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|Name and origin|
|Official name of legislation||Government of Ireland Act 1920|
|Location||Ireland into two autonomous regions Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland|
|Government introduced||Lloyd George (Liberal-Conservative coalition)|
|House of Commons passed?||Yes|
|House of Lords passed?||Yes|
|Details of legislation|
|Legislature type||2 bicameral parliaments|
|Name(s)||upper: Senate; lower: House of Commons of Southern Ireland/Northern Ireland|
|MPs in Westminster||46 MPs|
|Executive head||Lord Lieutenant (later replaced by the Governor of Northern Ireland)|
|Executive body||Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Ireland, Privy Council of Northern Ireland|
|Prime Minister in text||none – but one evolved in Northern Ireland|
|Responsible executive||no – but de facto responsibility to House of Commons of Northern Ireland|
|Act implemented||Limited implementation in Southern Ireland, full in Northern Ireland|
|Succeeded by||Northern Ireland Act 1998|
|Constitutional documents of the UK|
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or (less accurately) as the Fourth Home Rule Act.
An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. The United States Act of Congress is based on it.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament or Westminster Parliament, as well as domestically simply as Parliament or Westminster, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign (Queen-in-Parliament), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
The Act was intended to establish separate Home Rule institutions within two new subdivisions of Ireland: the six north-eastern counties were to form "Northern Ireland", while the larger part of the country was to form "Southern Ireland". Both areas of Ireland were to continue as a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and provision was made for their future reunification under common Home Rule institutions.
Northern Ireland is variously described as a country, province or region which is part of the United Kingdom. Located in the northeast of the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population. Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts to resolve disagreements between the two governments".
Southern Ireland was the larger of the two parts of Ireland that were created when Ireland was partitioned under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It comprised 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland or about five-sixths of the area of the island, whilst the remaining six counties in the northeast of the island formed Northern Ireland. Southern Ireland included County Donegal, despite it being the largest county in Ulster and the most northerly county in all of Ireland.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.
Home Rule never took effect in Southern Ireland, due to the Irish War of Independence, which resulted instead in the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment in 1922 of the Irish Free State. However, the institutions set up under this Act for Northern Ireland continued to function until they were suspended by the British parliament in 1972 as a consequence of the Troubles.
The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty, commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of Independence. It provided for the establishment of the Irish Free State within a year as a self-governing dominion within the "community of nations known as the British Empire", a status "the same as that of the Dominion of Canada". It also provided Northern Ireland, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, an option to opt out of the Irish Free State, which it exercised.
The Irish Free State was a state established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. That treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British Crown forces.
The remaining provisions of the Act still in force in Northern Ireland were repealed under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Various attempts had been made to give Ireland limited regional self-government, known as Home rule, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the United Kingdom, devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly and to their associated executive bodies the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and in England, the Greater London Authority and combined authorities.
Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been decentralized to it by the central government.
The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons because of a split in the Liberal Party over the principle of Home Rule, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893, having been passed by the Commons was vetoed by the House of Lords. The Third Home Rule Bill introduced in 1912 by the Irish Parliamentary Party could no longer be vetoed after the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 which removed the power of the Lords to veto bills. They could merely be delayed for two years.
The Government of Ireland Bill 1886, commonly known as the First Home Rule Bill, was the first major attempt made by a British government to enact a law creating home rule for part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was introduced in 8 April 1886 by Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone to create a devolved assembly for Ireland which would govern Ireland in specified areas. The Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell had been campaigning for home rule for Ireland since the 1870s.
The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.
The Government of Ireland Bill 1893 was the second attempt made by William Ewart Gladstone, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to enact a system of home rule for Ireland. Unlike the first attempt, which was defeated in the House of Commons, the second Bill was passed by the Commons only to be vetoed by the House of Lords.
