Law and the Foundation of the Irish State on 6 December 1922
38 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 6, 2017
The date on which the Irish State was founded, 6 December 1922, has never been a major focus of celebration or commemoration. The day itself in 1922 was not marked by any official celebrations in Ireland. Unofficial celebrations were held in some places but much of the country, including the streets of its capital, was quiet. The Irish Law Times concluded “The transition was hardly noticeable … in the city of Dublin: and yet the change is tremendous and far-reaching”.
The date of 6 December 1922 failed to capture the popular imagination as an anniversary worth celebrating in the years that followed. Of course, this was only to be expected when it already had so many competitors for the title of Irish “independence day”, for example Easter Monday 1916, 21 January 1919, 6 December 1921, 14 January 1922, 31 March 1922 and 1 April 1922. Later alternatives include the date of 29 December 1937 when the current Irish Constitution came into force or even 18 April 1949 when the State was described as a republic. In truth, the evolution of Irish sovereignty was a complex process and this article does not attempt to argue in favour of any particular date as an Irish “independence day”, an emotive concept that lies far outside the realm of law. The concept of an “independence day” also raises difficult questions of whether the Irish State would have satisfied definitions of a fully sovereign State at the time it came into existence. However, the date on which the State came into existence is primarily a legal issue and a degree of certainty on this issue is required for practical reasons. These include drafting statutes, citizenship matters, determining what laws were in force at a particular point in time and, potentially, in resolving disputes between Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Keywords: Irish State, Foundation, Law, 1922, Irish Constitution, Independence
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