Anglo-Irish Treaty signed 100 years ago today

Anglo-Irish Treaty signed 100 years ago today

TODAY IS the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which marked the formal end of the War of Independence.

Signed in London in the early hours of Tuesday 6 December, the Treaty created an independent Irish Free State within the British Empire with King George V as its head of state.

Ireland was represented at 10 Downing Street by Michael Collins, Eamon Duggan, Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton and George Gavan Duffy, while on the British side were Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, Winston Churchill, Austen Chamberlain and FE Smith, Lord Birkenhead.

The Treaty led to the partition of the island of Ireland and allowed Northern Ireland to remain in existence if its parliament chose, and was seen as paving the way forward for an independent Ireland.

However it was surrounded by controversy as Ireland was to remain a member of the commonwealth, meaning it would be on par with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa with regards to constitutional status.

Northern Ireland opted out of this new state, leaving 26 counties to make it up, not 32.

Irish representatives signed the Treaty after being warned that refusal to do so would mean that the War of Independence would resume within days.

Some critics such as President Eamon de Valera claimed that such threats led the treaty to be signed under duress and was therefore invalid.

It was put to the Dáil for ratification eight days later, on Wednesday 14 December where it was passed by just seven votes (64 to 57).

The UK House of Commons also approved the treaty on 16 December by 401 votes to 58 and, on the same day, the House of Lords voted in favour by 166 to 47.

De Valera led protests outside the Dáil in opposition to the Treaty, starting the events that led to the outbreak of the Civil War just six months later.