1924

Please Note:  The chronology for 1924 and 1925 does not try to give the comprehensive month by month detail that is attempted for the previous five years.  In particular, no attempt is made to chronicle the various issues that arose in the construction of the two new states in the North and South of Ireland (on which there is now a quite extensive literature).  Rather they follow two major 'left-over' issues from the revolutionary period, which are the Army Mutiny of 1924 and the working out of the Boundary Commission.

Jan-1924/1

Minority Labour government in UK with Ramsey MacDonald as Labour’s first Prime Minister takes office in London.

Matthews has written “Whatever he imbibed of socialism, Labour’s first prime minister could never quite shake his Scottish Protestant’s dislike of the Church of Rome. MacDonald ‘disliked Catholics’, the historian of the Clydesiders [R K Middlemas] has written, ‘particularly Irish Catholics’.”

Also, according to Kevin O’Shiel, the new Colonial Secretary, J H Thomas, had ‘never shown himself to be conspicuously friendly to the Irish Free State” and he supported “special treatment for Ulster”.

 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 297; Fanning (2013), pg 344; Matthews (2004), pgs 136-137

Jan-1924/2

Early in January, GHQ of Free State army receives information that Old IRA intends to seize arms and take over a number of barracks.  GHQ informs commanding officers and relocates certain troops.

See Jan-26-23/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 48

Jan-14-23/1

Writing to Craig, Stanley Baldwin says “I do not want the Irish conflict revived in the House of Commons in any shape or form if it can justly be avoided.”

See Feb-01 to 02-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 6 & 134

Jan-26-23/1

Mulcahy meets with Cosgrave and McGrath re Old IRA. 

Mulcahy had earlier written to Cosgrave saying that Old IRA could possibly in the near future be “a far greater danger than the Irregular one” and criticised McGrath for the encouragement he had given them.  At the meeting, McGrath said that the Old IRA meant no harm and Cosgrave gave some support to the army’s demobilisation scheme.

See Mar-03-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 49-50

cJan-1924/3

The interned Cahir Healy, member of the British Parliament for Fermanagh and Tyrone since November 1922, is released

Matthews (2004), pg 134

 

 

 

Feb-01 to 02-24/1

Boundary conference takes place in London under new Colonial Secretary J H Thomas.  A seven-point plan is put forward by Thomas but it is rejected by both the Free State and NI governments.

The Conference was due to resume at the end of February but had to be postponed due to Craig becoming ill.

On March 8th, the British learn that Craig was going on a Mediterranean cruise (apparently for his health) and that the conference would not resume until the end of April.

See Feb-11-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 298; Matthews (2004), pgs 138-141

Feb-11-24/1

In a memo to the cabinet of the Free State government, Kevin O’Shiel warns that they should not allow the Boundary Commission to be set up later than May when the rural and county elections are due to be held in Northern Ireland.

He argues that this would be a catastrophe as they would take place on a new register and for gerrymandered areas and therefore “no argument of ours will prevail against the GREAT FACT that those districts, once in favour of a Dublin parliament, have all gone in favour of a Belfast parliament”.

See Mar-08-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 299-300

Feb-1924/1

Simon McInerney, who had been O/C of the anti-Treaty West Clare Brigade and who had been arrested in July 1922, writes to Frank Aiken from Hare Park internment camp (where they were still incarcerated) saying that Frank Barrett had signed an undertaking to secure his release and was therefore in breach of General Order No. 8 issued by Liam Lynch on September 28th 1922. 

Barrett is subsequently court martialled and ordered to write another letter repudiating his earlier undertaking.  Instead, Barrett resigns from the IRA.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar-03-24/1

Adjutant-General’s office of the Free State army issues orders severely curtailing the movements of its officers.  Probably aimed at Old IRA.

See Mar-06-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 50

Mar-04-24/1

In a report of his meeting with Cosgrave to his superior (Lionel Curtis in London), N. G. Loughnane (the British Colonial Office’s man in Dublin), says that Cosgrave described the Ulster Protestants as the spoiled children of politics who were incapable of making concessions.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 141

Mar-06-24/1

Liam Tobin and Charlie Dalton present an ultimatum to the Free State government demanding that they meet with them to discuss their interpretation of the Treaty and that the army council be removed and that army demobilisation be suspended.  They say if the government does not meet its demands they will “take such action that we make clear to the Irish people that we are not renegades or traitors to the ideals that induced them to accept the Treaty.  Our Organisation fully realises the seriousness of the action we may be compelled to take”.

About 50 Free State officers abscond with war materials including Lewis guns, grenades and revolvers. 

More Detail 

 

See Mar-07-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 51; Dáil Debates VI (11th Mar 1924), col. 1894-1895; Ferriter (2021), pg 162

Mar-07-24/1

Executive Council of the Free State government orders arrest of Tobin and Dalton but, despite searches, they elude arrest. 

Joe McGrath resigns as Minister of Industry and Commerce which he announces to the Dáil on March 11th (but continues to fulfil his duties until March 19th).

See Mar-10-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 52

Mar-08-24/1

Government of Northern Ireland requests a postponement of the Boundary conference until the April 24th due to Craig’s illness. 

See Mar-15-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 300

Mar-10-24/1

Mulcahy releases statement to press saying “Two Army officers have attempted to involve the Army in a challenge to the authority of the Government.  This is an outrageous departure from the spirit of the Army.  It will not be tolerated.”  He goes on to say the Army will stay firm to their duty. 

However, the Executive Council is not as sure of the loyalty and appoints Eoin O’Duffy (Chief of the Civic Guards) to the position of General Officer Commanding of the Free State Defence Forces.  One reason for doing this is that they view the mutiny as a faction fight between the Old IRA and the IRB.  (Valiulis says that O’Duffy was a “high ranking member of the IRB, a fact of which the government was obviously unaware”).  

