Government of Ireland Act 1920

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An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland, more usually the Government of Ireland Act 1920[1], sometimes called the Fourth Home Rule Act, was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland.

The Act provided for two separate sets of Home Rule institutions in Ireland: one covering a region that was to be named 'Northern Ireland' in the north-east of the island and the other covering the remainder of the island, which was termed Southern Ireland. The institutions of Northern Ireland functioned as intended until they were suspended by the UK government in 1972 following the outbreak of the Troubles. Southern Ireland never functioned as an operative political entity, and was superseded by the Irish Free State in 1922.

In historical terms, the Act was the legislative instrument that partitioned Ireland, though its provisions envisaged and attempted to provide for the eventual reunification of the island.

The Act was repealed in its entirety under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement.



Various attempts had been made to give Ireland limited regional self-government, known as Home Rule, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons following intense Unionist and Orange Order opposition which caused a split in the Liberal Party, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893, having been passed by the Commons was vetoed by the House of Lords. The Third Home Rule Bill introduced in 1912 by the Irish Parliamentary Party could no longer be vetoed after the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 which removed the power of the Lords to veto bills. They could merely be delayed for two years.

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