House of Commons of Southern Ireland

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The House of Commons of Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It was the lower house of parliament of Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland, like Northern Ireland was formally established in May 1921 but Southern Ireland had a much shorter life, being superseded by the Irish Free State in December 1922.

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Elections

In 1921, elections were held for the House of Commons of Southern Ireland. In reality, no contests occurred. All 128 MPs were returned unopposed - Sinn Féin won all 124 seats for geographic constituencies, whilst Unionists won the four seats for graduates of University of Dublin. The Irish Republic chose to regard that election as elections to the Second Dáil. The 124 Sinn Féin candidates elected, plus the Sinn Féin members elected to the House of Commons of Northern Ireland elected at the same time, assembed as the Second Dáil.

First and only meeting

In June 1921, the House of Commons, together with the appointed Senate, formally assembled in the Royal College of Science for Ireland, now Government Buildings, in Merrion Street, for a state opening by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent.

In reality only four unionist MPs attended. Having elected Gerald Fitzgibbon to be Speaker, the House adjourned sine die. This was the only formal meeting of the House.

In contrast the Senate assembled three times[1] though its chairman, Sir John Ross, Lord Chancellor of Ireland was too ill to attend.

"Meeting" approves Treaty

It is sometimes stated that the House of Commons of Southern Ireland approved the Anglo-Irish Treaty. This is incorrect, although the Treaty was required to be ratified "at a meeting of members of the Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland". This followed discussions between the Irish Treaty delegation and the British Government over who had authority to convene the meeting. The relevant meeting, on 14 January 1922 in the Mansion House, was attended by 64 pro-Treaty TDs and 4 Unionist MPs from the University of Dublin; it duly ratified the Treaty, and nominated Michael Collins for appointment as Chairman of the Provisional Government.[2] There were several points where the meeting did not conform to the requirements the Government of Ireland Act specified for the House of Commons:[3]

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