See Mar-11-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 53-55; Ferriter (2021), pg 163

Mar-11-24/1

In the Dáil, Cosgrave reads the letter of March 6th from Tobin and Dalton and describes the ultimatum as “a challenge to the democratic foundations of the State”. 

Mulcahy reports to the Dáil that officers in Roscommon, Gormanstown, Baldonnel and Templemore had absconded with arms but that the only area that was possibly in danger was County Cork.  Chief of Staff Sean MacMahon is sent to Cork where he prevents any armed action. 

 

A long Cumman na nGaedheal meeting also takes place to discuss the Old IRA position

 

More Detail

 

See Mar-12-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 54-58; Dáil Debates VI (11th Mar 1924), col. 1894-1900

Mar-12-24/1

Executive Council (Free State cabinet) meets and decides to take a lenient position towards the Old IRA officers following a second letter from Tobin and Dalton (see More Detail below) which probably resulted from contact between McGrath and the Old IRA leaders.  They decided that a cabinet inquiry would be set up into the administration of the army and that those officers who had absconded with arms be given an opportunity to restore the stolen property. Om doing so they would be arrested and then released on parole. 

 

Cosgrave announces in the Dáil that a cabinet inquiry will be set up into the administration of the army and it will consult with McGrath.  He also reads a further letter from Tobin and Dalton (dated March 12th).

 

More Detail

 

See Mar-13-24/1.

 

Dáil Debates VI (12th Mar 1924), col. 1972-1998; Valiulis (1985), pgs 59-61

Mar-13-24/1

Editorial in the Irish Times states “Mutiny is mutiny, and, with all respect for Kevin O’Higgins, …., twenty-four hours cannot change it into a merely frank expression of military discontent”.

See Mar-16-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 63

Mar-14-24/1

Cahir Healy takes his seat in the House of Commons.  He had been released from the Argenta in February but re-arrested.  He was re-released after the intervention of the new British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald but against the bitter opposition of the NI Minister for Home Affairs Dawson Bates.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 301

Mar-15-24/1

Tim Healy, Governor General, writes to J. H. Thomas, British Colonial Secretary, saying that the British should set up the Boundary Commission.  An accompanying memo rejects Thomas’s February proposals (see Feb-01 to 02-24/1) as “unworkable”.

Tom Jones, British cabinet secretary, is despatched to Dublin where he manages to persuade the Free State government to give the idea of a conference with Craig on Craig’s return from his Mediterranean cruise and “make one more desperate effort at a solution”.  The conference resumed on April 24th – see Apr-24-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 142

Mar-16-24/1

One of the Old IRA (Capt George Ashton) is arrested.  McGrath telephones O’Higgins and tells him that Ashton’s arrest will cause trouble “unless it is seen to”.  (McGrath had telephoned Cosgrave but he was ill and unable to come to the phone.)

See Mar-18-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 130

Mar-18-24/1

Mulcahy sends memo to GHQ saying that all members of the army who removed material from barracks or who were absent from duty had until March 20th to return the material.  Afterwards, they were to be allowed out under open arrest.  

Gearoid O’Sullivan, Adjutant General, sent the detailed orders to the officers commanding.  In particular, he said that the men were allowed out under open arrest (parole) until the time fixed for the investigation of the charges against such persons. 

More Detail  

See Mar-18-24/2.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 66-71

Mar-18-24/2

Raid on Old IRA meeting in Devlin’s Public House in Parnell St, Dublin.

More Detail

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs??

Mar-18-24/3

Lionel Curtis, Chief Adviser on Irish Affairs in London, warns in a memo that “The political situation in the Free State is highly precarious and any false step on the part of His Majesty’s Government may ruin the Free State Government and bring into power a Government which will declare a Republic”. He went on to say that this could lead to hostilities between the North and South and then the British would have to intervene. 

McMahon comments that “It was the fear of not implementing the treaty that left the Labour-Liberal government with little option except to push through the legislation setting up the Boundary Commission”.  However, the Bill to give the British Government the power to nominate a NI Commissioner to the Boundary Commission is not introduced until August 6th (See Aug-06-24/1) and not put in the statute book until October 8th (See Oct-08-24/1).

 

McMahon (2008), pg 191

Mar-19-24/1

A ban is introduced in the British House of Commons on any MP raising “any matters of administration for which a Minister in Northern Ireland is responsible”.  This is part of the British government wishing to be rid of the ‘Irish Question’.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 4

Mar-20-24/1

O’Higgins announces to the Dáil that Colonel Hugo MacNeil is to be acting Adjutant-General and Colonel Felix Cronin is to be acting Quartermaster-General.  Also, that Cosgrave (still absent through illness) is to take over as Minister of Defence.

 

Dáil Debates VI (20th Mar 1924), col. 2242

Mar-21-24/1

Men arrested in Parnell St raid on March 18th (see Mar-18-24/2) are released after agreeing to terms set out by Mulcahy on March 18th

Over the coming period, many of them (and others involved in the Old IRA) resign.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 80-82

Mar-21-24/1

A group of British soldiers arrive at Cobh from the nearby British Army fort on Spike Island.  They are shot at by men from the anti-Treaty Cork No. 1 Brigade.  One British soldier (Private H. Aspinall) is killed and twenty three people injured (including five civilians). 

The Free State government condemns the attack and agree to pay compensation to the injured and to the family of Private Aspinall.

 

McMahon (2008), pg 202

Mar-23-24/1

In an article in the The People newspaper, Cahir Healy warned the British public that, in the light of the Army Mutiny, civil war could break out again in Ireland “Unless something is done very soon about the Irish Boundary Commission”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 301

Mar-25-24/1

Around this date the committee to investigate the army was set up with the following members: J Creed Meredith (Chair); Gerald Fitzgibbon; P. McGilligan; DJ Gorey and Major Bryan Cooper.  [The last three represented Cumann na nGaedheal; the Farmers Party and the Independents. The Labour Party did not nominate anyone as they wanted the committee to be a committee of the Dáil rather than a departmental committee appointed by the Executive Council.]

