1919: THE FIRST DAIL EIREANN

by ehistoryadmin on January 19, 2019

The First Dáil Éireann. 100 Years ago.

On 21 January 1919, at 3.30 p.m, Dáil Éireann sat in session for the very first time in a packed Mansion House, in Dawson Street, Dublin. Cathal Brugha, as the newly elected TD for Waterford, was proposed and seconded as Ceann Comhairle or Speaker. Having emphasised the important work which lay before the Dáil and asking Rev. Fr. Michael O’Flanagan to give a blessing, Brugha called the roll of TDs for the island. Of the seventy-three Sinn Féin elected members of the new Irish parliament, not all were present on this momentous day. The names of those absent was answered by the reply ‘faoi ghlas ag na Gaill’ or ‘locked up by the foreigners’. Kildare South’s newly elected TD Art O’Connor, was imprisoned in Dartmoor Jail, while Domhnall Ua Buachalla, TD for North Kildare, took his seat as the inaugural Dáil went into session.

Leinster Leader 25 January 1921

AN DAIL EIREANN

An Dail Eireann assembled in the Mansion House, Dublin, on Thursday and the public were admitted by ticket in large numbers. The proceedings were conducted in Irish. Mr. Cathal Brugha was elected chairman. The members present rose in a body and subscribed to a declaration of complete independence for Ireland, an appeal to the free nations, and asked for recognition of Ireland’s national status, the assembly outlining its democratic programme. Count Plunkett, Mr. de Valera and Mr. Griffith were appointed delegates to the Peace Conference. Mr. Ian McPherson, Chief Secretary, was present on the afternoon at a conference in Dublin attended by the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Chancellor, the Commander in Chief in Ireland, Mr. McMahon, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General.

Mr. Sean T. Kelly proposed the temporary Constitution of the Dail as follows:-

First Article – The Dail Eireann shall have full legislative powers and shall consist of a teacti elected by the people of Ireland from the existing constituencies.

Second Article – (1) Full executive power shall reside in the Ministry.

(2) The Ministry shall consist of a Prime Minister selected by the Dail Eireann and 4 other Ministers namely – Minister of Finance,, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Defence. The prime Minister shall nominate the four others and shall have the power to deprive them of office.

(3) Every minister must be a member of the Dail and shall always be responsible to the Dail.

(4) The names of the Ministers must be submitted for confirmation to the Dail at the first meeting after their selection by the Prime Minister.

(5) The prime Minister shall be in power from teh time of his selection and the other Ministers shall be in power as soon as their appointment has been ratified by the Dail.

(6) The Dail shall have the power to deprive the Ministers, or any one of them of office by vote on a resolution in writing for that purpose submitted on seven days’ notice.

THE SPEAKER

Third Article – A Ceann Comhairle (Speaker) shall be selected for the year by the Dail on a substitute if he is not present, this officer to preside at the meetings of the Dail. Only members of the Dail shall be eligible for this office. If the Ceann Comhairle or his substitute is not present the Dail shall select a temporary Ceann Comhairle.

Fourth Article – The Ministry shall receive whatever monies they require by vote of the Dail. The Ministry will be responsible to the Dail for the monies voted and they will submit audited statements of expenditure to the Dail twice in the year, In November and May. An auditor, or auditors elected by the Dail shall audit the accounts. No member of the Dail shall be eligible for selection as auditor.

A TEMPORARY CONSTITUTION

Fifth Article – this is a temporary constitution and can be changed by written resolution submitted for this purpose on 7 days notice.

Continuing, Mr. Kelly said the Constitution was a very simple one, and as all the members of the Dail had already got it in their hands it did not require any long advocacy from him. They were sufficient for the time being for the purpose which the Dail held in view.

Sean O hAodha seconded the motion, which was unanimously carried.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The Chairman then read in Irish the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration was read in English by Mr. E. J. Duggan and in French by Mr. Gavan Duffy.

THE PEACE CONFERENCE

On the motion of Mr. P. O’Maillie, seconded by Dr. Ryan, the following were appointed delegates to the Peace Conference:- Eamonn de Valera, Arthur Griffith and Count Plunkett.

The Assembly has been sitting in private during the week.

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