Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

President of Dáil Éireann

The head of government under the Dáil Constitution adopted by the First Dáil of the Irish Republic in January 1919. Known variously as the Príomh Áire (literally "prime minister") and President of Dáil Éireann. The latter version was preferred by the second holder, Eamon de Valera during his visit to the United States (1920-21). The office was not explicitly one of head of state, merely head of government, but was de facto the highest office in the Republic.1 Only in August 1921 did a constitutional amendment passed by Dáil Éireann introduce the title President of the Republic.

The constitutional structures of the Irish Republic continued in existence, answerable to Dáil Éireann following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, alongside a Provisional Government selected by the House of Commons of Southern Ireland (elected in 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920) and appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In reality, The House of Commons of Southern Ireland had an identical membership to the Second Dáil (except for four Unionist members who refused to attend the Dáil) and the memberships of both governments were made up of largely the same personnel, with the Republic's Minister for Finance, Michael Collins, serving as head of the Provisional Government. Both the Republican and Provisional Governments merged into one under the leadership of W.T. Cosgrave in August 1921, as did both their parliaments, following a new general election which produced a body variously described as the 'Third Dáil', the 'Constituent Assembly' and the 'Provisional Parliament'. All previous administrations and regimes disappeared in law with the appearance of the Irish Free State and its new parliament, the Oireachtas, made up of the King, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.

The Office Holders were:

Table of contents
1 Príomh Áire/President of Dáil Éireann
2 President of the Republic
3 Footnotes

Príomh Áire/President of Dáil Éireann

President of the Republic


1 Sinn Féin was badly divided between old pre-1917 Sinn Féin members under former leader Arthur Griffith, who were monarchists, and new post-1917 Sinn Féin members under new leader Eamon de Valera, who were republicans. A compromise at the 1917 Árd Fheis allowed the creation of a temporary republic, pending a decision by the nation as to whether it wanted a longterm republic or a monarchy. Created a presidency of the Republic in 1919 risked re-opening the divisions, so a premiership was created without any headship of state. By August 1921, support for a monarchy had declined and the creation of a headship of state was backed, enthusiastically by some, with resignation by others, largely because it was demanded by de Valera as part of his pre-Treaty negotiation, to create the impression that the negotiation was between two sovereign states with delegates accredited by their respective heads of state, the British king and the Irish president.

2Following de Valera's resignation as President of the Republic in January 1922, Arthur Griffith was elected to replace him. Griffith chose to call himself 'President of Dáil Éireann' but never changed the title in the constitution.

3Following the deaths in rapid succession of President Griffith and the head of the Provisional Government, Michael Collins, W.T. Cosgrave assumed both titles, making him for a few months simultaneously a Crown-appointed prime minister & a president of the Republic.

Preceded by:
No equivalent office
Irish Prime Ministerial Offices Succeeded by:
President of the Republic