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Irish Free State Constitution

The Irish Free State Constitution (full name: Irish Free State (Constitution) Act, 1922 but also known simply as the 1922 Constitution) was the Constitution of the Irish Free State created in December 1922. It was drafted by a committee under the nominal chairmanship of Michael Collins that also included James McNeill, who became the second Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

The Constitution was shaped by the requirements of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed between representatives of the British Government and the Irish Republic in December 1922. Among the central requirements laid out in the Treaty were that the Constitution had to contain:

The Constitution came into force in two ways;

Table of contents
1 In British Constitutional Theory
2 In Irish Constitutional Theory
3 Contents of the Constitution

In British Constitutional Theory

It was enacted by the 'King-in-Parliament', that is, passed as an Act by the House of Commons and House of Lords, before receiving the Royal Assent. According to British constitutional theory, the constitution had been drafted by a committee under the chairmanship of the President of the Provisional Government, Michael Collins who was a Crown-appointed prime minister chosen by the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, which in turn had been elected under the British Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and which had approved the Treaty in January 1922.

In Irish Constitutional Theory

It was enacted by the Third Dáil, which had been elected as a Constituent Assembly (ie, a parliament with constitution-making powers). It had been drafted by a committee under Michael Collins, who was President of the Provisional Government, formed in accordance to the Treaty approved by Dáil Éireann in December 1921. (In reality, the Dáil which approved the Treaty, and House of Commons of Southern Ireland who did likewise, where almost identical; DÉ: 124 members. HCSI: 124 + 4, but which met separately under each name to approve the Treaty, in order to fulfil expectations in respective constitutional theories for Ireland and for Britain.

Contents of the Constitution

The central aspects contained in the Constitution included:

The constitution was later substantially amended, most dramatically, with the abolition of the

Other changes included:

By 1936, the constitution had been so severely amended that it was clear that an entirely new replacement document was needed. In 1936, then President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State Eamon de Valera had a replacement constitution drafted by John Hearne, called Bunreacht na hÉireann, for which he gave formal notice to King Edward VIII of Ireland in July 1936. It was adopted and enacted by the people in a plebiscite in 1937 and came into effect that year.

Copies of the 1922 constitution are no longer published, but can be downloaded from the website of the Attorney-General of Ireland