Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:04 GMT

1923-38: The fixing of the Irish border

The Boundary Commission: surveyed a lot, proposed little and achieved nothing

Education boycott The Northern Ireland minister of education, the Marquess of Londonderry, introduces an Act in June 1923 removing religion from compulsory education.

[ image: Sir James Craig]
Sir James Craig
Both Catholics and Protestants oppose the measure and Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Craig retreats in 1925. Londonderry resigns.

Electoral change Local government boundaries are redrawn in 1923 by the Leech Commission - to the benefit of Protestants.

Boundary Commission A three-man commission begins work in 1924 on where to redraw the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. This was agreed under the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to allow Catholic enclaves in the North to move to the South.

The Commission takes hundreds of submissions and travels through the area. In November 1925, its report is leaked by its Unionist representative. It shows practically no change - the transfer from North to South of just 1.8% of the people and 3.7% of the land.

Of the border towns, only Crossmaglen is recommended for transfer, dashing the hopes of Catholic majorities in Derry, Strabane and Newry.

[ image: Baldwin: in favour of the status quo]
Baldwin: in favour of the status quo
The leak causes a crisis in the Dublin government.

The Irish premier, WT Cosgrave, agrees with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Craig to suppress the report.

The border is kept at the 1920 position and registered with the League of Nations.

End of PR Craig gets rid of proportional representation for parliamentary elections in 1929.

Three months later he is returned to power at a general election with an improved majority as Labour and Nationalist representation fell.

[ image: De Valera - to lead Eire for 16 years]
De Valera - to lead Eire for 16 years
Fianna Fail Eamon de Valera's Fianna Fail party, formed out of former Sinn Fein members, wins the 1932 general election in the Free State.

De Valera's government drops the oath of loyalty to the British monarch agreed under the 1921 Treaty and refuses to pay land annuities to Britain. A trade war begins in June with both sides imposing steep tariffs on the other's goods.

Stormont The Prince of Wales formally opens the new home of the Northern Ireland government in October 1932 at Stormont, in east Belfast.

Poor riots Also in October, protests by the poor on both sides of the religious divide suffering from the Depression erupt into riots. Two are shot dead and 15 wounded by the police. The government increases the amount of outdoor relief available.

Sectarian riots Violence takes hold in Belfast in July 1935 for more than a month. Twelve people are killed, most are Protestants but more damage is done to Catholic areas.

Irish constitution Eamon de Valera's government introduces a new constitution for Eire in June 1937. Articles 2 and 3 claim jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland.

Economic 'truce' Anglo-Irish trade agreement of 1938 ends the running battle over trade. Britain also gives up its military and naval rights in the four 'treaty ports' in Eire provided for under the 1921 Treaty, thus relinquishing its last territorial hold in southern Ireland.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |








In this section

1997-98: Second IRA ceasefire to the Nobel Peace Prize

1995-96: Clinton's visit and the end of the IRA ceasefire

1993-94 The Downing Street Declaration and the IRA ceasefire

1990-92: Start of the talks process

1988-89: Gibraltar killings and release of the Guildford Four

1985-87: The Anglo-Irish Agreement

1981-84: Hunger strikes and the Brighton bomb

1976-80: The violence continues

1972-75: The failure of Sunningdale

1970-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday

1968-69: The troops are sent in

1939-67: Relative calm before the storm

1923-38: The fixing of the Irish border

1921-22: The Irish Free State and civil war

1917-20: The road to partition

1910-16: The 'winning' of Home Rule to the Easter Rebellion

1850-1909: Parnell, Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule

1695-1850: A time of revolution and the Great Famine

1170-1691: From Strongbow to the establishment of Protestant ascendancy