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The partition of Ireland (Irish: críochdheighilt na hÉireann) between the six north-eastern counties of Ireland and the rest of Ireland took place on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920.[1] The 1920 Act created two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland both of which were parts of the United Kingdom.

On 6 December 1922, in accordance with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the entire island of Ireland became the Irish Free State, a dominion in the British Commonwealth.[2] However, the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland exercised their right to opt out of the new Dominion the following day.[3] Today Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom while the rest of the island is a sovereign state named Ireland (or, if differentiation between the state and the whole island is required, the state can be referred to as the Republic of Ireland).

Contents

Partition under Government of Ireland Act

History of Ireland
Wenzel Hollar's historical map of Ireland
This article is part of a series
Chronological
Timeline
Prehistory
Protohistory
400–800
800–1169
1169–1536
1536–1691
1691–1801
1801–1922
1919–present (Republic)
1921–present (Northern Ireland)
Topical
Battles · Clans · Kingdoms · States
Gaelic monarchs · British monarchs
Economic history
Irish language

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Under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 the island of Ireland was partitioned into two autonomous regions Northern Ireland (six north-eastern counties) and Southern Ireland (the rest of the island) on 3 May 1921.[1] The Parliament and Governmental institutions for Northern Ireland were quickly established afterwards. In contrast, the Parliament and Governmental institutions for Southern Ireland failed to function or take root. This was because of the political circumstances in Ireland at the time – with the very large majority of Irish Members of Parliament giving their allegiance to Dáil Éireann and supporting the Irish War of Independence.

Partition under Anglo-Irish Treaty

That Irish War of Independence ultimately led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The Treaty was given legal effect in the United Kingdom through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922. Under that Act, at 1pm on 6 December 1922, the King (at a meeting of his Privy Council at Buckingham Palace)[4] signed a proclamation establishing the new Irish Free State.[5] The Irish Free State then established encompassed the whole island of Ireland. Therefore on 6 December 1922 Northern Ireland stopped being part of the United Kingdom and became part of the newly created Irish Free State.[6] This remarkable constitutional episode arose because of the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the legislation introduced to give that Treaty legal effect.[7]

However, the Treaty and the laws which implemented it also allowed Northern Ireland to opt out of the Irish Free State.[7] Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland could exercise its opt out by presenting an address to the King requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Treaty was ratified, the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had one month (dubbed the Ulster month) to exercise this opt out during which month the Irish Free State Government could not legislate for Northern Ireland, holding the Free State’s effective jurisdiction in abeyance for a month.

Realistically, it was always certain that Northern Ireland would opt out and rejoin the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, speaking in the Parliament in October 1922 said that “when the 6th of December is passed the month begins in which we will have to make the choice either to vote out or remain within the Free State.” He said it was important that that choice was made as soon as possible after 6 December 1922 “in order that it may not go forth to the world that we had the slightest hesitation”.[8] On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament demonstrated its lack of hesitation by resolving to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State:[9]

”MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.”

Discussion in the Parliament of the address was short. Prime Minister Craig left for London with the memorial embodying the address on the night boat that evening, 7 December 1922. The King received it the following day, The Times reporting:[10]

"YORK COTTAGE, SANDRINGHAM, DEC. 8. The Earl of Cromer (Lord Chamberlain) was received in audience by The King this evening and presented an Address from the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland, to which His Majesty was graciously pleased to make reply."

With this, Northern Ireland had left the Irish Free State and rejoined the United Kingdom - after just over two days as part of the Irish Free State. If the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had not made such a declaration, under Article 14 of the Treaty Northern Ireland, its Parliament and government would have continued in being but the Oireachtas would have had jurisdiction to legislate for Northern Ireland in matters not delegated to Northern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act. This, of course, never came to pass. On 13 December 1922 Prime Minister Craig addressed the Parliament informing them that the King had responded to the Parliament’s address as follows:[11]

“I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed.”

Background

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1886–1914

In the United Kingdom general election, 1885 the nationalist Irish Parliamentary Party won the balance of power in the House of Commons, in an alliance with the Liberals. Its leader, Charles Stewart Parnell convinced William Gladstone to introduce the First Irish Home Rule Bill in 1886. Immediately an Ulster Unionist Party was founded and organised demonstrations in Belfast against the Bill, fearing that separation from the United Kingdom would bring industrial decline and religious intolerance. Randolph Churchill proclaimed: the Orange card is the one to play, and that: Home Rule is Rome Rule.