Because of the continuing threat of civil war in Ireland, King George V called the Buckingham Palace Conference in July 1914 where Irish Nationalist and Unionist leaders failed to reach agreement. Controversy continued over the rival demands of Irish Nationalists, backed by the Liberals (for all-Ireland home rule), and Irish Unionists, backed by the Conservatives, for the exclusion of most or all of the province of Ulster. In an attempt at compromise, the British government put forward an amending bill, which would have allowed for Ulster to be temporarily excluded from the working of the Act; this failed to satisfy either side, and the stalemate continued until overtaken by the outbreak of World War I. A few weeks after the British entry into the war, the Act received Royal Assent, while the amending bill was abandoned. However, the Suspensory Act 1914 (which received Royal Assent on the same day) meant that implementation would be suspended for the duration of what was expected to be only a short European war.
A delay ensued because of the effective end of the First World War in November 1918, the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, and the Treaty of Versailles that was signed in June 1919. Starting in September 1919, with the British Government, now led by David Lloyd George, committed under all circumstances to implementing Home Rule, the British cabinet's Committee for Ireland, under the chairmanship of former Ulster Unionist Party leader Walter Long, pushed for a radical new solution. Long proposed the creation of two Irish home rule entities, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, each with unicameral parliaments. The House of Lords accordingly amended the old Bill to create a new Bill which provided for two bicameral parliaments, "consisting of His Majesty, the Senate of (Northern or Southern) Ireland, and the House of Commons of (Northern or Southern) Ireland."
The Bill's second reading debates in late March 1920 revealed that already a large number of Irish members of parliament present felt that the proposals were unworkable.
After considerable delays in debating the financial aspects of the measure, the substantive third reading of the Bill was approved by a large majority on 11 November 1920. A considerable number of the Irish Members present voted against the Bill, including Southern Unionists such as Maurice Dockrell, and Nationalists like Joe Devlin.(The large majority of Irish MPs did not vote, having transferred their allegiance elsewhere).
During the Great War Irish politics moved decisively in a different direction. Several events, including the Easter Rising of 1916, the subsequent reaction of the British Government, and the Conscription Crisis of 1918, had utterly altered the state of Irish Politics, and made Sinn Féin the dominant voice of Irish nationalism. Sinn Féin, standing for 'an independent sovereign Ireland', won 73 of the 105 parliamentary seats on the island in the 1918 general election. Its elected members established their own parliament, Dáil Éireann, which declared the country's independence as the Irish Republic. Dáil Éireann, after a number of meetings, was declared illegal in September 1919 by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
Also for a variety of reasons all the Ulster Unionist MPs at Westminster voted against the Act. They preferred that all or most of Ulster would remain fully within the United Kingdom, accepting the proposed northern Home Rule state only as the second best option.
Thus, when the Act became law on 23 December 1920 it was already out of touch with realities in Ireland. The long-standing demand for home rule had been replaced among Nationalists by a demand for complete independence. The Republic's army was waging the Irish War of Independence against British rule, which had reached a nadir in late 1920.
The Act divided Ireland into two territories, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, each intended to be self-governing, except in areas specifically reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom: chief amongst these were matters relating to the Crown, to defence, foreign affairs, international trade, and currency.
"Southern Ireland" was to be all of Ireland except for "the parliamentary counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the parliamentary boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry" which were to constitute "Northern Ireland". Northern Ireland as defined by the Act, amounting to six of the nine counties of Ulster, was seen as the maximum area within which Unionists could be expected to have a safe majority. This was in spite of the fact that counties Fermanagh and Tyrone had Catholic Nationalist majorities.
At the apex of the governmental system was to be the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who would be the Monarch's representative in both of the Irish home rule regions. The system was based on colonial constitutional theories. Executive authority was to be vested in the crown, and in theory not answerable to either parliament. The Lord Lieutenant would appoint a cabinet that did not need parliamentary support. No provision existed for a prime minister.
