6th December, 1921: what’s the real reason why Griffith disobeyed instructions from Dev?

Congalltee

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“2. It is understood before decisions are finally reached on a main question, that a dispatch will be sent to members of the cabinet in Dublin, and that a reply will be awaited by the plenipotentiaries before final decision is made.

3. It is also understood that the complete text of the draft treaty about to be signed will similarly be submitted to Dublin and a reply awaited.”

The “plenipotentiaries” were under specific directions from the President to communicate full version of the draft treaty to Dublin. They disobeyed that direction. But why?

1) The poor quality telephones is sometimes one excuse.
2) threat of immediate resumption of war by the British is even touted as a reason.
3) A final excuse is that although the British never accepted them as delegates of a sovereign state with plenipotentiary powers to sign without recourse, that the Dáil has given them lower and Griffith felt he could explicitly disobey the President’s direction.
4) it was an effective coup Griffith backed by the minister for finance, Collins.
5) the delegates had gone native in London society.
6) the cabinet and Dáil would have a say (ie they recognised they did not have plenipotentiary powers) and if they signed their names it had a better chance of passing.
7) they genuinely believed that land annuities, oath, partition, and giving three ports to the British, and De Valera would have agreed if he hadn’t held himself in reserve. Though it’s hard to read article 5 now and think it was a good deal. http://treaty.nationalarchives.ie/document-gallery/anglo-irish-treaty-6-december-1921/anglo-irish-treaty-6-december-1921-page-1/

Does History actually record why Griffith and the others signed in breach of their direct instructions (resulting in the mythology that the blame lay with the President who wasn’t contacted).

Edit: I notice the current government version on the website has a timeline, which has no reference to the Presidents instructions to the delegates. A curious omission. Here’s its timeline:

December
Counter proposals are presented by the British and brought to Dublin for full consideration by the Cabinet in Dublin on 3 December. External association is stipulated as the plenipotentiaries’ default position in the negotiations to follow. The oath of allegiance, as worded in the British document, is rejected – even if the consequence is a resumption of war – while it is reiterated that no document can be signed without reference back to the Dáil.
3 DecemberDe Valera visits counties Clare and Galway and makes speeches defining his republican position.
4 DecemberDiscussion by both sides of the written Irish counter proposals. 5 DecemberA meeting is held between Lloyd George and Collins which discusses the proposed boundary commission in more detail.
6 DecemberAn ultimatum is delivered by Lloyd George to the delegates in which they are faced with the option of either signing the text of the Treaty as it stands or refusing to sign and face the consequence of an immediate resumption of war. The ‘Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland’ are signed by both delegations at 2.15am.
8 DecemberDe Valera issues a public statement that he cannot recommend acceptance of the Treaty. The Cabinet decides by 4 votes to 3 to recommend the Treaty to the Dáil on 14 December.
 
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Dame_Enda

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I think it was because Lloyd George wouldnt allow the team to seek instructions from Dev.

It is true though that the SF party originally founded by Griffifth was dual-monarchist (supporting abstentionism to get the Hungarian model of autonomy), not republican. It became mainly republican when 1916 veterans flooded into it because the press mistakenly called it "the SF rebellion". Theres no doubt the Treaty was closer to Griffith's vision in his pamphlet "The Resurrection of Hungary".

So it cannot be completely ruled out that Griffiths personal beliefs on the constitutional question were the real reason for the Treaty being as it was (Ireland as a Dominion Status country not a republic). But I am inclined to favour the view expressed in paragraph 1 of this post, because there were also republicans on the team - though then again some of them e.g, Childers and Brugha, were anti Treaty.
 

GDPR

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“2. It is understood before decisions are finally reached on a main question, that a dispatch will be sent to members of the cabinet in Dublin, and that a reply will be awaited by the plenipotentiaries before final decision is made.

3. It is also understood that the complete text of the draft treaty about to be signed will similarly be submitted to Dublin and a reply awaited.”

The “plenipotentiaries” were under specific directions from the President to communicate full version of the draft treaty to Dublin. They disobeyed that direction. But why?