In the more rural parts of Ireland a "Land War" (1879-1890) was under way, supported by nationalists, that had led to sporadic violence. The Representation of the People Act 1884 had enlarged the popular franchise, and unionist property-owners were concerned that their interests would be reduced by a new Irish political class.

Although the bill was defeated, Gladstone remained undaunted and introduced a Second Irish Home Rule Bill in 1892 that, on this occasion, passed the Commons. Accompanied by similar massed Unionist protests, Joseph Chamberlain called for a (separate) provincial government for Ulster even before the bill was rejected by the House of Lords. The seriousness of the situation was highlighted when Irish Unionists throughout the island assembled conventions in Dublin and Belfast to oppose the Bill and the proposed partition.[12]

When in 1910 the Irish Party again held the balance of power in the Commons, Herbert Asquith introduced a Third Home Rule Bill in 1912. The unheeded Unionist protests of 1886 and 1893 flared up as before, not unexpectedly. With the protective veto of the Lords removed by the Parliament Act 1911, Ulster loyalists armed the Ulster Volunteers in 1912-14 to oppose enactment of the Bill (and what they called its "Coercion of Ulster"), and threatened to establish a Provisional Ulster Government.

While the Home Rule Bill was still being debated, on 20 March 1914 many British army officers resigned (and others threatened to), in what became known as the "Curragh Incident", rather than be mobilised to enforce the Act on Ulster. This meant that the government could legislate for Home Rule but could not be sure of making it a reality on the ground. This led on to an amending Bill that would exclude Ulster for an indefinite period, and the new fear of a civil war (between Unionism and Nationalism) in Ireland led to the Buckingham Palace Conference in July.

1914–1922

The Home Rule Act reached the statute books with Royal Assent in September 1914 but was suspended on the outbreak of World War I for one year or for the duration of what was expected to be a short war. Originally intended to grant self-government to the entire island of Ireland as a single jurisdiction under Dublin administration, the final version as enacted in 1914 included an amendment clause for six Ulster counties to remain under London administration for a proposed trial period of six years, yet to be finally agreed. This was belatedly conceded by John Redmond leader of the Irish Party as a compromise in order to pacify Ulster Unionists and avoid civil war.

Following the Versailles Peace Conference, in September 1919 Lloyd George tasked the Long Committee to implement Britain’s commitment to introduce Home Rule which was based on the policy of Walter Long, and the findings of the Irish Convention. Meanwhile in Ireland, nationalists won the overwhelming majority of the seats in the 1918 (United Kingdom) parliamentary election and declared unilaterally an independent (all-island) Irish Republic. However, Unionists won a majority of seats in Ulster and affirmed their continuing loyalty to the United Kingdom.

In 1921 the island was partitioned under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (described above). Later, the island was partitioned between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland (also discussed above).

On the approach to the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in October-December 1921, it was clearly stated that Northern Ireland would remain separate from the proposed Free State. As early as 24 June 1921, shortly before the truce that ended the Anglo-Irish War, David Lloyd-George invited the nationalist leader Eamon de Valera to talks in London on an equal footing with the new Northern Irish prime minister Sir James Craig, which De Valera attended. On 20 July Lloyd-George pointed out to De Valera that: "The form in which the settlement is to take effect will depend upon Ireland herself. It must allow for full recognition of the existing powers and privileges of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, which cannot be abrogated except by their own consent. For their part, the British Government entertain an earnest hope that the necessity of harmonious co-operation amongst Irishmen of all classes and creeds will be recognised throughout Ireland, and they will welcome the day when by those means unity is achieved. But no such common action can be secured by force."[13] In a concession to the nationalist side, the Treaty as ratified in December 1921-January 1922 allowed for a re-drawing of the mutual border by a Boundary Commission. Northern Ireland was deemed to be a part of the Irish Free State, whenever it became established, but its parliament would be allowed to vote to secede within a month; the so-called "Ulster month".

