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The Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or (less accurately) as the Fourth Home Rule Act. The Act was intended to establish separate Home Rule institutions within two new subdivisions of Ireland: the six north-eastern counties were to form "Northern Ireland", while the larger part of the country was to form "Southern Ireland". Both areas of Ireland
Ireland
were to continue as a part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland, and provision was made for their future reunification under common Home Rule institutions. Home Rule never took effect in Southern Ireland, due to the Irish War of Independence, which resulted instead in the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
and the establishment in 1922 of the Irish Free State. However, the institutions set up under this Act for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
continued to function until they were suspended by the British parliament in 1972 as a consequence of the Troubles. The remaining provisions of the Act still in force in Northern Ireland were repealed under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Contents

1 Background 2 Long's committee 3 Developments in Ireland 4 Two 'Home Rule' Irelands 5 Structures of the governmental system 6 Potential for Irish unity 7 Aftermath

7.1 Northern Ireland 7.2 Southern Ireland 7.3 Consequences 7.4 Repeal

8 See also 9 References and footnotes 10 Further reading 11 External links

Background[edit] Main article: Irish Home Rule movement

David Lloyd George, MP The British Prime Minister
British Prime Minister
was the author of the new Act.

Various attempts had been made to give Ireland
Ireland
limited regional self-government, known as Home rule, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons because of a split in the Liberal Party over the principle of Home Rule, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893, having been passed by the Commons was vetoed by the House of Lords. The Third Home Rule Bill introduced in 1912 by the Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
could no longer be vetoed after the passing of the Parliament Act 1911
Parliament Act 1911
which removed the power of the Lords to veto bills. They could merely be delayed for two years. Because of the continuing threat of civil war in Ireland, King George V called the Buckingham Palace Conference
Buckingham Palace Conference
in July 1914 where Irish Nationalist and Unionist leaders failed to reach agreement. Controversy continued over the rival demands of Irish Nationalists, backed by the Liberals (for all- Ireland
Ireland
home rule), and Irish Unionists, backed by the Conservatives, for the exclusion of most or all of the province of Ulster. In an attempt at compromise, the British government put forward an amending bill, which would have allowed for Ulster
Ulster
to be temporarily excluded from the working of the Act; this failed to satisfy either side, and the stalemate continued until overtaken by the outbreak of World War I. A few weeks after the British entry into the war, the Act received Royal Assent, while the amending bill was abandoned. However, the Suspensory Act 1914
Suspensory Act 1914
(which received Royal Assent
Royal Assent
on the same day) meant that implementation would be suspended for the duration of what was expected to be only a short European war. Long's committee[edit] Main article: Home Rule Crisis A delay ensued because of the effective end of the First World War in November 1918, the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, and the Treaty of Versailles that was signed in June 1919. Starting in September 1919, with the British Government, now led by David Lloyd George, committed under all circumstances to implementing Home Rule, the British cabinet's Committee for Ireland, under the chairmanship of former Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party leader Walter Long, pushed for a radical new solution. Long proposed the creation of two Irish home rule entities, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and Southern Ireland, each with unicameral parliaments. The House of Lords
House of Lords
accordingly amended the old Bill to create a new Bill which provided for two bicameral parliaments, "consisting of His Majesty, the Senate of (Northern or Southern) Ireland, and the House of Commons of (Northern or Southern) Ireland." The Bill's second reading debates in late March 1920 revealed that already a large number of Irish members of parliament present felt that the proposals were unworkable.[1][2] After considerable delays in debating the financial aspects of the measure, the substantive third reading of the Bill was approved by a large majority on 11 November 1920. A considerable number of the Irish Members present voted against the Bill, including Southern Unionists such as Maurice Dockrell, and Nationalists like Joe Devlin.[3] (The large majority of Irish MPs did not vote, having transferred their allegiance elsewhere). Developments in Ireland[edit] During the Great War Irish politics moved decisively in a different direction. Several events, including the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
of 1916, the subsequent reaction of the British Government, and the Conscription Crisis of 1918, had utterly altered the state of Irish Politics, and made Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
the dominant voice of Irish nationalism. Sinn Féin, standing for 'an independent sovereign Ireland', won 73 of the 105 parliamentary seats on the island in the 1918 general election. Its elected members established their own parliament, Dáil
Dáil
Éireann, which declared the country's independence as the Irish Republic. Dáil Éireann, after a number of meetings, was declared illegal in September 1919 by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Also for a variety of reasons all the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist MPs at Westminster voted against the Act. They preferred that all or most of Ulster
Ulster
would remain fully within the United Kingdom, accepting the proposed northern Home Rule state only as the second best option. Thus, when the Act became law on 23 December 1920 it was already out of touch with realities in Ireland. The long-standing demand for home rule had been replaced among Nationalists by a demand for complete independence. The Republic's army was waging the Irish War of Independence against British rule, which had reached a nadir in late 1920. Two 'Home Rule' Irelands[edit] The Act divided Ireland
Ireland
into two territories, Southern Ireland
