Arthur Griffith was one of the most important players in Irish Independence. Griffith founded Sinn Féin in 1905 as an Irish nationalist party whose objective was “to establish in Ireland’s capital a national legislature endowed with the moral authority of the Irish nation”.
It was not until after the 1916 Rising that Sinn Féin became a major force in Irish politics winning a landslide majority of Irish seats in the 1918 General Election. Refusing to take their seats in the House of Commons, the party held the first Dáil on 21 January 1919, proclaiming itself the rightful parliament of an Irish Republic. During the vicious War of Independence and in the absence of de Valera in America, Griffith served as Acting President (sometimes in Jail). Griffith led the Irish truce negotiations in London accompanied by Michael Collins signing the Treaty in December 1921. Acrimonious debates in Dáil Éireann let to a walkout by de Valera and anti-Treatyites.
He died at the age of 50, ten days before Michael Collins’ assassination in Co Cork. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery four days later.