Unionist objections to Anglo-Irish Treaty

Sir James Craig, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland objected to aspects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In a letter to Mr Austin Chamberlain dated 14 December 1921, he stated:

We protest against the declared intention of your government to place Northern Ireland automatically in the Irish Free State. Not only is this opposed to your pledge in our agreed statement of November 25th, but it is also antagonistic to the general principles of the Empire regarding her people's liberties. It is true that Ulster is given the right to contract out, but she can only do so after automatic inclusion in the Irish Free State. It is a complete reversal of the British Cabinet's own policy as declared in the King's speech at the opening of the Northern parliament and in the Premier's published correspondence with de Valera. That policy was that Ulster should remain out until she chose of her own free will to enter an All-Ireland parliament. Neither explanation nor justification for this astounding change has been attempted. We can only conjecture that it is a surrender to the claims of Sinn Fein that her delegates must be recognised as the representatives of the whole of Ireland a claim which we cannot for a moment admit...[With regard to references to Belfast Lough in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Craig continued]...What right has the Sinn Fein to be a party to an agreement concerning the defences of Belfast Lough, which touches only the loyal counties of Antrim and Down...The principles of the 1920 Act have been completely violated, the Irish Free State being relieved of many of her responsibilities towards the Empire. The Sinn Fein receives a financial advantage that will relieve her considerably from the burden borne by Ulster and other parts of the Kingdom. Ulster can obtain such concessions only by first becoming subordinate to the Sinn Fein...In spite of the inducements held out to Ulster, we are convinced that it is not in the best interests of Britain or the Empire that Ulster should become subordinate to the Sinn Fein. We are glad to think that our decision will obviate the necessity of mutilating the Union Jack.[14][15]

Nationalist objections to the Anglo-Irish Treaty

The Treaty terms were ratified by the Dáil on 7 January 1922 by 64-57, but the minority refused to be bound by the result. The main dispute centred on the proposed status as a dominion (as represented by the Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity) for "Southern Ireland", rather than as an independent all-Ireland republic, but continuing partition was a significant matter for Ulstermen like Sean MacEntee, who spoke strongly against partition or re-partition of any kind.[16] The pro-Treaty side argued that the proposed boundary commission would satisfy the greatest number on each side of the eventual border, and felt that the Council of Ireland (as envisaged by the 1920 Home Rule Act) would lead to unity by consent over a longer period.

Details of the partition

Debate on Ulster Month

As described above, under the Treaty it was provided that Northern Ireland would have a month - the "Ulster Month" - during which its Houses of Parliament could opt out of the Irish Free State. There was some debate on when that Ulster Month should run from: From the date that the Treaty was ratified (in March 1922 via the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act) or the date that the Constitution of the Irish Free State was approved and the Free State established (6 December 1922).[17 ]

When the Irish Free State (Agreement) Bill was being debated on 21 March 1922, amendments were proposed which would have provided that the Ulster Month would run from the passing of the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act and not the Act that would establish the Irish Free State. Essentially, those who put down the amendments wished to bring forward the month during which Northern Ireland could exercise its right to opt out of the Irish Free State. They justified this view on the basis that if Northern Ireland could exercise its option to opt out at an earlier date, this would help to settle any state of anxiety or trouble on the Northern Ireland frontier. The Treaty was ambiguous on whether the month should run from the date the Anglo-Irish Treaty was ratified or the date that the Irish Free State was established. The British Government took the view that the Ulster Month should run from the date the Irish Free State was established and not beforehand, Viscount Peel for the Government remarking:[17 ]

His Majesty's Government did not want to assume that it was certain that on the first opportunity Ulster would contract out. They did not wish to say that Ulster should have no opportunity of looking at entire Constitution of the Free State after it had been drawn up before she must decide whether she would or would not contract out.

Viscount Peel continued by saying the Government desired that there should be no ambiguity and would to add a proviso to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Bill providing that the Ulster month should run from the passing of the Act establishing the Irish Free State. He further explained that the members of the Parliament of Southern Ireland had agreed to put that interpretion upon it. He noted that he had received from Mr. Arthur Griffith the following letter dated 20 March 1922:[17 ]

While it is held by the Irish plenipotentiaries and the Ministers of the Provisional Government that in the strict reading and interpretation of the Treaty the month in which North-East Ulster should exercise its option should run as from the date of the passing of the Bill [ratifying the Anglo-Irish Treaty rather than establishing the Irish Free State], they recognize that strong arguments might be made for the advisability of allowing North-East Ulster to consider the Constitution of the Irish Free State before exercising its option and they are willing to waive their interpretation, and agree that the [Ulster] month should run as from the date of the formal adoption of the Constitution [of the Irish Free State].