The terms of reference of the committee were ‘to enquire into the facts and matters which have caused and led up to the indiscipline and mutinous and insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the Army’.  [These terms of reference were expanded later.] 

The Committee had no power to subpoena, or examine witnesses under oath.  Also, the hearings were closed and transcripts would not be published.  Despite protests Mulcahy, O’Muirthuile, O’Sullivan and MacMahon agreed to attend but McGrath, Tobin, Dalton and other members of the Old IRA refused to attend.  The committee held 39 or 41 meetings and interviewed 27 witnesses.

See Jun-17-24/1.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 85-87; Ferriter (2021), pg 169

Mar-1924/1

A Garda report for the month of March said that the bulk of the “Irregulars” seemed to be adopting constitutional methods.

Kissane (2005), pg 121

 

 

 

Apr-02-24/1

Cosgrave announces in the Dáil that Patrick McGilligan is to take over (from McGrath) as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

 

Dáil Debates VI (2nd Apr 1924), col. 2748;

Apr-24

Conference on the Boundary Commission involving Cosgrave, Craig and Thomas reconvenes in London but collapses.  Cosgrave is subsequently pessimistic of negotiations achieving anything. See Apr-26-24/1

Matthews says that Craig’s strategy was one of delay – “The longer the Boundary Commission could be delayed, the less likely that it would ever be formed at all”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 299; Matthews (2004), pgs 6 & 143-144

Apr-26-24/1

Following collapse of the Boundary conference, the Free State government requests the British government to take immediate steps to constitute the Boundary Commission. 

As Craig continues to refuse to appoint a Commissioner, the British threaten to refer the matter to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

When Thomas falls ill, MacDonald invites Cosgrave and Craig to meet him at British prime minister’s country residence in Chequers. 

See May-31 to Jun-01-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 302; Matthews (2004), pg 144

Apr-29-24/1

In an article called “Ulster Boundary Crisis”, the Daily Herald condemns the Ulster clauses in the Treaty as “one of the damnable legacies of Llyod Georgeism”.

Matthews (2004), pg 173

 

 

 

May-01-24/1

Writing in the London Times, Birkenhead, former Lord Chancellor and Treaty signatory, urges Craig to appoint a representative to the Boundary Commission on the basis that the Treaty article governing the boundary issue (Article 12) only implied “a re-adjustment of boundaries” and Ulster’s leaders had nothing to fear from appointing a commissioner.

According to Matthews, Craig was incandescent when he heard what Birkenhead wrote.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 302; Matthews (2004), pgs 149 & 159

May-07-24/1

O’Higgins writes to Cosgrave saying that the alleged ambiguity on Article 12 should be cleared up before the Boundary Commission sat as it “cannot be left to the tender mercies of the British nominee of the Commission”. He continues “we must have the ambiguity cleared up before the Boundary Commission sits”, possibly by arbitration. 

See May-10-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 303; Matthews (2004), pg 149

May-08-24/1

The Times in London complains that Article 5 of the Treaty has never been implemented. (This is the article would settle by arbitration the Irish contribution to the public debt of the United Kingdom.) The complaint was that Dublin had never come to the “relief of the long-suffering British taxpayer”. 

The London and Dublin governments had agreed to delay negotiations on Article 5 until the boundary issue was settled. 

See Dec-03-25/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 227

May-08-24/2

Tom Jones approaches British Conservative Party leader, Stanley Baldwin to discuss the Boundary Commission but he receives a “diehard reaction”.  Baldwin spoke hostilely about the Free State leaders and said that it was “difficult to forgive assassination and to forget their behaviour during the war”.

 

McMahon (2008), pg 166

May-09-24/1

In one of his last acts before resigning from the Colonial Office, Lionel Curtis drafts a memo in which he outlines the trouble the British army is likely to encounter once the Boundary Commission started to work. 

One key problem was potential armed resistance to any decision that they did not like from the Protestant majority especially from the Ulster Special Constabulary (which the British government was itself funding).

See Jun-11-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 147; McMahon (2008), pgs 191-193

May-10-24/1

Cosgrave writes back to O’Higgins saying that he felt that he could not object to the chairman interpreting Article 12.  He also said that Lionel Curtis had informed him that the British government could not interpret an article to which they were but one of two parties. However, O’Higgins writes back saying “what the British Government cannot do, the British nominee to the Boundary Commission ought not to be allowed to do”.

Matthews comments “Just as British politicians wished to avoid the boundary issue generally, their Irish opposites averted their eyes from this specific question”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 303; Matthews (2004), pg 150

May-11-24/1

Michael Kilroy, anti-Treaty leader from Mayo, escapes from the Curragh.

 

Price (2012), pg 267

May-13-24/1

The Secretary of the Free State Department of Local Government says that no appointment (or salary increase) would be given to any local government officer unless they made a declaration swearing allegiance to the Irish Free State and its constitution.

(Unclear from source if this occurred in 1924 or 1925.)

 

Kissane (2005), pg 164

May-31 to Jun-01-24/1

Two day conference between MacDonald, Cosgrave and Craig at Chequers concludes without reaching any agreement. 

See Jun-02-24/1

Matthews (2004), pgs 145-147

 

 

 

Jun-01-24/1

Local elections held in NI for county and rural councils.  As nationalists boycott these elections due to the abolition of PR and gerrymandering, unionists win control of all county councils.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 153

Jun-02-24/1

Following the failure of their Chequers conference, in letters to Craig and Cosgrave, MacDonald tells them that in the face of Belfast’s continued refusal to nominate someone to the Boundary Commission, it was not clear if the Commission could function with only two members and, if not, if the British had the power to name a Commissioner for the North.  These questions, he said, could only be answered by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.  See Jul-31-24/1

He also said that the British would announce a Boundary Commission chairman who, while waiting for the outcome from the Privy Council, would make one last attempt at “an amicable solution”.  (For a probable reason why the British wished to nominate a Commission chair, see Nov-15-23/1.)

