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On January 7, 1922, the Irish Free State was born


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Read on - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 1/2022 vom 27.12.2021

1 ON JANUARY 7, 1922, Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s parliament, ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty establishing the Irish Free State. Free State status gave Ireland a high level of self-governance, but it also meant that the country would remain a member of the British Commonwealth. This limited form of political independence was a big disappointment for the Catholic Irish majority. They had wanted a republic which would have come with full political freedom.

2 For centuries, Ireland had been oppressed through a British Crown that favoured Protestants over Catholics. Therefore, it was not an option for most Irish people to be still linked to Britain. Eamonn De Valera, head of Sinn Féin, then Ireland’s biggest republican party, refused to accept the Irish Free State. However, moderate Irish republicans saw it as an interim solution. For example, De Valera’s close friend Michael Collins described it as ...

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Eamonn De Valera, head of Sinn Féin.
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2 For centuries, Ireland had been oppressed through a British Crown that favoured Protestants over Catholics. Therefore, it was not an option for most Irish people to be still linked to Britain. Eamonn De Valera, head of Sinn Féin, then Ireland’s biggest republican party, refused to accept the Irish Free State. However, moderate Irish republicans saw it as an interim solution. For example, De Valera’s close friend Michael Collins described it as “the freedom to achieve freedom”.

5 However, brutality seldom brings peace, and Ireland’s problems were far from over. Shortly after the truce between the IRA and the British army in July of 1922, Eamonn De Valera asked the then British Prime Minister David Lloyd George about creating an Irish Republic.

6 But the British Empire was not interested in Ireland’s becoming a republic. Therefore, Lloyd George offered Ireland independence as a free self-governing state under the British Crown. Northern Ireland, which had been colonised by Protestant Scottish settlers from the 16th century onwards, was given two options: join this free state or remain in the UK.

7 In fact, PM Lloyd George left De Valera with no choice but to either accept this offer or to fight “an immediate and bloody war” with Britain. The Irish republic that De Valera had dreamed of was not going to happen – at least not for the moment!

8 De Valera knew that this ultimatum would not please his people, so he left the peace negotiations to Michael Collins. Collins accepted this responsibility, but knew he was risking his life because a large number of anti-British Irish nationalists would consider him a traitor if he failed to get them their republic.

9 Nevertheless, Collins’s delegation signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty establishing the Irish Free State minus Northern Ireland. After more than 50 years of campaigning for political freedom under the slogan “Home Rule”, a small majority of Irish citizens was willing to accept the Free State as the best deal they could get. However, a large minority including De Valera were deeply unhappy with this “sellout”. By July of 1922, about six months after the treaty had been signed, Ireland was therefore caught up in a bitter civil war between these two groups led by De Valera as head of the rebels and Collins as head of the Irish Free State.

10 The most prominent victim of the civil war was Michael Collins himself, who was shot by a young fanatic from De Valera’s camp on August 22, 1922. At Collins’s funeral, Eamonn De Valera said: “[History] will record the greatness of Michael Collins and it will be recorded at my expense.” De Valera remained Ireland’s most important politician for decades, but many moderate Irish republicans hated him for sacrificing Collins to stay in power.

11 Following a well-organised pacifist campaign to undermine the British Crown, Ireland was finally declared a republic in 1937. After more than 700 years under British rule, 5/6 of the country, apart from Northern Ireland, had at last achieved full independence. The Republic of Ireland now counts among Europe’s most stable democracies.

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0 IRISH FREE State Irischer Freistaat — creation “kri"eIS´n‘ Gründung — independence “ÆIndI"pend´ns‘ Unabhängigkeit

1 Dáil Éireann “dOIl"œr´n‘ — to ratify “"rœtIfaI‘ ratifizieren — Anglo-Irish Treaty Anglo-Irischer Vertrag — to establish gründen — self-governance “-"gøv´n´ns‘ Selbstverwaltung — to remain bleiben — British Commonwealth “"kÅm´nwelT‘ loser Staatenbund der noch mit GB verbundenen Länder des ehemaligen brit. Weltreichs — disappointment “ÆdIs´"pOIntm´nt‘ Enttäuschung — Catholic “"kœT´lik‘ katholisch — majority “m´"dZÅr´ti‘ Mehrheit — to come with s.th. mit etw. verbunden sein — freedom “"fri…d´m‘ Freiheit