Boundary Commission 1922–25

The Anglo-Irish Treaty contained a provision that would establish a boundary commission, which could adjust the border as drawn up in 1920. Most leaders in the Free State, both pro- and anti-Treaty, assumed that the commission would award largely nationalist areas such as County Fermanagh, County Tyrone, South Londonderry, South Armagh and South Down, and the City of Derry to the Free State, and that the remnant of Northern Ireland would not be economically viable and would eventually opt for union with the rest of the island as well. In the event, the commission's decision was made for it by the inter-governmental agreement of 3 December 1925 that was published later that day by Stanley Baldwin.[18] As a result the Commission's report was not published; the detailed article explains the factors involved.

The Dáil voted to approve the agreement, by a supplementary Act, on 10 December 1925 by a vote of 71 to 20.[19]

Division of territorial waters

Background

The exact division of territorial waters as between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State was to be a lingering matter of controversy for a number of years. Section 1(2) of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 defined the respective territories of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland as follows:[20]

...Northern Ireland shall consist of the parliamentary counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the parliamentary boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry, and Southern Ireland shall consist of so much of Ireland as is not comprised within the said parliamentary counties and boroughs.

At the time of that Act, both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland were to remain parts of the United Kingdom. Perhaps because of this, the Act did not explicitly address the position of territorial waters, although section 11(4) provided that neither Southern Ireland nor Northern Ireland would have any competence to make laws in respect of “lighthouses, buoys, or beacons (except so far as they can consistently with any general Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom be constructed or maintained by a local harbour authority)”.

When the territory that was Southern Ireland ultimately became a separate self-governing dominion outside the United Kingdom known as the Irish Free State, the status of the territorial waters naturally took on a significance it had not had before. The Northern Ireland Unionists were conscious of this matter from an early stage. They were keen to put it beyond doubt that the territorial waters around Northern Ireland would not belong to the Irish Free State. In this regard, Captain James Craig, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland put the following question in the British House of Commons on 27 November 1922 (the month before the establishment of the Irish Free State):[21]

Another important matter on which I should like a statement of the Government's intentions, is with regard to the territorial waters surrounding Ulster. Under the Act of 1920, the areas handed over to the Governments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland respectively, were defined as the six Parliamentary counties of Northern Ireland and the twenty-six Parliamentary counties of Southern Ireland. I understand there is considerable doubt in the minds of lawyers and others as to whether these Parliamentary counties carry with them the ordinary territorial waters, extending three miles out from the shore. It has been asserted in some quarters that the Parliamentary counties only extend to low water mark. That has been exercising the minds of a good many people in Ulster, and I shall be glad if the Government in due course will inform the House what is their opinion on the subject and what steps they are taking to make it clear..... Am I to understand that the Law Officers have actually considered this question, and that they have given a decision in favour of the theory that the territorial waters go with the counties that were included in the six counties of Northern Ireland?

In response the Attorney General, Sir Douglas Hogg, said that “I have considered the question, and I have given an opinion that that is so [i.e. the territorial waters do go with the counties]".

Dispute arises

A particular dispute arose between the Government of the Irish Free State of the one part and the Northern Ireland and UK Governments of the other part over territorial waters in Lough Foyle.[22] Lough Foyle lies between County Londonderry in Northern Ireland and County Donegal in the then Irish Free State. A court case in the Free State in 1923 relating to fishing rights in Lough Foyle held that the Free State’s territorial waters ran right up to the shore of County Londonderry.[22] In 1925, the Chief Justice of the Irish Free State, Hugh Kennedy advised the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, WT Cosgrave as follows:

A Uachtaráin, A Chara dhílis,
I saw in some paper the other day some reference to a claim by the Northerners that they are entitled to the whole of Lough Foyle. It occurred to me that I should drop you a line lest the question of territorial jurisdiction as regards water might be lost sight of. You will remember the point that was made that Northern Ireland consists of certain parliamentary counties and that the Free State consists of the rest of Ireland, so defined by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920; and you will remember that we have always contended that this definition gave us the whole sea shore surrounding the country, together with loughs upon which both Northern Ireland and ourselves abutted.
As far as I could make out - but I never could get anything definite upon it - this view was held in London in the early period of 1922, and was taken, I believe, by the first Law Officers who dealt with our business. Subsequently I was told, but only by hints, that later law officers had given a definite opinion the other way. I know that the Parliamentary Draftsmen were very shaky on the question and nervous about it until they got the later opinion.
Should it not be made clear at the Boundary Commission that we claim to have already in the Free State the whole of Ireland except the territory represented by the parliamentary areas of the Six Counties? The attempt to capture Lough Foyle would be very serious.
Mise do chara,
(HUGH KENNEDY) Chief Justice[23]

