Were Irish politicians successful in building an independent Irish state in the 1920s and 1930s?
In this essay, I will discuss the progress of Irish politicians in building an independent Irish state in the 1920’s and 1930’s. I will outline the initial extent of Irish independence in 1920 and the extent of Irish independence by 1940. I shall argue against Cumann na nGaedheal’s conservative efforts, 1921-1932 and for Fianna Fáil’s aggressive efforts to achieve independence, 1932-1939. Finally I will explain how these efforts culminated in greater Irish independence, but how they fell short of an ideal Republic with full independence.
In 1920, Irish politicians were engaged in the War of Independence to end British rule over Irish sovereignty. Sinn Féin’s leaders Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith and W.T. Cosgrave led the war using guerrilla warfare tactics of ambushes against the British Army. In 1921, this war ended when Collins and Griffith signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty along with British Prime Minister Lloyd George. The terms of the treaty created the Irish State, a self-governing British dominion and a separate Northern Ireland, both with Home Rule. It was equal to other members of the British Commonwealth, but didn’t have fully recognised sovereignty as a state. The biggest party, Sinn Féin, split into the Pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal led by Griffith, Collins and Cosgrave and the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin led by Éamon de Valera. For the Pro-Treaty side the Treaty was ‘the freedom to achieve freedom’.1 Both sides engaged in the Irish Civil-War, 1922-1923. Cumann na nGaedheal emerged victorious and following the 1922 General Election, they entered government. They attempted to consolidate the limited independence gained from the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Cumann na nGaedheal was the first government of the Irish Free State. They wanted to consolidate Irish democracy over the Free State and later incorporate Northern Ireland....