1925

Please Note:  1924 and 1925 do not attempt 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 when trying to construct the new state.  Rather they follow two major 'left-over' issues (i.e. the Army Mutiny of 1924 and the Boundary Commission).

Mar

The Boundary Commission conducts formal hearings throughout NI, particularly along the border.  They hear from many local people. Meetings were held in Rostrevor, Warrenpoint, Armagh, Newcastle and Newry.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 316

Early-Mar

Craig announces election to NI parliament to be held on 3rd April.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 317

Mar-21

27 delegates attend nationalist convention in the Grand Metropolitan Hotel in Belfast.  Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin led by Healy, Donnelly and Michael Lynch while nationalists led by Devlin, O’Neill, Leeke, Harbison and Nugent.  McCartan attended on behalf of the Free State government.  They decided to maintain 1921 pact with each side putting forward six candidates.  Eventually 11 candidates were put forward as the nationalists decided not to contest Down (as they did not want to highlight unionist majority in the county).  On the contentious issue of abstention, it was decided that Devlin and his colleagues from Co. Antrim could take their seats as soon as the Boundary Commission had reported and that other constituencies were free to decide at local conventions.  Separately, Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin put forward six candidates (including De Valera in Down).

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 318-319

 

 

 

Apr-03

The election to the 52 seats in the NI parliament results in 32 Unionists; 10 nationalists (Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin and old nationalists); 3 NILP; 4 Independent Unionists; 2 Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin and 1 UTA (Unbought Tenants’ Association).  This represented a reduction in Craig’s overall majority of 12 seats.  Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin and old nationalists got 91,452 votes as compared to 20,615 for the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin candidates.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 320-321 and Walker (1992), pgs 47-48

Apr-22

From 22nd April until 6th May, the Boundary Commission held meetings in Fermanagh and Tyrone.  

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 322

 

 

 

May

During May and early June, the Boundary Commission held meetings in Derry and then moved onto Omagh and held meetings until early July.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 322-323

 

 

 

Jul-22

In a confidential memo to the Minister of Defense, the new Chief of Staff of the Free State army, Gen Peadar MacMahon, warned that there was the possibility of armed resistance from loyalists to any transfer of territory to the Free State by the Boundary Commission. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 326

 

 

 

Oct-17

Agreement reached by Boundary Commission in private on the changes to the border.  ‘Rectification’ won out.  180,000 acres were to be moved to Free State (mostly in South Armagh) and 50,000 were to be moved to Northern Ireland (mostly in East Donegal).  Balance of population movement was 31,000 to Free State and 7,500 to NI. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 328

 

 

 

Nov-07

The Morning Post publishes a leak of the Boundary Commission proposals with an accompanying map.  It causes dismay among border nationalists and Free State supporters (particularly in East Donegal).

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 329

Nov-10

Following a letter from Cahir Healy to Kevin O’Higgins on the 9th November which asked if (a) MacNeill was going to submit the proposed new boundary to Executive Council for approval; (b) would the Executive Council endorse any boundary that did not transfer ‘substantial areas’ to the Free State and (c) would border nationalists be consulted before any final decision was arrived at.  The Executive Council decided that the signing of the report was a ‘matter for Dr MacNeill’s sole discretion’ and accordingly it did not require to be informed of the proposals beforehand.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 329

Nov-11

Cosgrave says in the DáilSo far as territory now within the jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann is concerned, the contention of the Executive Council is that the provisions of Article 12 of the Treaty cannot be construed as empowering the Commission to transfer to Northern Ireland any of that territory, and representations, oral and written, have been made to that effect to the Commission. I am aware that a large volume of evidence as to the wishes of the inhabitants in the border areas has been placed before the Commission”

 

Dáil Debates Vol 13 (11th Nov 1925), col. 113-114;

Nov-19

Dáil passes motion approving the Executive Council’s representations made to the Boundary Commission that Article 12 of the Treaty cannot be construed as empowering the Commission to transfer to Northern Ireland any of the territory currently in the Free State.

 

Dáil Debates Vol 13 (19th Nov 1925), col. 609-641

Nov-19

Cosgrave received nationalist Tyrone delegation who expressed concerns about the border changes being leaked from the Boundary Commission.  They stress that there should be no report from the Boundary Commission rather than a bad report.  “If a bad report, NacNeill should not sign.  This view is generally held.”  Similar views expressed by delegations from Strabane and Keady. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 329

Nov-20

MacNeill resigns from the Boundary Commission. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 330

