The chances of peace hung by a thread that night of Monday 5 December 1921.
On the streets of Dublin and London, strange portents of doom appeared.
In Dublin, the hated Auxiliaries, confined to barracks since the truce of July, suddenly reappeared, in brazen breach of that truce, patrolling, questioning, harassing.
On the smart streets of west London, there were scenes more associated with the East End; through the fog, armed men could be seen standing in doorways and gateways, or prowling the roads. If challenged, some could show identity cards from Scotland Yard; others had no credentials at all, but walked with the confidence of men who knew they would face no challenge.
Inside 22 Hans Place, Kensington, the lights burned. Throughout the house, Irishmen stood on landings and stairs, arguing in tight tense groups, or slumped in chairs in exhaustion or resignation. Some had their hats and coats on, ready to leave, others seemed determined to stay.
They argued because they had just been offered what seemed like a great prize, a prize that had eluded their countrymen for centuries, yet would come at the cost of torching an ideal that men had fought, killed, and died for.
Outside was a small fleet of cars, engines running.
In the cabinet room in 10 Downing Street waited senior members of the British government, some of the most formidable negotiators ever assembled by any great power. They had just staked their political fortunes, their reputations, and the fate of their government, on offering a treaty that would see the United Kingdom, centre of the greatest empire on earth, surrender a fifth of its own national territory to men it had condemned as traitors and murderers.
Now, as the clock headed towards midnight, with each passing minute they wondered if they would ever see the Irish negotiators again.
Perhaps it was inevitable that it would all come down to this, with so much at stake; the attempt to turn the base metal of a pause in war, into the gold of a permanent negotiated settlement and a peace treaty.
Back in Ireland, hard men on both sides regarded the truce as nothing but a chance to regroup and rearm. If this brief window of opportunity closed without result, they would get their chance to go again.
The Truce had not been two weeks old when British Prime Minister Lloyd George sent a letter to Sinn Féin President Éamon de Valera, outlining the British proposals for 'An Irish Settlement'.
The 20 July letter offered the status of a Dominion like Canada, with a dizzying array of sectors in which the new state would have complete autonomy – in taxation and finance, in the courts and the law, in policing, education, health, housing, local defence, mines, minerals, forests – the list went on and on. It looked like the complete package.
Except it wasn't.
Accepting Dominion status inside the British Empire meant accepting there would be no Republic, yet for the men and women who had fought Britain, that sovereign Republic already existed, they had sworn an oath to defend it; Éamon de Valera was President of that Republic.
The treaty on offer would be on condition that the fledgling Northern Ireland Parliament was confirmed in its existing powers and privileges, unless its people decided otherwise.
After months of wary circling and back-and-forth correspondence, Lloyd George composed an offer designed to get the Dáil Government to the negotiating table, without making preconditions that would drive the Irish side away.
The question put to Dublin was:
Would Mr de Valera be "prepared to enter a conference to ascertain how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire, can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations".
At the end of September, Éamon de Valera accepted an invitation to attend a conference in London, to begin on 11 October.
CREDIT: Lavery Composite. Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery, from the exhibition "The Art of Negotiation: The John Lavery 'Treaty' Portraits", in the Irish Embassy, London, from 7 Oct to 7 Nov. From November 2021–November 2022 "Studio and State: The Laverys and the Anglo-Irish Treaty" National Museum, Collins Barracks.
Delegates Assemble: Men Against Boys?
The conference began on Tuesday 11 October.
The Irish side did not get off to a strong start.
There was a major disparity in negotiating experience between the two sides.
The negotiators on the British side were men at the top of the political class, with decades of experience negotiating treaties at the highest international level. They had spent months honing and refining their arguments, deciding on clear strategies and goals.
On the Irish side were men with no such experience. They had been fighting a war, in hiding, on the run, in prison, fighting an underground war only four months earlier. The Dáil hadn't debated the approach to be taken with the British. Even if it had, what would be debated? There was only one party represented in the house, Sinn Féin, and its position was straightforward and simplistic.
The British presence on the island was the problem, their withdrawal would make everything fall into place, no need to devise an approach to argue against a separate Northern Ireland. There was also no attempt to 'read' the British side, to determine what their red lines were.
