Treaty Debate Index
The Treaty Debate:
~ The Treaty ~
Dáil Eireann Treaty Debate 14th December 1921 – 10 January 1922
The Dáil Treaty debates lasted much longer and exposed the diversity of opinion in Dublin. Opening the debate on 14 December, President De Valera stated his view on procedure: it would be ridiculous to think that we could send five men to complete a treaty without the right of ratification by this assembly. That is the only thing that matters. Therefore it is agreed that this Treaty is simply an agreement and that it is not binding until the Dáil ratifies it. That is what we are concerned with. However when the Treaty was ratified on 7 January, he refused to accept it.
Private sessions were held on 15, 16 and 17 December, and a.m. on 6 January, to keep the discord out of the press and the public arena.
The public sessions lasted 9 days from 19 December to 7 January. On 19 December Arthur Griffith moved: That Dáil Eireann approves of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed in London on December 6th, 1921.
By 6 January, the day before the vote, De Valera acknowledged the deep division within his cabinet: When these Articles of Agreement were signed the body in which the executive authority of this assembly, and of the State, is vested became as completely split as it was possible for it to become. Irrevocably, not on personalities or anything of that kind or matter, but on absolute fundamentals.
The Second Dáil formally ratified the Treaty on 7 January 1922 by a vote of 64 to 57. De Valera resigned as President on 9 January and was replaced by Arthur Griffith, on a vote of 60 to 58. Griffith as President of the Dáil worked with Michael Collins who chaired the new Provisional Government of Ireland, theoretically answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, as the Treaty laid down. In December 1922 a new Irish constitution was enacted by the Third Dáil, sitting as a Constituent Assembly.
The House of Commons of Southern Ireland, which was made up largely of the same membership as the Dáil, but which was in British constitutional theory the parliament legally empowered to ratify the Treaty, did so unanimously on 14 January 1922.