Partition of Ireland

The Partition of Ireland took place in 1920. It was a diplomatic attempt to bring an end to the violence of the irish Civil War. The partition created the Irish Free State and the province of Northern Ireland. The new status for the south is viewed as a victory for the Irish Nationalists. However, the partition did not bring an end to problems and the boundary caused ongoing disputes.

The Partition of Ireland 

Following the Easter Rising there was a period of civil war in Ireland. One of the results of this was the decision to partition Ireland into two legislative areas. The loyalist north would retain the same links with London as it had previously, whilst the southern provinces would gain semi-independance (similar to Dominion stats held by Australia and Canada). This partition effectively created two states, Northern Ireland (as it is now) and The Irish Free Republic (now Eire, or the Republic of Ireland).

The partition was recognised by governments in London and Dublin – but did not prevent ongoing conflict between Irish Nationalists and the the British government (or those loyal to Britain).

Partition of Ireland

Why did Partition not bring peace in the 1920’s and 1930’s?

Source A
“There are a great number of Protestants and Orangemen who employ Catholics. I would point out that Roman Catholics are trying to get everywhere… I would appeal to Loyalists, therefore, wherever possible, to employ protestant lads and lassies.” Sir Basil Brooke. Unionist Minister, later Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Source B
“The national territory consists of the whole of the island of Ireland, its islands and territorial seas.” Article 2, Irish Constitution 1937.

Source C
“The effect of bringing into force this new constitution in the Irish Free State will be to strengthen the determination of Ulster to resist all attacks from there (Eire) and make links between Britain and ourselves stronger.” Irish Free Press December 1937

Source D
“Politically, Ulster would always send a majority of Protestant MP’s to Westminster, and there would always be a majority of Unionist MP’s in the Northern Ireland parliament. However, control was also established in local councils, even when the Protestants were in a minority. The vote was restricted to householders and property owners (thus ruling out many of the Catholic poor). Boundaries were redrawn to secure the maximum possible number of Unionist councillors. This process was called ‘gerrymandering’. From Ireland a Divided Island.

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