Such structures matched the theory in the British dominions, such as Canada and Australia, where in powers belonged to the governor-general and there was no normal responsibility to parliament. In reality, governments had long come to be chosen from parliament and to be answerable to it. Prime ministerial offices had come into de facto existence.Such developments were also expected to happen in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, but technically were not required under the Act.
As well as sharing the same viceroy, a Council of Ireland was envisaged to co-ordinate matters of common concern to the two parliaments, with each parliament possessing the ability, in identical motions, to vote powers to the Council, which Britain intended should evolve into a single Irish parliament.Both parts of Ireland would continue to send a number of MPs to the Westminster Parliament. Elections for both lower houses took place in May 1921.
The Parliament of Northern Ireland came into being in June 1921. At its inauguration, in Belfast City Hall, King George V made a famous appeal for Anglo-Irish and north–south reconciliation. The speech, drafted by the government of David Lloyd George on recommendations from Jan SmutsPrime Minister of the Union of South Africa, with the enthusiastic backing of the King, opened the door for formal contact between the British Government and the Republican administration of Éamon de Valera.
Though it was superseded in large part, its repeal remained a matter of controversy until accomplished in the 1990s (under the provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement).
All 128 MPs elected to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland in the May 1921 elections were returned unopposed, and 124 of them, representing Sinn Féin, declared themselves TDs (Teachtaí Dála, Irish for Dáil Deputies) and assembled as the Second Dáil of the Irish Republic.
With only the four Unionist MPs (all representing graduates of the Irish Universities) and 15 appointed senators turning up for the state opening of the Parliament of Southern Ireland at the Royal College of Science in Dublin (now Government Buildings) in June 1921, the new legislature was suspended. Southern Ireland was ruled, for the time being, directly from London as it had been before the Government of Ireland Act.
The Provisional Government of the Irish Free State was constituted on 14 January 1922 “at a meeting of members of the Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland". That meeting was not convened as a meeting of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland nor as a meeting of the Dáil. Instead, it was convened by Arthur Griffith as “Chairman of the Irish Delegation of Plenipotentiaries" (who had signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty) under the terms of the Treaty.
Elections in June 1922 were followed by the meeting of the Third Dáil, which worked as a Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution for the Irish Free State. For the purposes of British law the constitution was confirmed by the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922; the new state then came into being on 6 December 1922.
The Treaty provided for the ability of Northern Ireland's Parliament, by formal address, to opt out of the new Irish Free State, which as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland brought into effect on 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State). An Irish Boundary Commission was set up to redraw the border between the new Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, but it remained unchanged in return for financial concessions, and the British and Irish governments agreed to suppress its report. The Council of Ireland never functioned as hoped (as an embryonic all-Ireland parliament), as the new governments decided to find a better mechanism in January 1922.
In consequence of the establishment of the Irish Free State, the British parliament passed the Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Act 1922, which made a number of adjustments to Northern Ireland's system of government as set up by the 1920 Act. Most notably, the office of Lord Lieutenant was abolished, being replaced by the new office of Governor of Northern Ireland.
The final provisions of the 1920 Act remaining in force were repealed under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement. In the republic, the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 repealed the Act almost 85 years after Constitution of the Irish Free State replaced it as the basic constitutional law.
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom in January 1919. The Republic claimed jurisdiction over the whole island of Ireland, but by 1920 its functional control was limited to only 21 of Ireland's 32 counties, and British state forces maintained a presence across much of the north-east, as well as Cork, Dublin and other major towns. The Republic was mostly strongest in rural areas and it was still able to influence the population in urban areas that it did not directly control through influence by the military forces of the new Republic.
The Second Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 16 August 1921 until 8 June 1922. From 1919 to 1922, Dáil Éireann was the revolutionary parliament of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic. The Second Dáil consisted of members elected at the 1921 elections, but with only members of Sinn Féin taking their seats. On 7 January 1922, it ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64 votes to 57 which ended the War of Independence and led to the establishment of the Irish Free State on 6 December 1922.