1) The poor quality telephones is sometimes one excuse.
2) threat of immediate resumption of war by the British is even touted as a reason.
3) A final excuse is that although the British never accepted them as delegates of a sovereign state with plenipotentiary powers to sign without recourse, that the Dáil has given them lower and Griffiths felt he could explicitly disobey the President’s direction.
4) it was an effective coup Griffiths backed by the minister for finance, Collins.
5) the delegates had gone native in London society.
6) shure the cabinet and Dáil would have a say (ie they recognised they did not have plenipotentiary powers) and if they signed their names it had a better chance of passing.
7) they genuinely believed that land annuities, oath, partition, and giving three ports to the British, and De Valera would have agreed if he hadn’t held himself in reserve.

Does History actually record why Griffiths and the others signed in breach of their direct instructions (resulting in the mythology that the blame lay with the President who wasn’t contacted).
Not strong enough on the day, surprising given Collins was involved, but maybe the situation just wasn't his thing.
 

stray creditor

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The Irish delegation were sent as plenipotentiaries, Churchill only, towards the latter end of the negotiations applied that term to them.
 
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Bleu Poppy

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“2. It is understood before decisions are finally reached on a main question, that a dispatch will be sent to members of the cabinet in Dublin, and that a reply will be awaited by the plenipotentiaries before final decision is made.

3. It is also understood that the complete text of the draft treaty about to be signed will similarly be submitted to Dublin and a reply awaited.”

The “plenipotentiaries” were under specific directions from the President to communicate full version of the draft treaty to Dublin. They disobeyed that direction. But why?

1) The poor quality telephones is sometimes one excuse.
2) threat of immediate resumption of war by the British is even touted as a reason.
3) A final excuse is that although the British never accepted them as delegates of a sovereign state with plenipotentiary powers to sign without recourse, that the Dáil has given them lower and Griffiths felt he could explicitly disobey the President’s direction.
4) it was an effective coup Griffiths backed by the minister for finance, Collins.
5) the delegates had gone native in London society.
6) the cabinet and Dáil would have a say (ie they recognised they did not have plenipotentiary powers) and if they signed their names it had a better chance of passing.
7) they genuinely believed that land annuities, oath, partition, and giving three ports to the British, and De Valera would have agreed if he hadn’t held himself in reserve. Though it’s hard to read article 5 now and think it was a good deal. Anglo-Irish Treaty – 6 December 1921 (page 1) | Treaty

Does History actually record why Griffiths and the others signed in breach of their direct instructions (resulting in the mythology that the blame lay with the President who wasn’t contacted).

Edit: I notice the current government version on the website has a timeline, which has no reference to the Presidents instructions to the delegates. A curious omission. Here’s its timeline:

December
Counter proposals are presented by the British and brought to Dublin for full consideration by the Cabinet in Dublin on 3 December. External association is stipulated as the plenipotentiaries’ default position in the negotiations to follow. The oath of allegiance, as worded in the British document, is rejected – even if the consequence is a resumption of war – while it is reiterated that no document can be signed without reference back to the Dáil.
3 DecemberDe Valera visits counties Clare and Galway and makes speeches defining his republican position.
4 DecemberDiscussion by both sides of the written Irish counter proposals. 5 DecemberA meeting is held between Lloyd George and Collins which discusses the proposed boundary commission in more detail.
6 DecemberAn ultimatum is delivered by Lloyd George to the delegates in which they are faced with the option of either signing the text of the Treaty as it stands or refusing to sign and face the consequence of an immediate resumption of war. The ‘Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland’ are signed by both delegations at 2.15am.
8 DecemberDe Valera issues a public statement that he cannot recommend acceptance of the Treaty. The Cabinet decides by 4 votes to 3 to recommend the Treaty to the Dáil on 14 December.
An article, in The Irish Times, must be some 30 years ago, recounted how De Valera refused to take a phone call from London on the night of December 5th, 1921. He was staying in Strand House, Limerick, as guest of the father of the then Mayor of the city, Stephen O'Mara, Junior. The Corporation had granted De Valera the Freedom of the City that day.