In 1927, illegal fishing on Lough Foyle had become so grave that Northern Ireland Prime Minister, James Craig entered into correspondence with his Free State counterpart, W. T. Cosgrave. Craig indicated to Cosgrave that he proposed to introduce a Bill giving the Royal Ulster Constabulary powers to stop and search vessels on Lough Foyle. Cosgrave asserted all of Lough Foyle was Free State territory and that as such a Bill of that nature would be rejected by the Free State and its introduction would create “a very serious situation”.[22] Cosgrave then raised the matter with the British government.

In 1936 in Dáil Éireann, the Minister for External Affairs was asked if he intends to take any steps to safeguard and maintain the rights to fishing in certain parts of Lough Foyle, claimed by and hitherto enjoyed by Free State nationals. The Vice-President (for the Minister for External Affairs), resopnding, noted that there had been correspondence between the two Governments in recent years. He summarised the position as currently being that:

The matter, therefore, now stands as follows. The Government of Saorstát Eireann are still willing to make temporary administrative arrangements for the preservation of order on the waters of Lough Foyle pending the settlement of the fishery dispute and without prejudice to the general question of jurisdiction. But we decline to accept either of the conditions which the British Government seek to impose as a condition precedent to those arrangements. We decline, that is to say, either (1) to give any undertaking that we will submit the international dispute as to our jurisdiction in the Lough Foyle area to a British Commonwealth Tribunal or (2) to make any agreement with regard to the fishery dispute itself which would prejudice the issue in that dispute or which would purport to remove the legal right of any citizen of Saorstát Eireann to test the claim of the Irish Society or their lessees in the courts of this country.[24 ]

The Minister was ciritcised by Opposition politicians for his government's overall indecision on whether the Irish Free State should remain part of the British Commonwealth, a spokesman claiming this was why the Government had such difficulty with the British Government's first pre-condition.[24 ]

World War II

With the fall of France in 1940, the British Admiralty ordered convoys to be re-routed through the north-western approaches which would take them around the north coast and through the North Channel to the Irish Sea. However, escorting those convoys raised a problem: it became imperative to establish an escort base as far west in the United Kingdom as possible. There was one obvious location: Lough Foyle. However, it remained unclear where the border was between the UK and Ireland in Lough Foyle. On 31 August 1940, Sir John Maffey, the UK's representative to the Irish government, wrote to the Dominions Office in London that:[25 ]

use by Admiralty of Lough Foyle should from now on be constant but for the present on limited scale so that user may be established quietly if possible. My inclination is to make no communication on the subject to the Eire Government, to wait on events and to let them know when and if use on large scale is intended. So far as naval use is concerned we appear to have [a] good case.

In September 1940 Maffey approached the Irish External Affairs Secretary, Joseph Walshe, to inform him ‘of the intended increase of light naval craft’ in Lough Foyle. The Royal Navy increased its use of Lough Foyle in the early months of 1941.[25 ] The Royal Navy remained concerned that there might be a challenge to its use of the Foyle on the grounds that ships navigating the river to Lisahally and Londonderry might be infringing Irish neutrality. If the border followed the median line of Lough Foyle then the channel might be in Irish waters as it "lies near to the Eire shore". In mid-November 1941, legal opinions of solicitors to The Honourable The Irish Society were presented to the Royal Navy.[25 ] The Hon. The Irish Society's view was that the whole of Lough Foyle was part of County Londonderry and accordingly the border could not be that of the median line of Lough Foyle. The Royal Navy continued to use its new base on the Foyle until 1970.[25 ]

Dispute simmers

The division of the territorial waters continued to be a matter disputed between the two Governments. A good summary of the Irish position was given by the then Taoiseach, Mr. Jack Lynch, during a Dáil debate on 29 February 1972:[26]

...[W]e claim that the territorial waters around the whole island of Ireland are ours and our claim to the territorial waters around Northern Ireland is based on the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. This Act is so referred to in the 1921 Treaty that the Northern Ireland which withdrew from the Irish Free State is identical with the Northern Ireland defined in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and defined as consisting of named counties and boroughs. It is, I think, common case between us that in English law the counties do not include adjacent territorial waters and, therefore, according to our claim these territorial waters were retained by the Irish Free State.