Unionism in Ireland is a political ideology that favours the continuation of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the partition of Ireland, unionism in Ireland has focused on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. In this context, a distinction may be made between the unionism in the province of Ulster and unionism elsewhere in Ireland.
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament (MPs) elected to the House of Commons at Westminster within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland up until 1918. Its central objectives were legislative independence for Ireland and land reform. Its constitutional movement was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Irish self-government through three Irish Home Rule bills.
The Parliament of Southern Ireland was a Home Rule legislature set up by the British Government during the Irish War of Independence under the Fourth Home Rule Bill. It was designed to legislate for Southern Ireland, a political entity which was created by the British Government to solve the issue of rising Irish nationalism and the issue of partitionism, whilst retaining Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.
Dáil Éireann, also called the Revolutionary Dáil, was the revolutionary, unicameral parliament of the Irish Republic from 1919 to 1922. The Dáil was first formed by 73 Sinn Féin MPs elected in the 1918 United Kingdom general election. Their manifesto refused to recognise the British parliament at Westminster and chose instead to establish an independent legislature in Dublin. The convention of the First Dáil coincided with the beginning of the War of Independence.
The Government of Ireland Act 1914, also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide home rule for Ireland. It was the third such bill introduced by a Liberal government in a 28-year period in response to the Irish Home Rule movement.
Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922. For almost all of this period, the island was governed by the UK Parliament in London through its Dublin Castle administration in Ireland. Ireland faced considerable economic difficulties in the 19th century, including the Great Famine of the 1840s. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a vigorous campaign for Irish Home Rule. While legislation enabling Irish Home Rule was eventually passed, militant and armed opposition from Irish unionists, particularly in Ulster, opposed it. Proclamation was shelved for the duration following the outbreak of World War I. By 1918, however, moderate Irish nationalism had been eclipsed by militant republican separatism.
The partition of Ireland was the process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland divided the island of Ireland into two separate polities. It took place on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The smaller of the two, Northern Ireland, was duly created with a devolved administration and forms part of the United Kingdom today, but the larger one, intended as a home rule jurisdiction to be known as Southern Ireland, failed to gain acceptance. The territory instead became independent and is now a sovereign state also named Ireland and additionally described as the Republic of Ireland.
The Irish Boundary Commission met in 1924–25 to decide on the precise delineation of the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ended the Irish War of Independence, provided for such a commission if Northern Ireland chose to secede from the Irish Free State, an event that occurred as expected two days after the Free State's inception on 6 December 1922. The governments of the United Kingdom, of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland were to nominate one member each to the commission. When the Northern government refused to cooperate, the British government assigned a Belfast newspaper editor to represent Northern Irish interests.
St Anne's, a division of Belfast, was a UK parliamentary constituency in Ireland. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1918 to 1922, using the first past the post electoral system.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London on 6 December 1921 and Dáil Éireann voted to approve the treaty on 7 January 1922, following a debate through late December 1921 and into January 1922. The vote was 64 in favour, 57 against, with the Ceann Comhairle and 3 others not voting. The Sinn Féin party split into opposing sides in the aftermath of the Treaty vote, which led to the Irish Civil War from June 1922 to May 1923.
The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1870 to the end of World War I.
The revolutionary period in Irish history was the period in the 1910s and early 1920s when Irish nationalist opinion shifted from the Home Rule-supporting Irish Parliamentary Party to the republican Sinn Féin movement. There were several waves of civil unrest linked to Ulster loyalism, trade unionism, and physical force republicanism, leading to the Irish War of Independence, the creation of the independent Irish Free State, the Partition of Ireland, and the Irish Civil War.
The issue of Ireland was a major one in British politics off and on for centuries. Britain's attempts to control and administer the country had at times significant consequences for British politics, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although nominally autonomous until the end of the 18th century, Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.
The 1922 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland was held on 15 November 1922. There were ten constituencies, seven single-seat constituencies with elected by FPTP and three two-seat constituencies with MPs elected by bloc voting. Only two of the constituencies had contested elections.