The article was written by Stephen O'Mara Senior's great-grandson, whose father was present that night and the following morning- when De Valera did take the phone call which informed him that The Treaty had been signed. I have been told, recently, that he returned to Dublin by train sharing a carriage compartment with another house guest- Cathal Brugha. Other house-guests- Richard Mulcahy and the aforementioned grandson, Michael Rynne, were not permitted to share the compartment.... Why? Were De Valera and Brugha scheming?
 

Congalltee

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An article, in The Irish Times, must be some 30 years ago, recounted how De Valera refused to take a phone call from London on the night of December 5th, 1921. He was staying in Strand House, Limerick, as guest of the father of the then Mayor of the city, Stephen O'Mara, Junior. The Corporation had granted De Valera the Freedom of the City that day.

The article was written by Stephen O'Mara Senior's great-grandson, whose father was present that night and the following morning- when De Valera did take the phone call which informed him that The Treaty had been signed. I have been told, recently, that he returned to Dublin by train sharing a carriage compartment with another house guest- Cathal Brugha. Other house-guests- Richard Mulcahy and the aforementioned grandson, Michael Rynne, were not permitted to share the compartment.... Why? Were De Valera and Brugha scheming?
Interesting. It would be the most rational explanation.

A google of his name produced corroboration, though with an obvious typo as to the date and the use of the past tense that signing had already taken place.
“When the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London on 5 December 1921, de Valera was staying in Strand House when he received the news.”

http://www.askaboutireland.ie/aai-files/assets/libraries/limerick-city-library/reading-room/pages-in-history/remembering-limerick-stephen-omara-limerick-crisis-full-article.pdf
 

Congalltee

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“A: The Dáil voted to give the delegates plenipotentiary status though.
What power had Dev to override a vote of the Dáil?

B: He was the President of the Executive council. That is enough for Griffith not to sign until he complied with the direction. Why did he breach that direction from his president?

A: Because he had a mandate from the Dáil that the President had no right to circumscribe?
Or because he had no other option?”
Or both?”

(Private message exchange on the same topic)
 

Breanainn

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I'd suggest Dev never travelled himself because he knew Lloyd George would never recognise an Irish Republic, also that any hope of obtaining the Six Counties had formally vanished with the Government of Ireland Act, so dispatched the plenipotentiaries to be the fall guys.

Admittedly, it's unlikely that Lloyd George would have resumed the War after five months of cessations, but the Treaty was arguably the best deal that could have been secured at that historical juncture, and Dev just wanted to avoid the responsibility for that fact.
 

Catalpast

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I'd suggest Dev never travelled himself because he knew Lloyd George would never recognise an Irish Republic, also that any hope of obtaining the Six Counties had formally vanished with the Government of Ireland Act, so dispatched the plenipotentiaries to be the fall guys.

Admittedly, it's unlikely that Lloyd George would have resumed the War after five months of cessations, but the Treaty was arguably the best deal that could have been secured at that historical juncture, and Dev just wanted to avoid the responsibility for that fact.
Dev knew that the North was gone by that stage or at least that another war would have to be fought for it someday

But he was quite right NOT to leave Ireland for an extended period of time

The Country was in a very fragile position

Absolutely his place was here in Ireland to maintain order and discipline

There is an idea about that once the Truce was signed that was the end of it until Civil War broke out in June '22

Nothing could be further from the Truth!

The Nation was indeed in a State of Chassis

From my Blog:

7 October 1921: Eamon de Valera, the President of Ireland issued secret instructions to the plenipotentiaries about to depart to London on this day. They were to begin negotiations with the British Government to secure a Treaty that would give recognition to Ireland’s claim to be an independent Nation.

They were as follows:

(1) The Plenipotentiaries have full powers as defined in their credentials.

(2) It is understood however that before decisions are finally reached on the main questions that a despatch notifying the intention of making these decisions will be sent to the Members of the Cabinet in Dublin and that a reply will be awaited by the Plenipotentiaries before the final decision is made.

(3) It is also understood that the complete text of the draft treaty about to be signed will be similarly submitted to Dublin and reply awaited.