The Irish Government complain that referring to the issue to the Privy Council was a further delay. “[D]elay follows delay” said Cosgrave to MacDonald in a letter on June 4th and the appeal to the Judicial Committee was another device to “shelve the whole matter”. The British side deny this but, according to Matthews, “the Irish were closer to the truth than they knew”.  However, the Irish had no option to go along with the delays.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 150-151

Jun-05-24/1

MacDonald announces to British House of Commons that Mr Justice Richard Feetham, of the South African Supreme Court, would be chairman of the Boundary Commission. 

At the beginning of July, Feetham takes a tour of the border areas and asks for clarification on two issues (unanimity in the Commission and power to order plebiscites) from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 303-304

Jun-11-24/1

Responding to the Colonial Office memo on Ireland (see May-09-24/1), the War Office says that, whatever way the Boundary Commission ruled, at least three British Army divisions would be needed to implement the award.  The War Office did not want to get bogged down in Ireland as such a commitment would be “unlimited, indefinite, and fraught with serious difficulties both for the army itself and for Imperial defence.” 

See Jul-04-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 147-148

Jun-16-24/1

Anti-Treaty Section Commander Dan Crawford from Shanaway, Mullagh, Co. Clare dies.  He had been interned in Limerick prison where he had taken part in a hunger strike.  He had been released unconditionally but was “a broken man”.

 

Power (2020), pg 144

Jun-17-24/1

After holding 39 meetings and hearing from 27 witnesses, the Report of the Army Inquiry Committee is published.  Overall, it was favourable to Mulcahy and the army leaders and said that the Old IRA was a mutinous organisation bent on using the army for political purposes.

However, they also criticised Mulcahy and the army leaders for reviving the IRB within the army at the end of 1922 and beginning of 1923 saying that it was a disastrous error of judgement. 

There was a separate report by the committee chair – Meredith – which was very critical of Mulcahy’s handling of the Old IRA.  This report was not published. 

Valiulis comments that “The army mutiny of 1924 was the final echo of the civil war, the last vestige of the Volunteer mentality of an independent, political army”. 

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 85-87 and pg 82; Ferriter (2021), pgs 165-169

Jun-18-24/1

The Ballyvolye viaduct in Co. Waterford, which was destroyed by anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War (see Aug-04-22/1), is reopened allowing trains to once again travel between Cork and Rosslare. 

This is one example of the infrastructure destroyed in the previous turbulent years being repaired.

 

McCarthy (2015), pg 127

Jun-20

Cosgrave writes to Eoin O’Duffy, Army GOC, saying that he was minded to hand over the bodies of 75 men executed during the Civil War to their relatives. 

O’Duffy writes back on June 27th saying that he was opposed as it would facilitate demonstrations. 

See Oct-17-24/1.

 

Ferriter (2021), pg 140

Jun-26-24

Mulcahy introduces, what is essentially, a censure motion in the Dáil.  The motion says that it was contrary to the best interests of the state, and ill-considered of the Executive, to have removed the Army Council. 

The Labour Party abstains and the motion is defeated.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 112

 

 

 

Jul-01 to 04-24/1

The newly appointed chair of the Boundary Commission (Feetham) visits Ireland.  He has meetings with Craig and Cosgrave and visits some border areas.  He later visits Craig (on July 14th) at his country home in Berkshire.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 156

Jul-04-24/1

In a memo written as part of a general British defence review, A. R. Cameron (commander of British forces in Northern Ireland) says that any general defence plan has to regard the “Irish Free State with its armed forces as certainly a possible and really a probable enemy”.  On March 12th 1925, the War Office informed Cameron that it agreed with his analysis.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 148; McMahon (2008), pg 167

Jul-11-24/1

The Irish government, despite objections from the British, register the Anglo-Irish Treaty as an international treaty with the League of Nations in Geneva.

 

Fanning (2013), pg 345

Jul-24-24/1

The Irish Independent reports a declaration by the Irish Court against de Valera and Daithi O’Donoghue stating that they needed to account for the Dáil funds in their possession. 

Soon afterwards, a similar declaration is made against Stephen O’Mara who makes an appeal to the Supreme Court on the basis that the Free State government did not have the authority to appoint new trustees to the Dáil Loan. 

See Dec-17-25/1.

 

O’Sullivan Greene (2020), pgs 174-175

July-30-24/1

In preparation for the ruling of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (see Jul-31-24/1), Macdonald (PM) and Thomas (Colonial Secretary) calls a meeting of party leaders at Westminster. 

Among those invited were Baldwin, Llyod George, Asquith, Birkenhead, Worthington-Evans and Austen Chamberlain.  Thomas tells them that the government intends to introduce a one-clause bill which would allow them to name NI’s Boundary Commissioner. 

They are aware that this bill will be defeated in the House of Lords.  This puts Baldwin in a particularly awkward position as he does not want to precipitate a general election on the issue the “Lords versus the People”.  (He also does not want to open splits in his own party on the Irish question.)

See Aug-01-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 161

July-31-24/1

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council gives its ruling (see Jun-02-24/1). 

According to Phoenix, it rules that majority would rule on the Boundary Commission and that it did not have power to order plebiscites.  Also, according to Phoenix, authorises British Government to appoint a Northern Ireland representative to the Boundary Commission.

However, according to Matthews it rules that British government does have authority to nominate NI representative to Boundary Commission but it would first legislation in Westminster to do so.

See Aug-01-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 304; Matthews (2004), pg 161

Jul-1924/1

De Valera is released from prison.

Ferriter (2021), pg 117

 

 

 

Aug-01-24/1

MacDonald informs British House of Commons that his government intends to introduce a one-clause bill which would allow them to name NI’s Boundary Commissioner on August 6th.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 164

Aug-02-24/1

A meeting is held of MacDonald, Thomas and Henderson (from the British side) with Cosgrave and Kennedy (from the Irish side) and Londonderry and Pollock (from the NI side – Craig was ill). 