Incidents have occurred from time to time in the disputed waters and they have been discussed in Dail Éireann occasionally.[27][28][29]

Current status

The territorial dispute between Ireland and the United Kingdom concerning Lough Foyle (and similarly Carlingford Lough) is still not settled. As recently as 2005, when asked to list those areas of EU member states where border definition is in dispute, a British Government minister responding for the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated:

Border definition (ie the demarcation of borders between two internationally recognised sovereign states with an adjoining territorial or maritime border) is politically disputed [between] Ireland [and the] UK (Lough Foyle, Carlingford Lough—quiescent)[30]

In 2009, the territorial dispute concerning Lough Foyle was raised in a meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly's Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment. The Committee was meeting to discuss Project Kelvin, a project involving the construction of an optic fibre submarine telecommunications cable between North America and Northern Ireland. Mr Derek Bullock, an executive from Hibernia Atlantic Limited, the cable-laying company leading the project's implementation had to explain to the Committee why the cable landing station was going to be located at Coleraine rather than Derry City as initially indicated.[31] He explained that one of the reasons it had been decided not to locate the cable landing station in Lough Foyle was because:

We cannot bring a cable into Lough Foyle, because the border line under the sea there is actually disputed...Lough Foyle is a disputed border region, and, as I said, we cannot put submarine cables near disputed border regions.[31]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office underlined its view on 2 June 2009 that all of Lough Foyle is in the United Kingdom, a spokesperson stating:

The UK position is that the whole of Lough Foyle is within the UK. We recognise that the Irish Government does not accept this position...There are no negotiations currently in progress on this issue. The regulation of activities in the Lough is now the responsibility of the Loughs Agency, a cross-border body established under the Belfast Agreement of 1998.[32]

Partition and sport

Following partition some social and sporting bodies divided but others did not. Today in Ireland many sports, such as boxing, rugby union, Gaelic football, hurling and Rugby union, are organised on an all-island basis, with a single team representing Ireland in international competitions. Other sports, such as association football, have separate organising bodies in Northern Ireland (Irish Football Association) and the Republic of Ireland (Football Association of Ireland). At the Olympics, a person from Northern Ireland can choose to represent either the Republic of Ireland team (which competes as "Ireland") or United Kingdom team (which competes as "Great Britain and Northern Ireland"). Selection usually depends on whether his or her sport is organised on an all-Ireland, a Northern Ireland, or a UK basis. Sports organised on an all-Ireland basis are affiliated to the Republic of Ireland’s Olympic association, whereas those organised on a Northern Ireland or UK basis are generally affiliated to the UK’s Olympic association.

Partition and rail transport

Rail transport in Ireland was seriously affected by partition. The railway network on either side of the Border relied on cross-border routes, and eventually a large section of the Irish railway's route network was shut down. Today only the cross-border route from Dublin to Belfast remains, and counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone have no rail services.

After partition

Constitution of Ireland 1937

De Valera came to power in Dublin in 1932 and drafted a new Constitution of Ireland which in 1937 was adopted by plebiscite in the Irish Free State. Its articles 2 and 3 defined the 'national territory' as: 'the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas'. The state was named 'Ireland' (in English) and 'Éire' (in Irish); a United Kingdom Act of 1938 described the state as "Eire".

To unionists in Northern Ireland, the 1937 constitution made the ending of partition even less desirable than before. Most were Protestants, but article 44 recognised the 'special position' of the Roman Catholic Church. Further, the preamble referred to: "...our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,"; this was an independence that unionists had opposed, and seemed to imply in an insulting fashion that Jesus had sustained only the Irish independence movement, and never the unionist cause. All spoke English, but article 8 stipulated that the new 'national language' and 'first official language' was to be Irish, with English as the 'second official language'.

The irrendentist texts in Articles 2 and 3 were deleted by the Nineteenth Amendment in 1998, as part of the Belfast Agreement.