Nov-24

In a speech to the Dail, MacNeill says “There was at no time any debate between the members of the Commission as to the principles of interpretation … The details came before us in a very gradual and a very piecemeal manner and it may be contended that I was at fault, that I was remiss, that I failed to appreciate the circumstances, failed to see what I might be ultimately up against, when I did not demand, require and challenge, at the earliest convenient stage, a discussion of the general principles of interpretation and a decision upon those principles.  That may be so. I think it is probably true that a better politician and a better diplomatist, if you like, a better strategist, than I am would not have allowed himself to be brought into that position or difficulty. We worked on in that way without decision until a complete boundary line had been presented to us, and after that we entered on the consideration of how and in what form an award ought to be issued and communicated. That is to say, a draft award was actually in existence. I cannot, from my recollection, give the date, but I think the date mentioned in the statement of Messrs. Feetham and Fisher, the 17th October, is probably the date. After that time we were engaged in discussing details with regard to the issue and publication of the award. In the time that intervened I did come to the conclusion that when those parts of the award were put together and regarded as a whole, that is, as an award, it would not be possible for me to defend them, that they would be indefensible as a right interpretation of the Treaty, that they would be indefensible as giving effect to that franchise which was denied in the case of the Act of 1920, that they would be indefensible as not being consistent, one part of the award with another. I did not come to that conclusion rapidly or suddenly or without reluctance. I did desire, if it were possible, that we should have an award which all three Commissioners could sign, and it was not until it was clear to me that that was not going to be possible and that there was no likelihood of its possibility, that I decided to withdraw from the Commission.”   MacNeill also resigns as Minister of Education. 

 

Dáil Debates Vol 13 (24th Nov 1925), col. 802-803

Nov-25

Cosgrave opens direct consultations with British Prime Minister Balwin in an effort to suppress the Feetham-Fisher report.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 330

Nov-26

A week of intensive negotiations between the British, Free State and NI governments started.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 330

Nov-29

At the three government discussions, O’Higgins says that his government might be able to accept no change to the border if they could point to substantial improvement in the position of nationalists in NI.  In particular, he points to the existence of 45,000 Specials and to the abolition of PR.  Craig was obdurate on concessions to the minority.  However, he intimated that in return for dissolution of the Council of Ireland that he would give on two minor points (a) give a verbal assurance on the reduction of the Specials and (b) allow the British Prime Minister to settle the question of the release of prisoners.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 331

Dec-01

O’Higgins’ suggestion to Craig that PR should be restored was not supported by Cosgrave who endorsed Craig’s objections to the system.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 332

Dec-03

Tripartite Agreement signed by the British, Free State and NI governments.  Essence of this agreement is (a) the Boundary Commission’s report is to be suppressed; (b) boundary between Free State and NI was to remain unchanged; (c) Free State to be released from Article 5 of Treaty which had left it liable for a share of the British public debt; (d) powers of the Council of Ireland were to be transferred to the NI government and (e) the two Irish governments were to “meet together, as and when necessary, for the purpose of considering matters of common interest”.  (Last clause was never invoked and Cosgrave and Craig were never to meet again.)

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 332

Dec-04

The Irish News remarked that “Money decided the great Boundary Question at last” and exhorted nationalists to organise themselves to recover their civil rights.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 334

Dec-07

After meeting in Omagh, a number of leading pro-Treaty figures in west Ulster (including Healy and Lynch) issued a statement declaring that border majorities had been “callously betrayed”.  Several other border leaders, including Harbison, held an ‘Anti-Pact’ meeting in Dublin presided over by de Valera. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 333

Dec-09

The Tripartite Agreement is unanimously approved by the NI parliament.  Craig announced the disbandment of the ‘A’ Specials and that the British government would review the cases of political prisoners.  He would not assure McAllister (a nationalist MP) that PR would be retained for parliamentary elections and asserted that the minority had no real grievances.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 334

Dec-10

After four days of debate, the Tripartite Agreement is passed by the Dáil by 71 votes to 20.  Winding up the debate, Cosgrave urged northern nationalists to attend the NI parliament and said “if they make their case and if they do not receive justice, then it is time enough for [the Dáil opposition] to say to me that there has been no success in this, that there was no good feeling and good-will [between the two countries]. But until that time comes, every good Irishman who loves this country, every man who wishes to see this country placed on a sound foundation, everyone who looks to the nation instead of to the individual or party, must, if he is an honest man, support this [Agreement] as the best thing that could be done under the circumstances.”  Cosgrave was later to describe the Tripartite Agreement as a “damned good bargain”. 

 

Dáil Debates Vol 13 (10th Nov 1925), col. 1768

Dec-12

The editor of the pro-Treaty Ulster Herald declared that the desertion of the border nationalists by the Free State government would be “classed … as one of the blackest chapters in Irish history”.  In a letter to the editor of the Irish Statesman just over a year later (on the 18th December 1926), Cahir Healy said “The Free State leaders told us that our anchor was article 12; when the time of trial came, they cut our cable and launched us, rudderless, into the hurricane, without guarantee or security, even for our ordinary civil rights.”

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 333

 

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