Cosgrave is told that, while the Bill would be introduced on August 6th, it would not be passed until the British Parliament reconvened at the end of October.  Cosgrave says that this was two months two long as (along with all the delays so far) there was possibility that the anti-Treaty TDs in Dublin would enter the Dáil as the Treaty was being broken and, along with Labour, declare a Republic.

See Oct-06-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 163

Aug-03-24/1

Writing to Ida Chamberlain, Neville Chamberlain says that he suspected “that Ll. G. [Llyod George] did give Michael Collins reason to think he would get Fermanagh and Tyrone and at the same time allowed Craig to believe that no such transfer would take place”.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 173

Aug-05-24/1

MacDonald writes to Lady Londonderry saying that he believed that Feetham (chair of the Boundary Commission) was of the view that the Commission could only make minor changes to the border.  He went on to cover himself by saying that his information was the product of “mere gossip”.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 155

Aug-06-24/1

Bill to give British government power to nominate NI Boundary Commissioner is given its first reading in the House of Commons.  It is told that Parliament would reconvene on September 30th to complete the bill’s passage.

Later that evening, Baldwin (when speaking to Conservatives in Hemel Hempstead - a London borough), says that a pledge of honour to Ulster Unionists was implicit in the 1920 Government of Ireland Act and it was as binding as any explicit promises made to Irish nationalists in the Treaty.  He went on to say that Conservatives would fight any legislation to “alter the Treaty by changing the character of the Boundary Commission”.

According to Matthews, Baldwin knew that the NI government had got powers and financial support from the British government far beyond envisaged in the 1920 Act.  He also knew that these powers and financial support were probably a violation of the Treaty.  See Aug-17-24/1.

See Sep-30-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 164-165

Aug-11-24/1

After he visited Dublin, a senior official in the British Colonial Office (G. Whiskard) reports on the situation in Ireland.  He says that republicans were weak and many were emigrating and that the Free State government was getting stronger.  He also says that he did not think that “in any circumstances”, the Free State government would declare a republic.

 

McMahon (2008), pg 191

Aug-14-24/1

Nationalist MP for Armagh Nugent is reported (privately) to be of the view that it would be prejudicial to the Catholics of Northern Ireland that their minority status be made more hopeless by the exclusion of Fermanagh and Tyrone and suggesting that the six counties should be left as they are in return for concessions from Craig.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Aug-14-24/1

Writing to a colleague, Herbert Gladstone said that the truth about the Treaty negotiations “is shrouded in the grim vapours of the past” but this did not mean that Llyod George “should be allowed to escape the onus for the deceitful tactics that he had practised with such reckless abandon”.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 173

Aug-15-24/1

De Valera addresses a large rally in Ennis, Co. Clare.

After the rally, a car carrying a group of de Valera supporters is travelling to Tipperary when it meets a Free State army check point near Clarecastle. According to the Army, the car does not stop and they open fire on it killing Michael Harnett from Tipperary Town.

 

Power (2020), pg 144

Aug-16-24/1

Writing in The Weekly Westminster, Cahir Healy emphasised the Collins-Griffith view that Clause 12 was inserted [in the Treaty] in order that the “will of the people” might be the determining factor in any arrangement arrived at.  There was to be no coercion of Ulster, and, equally it was recognised that if Ulster claimed the privilege of non-coercion of herself as a whole, she could not at the same time seek to hold against their will the large nationalist minority, who constituted majorities in her border counties.   This was part of the on-going debate on the scope of Article 12.   

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 305

Aug-17-24/1

In an attempt to persuade the NI Unionists to nominate their representative to the Boundary Commission, Baldwin makes a ‘secret visit’ to Belfast and spends the day in discussions with Craig and his colleagues. 

Craig wants his Conservative allies to fight the British government’s bill which would allow the Labour government to nominate NI’s member to the Boundary Commission.  However, Baldwin points out that the Lords will defeat the bill unless there is public support from the NI Unionists and this would allow the government to go to the country on a “Lords versus the People” platform.  Craig would not give this public support but see Aug-18-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 167

Aug-18-24/1

On the day after meeting Baldwin, Craig writes to Carson saying that, perhaps, the time had come to confront the boundary problem “to face the music and have done with it”.  He was certain that Labour would nominate a “safe person” to represent NI on the Boundary Commission who, along with Feetham, could be trusted to override the Free State’s representative.

However, Craig still made no public announcement and went off for a three-week cruise around the Baltic.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 168

Aug-19-24/1

Lionel Curtis writes to Churchill saying that Feetham (who he knew from South Africa) was selected as chair of the Boundary Commission because he was a man of “conservative temperament” who could be counted on to reject any “preposterous and extravagant claims” being made by Dublin. He assured Churchill that Feetham was exactly the type of chairman he (Churchill) had contemplated.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 155

Aug-25-24/1

The Morning Post reports de Valera as saying at a public meeting that, if he had been responsible for negotiating the Treaty “he would never have signed until the boundary question was settled”.  However, this was in contradiction to what he had said earlier.  For example, see Dec-15-21/1.

The probable reason for de Valera saying what he did is that, unlike the two other UK general elections in 1922 and 1923 (when he had called on his supporters in Northern Ireland to abstain), he had decided to run Sinn Féin candidates in a number of constituencies in NI in the forthcoming UK general election. 

See Oct-29-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 193

 

 

 

Sep-08-24/1

Balfour publishes a letter sent to him on March 3rd 1922 by Birkenhead (which was marked secret) regarding the interpretation of Article 12 of the Treaty.  The letter argued in favour of a limited interpretation i.e. that the clause only implied limited changes to the borders of Northern Ireland (‘rectification’) as opposed to the view of Collins that large transfers of territories were implied. 