Ireland
and Northern Ireland, each intended to be self-governing, except in areas specifically reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom: chief amongst these were matters relating to the Crown, to defence, foreign affairs, international trade, and currency. "Southern Ireland" was to be all of Ireland
Ireland
except for "the parliamentary counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the parliamentary boroughs of Belfast
Belfast
and Londonderry" which were to constitute "Northern Ireland". Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
as defined by the Act, amounting to six of the nine counties of Ulster, was seen as the maximum area within which Unionists could be expected to have a safe majority. This was in spite of the fact that counties Fermanagh and Tyrone had Catholic Nationalist majorities. Structures of the governmental system[edit] At the apex of the governmental system was to be the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who would be the Monarch's representative in both of the Irish home rule regions. The system was based on colonial constitutional theories. Executive authority was to be vested in the crown, and in theory not answerable to either parliament. The Lord Lieutenant would appoint a cabinet that did not need parliamentary support. No provision existed for a prime minister. Such structures matched the theory in the British dominions, such as Canada and Australia, where in powers belonged to the governor-general and there was no normal responsibility to parliament. In reality, governments had long come to be chosen from parliament and to be answerable to it. Prime ministerial offices had come into de facto existence.[4] Such developments were also expected to happen in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and Southern Ireland, but technically were not required under the Act. Potential for Irish unity[edit] As well as sharing the same viceroy, a Council of Ireland was envisaged to co-ordinate matters of common concern to the two parliaments, with each parliament possessing the ability, in identical motions, to vote powers to the Council, which Britain intended should evolve into a single Irish parliament.[5][6] Both parts of Ireland would continue to send a number of MPs to the Westminster Parliament. Elections for both lower houses took place in May 1921. Aftermath[edit] Northern Ireland[edit] The Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
came into being in June 1921. At its inauguration, in Belfast
Belfast
City Hall, King George V made a famous appeal for Anglo-Irish and north–south reconciliation. The speech, drafted by the government of David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
on recommendations from Jan Smuts[7] Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, with the enthusiastic backing of the King, opened the door for formal contact between the British Government
British Government
and the Republican administration of Éamon de Valera. Though it was superseded in large part, its repeal remained a matter of controversy until accomplished in the 1990s (under the provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement).[8] Southern Ireland[edit] All 128 MPs elected to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland
House of Commons of Southern Ireland
in the May 1921 elections were returned unopposed, and 124 of them, representing Sinn Féin, declared themselves TDs (Teachtaí Dála, Irish for Dáil
Dáil
Deputies) and assembled as the Second Dáil of the Irish Republic. With only the four Unionist MPs (all representing graduates of the Irish Universities) and 15 appointed senators turning up for the state opening of the Parliament of Southern Ireland
Parliament of Southern Ireland
at the Royal College of Science in Dublin (now Government Buildings) in June 1921, the new legislature was suspended. Southern Ireland
Ireland
was ruled, for the time being, directly from London as it had been before the Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act. The Provisional Government of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
was constituted on 14 January 1922 “at a meeting of members of the Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland". That meeting was not convened as a meeting of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland
House of Commons of Southern Ireland
nor as a meeting of the Dáil. Instead, it was convened by Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
as “Chairman of the Irish Delegation of Plenipotentiaries" (who had signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty) under the terms of the Treaty.[9] Elections in June 1922 were followed by the meeting of the Third Dáil, which worked as a Constituent Assembly
Constituent Assembly
to draft a constitution for the Irish Free State. For the purposes of British law the constitution was confirmed by the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
Constitution Act 1922; the new state then came into being on 6 December 1922. Consequences[edit] The Treaty provided for the ability of Northern Ireland's Parliament, by formal address, to opt out of the new Irish Free State, which as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
brought into effect on 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State). An Irish Boundary Commission
Irish Boundary Commission
was set up to redraw the border between the new Irish Free State
Irish Free State
and Northern Ireland, but it remained unchanged in return for financial concessions, and the British and Irish governments agreed to suppress its report. The Council of Ireland
Ireland
never functioned as hoped (as an embryonic all-Ireland parliament), as the new governments decided to find a better mechanism in January 1922.[10] In consequence of the establishment of the Irish Free State, the British parliament passed the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
(Consequential Provisions) Act 1922, which made a number of adjustments to Northern Ireland's system of government as set up by the 1920 Act. Most notably, the office of Lord Lieutenant was abolished, being replaced by the new office of Governor of Northern Ireland. Repeal[edit] The final provisions of the 1920 Act remaining in force were repealed under the terms of the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Act 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement. In the republic, the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 repealed the Act almost 85 years after Constitution of the Irish Free State replaced it as the basic constitutional law.[11] See also[edit]

