The speech by Limerick TD Kathleen O'Callaghan's during the Treaty Debate at a sitting of Dáil Éireann in December 1921.

Kathleen (Kate) O'Callaghan (1885-1961) was born near Macroom, County Cork. A lecturer in education at Mary Immaculate College of Education, she was also a founder member of Cumann na mBan in Limerick and president of that branch.

In 1914 she married Michael O'Callaghan an active member of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) who served as mayor of Limerick in 1920, and was shot and killed in their home on 7 March 1921 by British forces.

Elected as the Sinn Féin candidate for Limerick City-Limerick East in May 1921 Kathleen O'Callaghan was one of six women TDs (Teachtaí Dála) in the second Dáil, all of whom voted against the Treaty.

A suffragist and supporter of women’s rights, she reminds her fellow TDs that women are just as concerned about Ireland’s future as men,

The women of Ireland so far have not appeared much on the political stage. That does not mean that they have no deep convictions about Ireland's status and freedom.

Believing that the agreement put Ireland on a Dominion status within the British Empire, she rejects the articles of the Treaty, preferring instead a fully independent Ireland, which looks now to be in danger of never coming into existence,

Why am I a widow? Was it that I should come here and give my vote for a Treaty that puts Ireland within the British Empire?

The Anglo-Irish Treaty was an agreement between the British government and an Irish republican delegation which brought the Irish War of Independence to an end. The Treaty was to give Ireland a 26 county Free State and was an agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland and representatives of the Irish Republic.

Negotiators on the British side included Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Lord Birkenhead, Austen Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Sir George Hewart and Sir Hamar Greenwood. The Irish negotiators were Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Robert Barton, Eamonn Duggan and George Gavan Duffy.

The first meeting of Dáil Éireann to discuss the Treaty was on 14 December 1921. It convened in the council chambers of University College Dublin on Earlsfort Terrace, as the Mansion House was unavailable.

In total there were 12 public sessions during the debate and the vote was taken at the end of the 10th session. Three private sessions also took place, from 15 - 17 December 1921 and on 6 January 1922.

This episode of 'The Treaty Debate’ was broadcast on 22 December 1971. Kathleen O'Callaghan is played by actor Áine Ní Mhuirí. The producer is Donall Farmer.

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty in 1971 RTÉ broadcast ‘The Treaty Debate’ a series of five programmes from 14 December 1971 to 7 January 1972. The series presented in condensed form the debate on the Anglo-Irish Treaty between Britain and Ireland, signed in London on 6 December 1921.

In an RTÉ Guide article of 10 December 1971, producer Donall Farmer described the object of this series,

To show what the discussion was about, not in a second-hand version, but in the words of the protagonists themselves...absolute care has been taken in the editing to ensure that the sense of the speeches is unaltered, that a fair and accurate picture of what the speakers were saying is represented…

The process of editing the text of the debate was the task of writer GP Gallivan. Professor Kevin B Nowlan, Associate Professor of Modern History, University College Dublin who was appointed as series advisor also edited the script, to ensure that accuracy had been preserved and that it remained impartial and without bias.

Each programme is introduced by narrator Derek Young, who provides background information where necessary and links the contributions of the speakers. A group of seven actors reenact the speeches so that in any one programme an actor may be seen as three or more persons. No effort is made to personate the character of the actual man or woman who made the speech.