Birkenhead said that “The real truth is that Collins … in a moment of excitement committed himself unguardedly to this doctrine and that it has no foundation whatever except in his overheated imagination.”  Full text of letter is given in Matthews (2004), pgs 288-290.

The Daily News called the letter “conclusive and irrefutable” proof that there had never been any intention to dismember NI. The Daily Express said that it was “unthinkable” for the Boundary Commission to interpret Article 12 broadly.

Because he wanted to curry favour with the Conservatives, Churchill was behind the publication of the letter (he had left the Liberals and was now looking for a safe Conservative seat).  He was hoping that publication of the letter would show that he was ‘sound on Ulster’.  In fact, he had sent the letter to Craig on August 19th in the hope of convincing Craig that he had nothing to fear from the Boundary Commission and that he should appoint a NI representative to the Boundary Commission (thus rendering the Labour government’s bill unnecessary).  Matthews says that Churchill was delighted with the press reaction to the publication of Birkenhead’s letter but it still does not persuade the Ulster Unionists to nominate anyone to Boundary Commission.

More importantly, as Matthews demonstrates, in a series of letters from Birkenhead to Churchill and others, Birkenhead undermined quite a lot of what he wrote in the published letter.  For example, in a letter on August 20th to Churchill, Birkenhead said that in the original draft of his letter he had qualified what he had written about Collins in his letter (see above) “by a phrase which substantially ran ‘honest if hot-headed” and Birkenhead continued “I cannot understand their omission from the letter as sent”.  Furthermore, in a letter to Austen Chamberlain on August 22nd, Birkenhead said that “we agreed upon a reference to the Commission which many of us knew to be disputable but which we were certain could only be decided in one way”.

Commenting on these letters, Matthews says “Birkenhead admits that the Irish Treaty delegates were led to believe that the Boundary Commission would substantially reduce Northern Ireland’s territory”.  Matthews goes on to say that “the letter to Chamberlain provides damning evidence that to substantiate the charge that the Irish negotiators were deceived when they were told that the Boundary Commission would ensure Ireland’s ‘essential unity’ – Arthur Griffith’s price for accepting Dominion status. … [Birkenhead’s] letter to Chamberlain substantiates the conclusion reached by John Campbell that the Irish were indeed ‘cheated’ when they signed the Treaty”.  (Campbell was a biographer of Birkenhead.)

Churchill subsequently wrote to Birkenhead “I hope that you will not show the letter that you have written to Austen [Chamberlain] to anyone else, or allow him to show it to anyone else”.

See Sep-10-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 306-307; Matthews (2004), pgs 169-175

Sep-10-24/1

Speaking to an audience in Wales, Llyod George endorsed the Birkenhead letter to Balfour saying “I stand by the letter and all it contains”. 

However, he went on to say that the Boundary Commission was meant to arrange the fairest boundary possible between the Free State and NI and it would “hand over to the Southern States [sic] the Catholic parishes which were anxious to join them, but which would, on the other hand, transfer to the North those Protestant parishes which are now in the Free State”.  Matthews points out that “an award based on the wishes of the population in parishes … would mean that large portions of Counties Tyrone, Fermanagh and Armagh would go the Free State as well as Derry City, Strabane and Newry”.

Llyod George went on to dispose of the argument that the economic and geographical qualifications in Article 12 of the Treaty were intended as equal counter-weights to the wishes of the inhabitants.  (The argument that the economic and geographical qualifications were to be given equal weight to the wishes of the inhabitants had been put forward by Lionel Curtis – see Nov-15-23/1.) 

See Sep-12-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 175-176

Sep-Mid-24/1

In private, Feetham raises with the Colonial Office the idea of legislation to permit a plebiscite to be taken but this is refused by the Colonial Office.  See Dec-05-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 307

Sep-12-24/1

Returning from his cruise in the Baltic, Craig says that the publication of the Birkenhead letter to Balfour make no difference whatsoever to his view of the Boundary Commission and continues to refuse to nominate a NI representative to the Committee. 

This crushes the hopes of Baldwin, Churchill and other Tories who hoped that they could avoid a vote on the Labour Government’s Bill in the British Parliament. 

See Sep-14-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 176-177

Sept-14-24/1

Speaking in Cork, de Valera quotes extensively from letters which Griffith had written to him during the Treaty negotiations which show that the only reason that the Irish delegates accepted the Boundary Commission was because they believed that it would give them large areas of NI.  These revelations would seem to have put an end to any hope of Craig nominating a NI representative to the Boundary Commission.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 177-178

 

 

 

Sept-30 to Oct-02-24/1

The British House of Commons reconvenes on September 30th to take the second stage of the Labour Government’s bill to give it the power to nominate a NI Boundary Commissioner.

In his introduction MacDonald said “I cannot say that I rise with any pleasure to move the Second Reading of this Bill” but went on “We are bound to make Article 12 [of the Treaty] work”.  Baldwin says that the Conservatives would not oppose the second reading but would propose an amendment at the committee stage that would make clear that the Commission would only “deal with the rectification of the border”. 

Herbert Asquith tells the British House of Commons that the British people faced exactly the same problem that had brought them to the brink of civil war in 1914.  He said that the Irish dispute “centred, as it centres now, mainly or exclusively upon the position of the two counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh”.

Austen Chamberlain claims that the boundary issue had been left to the Commission “under a form of words which was deliberately adopted to exclude a dismemberment of Northern Ireland as would be created by cutting out whole counties or large slices of counties”.

When one pro-Unionist MP said if an award was made by the Commission on the bases on the basis of the wishes of the inhabitants then the whole of counties Fermanagh and Tyrone and a large portion of Co. Down would be ceded to the Free State, T. P. O’Connor (the veteran Irish Nationalist MP elected from a Liverpool constituency) said “Am I at this date to defend the principle that men must be free to choose their own government?”  (The answer to O’Connor’s question was obviously Yes.)