(4) In case of break the text of final proposals from our side will be similarly submitted.

(5) It is understood that the Cabinet in Dublin will be kept regularly informed of the progress of the negotiations


De Valera was concerned that the meeting of the inexperienced Irish delegates with some of the most astute and clever minds in British politics would leave the Irish wrong footed and he wanted to ensure that any deal would have his Imprimatur on it before it was signed.
 
And indeed when the Treaty was signed in December of that year he was not happy with the result that gave the Irish Free State the status of a British Dominion rather than all of Ireland becoming an independent Republic.
 

Congalltee

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I'd suggest Dev never travelled himself because he knew Lloyd George would never recognise an Irish Republic, also that any hope of obtaining the Six Counties had formally vanished with the Government of Ireland Act, so dispatched the plenipotentiaries to be the fall guys.
.
So why didn’t Griffith not follow the instructions from the politician who set him up as the fall guy? Wouldn’t it be the obvious thing to do: share the blame for what was a very poor deal (see articles 5 and 9)
 

ON THE ONE ROAD

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he was a dual monarchist. The oath wasn't offensive to him.


but fair play on the concept. the should dev have gone instead of collins is a dull what if. Collins was head of the IRB, they viewed themselves at the legitimate authority of ireland, find it hard to believe he was made go. Dev and collins while different personalities do not appear to have much difference on how they wanted the country to turn out. A should griffith have gone is a lot more interesting what if.
 

pinemartin

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I'd suggest Dev never travelled himself because he knew Lloyd George would never recognise an Irish Republic, also that any hope of obtaining the Six Counties had formally vanished with the Government of Ireland Act, so dispatched the plenipotentiaries to be the fall guys.
That narrative is just for children and blue shirts, anyone with even a basic reading of history or an understanding of how politicians act would know that that fairy story is not credible.

Are you saying that a cunning, manipulative and able politician like Dev would decide that he no longer would be the supreme leader and he then decides that his only course of action is to withdraw from talks and hand political power to Collins and Griffith? Collins in your narrative would then be free to sign the treaty and then assume political power.

Griffith fatally undermined the Irish delegation's plan to collapse the talks (if the talks needed to be collapsed) over the six counties by doing a secret side deal with George.
 

Congalltee

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On Dev:
1) why did he include the word “plenipotentiary” when he instructed Griffith et al to revert to Dublin?
2) why did he only have 7 in the Cabinet?
3) why were only 3 of them sound on oaths, ports, partitition and odious debts?
4) why did he allow a dual monarchist head a delegation?
And the big one...
5) what would he have done, if Griffith had phoned Strand House that night and asked if it was real or no deal? Would he have to do Teresa May, sideline his Davis and Boris and led the talks himself?
 

Congalltee

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It’s interesting that Teresa May interrupted her lunch with the president of the EU council so that a minority party representing 250,000 people could hold up a trade deal for 500m, but Griffith signed without recourse to his president, representing the entire Irish nation who had explicitly directed him not to sign without reverting.
 

Civic_critic2

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It looks like a coup. Followed up by a century of propaganda by the winners to rationalise it as the most reasonable and correct position and the population, pummeled by this in the media and education system, have swallowed it.

Someone mentioned a while ago that while much is made of Collins arriving late for the handover as a final 'fk you' to the British, in actual fact himself and the others went into a private room in Dublin Castle around the same time and kneeled down in an act of obesiance and fidelity to the English crown. Is this true, that this happened in this way? So much for the whole arriving late propaganda, possibly peddled to divert from the other more appalling action.
 

Congalltee

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It looks like a coup. Followed up by a century of propaganda by the winners to rationalise it as the most reasonable and correct position and the population, pummeled by this in the media and education system, have swallowed it.

Someone mentioned a while ago that while much is made of Collins arriving late for the handover as a final 'fk you' to the British, in actual fact himself and the others went into a private room in Dublin Castle around the same time and kneeled down in an act of obesiance and fidelity to the English crown. Is this true, that this happened in this way? So much for the whole arriving late propaganda, possibly peddled to divert from the other more appalling action.
The first paragraph may have some truth in it. Imagine waking up 96 years ago to fu d that the president had been ignored and an oath to George was necessary for dominion status of a partitioned “State”, with ports controlled by London but huge debts to be borne by the new dominion state.