2 to oppress s.o. “´"pres‘ jdn. unterdrücken — Crown “kraUn‘ (fig) Krone — to favour s.o. over s.o. “"feIv´‘ jdn. gegenüber jdm. bevorzugen — therefore “"De´fO…‘ daher — to be linked to s.th. mit etw. verbunden sein — head Vorsitzende(r); Anführer(in) — Sinn Féin “ÆSIn"feIn‘ — party Partei — to refuse to do s.th. “rI"fju…z‘ sich weigern, etw. zu tun — interim solution “"Int´rIm s´"lu…S´n‘ Übergangslösung — to achieve “´"tSi…v‘ erlangen

3 on the other hand hingegen — pragmatist “"prœgm´tIst‘ Pragmatiker(in) — to run leiten — intelligence operations “In"telIdZ´ns ÆÅp´r"eIS´nz‘ geheimdienstliche Tätigkeiten — Irish Republican Army Irisch-Republikanische Armee — thanks to dank — to provide liefern

4 to involve “In"vÅlv‘ h.: darin bestehen — to murder “"m‰…d´‘ ermorden — senior “"si…ni´‘ hochrangig — civil servant “ÆsIv´l "s‰…v´nt‘ Staatsbeamter(-in) — administrator “´d"mInIstreIt´‘ Verwaltungsbeamter(-in) — to continue doing s.th. “k´n"tInju…‘ etw. weiter tun — rule Herrschaft — to regard s.o. as jdn. als … ansehen — liberator “"lIb´reIt´‘ Befreier(in)

5 – 6 seldom “"seld´m‘ selten — far from noch lange nicht — truce Waffenstillstand — the then der damalige … — to create gründen — to offer anbieten — self-governing selbstverwaltet — settler Siedler(in) — from onwards “"Ånw´dz‘ ab …

7 – 8 in fact tatsächlich — to leave s.o. with no choice but “tSOIs‘ jdm. keine andere Wahl lassen, als … — immediate “I"mi…di´t‘ sofortig — to please s.o. jdn. zufriedenstellen — peace negotiations “n´Æg´USi"eIS´nz‘ Friedensverhandlungen — to accept the responsibility “rIÆspÅnsI"bIl´ti‘ die Verantwortung annehmen — to consider s.o. “k´n"sId´‘ jdn. als … ansehen — traitor “"treIt´‘ Verräter(in) — to fail to do s.th. es nicht schaffen, etw. zu tun

9 nevertheless dennoch — to sign unterzeichnen — to campaign for s.th. “kœm"peIn‘ für etw. kämpfen — Home Rule Selbstverwaltung — citizen “"sItIz´n‘ Bürger(in) — to be willing to do s.th. bereit sein, etw. zu tun — minority “maI"nÅr´ti‘ Minderheit — deeply zutiefst — sellout Verrat — to be caught up in s.th. (fig) in etw. gefangen sein — civil war Bürgerkrieg — to lead “li…d‘ anführen

10 victim “"vIktIm‘ Opfer — to shoot s.o. jdn. erschießen — camp Lager — funeral “"fju…n´r´l‘ Beerdigung — to record niederschreiben — greatness Größe — at s.o.’s expense “Ik"spens‘ auf jds. Kosten — politician “ÆpÅlI"tIS´n‘ Politiker(in) — to sacrifice s.o. “"sœkrIfaIs‘ jdn. opfern — to stay in power an der Macht bleiben

11 following s.th. im Anschluss an etw. — pacifist “"pœsIfIst‘ pazifistisch; friedlich — campaign Kampagne — to undermine untergraben — to be declared a republic zur Republik erklärt werden — apart from außer — at last endlich — to count among s.th. zu etw. zählen — stable “"steIb´l‘ stabil — democracy “dI"mÅkr´si‘ Demokratie