 

Later in the debate on the Bill, Worthington-Evans seemed to admit that the British negotiators were devious or, at least, evasive when negotiating the Treaty with the Irish negotiators when he said “[I]t is not always possible in the middle of negotiations to say fully and entirely what you would like to say   … sometimes it is discreet to be silent”.

 

At the committee stage, the Conservatives put forward one amendment which would have limited the work of the Boundary Commission to not “substantially altering the area of Northern Ireland as fixed by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920”.  This was defeated by 50 votes. 

The third reading was taken on October 2nd and the bill passed by 251 votes to 99.  During the third reading, Chamberlain appealed to the Labour government to appoint to the Boundary Commission “a man as Ulster itself might have chosen had it been willing to do so”. 

See Oct-08-24/2.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 5 & 185-188; Phoenix (1994), pg 307

Oct-08-24/1

The Executive Council of the Free State decide that a demand should be made that a plebiscite be carried out in all Poor Law unions in NI which showed a Catholic majority in 1911. 

See Dec-01-24/2.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 307

Oct-08-24/2

The Labour Government’s bill to give it the power to nominate NI Boundary Commissioner to the Boundary Commission is considered by the British House of Lords. 

The Conservatives did not want to fight the imminent general election on the issue of the ‘Lords versus the people’ so it falls to arch-Unionist Lord Salisbury to extricate the Conservative Party from the corner into which they painted themselves. 

Against his own Die-Hard instincts, he said that to link the Irish dispute with a debate on the powers of the House of Lords was simply foolish.  As an alternative, Salisbury introduced a non-binding resolution which would say that the Boundary Commission was created only to facilitate “a readjustment of the boundaries” of Northern Ireland.  Even Carson and Lord Londonderry accepted the bill (albeit grudgingly).  The House of Lords pass the bill and it passes onto the Statue Book at 6pm just hours before Parliament’s dissolution.

See Oct-23-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 189-191

Oct-08-24/2

MacDonald’s minority Labour government falls at Westminster. 

There was a Liberal motion condemning recent treaties with the Soviet Union.  There was also a Conservative motion censuring the government’s handling of a case brought against the editor of a left-wing paper.  MacDonald said that he would consider a vote for either motion as a vote of no confidence. The Liberals table an amendment to the Tory motion which is accepted by the Conservatives and is passed by the House of Commons. 

MacDonald goes to King George V and asked him to dissolve parliament and call the third general election in two years. 

See Oct-29-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Oct-11-24/1

De Valera announces that abstentionist Republican candidates would be run in all NI constituencies.  See Oct-29-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Oct-15-24/1

In the Dáil, the Labour Leader, Thomas Johnson, says that the weakness of the Cosgrave government was that it “tended to interpret the Treaty not in the manner that it was promised in the Dáil debates of 1921 and 1922, but … in the manner desired by the British signatories rather than the Irish signatories”.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 249

Oct-16

A convention in Omagh calls on all pro-Treaty nationalists in NI to abstain from voting the forthcoming Westminster elections and demanded a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the inhabitants on the border.  At the subsequent elections, no nationalists are returned.

See Oct-29-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 309

Oct-17-24/1

Irish Government announces that the bodies of those executed during the Civil War would be released from where they were buried within the barracks and jails in which they were shot. 

General release starts on October 28th.  No firing parties were to be allowed at the funerals.  81 bodies were eventually returned to their relatives.

Generally, the re-burials pass off peacefully but see Oct-30-24/1.

 

Hall (2019), pg 127; Ferriter (2021), pgs 140-141

Oct-23

After the passing of the enabling legislation in Westminster in early October, the British Government appointed Joseph R Fisher to be the Northern Ireland representative on the Boundary Commission.  Fisher was a former editor of the Northern Whig 

Even though Craig had refused to nominate a NI representative to the Boundary Commission in public, it would seem that he was allowed to nominate a representative in private. 

Also, even though Fisher agreed (along with his two colleagues on the Commission) to a strict code of secrecy, Fisher kept Craig well informed via Ulster Unionist MP, David Reid.

The Commission (comprising Feetham, MacNeill and Fisher) meets in early November and sets up offices in the Strand in London at 6 Clement’s Inn.

See Dec-05-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308; Matthews (2004), pgs 205-206; Phoenix (1994), pg ?

Oct-25-24/1

De Valera is arrested in Derry City and imprisoned for one month for breaching an exclusion order.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 309.

Oct-29-24/1

In the general election in the UK, Conservatives win a landslide majority.  They win 413 seats; Labour is reduced from 191 to 151 seats while the Liberals went from 159 seats to only 40 seats.  

In Northern Ireland, most nationalists boycotted the polls thus handing the two seats in the constituency of Fermanagh-Tyrone (which had been taken by nationalist candidates in the UK general elections of 1922 and 1923) to the Unionists.  These victories were uses by the Unionists as proof of the homogeneity of ‘Ulster’.

Baldwin takes over as British Prime Minister with Austen Chamberlain as Foreign Secretary; William Joynson-Hicks as Home Secretary; Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer; Leo Amery as Secretary of State for the Colonies and Birkenhead takes over the India Office.

The Zinoviev Letter

A key component in the Tory victory was the leaking of a forged letter to the Daily Mail which was supposed to have been written by Grigori Zinoveiv who was President of the Executive Committee of Comintern (the association of communist parties led by the Soviets). In the forged letter, Zinoviev is supposed to have to ordered the Communist Party of Great Britian (CPGB) to engage in seditious activities. The letter claimed that the assumption of UK diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union under a Labour government would radicalise the British working class. The right-wing press depicted the letter as a grave foreign interference in and subversion of British politics, and blamed the Labour Party. 