v t e

Irish revolutionary period (1912–1923)

Events

Home Rule Crisis (1912–14) Dublin Lock-out
Dublin Lock-out
(1913) Easter Rising
Easter Rising
(1916) Conscription Crisis (1918) Irish general election (1918) Declaration of Independence (1919) War of Independence (1919–22) Creation of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(1921) Partition (1920–22) Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
(1921) Civil War (1922–23)

Organisations

Irish Republican Brotherhood Irish Parliamentary Party Sinn Féin Irish Volunteers Irish Republican Army Irish Citizen Army Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party Ulster
Ulster
Volunteers

Irish Convention
Irish Convention
(1917–18) Second Dáil Parliament of Southern Ireland Parliament of Northern Ireland Unionists (Ireland) Irish Government Bill 1886
Irish Government Bill 1886
(First Irish Home Rule Bill) Irish Government Bill 1893 (Second Irish Home Rule Bill) Government of Ireland Act 1914
Government of Ireland Act 1914
(Third Irish Home Rule Bill) Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act 1920 (Parliamentary and Dáil constituencies) History of Ireland
Ireland
(1801–1922) History of the Republic of Ireland

References and footnotes[edit]

^ Hansard
Hansard
debate on the Bill, 29 Mar 1920 ^ Hansard
Hansard
debate 31 Mar 1920 ^ Hansard
Hansard
debate of 11 November 1920 ^ A prime minister of Canada had come into existence within a decade of colonial rule in Canada, while in Australia a prime minister appeared in the system of government from the moment the Federal Commonwealth of Australia came into being in 1901. ^ Thompson, Joseph E. (2001). American Policy and Northern Ireland: A Saga of Peacebuilding. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 43. ISBN 0275965171. Retrieved 9 March 2016.  ^ Peled, Yoav (2013). The Challenge of Ethnic Democracy: The State and Minority Groups in Israel, Poland and Northern Ireland. Routledge. p. 16. ISBN 1134448937. Retrieved 9 March 2016.  ^ Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
was one of the best Boer commanders of the Second Boer War. His deep Commando raids into Cape Province
Cape Province
caused considerable embarrassment and difficulties for the British Army. After the war he decided that his future and that of South Africa lay in reconciliation between Afrikaner
Afrikaner
and the British. In 1914 at the start of World War I the Boer "bitter enders" rose against the government in the Boer Revolt and allied themselves with their old supporter Germany. General Smuts played an important part in crushing the rebellion and defeating the Germans in Africa, before fighting on the Western Front. The South African establishment, of which Smuts was a part, in contrast to the British establishment in 1916, was lenient to the leaders of the revolt, who were fined and spent two years in prison. After this revolt and lenient treatment the "bitter enders" contented themselves with working within the system. It was his experience of the Boer–British rapprochement which he was able to bring to the attention of the British government as an alternative to confrontation. ^ Alvin Jackson, Home Rule – An Irish History, Oxford University Press, 2004, pp368-370. ^ This followed discussions between the Irish Treaty delegation and the British Government
British Government
