The Treaty Negotiations True or False

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The Treaty Negotiations

True or False

  • The first phase of the War of Independence involved the ambush of Kilmichael and the burning of Cork City.

  • The flying columns led the attack on the British spy network ‘Cairo gang’ the morning of Bloody Sunday.

  • Sinn Fein needed to call for a truce because they were out of weapons, were losing public support and were under pressure with regards to NI.

  • Cathal Brugha and Collins agreed on tactics but de Valera disagreed.

  • King George called for a boycott of Irish goods.

  • The truce happened on the 11th July 1921

  • Lloyd George’s reputation was weakened because he agreed to negotiate with Sinn Fein.

1st Phase of Negotiations (preliminary)

Lloyd George
Who is involved?

De Valera

What did each side argue?

De Valera:

  • Sinn Fein wanted to end partition (Government of Ireland Act 1920) & have an independent republic.

Note: Who did De Valera have to appease in his negotiations?
Months of letters being passed back and forth finally saw Lloyd George invite Irish delegates to London.

Lloyd George

  • Lloyd George offered Dominion Status to de Valera Ireland would be a member of the Community of Nations known as the Commonwealth. This group included Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

  • This meant they had their own parliament, which looked after domestic issues, but recognised the British crown as Head of State.

  • Members of Irish parliament had to swear oath of allegiance to the Irish constitution and the British Crown.

  • De Valera found it completely unacceptable as it said there was to be 1. Free trade between Ireland and England 2. The English could recruit Irish soldiers for their army 3. They could use naval bases such as Lough Swilly. It was voted on in the Dail and was rejected.

  • Lloyd George had threatened to restart the war but did not follow through.

Note: Who did Lloyd George have to appease in his negotiations?

Choosing Irish Delegates

Fill in the blanks

De Valera chose 6 delegates to go to negotiate with the British:

A_ _hu_ _rif_i_h = moderate republican

R_ c_ar_ _ar_on = extreme republican

_ich_e_ C_l_i_s = extremist but also believed in diplomacy if given the chance

E_m_nn _ugg_n = lawyer

G_or_e G_van _uffy = lawyer

E_ _kine C_ _lders =secretary (spy for De Valera)

Good or bad decision?

I shall not go to London. I need to take care that the IRA does not erupt into violence. I need to control them. Instead I will send the plenipotentiaries giving full power to negotiate but I have secretly arranged for them to not sign anything until they have checked with me

  • From the beginning Brugha and Stack refused to go. They were militant republicans.

  • However de Valera’s decision not to go caused controversy.

    • De Valera suggested he was a symbolic leader and could not be at the negotiations.

    • W.T Cosgrave claimed the ‘best player should not be missing from the most important match’.

  • Chief Negotiators: Arthur Griffith (Moderate), Michael Collins

  • Secondary Negotiators: Robert Barton, George Gavan Duffy, Eamon Duggan

  • Secretary: Erskine Childers (Extreme Republican)

  • Collins did not want to go but he saw it as his duty. He realised that his cover would be gone if a war was to restart.

  • AIMS: 1. A republic 2. End partition


  • External Association De Valera came up with the idea of External association (Irish separate to Empire but maintain alliance with Britain with King as head of alliance) but Lloyd George would not accept this.

Many accuse De Valera of bailing out because he knew the Republic could not be achieved.

Can you think of any problems which might occur in their negotiations?
The British Team

  • Lloyd George

  • Winston Churchill

  • Austen Chamberlain

  • Lord Birkenhead

  • Sir Lamington – Worthington Evans

What experience could Lloyd George reply on going into the negotiations?
Sir Hamar Greenwood

  • Sir Gordon Hewart

The Negotiations Begin

  • On the 8th of October 1921 the Irish negotiators arrived at 22 Hans Place in London. Collins did not arrive until Monday.

  • Irish

    • Ireland travelled with a draft treaty to work from.

    • Ireland would be recognised as an independent state

    • Ireland would externally associated with the British Commonwealth

    • Ireland would be a neutral state

    • Ireland would not allow its waters to be used for any war purposes

    • Problems in the Sinn Fein camp because De Valera was interfering and they suspected Childers was spying so they suggested to Lloyd George that they break into sub-committees.


    • Experienced negotiators

    • Advantage of being at home Downing Street (Plenipotentiaries would have to get the boat home every time they wanted to report back to De Valera)

    • England could always threaten war knowing Ireland was in a weakened position.

    • Dominion Status for Ireland

    • No tariffs(taxes) on British goods

    • Ireland would contribute to Britain’s National Debt (Very high after WWI)

    • British control of Irish waters and air facilities

    • A 32 county state IF Ulster agreed

    • Oath of allegiance to the Crown

The Problem of Ulster

  • Griffith argued that partition was ‘unnatural’.

  • The British believed that this was true and the ideal situation was a united Ireland.

  • However the Government of Ireland Act had excluded Ulster from a Dublin parliament.

  • Both sides knew that the Unionists would do anything to remain outside an Irish parliament in Dublin.

The Griffith Letter

Lloyd George offered the Plenipotentiaries that if they agreed to stay in the Empire, they could get the unionists to agree to a unified Ireland. When Conservatives heard this, they objected strongly.

Fearful, it might bring down his government, he asked Griffith to write to a letter so as to reassure the conservatives.

According to the letter, what would Griffith offer if he could get ‘essential unity’?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10th Nov….just met Lloyd George and he offered a boundary commission. This would mean someone would draw the borders between North and South depending on majority of Unionists. What an idiotic deal! I already have my own parliament and the backing of the conservatives. I don’t need to agree to anything.

