100 years ago today, the fateful Anglo-Irish treaty negotiations began at 10 Downing Street. Read our article to learn about its many controversies, what it actually achieved, and why it sparked not only the creation of the Free Irish State, but also a civil war.
Setting the Stage
The Treaty is an incredibly controversial document for two reasons. First, it formally acknowledged partition (which was official British policy by 1921) while turning Ireland into a dominion (NOT an independent state) and required an oath to the king. Second, it triggered a civil war that took many of Ireland’s best and brightest.
While the Treaty was the spark, I would argue a split (if not a civil war) amongst the Republican forces was inevitable. As we discussed elsewhere on this blog and in my podcast, tensions were high amongst IRA forces and command, heightened by the brutality of the war and the return of Eamon DeValera from the United States.
While he was fundraising in the United States, DeValera missed most of the war and was blindsided by what awaited his return. The movement DeValera helped create was no longer recognizable to him nor did he fully understand the rules of they war they were fighting, believing that the assassinations and ambushes were detrimental to the IRA’s cause and they should fight more traditional battles. He was also dismayed to see how much power gathered by the military side and worked hard with Minister of Defense, Cathal Brugha, to reassert the Dail’s power-as well as his own.
This, seemingly, brought him onto a collision course with Michael Collins (a man who also disliked being held accountable by another-no matter how much he respected DeValera). DeValera furthered strained that relationship by trying to send Collins to America in January-a command Collins flatly refused and DeValera dropped. Yet, DeValera entered negotiations confident and seems to have believed it was his moment to solidify the fact that he, DeValera, was the leader of Ireland.Continue reading