This letter was planted by members of the British intelligence community.  McMahon comments “Just as they collaborated to undermine politicians they regarded as ‘soft on Bolshevism’ it was natural that intelligence officers, Conservative power-brokers and newspaper proprietors – part of an interconnected élite – would work together to undermine the Free State”.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 194-195 & 202; Fanning (2013), pg 345

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct-30-24/1

At the burial in St. Patrick’s cemetery of six anti-Treaty men from Co. Louth executed in the Civil War, shooting breaks out when a number of men fire volleys over the graves and the military try to arrest them.  A Dundalk man, Joseph Hughes, is shot and dies shortly afterwards. 

 

Hall (2019), pgs 127-128; Ferriter (2021), pg 141

Oct-30-24/2 

The remains of two anti-Treaty volunteers Daniel Enright and Timothy O’Sullivan, who had been executed at Drumboe, Co. Donegal on March 14th 1922, are re-interred in their native town of Listowel in Co. Kerry. 

 

Horgan (2018), pgs 133-134

Oct-30-24/3

Addressing the Irish Society in Oxford University, Kevin O’Higgins removes the 1916 Rising from the formation of Irish Free State and instead attributed the legitimacy of the Free State to the 1918 General Election.  (Regan claims that this approach became the adopted strategy of Irish Governments after the outbreak of the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1968.)

This could also be the date when (according to Ferriter) addressing the Oxford Union, O’Higgins asked them to “remember what a weird composite of idealism, neurosis, megalomania and criminality is apt to be thrown to the surface in even the best regulated revolution”. (Ferriter does not give a date – just says that it was in 1924.)

 

Regan (2013), pgs 75-76;  Ferriter (2021), pg 13

Nov-04-24/1

The Executive Council of the Free State government declares an amnesty by discontinuing criminal proceedings for crimes committed during the Civil War.

Kissane comments “This marked the real end of the Irish civil war”.

 

Kissane (2005), pgs 96 & 167

Nov-08-24/1

Craig writes to Churchill (in his new role as Chancellor of the Exchequer) saying that there were three issues outstanding issues between the NI and UK governments that he wishes to discuss.  They were (1) funding of the USC; (2) amalgamation of the British and NI unemployment insurance funds and (3) NI’s imperial contribution.

Churchill replies that the success of the new Baldwin government depended on sound finance but he went on to say that “I shall support you in essentials”. 

See Nov-14 to 15-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 203

Nov-10-24/1

The NI cabinet decides on a public policy of non-cooperation with the Boundary Commission so that, if the Commission delivered findings it did not like, it could say that it was not bound by the Commission’s findings.  However, in practice, they were kept informed of the Commission’s deliberations via Fisher and the Ulster Unionist Council.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 209-210

Nov-14 to 15-24/1

In memos to Churchill, Otto Niemeyer, the controller of finance in the UK’s Treasury, says that Craig’s demand for an additional Ł1m to fund the USC would, if granted, entail breaking the Treaty as the NI government was supposed (under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act) to fund its own security forces.  He also points out that if Craig’s government rejected the Boundary Commission’s findings, it is likely that they would use the British-funded USC to prevent implementation of the Commission’s findings which would be a “very awkward” situation.

However, Churchill wrote back saying that “Nothing in the Treaty gives the Free State any right to complain if any measure wh. [which] we may choose to take for maintaining the peace and security of Northern Ireland”.  See Nov-19-24/1.

Churchill did resist bailing out NI’s unemployment insurance fund arguing that NI’s reduced imperial contribution (see Dec-01-24/1) made any additional aid to NI unnecessary.

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 202-203

Nov-19-24/1 

 At the second meeting of the new British cabinet, Churchill receives approval to grant the NI government Ł1m (presumably for 1924-1925) to fund the USC (and is also authorised to advance an additional Ł250,000 at his own discretion).

Churchill is also made the ‘medium of communication’ with Craig on all financial matters.  (By October 1925, Churchill had promised NI another Ł500,000 for the USC.)

 

Matthews (2004), pg 204 & 225

Nov-1924/1

Peter Hughes, TD for Dundalk, is made Minister of Defence in the Free State government.  He has no military background.

Ferriter (2021), pg 170

 

 

 

cDec-01-24/1

The Northern Ireland Special Arbitration (Colwyn) Committee issues its second and final report.  See Nov-21 to 22-22/1.

In its first report, it reduced NI’s contribution to the Imperial Exchequer from Ł6.7m in 1921-1922 to Ł5m in 1923-1924.  NI’s contribution was to decrease further and, by 1931, it was Ł0.5m (and this was off-set by a grant to Stormont of Ł0.5m and, Matthews says “With it, the imperial contribution disappeared”). 

 

Matthews (2004), pgs 102-104

Dec-01-24/2

Executive Council of Irish Free State decides to push for a plebiscite in border areas based on the Poor Law Unions. 

See Dec-05-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 310

Dec-05-24/1

At a meeting in London with the Free State counsel, Feetham ruled out any alteration to the NI border that would lead it not to viable as a unit and also argued that the Anglo-Irish Treaty gave the Commission no powers to take a plebiscite saying “If the Article did intend that, it stopped very far short of what was really necessary”. 

See Dec-22-24/1.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 311

Dec-09-24/1

The members of the Boundary Commission start a tour of the border area beginning in Armagh. This tour was billed as a preliminary excursion to allow the Commission members to acquaint themselves with the border region.

See Dec-22-24/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 200

Dec-17-24/1

Sir John Anderson, writing to a colleague in the British Ministry of Labour, pointed out that amalgamation of the British and NI unemployment insurance would be an admission that the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was “unworkable”.

See Mar-11-25/1.

 

Matthews (2004), pg 213

Dec-22-24/1

The members of the Boundary Commission finish their tour of the border area.  They had gone to Armagh, Newry, Fermanagh and Derry meeting various delegations on the way (but some refused to meet them). 

In Derry, Feetham announces that the Commission had no power to call a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants.  Despite this being the policy of the Free State government (see Oct-08-24/1 and Dec-01-24/1) MacNeill does not protest against Feetham’s statement.

The Commission requested written submissions by January.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 311; Matthews (2004), pg 207

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