The second paragraph seems like nonsense.
 

Civic_critic2

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That time was very strange, with a provisional government that operated without a parliament or being responsible to any parliament from Jan - Sept 1922. Looks like a coup. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Government_of_Ireland_(1922)

Here's a couple of accounts of that time Collins arrived in Dublin Castle:
"Fitzalan, the first Catholic Lord Lieutenant since the reign of King James II then took Collins on an impromptu and largely irrelevant tour of the facility pointing out which keys opened which doors, before absenting himself and leaving Collins, literally, holding the fort."
https://mylesdungan.com/2015/01/16/on-this-day-drivetime-michael-collins-takes-possession-of-dublin-castle-16-january-1922/

'Irrelevant tour' sounds like the kind of blarney that may cover just such an incident.

The legal standing of the provisional government, the 1st Dáil and the 2nd Dáil is all unclear, a real study in how the British use a combination of military action and legal and democratic theatre to change facts on the ground to what they want and give legitimacy and buy-in to them over a period of several years. But legally the provisional government was apparently unconnected to any parliament from Jan 1922 - Sept 1922 and so therefore the requirement for some oath of fidelity at the handover would not be at all unthinkable.

[At half past 1] members of the Provisional Government went in a body to the Castle, where they were received by Lord FitzAlan, the Lord Lieutenant. Mr. Michael Collins produced a copy of the Treaty, on which the acceptance of its provisions by himself and his colleagues was endorsed. The existence and authority of the Provisional Government were then formally and officially acknowledged, and they were informed that the British Government would be immediately communicated with in order that the necessary steps might be taken for the transfer to the Provisional Government of the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties. The Lord Lieutenant congratulated ... expressed the earnest hope that under their auspices the ideal of a happy, free, and prosperous Ireland would be attained...The proceedings were held in private, and lasted for 55 minutes, and at the conclusion the heads of the principal administrative departments were presented to the members of the Provisional Government
In the Council Chamber at Dublin Castle this afternoon His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant received Mr. Michael Collins as the head of the Provisional Government provided for in Article 17 of the Treaty of December 6. Mr. Collins handed to the Lord Lieutenant a copy of the Treaty, on which the acceptance of its provisions by himself and his colleagues had been endorsed and other members of the Provisional Government were then introduced. The Lord Lieutenant congratulated. Mr. Collins and his colleagues and informed them that they were now duly installed as the Provisional Government and that in conformity with Article 17 of the Treaty, he would at once communicate with the British Government, in order that the necessary steps might be taken for the transfer to the Provisional Government of the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties.
Plenty of room in there for what was stated to have occurred, the authority of the provisional government was "formally and officially acknowledged"; in British terms this generally means a lot of pomp and garters and no shortage of verbal lickarsing.

In true modern Adams style, riding on an ambiguity that was to set the tone for the lack of straightforwardness that was a hallmark of occupation and whose continuation has hugely damaged our country for a century, Collins issued the following statement on taking over the Castle:
"The members of the Provisional Government of Ireland received the surrender of Dublin Castle at 1.45 p.m. today."
 

ant

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If Britain truly refused to recognise the Irish Republic/Dáil Éireann...who were they signing a treaty with? :cool:

...The pen should't have touched the paper.
 
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RasherHash

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I'd suggest Dev never travelled himself because he knew Lloyd George would never recognise an Irish Republic, also that any hope of obtaining the Six Counties had formally vanished with the Government of Ireland Act, so dispatched the plenipotentiaries to be the fall guys.

Admittedly, it's unlikely that Lloyd George would have resumed the War after five months of cessations, but the Treaty was arguably the best deal that could have been secured at that historical juncture, and Dev just wanted to avoid the responsibility for that fact.
Churchill had one of his mad plans to take the major towns using aerial bombardment if necessary, I think to imagine the imperialists were not up to drumming up a war is naive.
 


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