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THE ANGLO-IRISH TREATY
1. Why, by 1921, did both sides decide that negotiations
By the end of 1920, Lloyd George was profoundly aware of the growing
unpopularity of the Anglo-Irish war in GB, and that the military force
needed to suppress Ireland would not be possible due to the public
opposition it would generate.
America was also shocked by events in GB.
The IRA could not defeat the British and were running short of men and
materials as casualties among their members and civilians mounted.
o January July 1921, 752 men and women killed and 866 wounded.
It became clear that neither side could win a military victory.
Actions of Black-and-Tans were shocking to the public (e.g. events at Gaelic
football match, open fire killing innocent people)
George Boyce writes: `It was the revolt of the British conscience, not the
defeat of the British army, that obliged Lloyd George to seek terms of peace
and settlement with Sinn Fein'
Lloyd George came to realise that opposition in Ireland was a far deeper
problem than a `tiny murder gang', with demands for independence
supported by the majority of the Irish people.
It has been suggested that a British prime minister was considering
independence could be considered a break through and a psychological
One historian suggests "partition cleared the way for the treaty of 1921.
The Republican leaders came to accept that Lloyd George was genuinely
seeking a political settlement and was prepared not to modify his original
conditions for peace in order to obtain one. The PM was already thinking of
a `dominion status'. Inaugurated
2. What were the consequences of the failure of the
Government of Ireland Act?
In the south, the Act was a dead letter, no elections were consented and 124
supporters of Sinn Fein returned unopposed out of 128 candidates
They boycotted they new Parliament making the Ulster Unionists,
paradoxically, the committed Home Rulers
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Home Rule was no longer viable for Irish Nationalists
Roy Foster re Government of Ireland Act: `essentially constructed to solve
the Irish problem as it stood in 1914 but not 1920' ... too little too late!
3. What was partition?
The Irish population was roughly divided into Irish Nationalists in the
South (mainly Catholics) and Ulster Unionists in the North (mainly
This created a political divide in Ireland, as the population wanted different
things regarding Home Rule.…read more
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The British Government had an advantage in the talks (PM dominated the
talks) due to misunderstandings amongst the Irish leaders and confusion
over the Irish delegates' status
o On one hand they were described as plenipotentiaries (people who
had the full power and authority to represent their government)
meaning that the delegates had the authority to sign the treaty
without consulting their colleagues back at home.…read more
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Lloyd George managed to persuade the Irish delegates to accept the
idea of a Boundary Commission and led them to believe that its
eventual recommendations would be so critical of Ulster's resent
boundaries that, if carried out, the Northern Ireland into line over
The powers of the new Irish state: Southern Ireland would have Dominion
Status rather then the independence Sinn Fein wanted, but the oath of
allegiance to the crown would be w
atered down becoming less offensive to the Irish sensibilities.…read more