DUBLIN: One hundred years ago on Tuesday, Ireland gained statehood in the midst of a bitter civil war. But it was not as a republic, as revolutionary leaders had hoped. Instead, a new era began...
DUBLIN: One hundred years ago on Tuesday, Ireland gained statehood in the midst of a bitter civil war. But it was not as a republic, as revolutionary leaders had hoped. Instead, a new era began under the ambiguous label of the Irish Free State.
On December 6, 1922, Irish lawmakers gathered to take an oath of allegiance to King George V as a dominion of the British Empire. It was one in a string of compromises made in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 that concluded Ireland´s three-year war of independence.
Not least among the accommodations made to the imperial power was provision for the continued partition of six, majority Protestant counties in the UK-ruled jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.
Debates in the Irish parliament that day -- among those lawmakers who had not boycotted it entirely -- stressed allegiance to the king was given under duress. A day after the free state was born, lawmaker Sean Hales was assassinated by gunmen opposed to the treaty as he left lunch at a central Dublin hotel. In swift and brutal reprisal, the new Irish government executed four anti-treaty prisoners by firing squad without charge or justification.
Irish writer James Joyce captured the mood of many in the nation when he wrote in his novel “Ulysses”, published in the same year, that history was “a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”.
The island of Ireland has been reckoning with its turbulent early 20th century history over the last decade -- beginning in 2012 with the commemoration of the opposing reactions in Belfast and Dublin to the prospect of limited devolved governance known as “Home Rule” in 1912.