Ireland in 1922 Conference

From Treaty to Civil War and Partition

Few years were as seminal in the shaping of the modern island of Ireland than 1922 – a year of political and violent turmoil, North and South, as the fledgling governments in Dublin and Belfast sought to establish themselves against seemingly impossible odds. In the emergent Irish Free State the Treaty Split and the subsequent divide in the IRA marked the slow, inexorable descent into Civil War.

In the new Northern Ireland political uncertainly fuelled the flames of sectarian violence in both Belfast and on the border involving the IRA (loyal to Michael Collins) the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) and British troops. Brutal atrocities shocked Belfast while British troops used artillery against the IRA on the Fermanagh-Donegal border.

Against this background, Winston Churchill, the British Minister in charge of Irish affairs, brokered important agreements between Collins and James Craig in 1922, aimed at ending the violence and achieving stability. However, these fragile pacts were soon ‘washed away in a torrent of blood’ and Collins supported Northern nationalists and the Northern IRA in their campaign against partition while Craig relied on draconian special powers and internment. In June the assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson- Craig’s Military Advisor- was to trigger the by now inevitable Civil War. It was only then that peace was gradually restored to Northern Ireland. Both states faced minority problems but while the Southern Protestants adjusted to the new state, the one-third minority in the North remained sullen and resentful.

In this special symposium, three distinguished historians, Dr Éamon Phoenix, Dr Russell Rees and Jim McDermott, will shed new light on this critical year, its key events and the roles played by leading Irish and British political leaders.



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