Anti-partition groups

Nationalists also established a number of anti-partition groups campaigning against the border, starting with De Valera's National League of the North (1928) which was renamed the Irish Union Association and then the Anti-Partition League in 1938. These were followed by the Northern Council for Unity, the Irish Anti-Partition League, the All Ireland Anti-Partition League and finally National Unity (Ireland) in 1964. None achieved an electoral majority and they were prone to divisions.

In America the 1947 Irish Race Convention arranged for a vote in the US Congress whereby Marshall Aid for Britain would be conditional on the end of partition. The vote was lost by 206 votes to 139, with 83 abstaining.

British offer of unity in 1940

However, during the Second World War, after the French surrender, Britain made a qualified offer of Irish unity in June 1940, without reference to those living in Northern Ireland. The revised final terms were signed by Neville Chamberlain on 28 June 1940 and sent to Éamon de Valera. On their rejection, neither the London or Dublin governments publicised the matter.

Ireland/Éire would effectively join the allies against Germany by allowing British ships to use its ports, arresting Germans and Italians, setting up a joint defence council and allowing overflights.

In return, arms would be provided to Éire and British forces would cooperate on a German invasion. London would declare that it accepted 'the principle of a United Ireland' in the form of an undertaking 'that the Union is to become at an early date an accomplished fact from which there shall be no turning back.'[33]

Clause ii of the offer promised a Joint Body to work out the practical and constitutional details, 'the purpose of the work being to establish at as early a date as possible the whole machinery of government of the Union'.

The proposals were first published in 1970 in a biography of de Valera.[34]

1945–1973

In May 1949 the Taoiseach John A. Costello introduced a motion in the Dáil strongly against the terms of the UK's Ireland Act 1949 that confirmed partition for as long as a majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland wanted it, styled in Dublin as the Unionist Veto.[35] This was a change from his position supporting the Boundary Commission back in 1925, when he was a legal adviser to the Irish government. A possible cause was that his coalition government was supported by the strongly republican Clann na Poblachta. From this point on, all the political parties in the Republic were formally in favour of ending partition, regardless of the opinion of the electorate in Northern Ireland.

The new Republic could not and in any event did not wish to remain in the Commonwealth and it chose not to join NATO when it was founded in 1949. These decisions broadened the effects of partition but were in line with the evolving policy of Irish neutrality.

In 1966 the Taoiseach Seán Lemass visited Northern Ireland in secrecy, leading to a return visit to Dublin by Terence O'Neill; it had taken four decades to achieve such a simple meeting. The impact was further reduced when both countries joined the European Economic Community in 1973. With the onset of The Troubles (1969–98) a 1973 referendum showed that a majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland did want to continue the link to Britain, as expected, but the referendum was boycotted by Nationalist voters.

Possibility of British withdrawal in 1974

Following the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969, the Sunningdale Agreement was signed by the Irish and British governments in 1973. This collapsed in May 1974 due to the Ulster Workers' Council strike, and the new British Prime Minister Harold Wilson considered a rapid withdrawal of the British Army and administration from Northern Ireland in 1974–75 as a serious policy option. The relevant cabinet notes remained secret until 2005.[36]

The effect of such a withdrawal was considered by Garret FitzGerald, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs in Dublin, and recalled in his 2006 essay.[37] The Irish cabinet concluded that such a withdrawal would lead to widescale civil war and a greater loss of life, which the Irish Army of 12,500 men could do little to prevent.

Repeal of the Union by the Dáil in 1983

Despite the ongoing dispute about partition, the original Acts of Union which merged Ireland and Britain into a United Kingdom from the start of 1801 have only been repealed in part. The British Act was repealed by the Irish Statute Law Revision Act 1983, a delay of 61 years. The Irish parliament's Act of 1800 was still not repealed in the last Revision Act of 2005; this was described in the Dáil committee debates as a "glaring omission".[38]

