Oireachtas of The Irish Free State - History


The earliest parliament in Ireland was the Parliament of Ireland, which was founded in the thirteenth century as the supreme legislative body of the lordship of Ireland and was in existence until 1801. This parliament governed the English-dominated part of Ireland, which at first was limited to Dublin and surrounding cities, but later grew to include the entire island. But the Parliament of Ireland was, from the passage of Poynings' Law (1494) until its repeal in 1782, subordinate to the Parliament of England, and later Parliament of Great Britain. This Parliament consisted of the King of Ireland, who was the same person as the King of England, a House of the Lords and a House of Commons. Under the Act of Union 1800 the separate Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain were merged on 1 January 1801, to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Throughout the 19th century Irish opposition to the Union was strong, occasionally erupting in violent insurrection.

The next legislature to exist in Ireland only came into being in 1919. This was an extra-legal, unicameral parliament established by Irish republicans, known simply as Dáil Éireann and thus existed outside of British law. The Dáil was notionally a legislature for the whole island of Ireland. The First Dáil and the Second Dáil did not therefore have any recognised legal authority outside of Ireland. The Third Dáil was elected under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty as a constituent assembly to approve the Constitution of the Irish Free State and pave the way for the creation of the new state. Once the Constitution of the Irish Free State was in effect the Third Dáil served as the lower house of a the Oireachtas. Under the terms of the constitution, however, the Third Dáil merely carried out the functions of the Dáil during this period until a new chamber could be elected. The first Dáil of the Irish Free State was therefore officially the Fourth Dáil, which was elected in 1923.

In 1920, in parallel to the extra-legal Dáil, the British Government created the Parliament of Southern Ireland (Irish: Pairlimint Deiscirt na hÉireann), a Home Rule legislature during the Irish War of Independence under the Fourth Home Rule Bill. It was designed to legislate for Southern Ireland, a political entity which was created by the British Government to solve the issue of rising Irish nationalism and the issue of partitionism, whilst retaining Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. It was made up of the King, the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and the Senate of Southern Ireland. The Parliament of Southern Ireland was formally abolished in 1922 by the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act 1922, as per the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was the basis of the Constitution of the Irish Free State which establishmed the Oireachtas.

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