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Dàil Eireann

Leinster House - Jennifer Boyer - cc




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The Dáil Éireann (Gaelic name) is the Irish National Assembly of the Republic of Ireland. Although this assembly had a turbulent start, it is now an institutional political body and essential for the proper functioning of the Irish government.

Presentation of the Dàil Eireann

The Lower House of Parliament

The Dàil Eireann is considered to be the lower house of Parliament, which is composed of 3 distinct entities:

  • The Presidency
  • Eireann’s Dàil (National Assembly)
  • Seanad Éireann (Senate)

History of Dàil Eireann

Background

After centuries of British domination, Ireland has never ceased to challenge the English presence on its island, both by war and politically. Since 1700, Ireland is still fighting to obtain political autonomy, and tries to create a Parliament composed of a Lower House, called the House of Commons. The purpose of this political body was to represent the political rights of the Irish people and to fight against anti-Catholic discrimination. The British did not tolerate this Parliament for long, however, and the Act of Union of 1801 allowed them to put an end to it, despite the tense climate of protest.

Furious and outraged, the Irish then decided to create another Parliament, which they named “Dàil Eireann” in 1919. In the eyes of the British, this Revolutionary Parliament was considered a real attack on the authority of London, and they defined it as illegal. The Dail Eireann did not stop, however, and operated in secret.

The signing of the Treaty of London of 21 December 1921, which gave autonomy to the Republic of Ireland, was, however, a momentous event for the Dàil Eireann. The latter is now legalized, on condition that it does not exercise its policy on the south of Ireland, the north remaining in British hands .

The First Dáil Eireann (1919)

The First Dáil Eireann was an assembly of Sinn Féin members who were elected as Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the 1918 UK general election. After an overwhelming victory, winning a large majority of the Irish seats, the Sinn Féin parliamentarians refused to recognize the British Parliament.

As the months went by, the actions of the Dàil in denying any authority of the British Empire over Ireland eventually irritated the British government, which decided to reverse its position and no longer recognize the Dàil as an official political institution. It even declared it illegal, thus making the Dàil an unofficial body reduced to clandestinity at the gathering of its parliamentarians.

The Dàil Éireann did not cease its activities, however, and acted with the utmost discretion from 1919 to 1921. Hidden in the shadows, this political cell continued to work in the interests of a still undeclared Republic of Ireland, but its margins of manoeuvre, then reduced, were unable to impose itself against the British authority.

It was not until 1921 that the wind changed direction for the Dail Eireann: the Treaty of London of 21 December 1921 authorising the proclamation of a Republic made it possible to officially establish the Assembly. The Dáil Éireann then became the lower house of a new assembly: the Oireachtas.

The First Dáil under the Constitution of the Irish Free State was followed by the Second Dáil of the Republic of Ireland and so on. The Third and subsequent Dáils were held at Leinster House in Dublin.

Since 1921, the Dàil Eireann is still in operation. Today it is the 29th Dàil. It is composed of 9 different political parties including :

  • Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of the House)
  • Progressive Democrats
  • The Fianna Fàil
  • The Fine Gaël
  • The Independents
  • The Labour Party
  • The Green Party
  • The Socialist Party
  • Sinn Féin






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