Belfast Agreement 1998

The 1998 Agreement was ratified by two referenda in both parts of Ireland, including an acceptance by the Republic that its claim to Northern Ireland would only be achieved by persuasion and peaceful means. This was an important part of the Northern Ireland peace process that has been under way since 1993.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b NSR&O 1921, No. 533 - Note: Act provided for partition as between the six counties of Northern Ireland and the rest of the Ireland with no reference to twenty-six counties
  2. ^ Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922
  3. ^ Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 - Note: the Houses and not the Parliament of Northern of Ireland per se exercised this right.
  4. ^ The Times, Court Circular, Buckingham Palace, Dec. 6, 1922.
  5. ^ New York Times, 6 December 1922
  6. ^ The Times, 6 December 1922, Ulster in the Free State, Voting-Out Today, Memorial to the King
  7. ^ a b For further discussion, see: Dáil Éireann - Volume 7 - 20 June 1924 The Boundary Question – Debate Resumed.
  8. ^ Northern Ireland Parliamentary Debates, 27 October 1922
  9. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report, 7 December 1922". Stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk. http://stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk/stormontpapers/pageview.html?volumeno=2&pageno=1145#bak-2-1149. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  10. ^ The Times, 9 December 1922
  11. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report, 13 December 1922, Volume 2 (1922) / Pages 1191 – 1192, 13 December 1922". Stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk. http://stormontpapers.ahds.ac.uk/stormontpapers/pageview.html?volumeno=2&pageno=1145#fwd-2-1189. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  12. ^ Patrick Maume, The long Gestation, Irish Nationalist Life 1891-1918, p. 10 (1999)
  13. ^ Correspondence between Lloyd-George and De Valera, June-September 1921
  14. ^ Ashburton Guardian, Volume XLII, Issue 9413, 16 December 1921, Page 5
  15. ^ IRELAND IN 1921 by C. J. C. Street O.B.E., M.C.
  16. ^ Dáil Éireann - Volume 3 - 22 December, 1921 DEBATE ON TREATY
  17. ^ a b c The Times, March 22, 1922
  18. ^ "Announcement of agreement, Hansard 3 Dec 1925". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 1925-12-03. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1925/dec/03/prime-ministers-announcement. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  19. ^ "Dáil vote to approve the Boundary Commission negotiations". Historical-debates.oireachtas.ie. http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0013/D.0013.192512100009.html. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  20. ^ Section 1(2) of the Government of Ireland Act 1920
  21. ^ "Hansard – Commons Debate on Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Bill, 27 November 1922". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1922/nov/27/irish-free-state-consequential-1#S5CV0159P0_19221127_HOC_444. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  22. ^ a b c "Division and Consensus By Michael Kennedy, Institute of Public Administration (Ireland)". Books.google.ie. http://books.google.ie/books?id=asK9EjEpcYAC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=%22Irish+Free+State%22+and+%22territorial+waters%22&source=bl&ots=3VzvA6VT0S&sig=SLnfBVGWZTZECi7vYnvWof-vsAM&hl=en&ei=tv2OSZKaCIS2jAeN7Pm7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA29,M1. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  23. ^ Documents in Irish Foreign Policy Website - Letter Ref. No. 316 UCDA P4/424
  24. ^ a b Dáil Éireann - Volume 63 - 12 August, 1936 Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lough Foyle Fishery Rights
  25. ^ a b c d Second World War NI website
  26. ^ Dáil debates online
  27. ^ Dáil Éireann - Volume 408 - 09 May, 1991 Adjournment Debate. - Carlingford Lough Incident.
  28. ^ Dáil Éireann - Volume 379 - 16 March, 1988 Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Bill, 1987: Second Stage (Resumed).
  29. ^ Dáil Éireann - Volume 328 - 31 March, 1981 Written Answers. - Lough Foyle Vessel Explosion.
  30. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "Hansard report of House of Commons Debate on 13 January 2008". Publications.parliament.uk. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/vo050113/text/50113w17.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  31. ^ a b Northern Ireland Assembly - Committee Hansard Report, 12 February 2009
  32. ^ Londonderry Sentiniel, Foyle 'loughed' in dispute - 3 June 2009
  33. ^ Eds. O'Day A. & Stevenson J., Irish Historical Documents since 1800 (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 1992) p.201. ISBN 0-7171-1839-8
  34. ^ Longford, Earl of & O'Neill, T.P. Éamon de Valera (Hutchinson 1970; Arrow paperback 1974) Arrow pp.365-368. ISBN 0 09 909520 3
  35. ^ "Dáil Éireann - Volume 115 - 10 May 1949 - Protest Against Partition—Motion". Historical-debates.oireachtas.ie. http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0115/D.0115.194905100042.html. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  36. ^ Times article 2005 on-line
  37. ^ Garret FitzGerald's essay of 2006
  38. ^ Statute Law Revision (pre-1922) Act, 2005

External links


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