Saturday, December 22, 2018

'The Ulster Month' in 1922: When Ireland opted to 'Leave' but Northern Ireland opted to 'Remain'

The present day has echoes of nearly 100 years ago. Here’s a repost of this from September 2014. Ireland had opted to “Leave" the UK and set up the Irish Free State. But the Northern Parliament was given a month to decide what to do. it decided - by a vote of 40 for and 12 against - to ‘Remain’ in the UK:


Few people appreciate that Northern Ireland also seceded, from the Irish Free State, which had been effectively formed by a Treaty on 6 December 1921. A year later it had been adopted. During the following four weeks of 1922 - known as 'The Ulster Month' - provision was allowed for the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland to opt out of the new state. The inevitable happened - an address was presented to the King the next day which said:

"... MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland ..."

The King's response on 8th December 1922 was:

"... I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed ...'.

The vote in the Northern Ireland Houses of Parliament had been 40 for secession to 12 against.


Political historians will know far more about this period than me. I think this story deserves to be better known. And there are a whole series of “what if” scenarios to speculate about… perhaps if more flexible solutions had been offered, or found, the 20th century might have worked out differently.


Ulster Month 2

Ulster Month