day that the Dáil Éireann was proclaimed, two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were shot dead in County Tipperary. The Irish Volunteers—later renamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA)—targeted RIC and British Army barracks and ambushed their patrols, capturing arms and forcing the closure of barracks in isolated areas. The British government bolstered the RIC with recruits from Britain—the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries—who became notorious for ill-discipline and reprisal attacks on civilians. On 21 November 1920 the IRA killed eleven unarmed British officers in Dublin. Later that day the Black and Tans fired into a football ground at Croke Park causing twelve deaths in the ensuing stampede. In December 1920 they set fire to the city of Cork. Their actions did a great deal to alienate mainstream Irish opinion.
The Government of Ireland ActIn December 1920 Lloyd George’s government passed the Government of Ireland Act. It created two devolved parliaments for the two autonomous regions: the six northern counties and the twenty-six counties of the south. Both areas were to remain part of the United Kingdom. Hoping that partition would be temporary, the government had tried for a nine-county Ulster, but the Unionist insistence on a six-county unit with a heavily weighted Protestant majority made it permanent.
The Irish Free StateOn 11 July 1921, after savage violence on both sides, a truce was agreed, and on 6 December representatives of the British government, headed by Lloyd George, and the Irish representatives
The boundary settledThe Anglo-Irish Treaty had given Northern Ireland an option to opt out of the Irish Free State, which it exercised. This meant that the exact boundary between the two parts of Ireland would have to be settled. A boundary commission made minor changes to the existing de facto border, which was ratified in 1925.
‘The whole map of Europe has been changed ... but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.’
The Irish Civil WarThe Republican opposition, led by Éamon de Valera, regarded the establishment of the Free State as a betrayal and refused to accept the oath to the king or the loss of the six counties. In the short but bitter civil war that followed Michael Collins was assassinated in a Republican ambush at Cork in August 1922, Republicans were executed by members of the Free State forces, and many historic homes were destroyed. The war ended with a ceasefire in May 1923.
The Republic of Ireland
|Éamon de Valera|