There was also a lack of clarity about the status of the Irish delegates. Officially they were called Plenipotentiaries, which on paper meant they were authorised to reach agreements without referring back to Dublin. But they were also issued with instructions that before anything was signed, the complete text of the draft treaty was to be referred to Dublin, and a reply awaited.
Which raises the question that has been debated ever since: why did Sinn Féin President Éamon de Valera not lead the delegation in person? Why, as William Cosgrave protested, was the best player on the team left in reserve?
Austin Stack recalled de Valera's own argument for staying away. As head of state as well as head of the government, his absence would mean the delegation would make "no hasty arrangements" in London. The men actually going, Griffith and Collins, joined by Cosgrave, did not agree, and said so. They were outvoted at the cabinet table.
Those who never accepted de Valera's decision believed that he knew there would be no settlement that would yield a Republic, and was determined to have no part in standing over anything less.
Michael Collins did not want to be part of the delegation. He claimed to be a simple soldier, an organiser of resistance, and that it was up to more experienced men to make the peace.
If the Irish did not care to 'read' their opposite numbers, the British certainly tried to 'read' theirs. By August, elements of the British media were picking up rumours about divisions in the Dáil. Mark Sturgis of the Dublin Castle Administration noted in his diary of 19 August, reports that '"an Opposition' is beginning to show its head in Dáil Éireann in favour of a more decided Peace policy than de Valera's, and that Griffith leads it".
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Fitzalan, observed of Griffith that while he wanted a settlement for the whole of Ireland, "failing this, he would work for the 28 counties, but that he was not going to fight if he could only retain the 26".
The Irish Delegation arrived in stages on Sunday 9 and Monday 10 October. They took two houses in fashionable west London, number 22 Hans Place and number 15 Cadogan Gardens, and filled them with staff, domestic and secretarial.
Michael Collins' Secretary Eamon Broy recalled that despite all the attention paid to 22 Hans Place, someone had found the time to paint a single word, in foot-long letters in red paint on the pavement outside:
On the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, there appeared a single wreath, left by persons unknown:
"In memory of the 586 members of His Majesty's naval, military and police forces, murdered in Ireland".
The British position paper, based on the offer of 20 July, was the basis for the start of talks on Tuesday 11 October; the Irish paper was not ready. Chalk the first round up to the British.
A measure of the task facing the two teams at the start can be gained from looking at what, at the start of talks, each side considered its red lines:
The British offer to de Valera of 20 July meant:
No sovereign entity on the island of Ireland, outside the Empire and owing no allegiance to The Crown.
Northern Ireland's status guaranteed, unless its people decided otherwise.
The Irish response:
Sovereignty on the island of Ireland.
The six counties of Northern Ireland subordinated to a Dublin Parliament.
That was a very round circle to be squared.
For all the might of the British Empire, and the formidable negotiating team at his disposal, Lloyd George was hemmed in from the start.
The coalition of Tory and Liberals in his government gave Lloyd George cover against ambushes in parliament, as he sought to strike a deal with the Irish. But the combination of Liberal and Tory in government was a source of weakness, too. The Lord Chancellor (second most senior minister) the Conservative Lord Birkenhead, was a hardline unionist, who knew there was grassroots dissent in his party over the mere fact the talks were happening at all.
Lloyd George's nightmare was a breakup of the coalition over any major concessions on 'Ulster', an election, and a new Tory government. Which would end his political career, but also end the treaty talks.
He thought he had the solution to avoiding a breakdown of the talks over Ulster.
The Turning Point
He sent his Secretary Tom Jones to meet Arthur Griffith with a proposal that would prove to be the turning point in the talks.
Would the Irish Delegation consider accepting a 26-county parliament, with a boundary commission to decide if any of the counties, or part of the counties of NI, should also come under that parliament's jurisdiction?
The British government always secretly feared that counties like Fermanagh and Tyrone could easily be argued into the jurisdiction of the new Irish state, after a treaty came into effect.
Did Lloyd-George propose a boundary commission precisely because he believed it would appeal to Griffith the pragmatist?
Did Lloyd George ever really intend that such a commission would have such power to make such drastic changes to the new Northern Ireland entity?
