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Cumann na nGaedhael Government

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1 Cumann na nGaedhael Government

2 The Institutions of the Irish Free State.
Born in a civil war at a time when democracy was under threat in Europe. Building on the British Model Why? Most politicians, lawyers and civil servants trained that way. Britain a success so why change?.


4 The Free State Constitution
A dominion of the Commonwealth All TDs had to swear an oath to the king, who was head of state Dail and Seanad (selected by Dail and President) PR President of the Executive Council (PM) Oireachtas could change Constitution without referendum.

5 Civil Service British model
Civil Service Commission set exams that reduced favouritism and bribery. 98% decided to stay. This provided experience and stability but made change difficult.

6 Courts Local government British model, new names.
District, Circuit, Court of Criminal Appeal, High and Supreme courts. Local government Little change. Selected and funded by ratepayers. Looked after roads, sewerage, water and housing. Cosgrave’s government tried to stamp out corruption. Local authorities took over the Poor Law unions and the workhouses became County Homes for the elderly and orphans but conditions did not improve.

7 The Development of Democratic Parties
Could Democracy work? The opposing sides in the civil war determined our main political parties. Anti-treaty IRA had gone to war against the legally elected government. Anti-democratic. The Free State government had not obeyed the law either. 1923 Election. Cumann na nGaedhael was set up and led by Cosgrave and O Higgins. Sinn Fein did better than expected but adopted the abstentionist policy. No opposition not good for democracy.

8 Cumann na nGaedhael Cosgrave was quiet and conservative. No charisma and too honest. His aims were stability, to set up the institutions of state and to prove the Irish could run themselves. Kevin O Higgins was Minister for Home Affairs (Justice). He was hated by the IRA as he had signed the death warrants. Richard Mulcahy Defence. Eoin MacNeill Education. Desmond Fitzgerald External Affairs. Ernest Blythe (Ulster Presbyterian) Finance.

9 The Labour Party Small and weak because: Few industrial workers
Success in local elections Church suspicious of socialsm. Internal quarrels ‘godless communism’.

10 1922 to 1927 Moving Towards Democracy
Two major crises

11 1: The ‘Army Mutiny’ Some of the army were unhappy because:
They were being reduced by 75%. Trained ex-British soldiers being kept on. They wanted more progress towards a republic March 1924 Liam Tobin Emmet Dalton and their newly formed ‘Old IRA’ sent an ultimatum to Cosgrave demanding the above and the dismissal of Mulcahy.

12 The ‘Army Mutiny’ O Higgins put the Garda Commissioner Eoin O Duffy in charge of the army over the head of Mulcahy and the ‘mutineers’ were assured they would not be victimised. A senior army officer working for Mulcahy arrested the leaders in a Dublin pub. Mulcahy resigned before he was sacked. Joe McGrath (industry and commerce) and 8 TDs resigned in sympathy. Results: Army put under control Cumann na nGaedhael weakened.

13 2. The Boundary Commission
To be set up under the Treaty but delayed until 1925. MacNeill, Fisher and Justice Feetham. Report leaked to papers. Some of Donegal was to go to the north and only a small part of Armagh to go South. Outrage on both sides of the border. MacNeill resigned. The border was to remain the way it was. Seen as a loss for the Free State but they got away with it because the opposition was abstaining.

14 Dev breaks with Sinn Fein
Abstention losing them support and getting them nowhere. Hardliners in Sinn Fein would never take the Oath so Dev resigned and set up Fianna Fail in 1926. Within a year the new party has persuaded most SF to join them. Dev went to the US and raised lots of money. They promised jobs.

15 Cumann na nGaedhael become unpopular
Cut old age pensions Intoxicating Liquor Act reduced the number of pubs by half and shorter opening hours. Insisted on paying land annuities. June 1927 General Election C na G 47. FF 44 (still abstentionist).

16 July Death of Kevin O Higgins
Opportunist IRA killing. Cosgrave responded by passing the Electoral Amendment Act. Any candidate had to take the Oath. Dev and FF took the Oath as a formality. For the first time all elected TDs took their seats and there was a proper opposition.

17 Consolidating Democracy 1927-36
FF made it clear that they were only entering the Dáil in order to dismantle the Treaty. FF still had close links to the IRA which was robbing banks and guns. In 1931 they murdered a Garda superintendent. Cosgrave responded by inserting article 2A into the constitution. This banned 12 organisations including the IRA. Political crimes could be dealt with by a military court.

18 1932 Election Would C na G allow FF to take power if they won.
Reasons why FF won: Great depression 1931 C na G had cut the wages of public servants. Dev a charismatic leader FF had money and were well organised. C na G tired. Dev promised to dismantle the Treaty He promised not to pay land annuities He promised housing and better social welfare Promised protectionism 1931 Irish Press

19 Result: FF 72, C na G 57. FF went into the Dáil with guns in their pockets. However Cosgrave had instructed the army and the Garda to accept their new masters. Dev did not sack public servants that had been loyal to C na G.

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