The Birth of the Irish Free State, 1921-1923

By Joseph M. Curran | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

The Final Rounds:
December 1-6, 1921

The British proposals arrived ahead of schedule, on Wednesday evening, November 30. According to these terms, the Irish Free State was to have the same national status as the other Dominions, and its relationship with the Crown and the Imperial Parliament was to be governed by both the law and the practice of Canada. The oath of allegiance was much like that suggested on November 29, while the financial and trade provisions were largely the same as those of the previous offer. Naval facilities that were required in peacetime were listed in an annex, but Britain was to have whatever defense facilities it needed in time of war or strained relations. Also listed were the safeguards guaranteed Northern Ireland if it joined the Free State: control of local patronage, tax collection, and local militia, as well as a veto on duties affecting local products. If the North rejected unity, a boundary commission would determine its boundaries in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, "so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions." The draft concluded with a description of the procedure for establishing an Irish Provisional Government to implement the treaty. 1

At 6:15 p.m. on December 1 Griffith and Collins presented Lloyd George with an altered oath of allegiance:

I ... do solemnly swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by Law established and that I will be faithful to H. M. King George in acknowledgement of the Association of Ireland in a common citizenship with Great Britain and the group of nations known as the British Commonwealth.

They also pointed out that although the proposals mentioned Ireland's undertaking its own defense in the future, there was no indication of when this was to happen. The prime minister reported their suggestions to his fellow delegates at 7:45 p.m. They rejected the Irish oath but agreed to a review of the defense question in ten years, and accepted other minor amendments. At a 9:30 meeting with Griffith and Collins, the British agreed to a few further changes. 2

On the morning of December 2 Griffith left for Dublin with a copy of the revised terms. Late the same evening he presented them to de Val

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