#OTD in 1922 – De Valera and Collins agree to a pact whereby a national coalition panel of candidates will represent the pro- and anti-Treaty wings of Sinn Féin throughout Ireland in the forthcoming general election.

As in the Irish elections, 1921 in the south, Sinn Féin stood one candidate for every seat, except those for the University of Dublin and one other; the treaty had divided the party between 65 pro-treaty candidates, 57 anti-treaty and 1 nominally on both sides. Unlike the elections a year earlier, other parties stood in most constituencies forcing single transferable vote elections, with Sinn Féin losing 30 seats.

To avoid a deeper split Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins worked out a “pact” on 20 May 1922. It was agreed that the pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions would fight the general election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards. This pact prevented voters giving their opinions on the treaty itself, especially in uncontested seats. However, the draft constitution of the Irish Free State was then published on 15 June, and so the anti-treaty Sinn Féin group’s 36 seats out of 128 seemed to many to be a democratic endorsement of the pro-treaty Sinn Féin’s arrangements. Others argued that insufficient time was available to understand the draft constitution, but the main arguments had been made public in the Treaty Debates which had ended in January 1922.

Despite the Pact, the election started the effective division of Sinn Féin into separate parties. Just weeks later, pro and anti-Treaty parties would be in violent conflict.

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.