Griffith WAS interested, and he replied so to Lloyd-George's approaches. Then he told de Valera the same. Griffith could see Northern Ireland rendered unviable, with Tyrone and Fermanagh, along with parts of Derry, Armagh and Down, passing to a new Irish State.
Collins was initially hostile to the proposal, but by the end of the talks, he openly agreed with Griffith
Are You in the Empire or Not?
When Lloyd George presented a draft treaty to the delegation in mid-November, it was the 20 July proposals with the boundary commission proposal added in.
The Irish reply a week later stuck to the basics:
Sovereignty for Ireland, no allegiance to The Crown.
The 'essential unity' of the island of Ireland.
The NI Parliament to be confirmed in its powers but subordinate to the new Irish Parliament, with safeguards.
Lloyd George was furious. To him, the reply represented no advance at all, sticking to the demand for Irish independence, with no real safeguards for NI, above all no offer to allow that parliament contract out of an all-island parliament.
He sent back a series of (exasperated) questions to the Irish Delegation:
Are you in the Empire or not?
Are we to control naval defences or not?
Do you accept the safeguards for Ulster?
In a bid to drive forward on a treaty text, the British side brought attorney general Gordon Hewart to meet the Irish legal team, Gavan Duffy and John Chartres, alongside Griffith and Collins at their next meeting. They pressed for an answer from the Irish Delegation on the key issues of sovereignty, the Commonwealth, and allegiance to the Crown.
24 November. 13 days to the signing.
The Irish went home to consult with the rest of the cabinet.
28 November. Nine days to the signing.
The Irish returned to London. They offered this formula, in answer to the direct questions put by the British:
'Ireland will agree to be associated with the British Commonwealth for all purposes of common concern, including defence, peace and war, and political treaties, and to recognise the British Crown as Head of the Association'.
Sitting at the cabinet table, Lloyd George read the letter, looked up at his ministers and said "this means war". Others around the table advised him to persevere.
29 November. Eight days to the signing.
Lloyd George offered to enshrine in the treaty, the promise that Ireland would have the same national status as the Dominion of Canada, the new entity to be known as 'The Irish Free State'. The Crown would have no more power in Ireland than it did in Canada; even the King's representative in the new State would be chosen by the Irish government, and would be symbolic only.
The Oath of Allegiance to the Crown could be watered down to something acceptable to the Irish.
30 November. Seven days to the signing.
The new draft is delivered to Griffith.
Friday 2 December - Saturday 3 December. Four days to the signing.
The Irish Delegation returns to Dublin, for a cabinet meeting to discuss the draft.
Why did the Irish Delegation feel so compelled to rush the deliberations?.
As the ferry left Holyhead in the small hours of 3 December, it collided with a Schooner, and three of its crewmen were killed. The ferry picked up survivors, returned with them to Holyhead, then turned again for Kingstown. Badly late, the exhausted delegates headed straight to the Mansion House for the cabinet meeting.
Incredibly, given the complexity of the issues at stake, and the likelihood of deep divisions around the table, the delegation had committed to return to London THE SAME DAY.
The Split Begins
The delegates were split. Griffith was in favour of the treaty, believing allegiance to the Crown was not an issue to break on. Duggan considered the treaty to be the last offer from the British. Collins considered rejection a gamble, since the British could be back at war in Ireland inside a week. Barton did not believe the treaty was Britain's last offer, and did not believe them ready to go back to war over Ireland owing allegiance to the Crown. Gavan Duffy wanted the Dáil to reject the treaty. Griffith concluded that he had to tell Lloyd George the treaty could not be signed.
Satisfied that Griffith had been confirmed in his determination not to sign anything without reference back to Dublin, de Valera declined to join the delegation on its return to London.
Sunday 4 December. Two days to the signing.
A meeting of the two sides at Downing Street ended with Lloyd George declaring that any of de Valera's counterproposals meant a straight refusal to accept membership of the Empire, and allegiance to the Crown. Both sides withdrew to prepare for a formal breakdown of talks the next day.
Midnight, Sunday 4 December – Monday 5 December. 25 hours to the signing.
At midnight, Tom Jones went to see Griffith alone at the Irish base in Hans Place. Over the course of the next hour, Jones was left in no doubt that Griffith saw the crisis looming. He told Jones that the Dublin-based Cabinet did not share his belief, and Collins' belief, in Lloyd George's desire for peace. They considered the London delegates had, for too little return, conceded too much on the questions of the Crown and the Empire.
