The original Anglo Irish Treaty document of 1921 has been made available to the public for the first time today in an online exhibition marking 90 years to the day since its signing.
The Treaty was signed in the aftermath of the truce which ended the 1919-1921 War of Independence.
The original document was acquired by the National Archives of Ireland from the Department of the Taoiseach in 2002 and has never before been made available for public consultation, either in its original form or online.
The inked signatures of all the delegates are visible at the bottom of the seven-page document, with most of the Irish delegates having signed as gaeilge.
The signatures on the left of the final page are Arthur Griffith, Micheál Ó Coileáin (Michael Collins), Riobárd Bartún (Robert Barton), Eamonn S Ó Dugáin (Eamonn Duggan) and Seoirse Ghabháin Uí Dhubhthaigh (George Gavan Duffy).
On the British side, the delegates who signed were: David Lloyd George, Austen Chamberlain, Lord Birkenhead (signed as ‘Birkenhead’), and Winston Churchill, who was chiefly responsible for the military clauses in the Treaty.
The "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland" were signed by both delegations at 2.15am on December 6th, 1921.
British prime minister David Lloyd George had issued an ultimatum to the Irish delegation, including Collins, that they must either sign the text of the Treaty as it stood, or face the consequence of an immediate resumption of war in the event of their refusal to sign.
Collins said on the signing of the document that he had signed his death warrant. At the time, he believed the Treaty creating of the Irish Free State would ultimately lead to full independence, but he was viewed by many as a traitor.
When the heated debate on the Treaty opened in the Dáil on December 14th, 1921, Collins said: “If I am a traitor, let the Irish people decide it or not, and if there are men who act towards me as a traitor I am prepared to meet them anywhere, any time, now as in the past.”
The split over the Treaty and its subsequent narrow ratification by the Dáil in January 1922 ultimately led to the Civil War of 1922-23. Collins was assassinated by anti-Treaty forces at Béal na mBláth in August of 1922.
The Treaty has never before been made available to the public either in its original form or online. It has been made available today courtesy of an online exhibition hosted by the National Archives. A number of documents have been made available since the exhibition was unveiled by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week, culminating in the display of the final Treaty document today.
Five staples in the original document were removed, as they were corroding and affecting the paper.
Although the staff at the National Archives pronounced the document to be in excellent condition, it was carefully cleaned using a brush and grated eraser, and re-bound in a "Japanese" style to hold the pages together.
According to the National Archives, the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 is “probably THE seminal document of the Irish Free State, which in turn evolved into the Republic of Ireland”.
Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan said: “The Irish delegation had travelled to London in October that year and after weeks of negotiations they were faced with a very stark reality - a choice of returning to Dublin and a resumption of war or the signing of the Treaty.
“Irrespective of your political persuasions, this exhibition has no bias and no agenda. It is simply an excellent opportunity for the public to see, not only the Treaty itself but the papers leading up to the signing of the Treaty.”
Mr Deenihan said that as a former teacher of history, he knew the value of such material being made widely available.
“My hope is that this exhibition will bring to life the story of the establishment of the Irish Republic to a much wider audience than before.”
A British Pathé newsclip with footage of the British and Irish delegations outside Buckingham Palace also forms part of the exhibition, which is hosted on the website of the National Archives.
The Anglo Irish Agreement Essay
The Anglo-Irish Agreement
The Anglo-Irish agreement, 1985, this was agreed between Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald.
Between 1980 and 1984, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
held regular meetings with Taoiseach Charles Haughey and then Garrett
Fitzgerald. Both governments were concerned about continuing the
violence with the IRA and about the increasing support for the IRA’S
political wing, Sinn Fein. By 1984, Mrs Thatcher was convinced that
any solution would have to involve the Irish republicans. Unionists in
Northern Ireland became increasingly concerned during these
discussions, but Thatcher ignored their fears. In November 1985, she
signed the Anglo-Irish agreement with Garrett Fitzgerald. The
agreement was well received in most of mainland Britain and the
republic. In Northern Ireland, the alliance and SDLP felt that it had
possibilities. Sinn Fein rejected this because it confirmed the
partition of Ireland. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 established the
Irish Free State. Unionist objections to a united Ireland had resulted
in the establishment of Northern Ireland through the Government of
Ireland Act 1920. Relations between Dublin and London soured shortly
after the arrival to power of Eamonn de Valera in 1932. The 1930s were
dominated by a trade war, instigated by de Valera's Fianna Fail
Government. Ireland ratified a new constitution in 1937 and declared
itself a Republic in 1948. Britain responded with the Ireland Act
1949, which claimed exclusive British jurisdiction over the
administration of Northern Ireland. The emergence of the civil
rights movement and subsequent political violence in Northern Ireland
in the late 1960s strained relations between Dublin and London. Jack
Lynch, the then Taoiseach asserted:
The Irish Government can no longer stand by and see innocent people
injured and, perhaps, worse. The Irish Government have ... requested
the British Government to apply immediately to the United Nations for
the urgent dispatch of a peace-keeping force to the six counties of
The British Government responded that 'Northern Ireland had long been
an integral part of the United Kingdom and that events there were an
internal matter for the United Kingdom Government' The Stormont
Government was prorogued and direct rule from Westminster was
established in March 1972. Direct rule was seen as a temporary measure
but has continued to this day.
Taken from http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/aia/sum.htm "I had come to
the conclusion that I must now give priority to heading off the growth
of support for the IRA in Northern Ireland by seeking a new
understanding with the British Government, even at the expense of my
cherished, but for the time being at least clearly unachievable,
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