Oireachtas of The Irish Free State - Role of The Monarchy

Role of The Monarchy

The King was the same individual who held the position of King of the United Kingdom. Until 1927 he reigned in the Irish Free State as "King in Ireland". However from 1927 onwards he technically reigned in Free State on a separate throne as "King of Ireland". The Oireachtas was dissolved by the King acting on the 'advice' of the Executive Council. Members of either house had to take an oath of fidelity to the King known as the "Oath of Allegiance" before taking their seats. The King was the third compenent and constitute part of the Oireachtas in the same manner as in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The King was represented in the Irish Free State by the Governor-General of the Irish Free State (Irish: Seanascal) who was the viceregal representative of the Monarch and carried out the duties and roles officially assigned to the monarch.

The 'Governor-General's Address' or 'Governor-General's Speech' was a formal address delivered by the Governor-General to Dáil Éireann, modelled on the speech from the throne given in other Dominions of the British Commonwealth. The address was a brief, businesslike event, lacking the pomp and ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament reflecting the general lack of enthusiasm for the Monarchy in the Irish Free State. It was written by the Executive Council and outlined the bills it intended to introduce. Technically the address was only to the Dáil, not to a joint session of both Houses of the Oireachtas. However, members of Seanad Éireann were invited into the Dáil chamber to attend the address, and subsequently discussed it after returning to their own chamber. Only the first two sessions of the Free State Oireachtas, in 1922 and 1923, had such an address.

The Governor-General was also the official who granted Royal Assent to Bills. A Bill, having duly passed or having been deemed to pass, in the Dáil and the Seanad, would be presented to the Governor-General by the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. Unlike in the United Kingdom, no parliamentary ceremony was invoked to confirm that the Royal Assent had been given. Its details would instead be published in Iris Oifigiúil.

The process of Royal Assent was abolished by the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act 1936. The Act was the last to receive Royal Assent. The new Act instead required that the Ceann Comhairle sign bills into law. Under the new 1937 Constitution of Ireland, which came into force almost exactly one year later, the role of signing bills into law was given to the President of Ireland. This in particular is one of the reasons why there is some confusion in who was the Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949.

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