To break the deadlock, Griffith asked, could the British not get even a conditional recognition of Irish unity, in return for acceptance of the Empire by Sinn Féin?
The meeting ended with either – historians are divided - Griffith asking Jones to get the prime minister to meet Michael Collins separately the next morning - in effect, just a few hours' later - or Jones asking Griffith to set up the meeting.
Either way, this was news to Collins. He had stayed away from the Sunday meeting on the grounds that there was nothing left to argue. Now Griffith was imploring him to see Lloyd George that Monday morning.
Monday 5 December. 9.30am. 17 hours to the signing.
Lloyd George began the meeting with Collins by stating that he had a Cabinet meeting in a few hours, at which he would announce the breakdown of negotiations.
Collins repeated Griffith's position that there was simply not enough give from the British on 'the North-East', ie the future status of Northern Ireland. He stated that an answer from James Craig either way, acceptance of an all-island parliament or rejection, would do, since rejection meant the NI Government would be faced with a boundary commission.
Lloyd George offered to look again at the wording of the Oath of Allegiance, if dominion status, ie membership of the Empire, and therefore no Republic, were conceded by the Irish Delegation.
No More Talking
Monday 5 December. 15.00. Twelve hours to the signing.
The final session of negotiations began. On the British side of the table, Lloyd George, Birkenhead, Chamberlain, and Churchill. On the Irish side, Griffith, Collins, and Barton.
Lloyd George started the final meetings by reminding Griffith that he had promised the Prime Minister that he would not "let him down" on Ulster. A few weeks earlier, to give him protection against potential Tory rebels in his cabinet, Griffith had assured Lloyd George that Northern Ireland would be allowed, within a set period, to opt out of an All-Ireland parliament that would be set up as part of the final peace settlement, and then have to agree to a boundary commission.
The Irish side wanted to wait until Craig had replied, before agreeing to any of the other issues. Collins said that only a united Ireland could agree to association with the Commonwealth. Were the Irish side to agree to the other provisions, before knowing Craig's answer, then they would have given away their "whole fighting position".
The British side refused to consider a delay to a final agreement.
Griffith said he would sign the treaty regardless of Craig's response, but claimed that the other delegates were not bound by his own promise not to let Lloyd George down on Ulster.
Lloyd George was having none of it.
The prime minister stated that Griffith spoke for the delegation, and that as Plenipotentiaries each delegate had to decide whether or not to sign the document and recommend it. All must sign. The British team had staked their political futures on the outcome, and the Irish side had to take risks too.
'War will follow in three days'
The next moments of the negotiations have passed into legend.
Lloyd George is said to have threatened "immediate and terrible war" if the delegates did not sign.
The reality, as recorded by Robert Barton, was less dramatic, if no less theatrical.
Lloyd George turned and addressed Barton directly. He said those who were not for peace must take full responsibility "for the war that would immediately follow refusal by any delegate to sign the Articles of Agreement".
The Prime Minister then produced two envelopes. He claimed they each contained a letter to Northern Ireland Premier James Craig. The prime minister had promised Craig an answer by the next morning. One letter stated that the Irish Delegation had agreed to recommend the terms to the Dáil. The other letter stated there had been no agreement. Were that to be the letter sent, war would follow in three days.
One of them had to be sent. The deadline for decision by the Irish Delegation was 10pm, to allow a messenger carry the letter to Belfast by special train and fast warship.
After seeking, and getting, a reduction to one month for the time Craig would have to decide to opt in or out of an All-Ireland parliament, the Irish left to consider their response.
Why did the Irish delegates not call Lloyd George's bluff on his dramatic and theatrical artificial deadline for signing?.
Why did they not produce their formal instructions from Dublin, which were to refer any treaty back to the cabinet before signing?.
Would Lloyd George seriously contemplate going back to war over a few more days' delay? The delegates did not seem to have even considered the use of the telephone to inform de Valera of developments.
Monday 5 December. 9pm. Five hours and 10 minutes to the signing.
Back in Hans Place, the Irish Delegation agonised over their response. Griffith and Collins were definitely signing. Duggan gave in next, unable to countenance a return to war, he persuaded Barton to do the same. Gavan Duffy was the last to agree.
