Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The First Dail In 1919

Republic of Ireland - The First Dail


The First Dail
GPO Dublin - Scene of The Easter Rising in 1916
This article is about the creation of the first Dail in 1919. Eamon de Valera escaped from gaol in Lincoln, England in 1919 and on returning to Ireland was elected the first President of the new Dail Eireann.

He, along with the ministers he had appointed claimed full authority as the Irish government and over the next few months, the people of Ireland appeared to agree and be subject to its authority.


First Session of the Dail

The very first session of Dail Eireann took place in Mansion House, Dublin on 21st January 1919.  The Unionists and the surviving Home Rulers refused to participate, and as a result the only people there were from the Sinn Fein party.

Even then many of them were still in prison so in truth only around 27% of the Sinn Fein elected members were there.  It was indeed a very strange first government.  Cathal Brugha acted as the provisional President and in a meeting that lasted only two hours, the provisional constitution, a declaration of independence, a message to the free nations of the world, a socio-economic policy known as the Democratic Programme were read aloud and accepted.

This adoption of the provisional constitution in essence created Ireland as a 26 county state, the remaining six counties in the North being excluded.  The first Dail did set up some working policies based primarily on the British systems they had grown accustomed to.  The Dail formally ratified the Republic to the post war peace conference in Paris.  The Irish had hoped they would secure recognition from the European powers at this conference.