over who had authority to convene the "meeting". ^ Text of the "Craig-Collins Pact, art 4., 23 Jan 1922 ^ Irish Times 10 January 2007, p4.

Further reading[edit]

Robert Kee, The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism (2000 edition, first published 1972), ISBN 0-14-029165-2.

External links[edit]

Text of the Act as current at the time of its repeal in the UK Text of the Act as originally enacted in 1920, from BAILII Text of the Act as originally enacted in 1920, from the Office of Public Sector Information Matches in Hansard:

Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act 1920 "Government of Ireland
Ireland
Bill" (matches dated 1918 and later relate to the 1918 bill, which became the 1920 act)

v t e

Major constitutional laws affecting Ireland

Pre-Union

Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter
(1155) Poynings' Law (1495) Crown of Ireland
Ireland
Act (1542) Grattan's constitution (1782) Act of Union (1800)

UK Acts

Roman Catholic Relief Act (1829) Irish Church Act (1869) Reform Acts: 1884 and 1918 Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act (1920) Statute of Westminster (1931) Ireland
Ireland
Act (1949) Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Constitution Act (1973) Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Act (1998)

Constitutions

Dáil
Dáil
Constitution (1919) Free State Constitution (1922) Constitution of Ireland
Ireland
(1937)

Oireachtas Acts

Ministers and Secretaries Act (1924) Courts of Justice Act (1924) External Relations Act (1936) Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Act (1948) Human Rights Act (2003)

Treaties

Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
(1921) European Convention (1950) Treaties of the EU (1973–2007) Good Friday Agreement
Good Friday Agreement
(1998)

v t e

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
legislation

Pre-Parliamentary legislation

List of English statutes Charter of Liberties Magna Carta

Acts of Parliament by states preceding the Kingdom of Great Britain

Parliament of England

to 1483 1485–1601 1603–1641 Interregnum (1642–1660) 1660–1699 1700–1706

Parliament of Scotland

to 1706

Acts of Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain

1707–1719 1720–1739 1740–1759 1760–1779 1780–1800

Acts of the Parliament of Ireland

to 1700 1701–1800

Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland
Ireland
and the United Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland

1801–1819 1820–1839 1840–1859 1860–1879 1880–1899 1900–1919 1920–1939 1940–1959 1960–1979 1980–1999 2000 to date Halsbury's Statutes Legislation.gov.uk Short titles

relating to the European Union

1972 to date

Church of England
Church of England
measures

List Church of England
Church of England
Assembly (Powers) Act 1919

Legislation of devolved institutions

Acts of the Scottish Parliament

List

Acts and Measures of the National Assembly for Wales

List

Acts of the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Assembly Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland

Orders-in-Council / Orders in Council

Orders-in-Council

for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(1972-2009)

Orders in Council for Northern Ireland

Secondary legislation

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Statutory Instruments

various

Scottish Statutory Instruments

Acts of Sederunt Acts of Ad

.