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THE ANGLO-IRISH TREATY 1921 -Part
2
The Main Issues
1. The agreed formula was based on ascertaining
how the association of Ireland with the community
of nations known as the British Empire may best be
reconciled with Irish national aspirations
2. What was to be the constitutional status of a new
state?
3. What was to be the position of north-east Ulster?
. What pro!isions were to be made for "ritish
defence and securit#?
$. The oath of allegiance to the "ritish crown.
%. &inor issues included trade and 'nancial matters.
(. Within these issues the )uestions re!ol!ed
around such matters as the possibilities of an
independent republic* a unitar# state or partition*
an oath of allegiance* dominion status* e+ternal
association* a boundar# commission* whether or not
What the British wante!
1. Their priorit# was the defence of "ritish
territor#, the# feared that -reland could be
used b# an enem# to attac. "ritain in the
future.
2. The# wanted to protect the "ritish /mpire
and a!oid gi!ing a boost to independence
mo!ements in places li.e -ndia.
3. 0lo#d 1eorge could not gi!e too man#
concessions because he depended on the
support of the 2onser!ati!es for his coalition
and the# were close to the unionists.
. The# wanted to protect the Ulster
unionists but were willing to put pressure on
them if necessar#.
$. The "ritish were prepared to accept a
wide autonom# for the -rish as long as the
What the Irish wante!
1. Their position was less clear.
2. The# aimed at -rish unit# and an
independent republic loosel# bound
to the /mpire and accepting the
crown as head of the /mpire onl# but
it was not clear how the# should
compromise on these issues.
3. 3e 4alera proposed the idea of
e+ternal association* but this has
alread# been re5ected b# the "ritish.
. The general strateg# of the -rish
was* if the need arose* to brea. o6
negotiations on the )uestion of Ulster.
The "ritish .new that onl# a
brea.down on the imperial )uestion
would bene't them and gain the
support of the "ritish people.
$. The -rish delegation did not ha!e a
clear strateg# of how to compromise
on their aspirations. The# did not
ha!e an alternati!e to e+ternal
association when the "ritish re5ected
it and the# were !ague about what to
do with 7orthern nationalists*
especiall# as partition was now a
The Ne"#tiati#ns
1. 3ragged on for two months.
2. 8or the -rish the )uestion of unit# was !ital, for the
"ritish it was 2rown and 2ommonwealth. The -rish team
had been instructed to accept 98ree :tate; for 9<epublic;
and 9to recognise the =ing as head of the 2ommonwealth;
instead of allegiance to the throne.
3. The "ritish defence re)uirements were met without a
problem. "ritain secured the na!al bases of 2obh*
"ereha!en and 0ough :will#.
. 8or "ritain the .e# point was the oath and -rish
allegiance to the crown and dominion status and the# were
prepared to gi!e -reland a full measure of autonom# in
'scal and trade matters in order to secure that.
$. 8or the "ritish the position of e+ternal association was
incomprehensible and unacceptable.
%. The oath was modi'ed to tr# to meet -rish sensiti!ities
but* for ardent republicans* the s#mbolism remained.
(. The "ritish had proposed a "oundar# 2ommission to
determine the proper line between Ulster and the rest of
-reland in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants. -t
was assumed that this would in!ol!e the transfer of large
sections of the partitioned area and this would lea!e
7orthern -reland as too small a political or economic unit.
The En #$ Ne"#tiati#ns
1. > deadline was set for the end of negotiations ? %
th
3ecember 1@21.
2. The -rish delegation was di!ided with "arton* 3u6# and 2hilders opposing an# compromise. > !isit
to 3ublin in 7o!ember made it ob!ious that 3e 4alera* "rugha and :tac. were opposed to an#
concession.
3. > new formula for the oath was wor.ed out.
. The )uestion of -rish unit# remained and 1riAth found himself entrapped into agreeing that Ulster
could sta# out of a united -reland if she agreed to a "oundar# 2ommission.
$. 0lo#d 1eorge then threatened war if the -rish delegates did not agree. Bis threat wor.ed and the
treat# was signed on %
th
3ecember 1@21.
%. The unseen participant in all of this was Cames 2raig* the 7orthern -reland Drime &inister* who had
important contacts in the 2onser!ati!e Dart# and was determined not to compromise.
(. 2ollins wrote I tell you this, early this morning I signed my own death warrantThese signatures
are the frst real step for Ireland. If only people will remember that the frst real step.

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