I’ve just heard that Lloyd George has promised those nationalists a unified Ireland. He wants me to meet him but after that gesture, I certainly will not…..

The Boundary Commission

  • Lloyd George suggested that a commission be set up to discuss partition.

  • He suggested that the border with Ulster would make it so small that it would not be able to function and would have to join the south.

  • Griffith and Collins accepted this idea because they felt it would allow the Irish an opportunity to regain the North.

Why do you think the Collins and Griffith agreed to the Boundary Commission? Why do you think, they might think it would fail?


Next on the agenda

External Association

Dominion Status

  • The British argued that Britain has never interfered in the affairs of any country who became a part of the dominion countries e.g. Canada and that they could represent themselves in The League of Nations.

Why do you think the Irish would still oppose Dominion status? Why is their situation different?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


  • 28th November Lloyd George offered the Irish a gesture to use any sentence they wanted to show that the Crown would be ‘no more in practice than it was in Canada’.

  • 1st December they signed the draft treaty:

  1. Irish Free State would be a dominion of the Empire

  2. TDs would swear oath of King as head of state

  3. Boundary Commission would draw borders between North and South

What do you think they would agree or disagree with?


  • 4th December the negotiations break down. Collins refused to go to Downing Street to give the news. The others went and Lloyd George was angry.

Are you telling me that after two months of negotiations, you are not going to accept? We have made so many concessions for you, this is ridiculous. I will send Tom Jones who was involved in the Boundary Commission to ask Collins to see me. I will tell him that the North won’t be able to survive economically and I am willing to look at the oath and trade again.

  • 5th December The Final Talks. Lloyd George offered threats and concessions to try and get what he wanted.

  1. He set a deadline. (NI Assembley was meeting the next day)

  2. Oath of Allegience

  3. Threat of War


  • Lloyd George set a deadline of Dec. 6th to complete the negotiations.

  • The Irish delegation twice more called on De Valera to come to London but he refused.

  • On the 3rd of December Irish delegates returned to Dublin for a stormy cabinet meeting where Brugha went as far as to call Griffith and Collins traitors.

  • They were instructed not to accept the oath of allegiance.

  • When the returned to London, Lloyd George told them they must sign the Treaty or face war “within three days”.

  • Both sides drew up their own oaths of allegiance. PG: 90 + 91

  • Study both oaths carefully. The British oath was finally accepted.

  • This oath actually states that those taking the oath “will be faithful to H.M King George V”. Historians argue that this word was not as strong as allegiance and therefore should not have caused problems for De Valera and the Dail.

The Treaty Debates

The Dail Debates on the treaty began on the 14th December 1921.

Griffith claimed they had “brought back the evacuation of Ireland after 700 years by British troops”. De Valera stated “I am against this treaty because it will not end the centuries of conflict between the two nations of Great Britain and Ireland”.

Anti –Treaty side argued

o It betrayed the sacrifice of 1916

o It did not offer enough concessions to Ireland

Pro –Treaty side argued

o Militarily, Ireland had no choice but to accept

o It was a stepping stone to further freedom

o It went far beyond what Home Rule promised

o Ireland had same freedoms as Canada and South Africa.

In the early stages of the debate De Valera produced his solution to the problem ‘Document No. 2’. The Dail did not support it.

The debates became bitter and personal.

The Treaty was passed: 64 votes FOR, 57 votes AGAINST

De Valera resigned as President and the next day led his followers out of the Dail.

The Civil War

  • A new cabinet was announced on 14th January 1922 to organise the transfer of power from the British government.

  • This was very difficult as many talented politicians and civil servants refused to help.

  • The Civic Guards and Free State Army were set up to maintain law and order.

  • The majority of IRA members were opposed to the Treaty and many reorganised under the leadership of Rory O’ Connor and Liam Mellows.

  • On the 14th of April, 1922, O’ Connor and the Irregular Forces (anti – treaty IRA) occupied the Four Courts. They also took over Kilmainham Jail. Collins did nothing at first.

  • There were numerous attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland.

  • Collins and De Valera tried to agree to political deal that would settle the divide but it failed to work.

  • The election of 1922 saw 58 pro – treaty TD’s elected. This showed the level of public support for the Treaty. Overall the voting suggested people were tired of fighting.

  • The British were now threatening to get involved unless the Irish government sorted out the occupation of the Four Courts by the IRA.

  • On the 28th June, the Free State army, using British guns, shelled the Four Courts and forced the Irregulars to surrender. Many of the Irregulars were arrested.

  • Fighting lasted 8 days in Dublin. Cathal Brugha was among those killed.

  • Irregulars made a defensive line from Waterford to Limerick called the Munster Republic. The IRA led by Liam Lynch used Guerrilla tactics again but they had a lot less support.

  • The government dealt with the Irregulars quite harshly and also began to lose support.

  • It was at this stage that Griffith died of a brain haemorrhage and Collins was killed in an ambush.

  • William Cosgrave became leader and the Special Powers Act was passed.

  • In 1922 there was a run of assassinations and executions that the ordinary people. On the anti – treaty side, Erskine Childers and Rory O’ Connor were executed.

In April 1923 Liam Lynch was killed in action and it signalled the end of the war. De Valera pushed for a ceasefire and Lynch’s replacement, Frank Aiken, called on the Irregulars to lay down their guns.

Over 4000 had been killed and 11,480 were imprisoned including Eamon De Valera and Dan Breen.

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