Society of Ireland

The crash 2008 present and IMF intervention

Fianna Fail's economic programme marked a sharp break with their predecessors in Cumann na nGaedheal. Instead of Free Trade, which benefited mainly substantial farmers, Fianna Fail pursued the nationalist aim of establishing Irish domestic industries, which were protected from foreign competitors by tarifs and subsidies. Fianna Fail made it mandatory for foreign companies to have a quota of Irish members on their boards. They also set up a large number of semi-state companies such as the Electricity Supply Board and the Turf Development Board. While this state-led strategy had some positive results, emigration remained high throughout this period, with up to 75,000 leaving for Britain in the late 1930s. In the course of their pursuit of economic independence, Fianna Fail also provoked what is known as the Anglo-Irish Trade War with Britain in 1933, by refusing to continue paying back "Land Annuities" -money that Irish farmers had borrowed from the British government since the 1903 Wyndham Act in order to buy their own land. The British in retaliation raised tariffs on Irish agricultural produces, hurting Ireland's export trade. De Valera in turn raised taxes on the importation of British goods. The burden of this standoff fell on the cattle farmers, who could no longer sell their cattle at competitive rates in Britain. Additionally the Fianna Fail government continued to collect half the land annuities as taxation. Police and sometimes troops were used to seize cattle off farmers who would or could not pay. Farmers aggrieved at these policies were one of the principal support bases of the Blueshirt movement The dispute with Britain was finally settled in 1939. Half of the land annuity debt (c. ?90 million) was written off and the rest paid as lump sum. The British also returned to Ireland the Treaty ports, which they had retained since the Treaty of 1922. Irish control over these bases made possible Irish neutrality in the looming Second World War.

The Free State from 1922-1937 was a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned (from 1927 with the title "King of Ireland"). The Representative of the Crown was known as the Governor-General. The Free State had a bicameral parliament and a cabinet, called the "Executive Council" answerable to the lower house of parliament, the Free State Dail. The head of government was called the President of the Executive Council. The parliament of the U.K. passed The Statute of Westminster 1931, which granted legislative independence to the six Dominions, Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa. In 1932, after Eamon de Valera and Fianna Fail's victory in the general election, the 1922 Irish Free State constitution was amended through a series of legislative changes, was subsequently replaced with a new constitution. This document was drawn up by the de Valera administration. It was approved by the electorate in a plebiscite by a simple majority. On the 29 December 1937 the new "Constitution of Ireland" came into effect, renaming the Irish Free State to simply "Eire" or in the English language "Ireland". The Governor-General was replaced by a President of Ireland and a new more powerful prime minister, called the "Taoiseach", came into being, while the Executive Council was renamed the "Government". Though it had a president, the new state was not a republic. The British monarch continued to reign theoretically as King of Ireland and was used as an "organ" in international and diplomatic relations, with the President of Ireland relegated to symbolic functions within the state but never outside it.



ESHSI, Department of Modern History, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Contact: Membership Secretary