Southern Ireland

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Southern Ireland (Irish: Deisceart Éireann) was a short-lived autonomous region (or constituent country) of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.[1]

Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland. It was envisaged that Southern Ireland would have the following institutions:[2]

It was also envisaged that Southern Ireland would share the following institutions with Northern Ireland:

The Parliament, although legally established, never functioned (for example, it never passed an Act). The House of Commons of Southern Ireland met just once with only four members present. No Government of Southern Ireland was ever established either. The Council of Ireland was to be established "[w]ith a view to the eventual establishment of a Parliament for the whole of Ireland", but it never came into being. The notable exception to the failure of the institutions of Southern Ireland was its courts, all of which functioned.[citation needed]

Contents

Home Rule

The Government of Ireland Act, also known as the Fourth Home Rule Act, was intended to provide a solution to the problem that had bedevilled Irish politics since the 1880s, namely the conflicting demands of Irish unionists and nationalists. Nationalists wanted a form of home rule, believing that Ireland was poorly served by the Government in Westminster and its Irish Executive in Dublin Castle. Unionists feared that a nationalist government in Dublin would discriminate against Protestants and would impose tariffs that would unduly hit the north-eastern counties of Ireland (these counties all being located within the province of Ulster), which were not only predominantly Protestant but also the only industrial area on an island whose economy was largely agricultural. Unionists imported arms from Germany and established the Ulster Volunteer Force (the UVF) to prevent Home Rule in Ulster. In response to this, nationalists also imported arms and set up the Irish Volunteers. Partition, which was introduced by the Government of Ireland Act, was intended as a temporary solution, allowing Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland to be governed separately as regions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Ironically, one of those most opposed to this partition settlement was the leader of Irish unionism, Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson, who felt that it was wrong to divide Ireland in two. He felt this would badly affect the position of southern and western unionists.

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