The British Delegation waited at Downing Street, unsure if they would ever see the Irish again.
Every few minutes, Lloyd George's secretary Tom Jones was sent out to telephone Hans Place. Each time the answer was non-committal.
Monday 5 December. 11.30pm. Two hours and 55 minutes to the signing.
The Irish Delegation returned to Downing Street. There were negotiations on clauses on the Crown representative in the new state, and on issues of defence and trade.
A path was agreed for a Provisional Government of Southern Ireland to assume power, until statutory authority was conferred on it.
The Question is Put
Tuesday 6 December. 1am. One hour and 20 minutes to the signing.
Lloyd George asked the Irish delegates whether they were prepared to accept the articles of agreement and recommend them to the Dáil, while the British delegates would stand by the same articles in the Houses of Parliament.
Arthur Griffith replied "we will".
The heavily written-over, crossed-out, added-to and corrected text was sent away to be re-drafted by the stenographers.
While they waited, the two sides discussed the practical implications of the signing, such as the release of IRA prisoners.
No Going Back: 'I may have signed my actual death warrant'
Tuesday 6 December. 2.20am. The signing.
At 2.20am, the two delegations signed the treaty.
The British Signatories were under no illusion about the enormity of what the Irish delegates had just done. They recalled the pain, the strain on the faces of their opposite numbers. Churchill had described Collins, as he headed out the door to return to Hans Place earlier that night, as "looking like he was going to shoot someone ... I have never seen such pain and suffering in restraint".
Then came the exchange that has echoed down the century.
In a few words, the future was foretold.
Lord Birkenhead: "I may have signed my political death warrant tonight".
Collins: "I may have signed my actual death warrant".
The first sign of the trouble that would descend on the heads of the British signatories came immediately. Northern Ireland Premier James Craig's reaction to the treaty was furious. He believed the Treaty's terms violated the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, threatened the unity of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, the boundary commission was a threat to Protestants in the border communities, and the treaty damaged the security of Britain by giving up almost all of its military bases in the new state.
To Northern Nationalists, the Treaty confirmed Partition and their isolation in a Unionist Northern Ireland.
In headline terms, the Treaty seemed to represent a victory for the British, in that nothing significant was conceded during negotiations that had not been on offer in July.
The goals for the Irish Negotiators at the outset –that there be either a Republic for the 26 counties, or a united Ireland under Dublin control inside the Commonwealth - had not been conceded.
What is utterly baffling is how news of the signing reached the cabinet and de Valera.
Where was de Valera?
Even though he had repeated and reinforced the original instruction to the delegates to refer any draft treaty back to Dublin before signing, de Valera knew that Lloyd George was adamant a decision be reached immediately.
Should he not have cleared his schedule, to stay in Dublin to keep abreast of developments in London, to intervene where necessary?.
Instead, de Valera set off on a tour of the Mid-West.
In all his worst-case scenarios, he had never envisaged that the Treaty would be signed and about to be transmitted to the world before he had even seen it, let alone approved it. He had assumed that any text would be laid before him before signing.
The morning of 6 December found him in Limerick, reduced to hearing rumours of a signing in London. His initial conjecture was that the British must have made major concessions for his team to have signed the treaty.
The President then went back to Dublin for a culture night at the Mansion House, still unaware of the details of the Treaty signed that morning.
Austin Stack left an account of what happened when de Valera finally arrived at the Mansion House, five hours after his train pulled in to Kingsbridge (Heuston) Station.
'WHY DID YE SIGN? - HOW COULD YE?'
Still determined to carry on with the culture evening, upon arriving at the Mansion House, the President asked "any news?".
"Good or bad?"
De Valera had time to read the first clauses of the Treaty, the source being the Evening Mail newspaper. The first official confirmation of the document came when EJ Duggan arrived soon after, straight from London.
He offered the President an envelope, containing the details of the Treaty. De Valera at first refused to touch it, already knowing the scale of the concessions made. Duggan informed him the text was due to be published simultaneously in Dublin and London within the hour. De Valera opened the envelope, read the clauses. Stack claimed later that at that moment, Éamon de Valera "appeared to me to be a broken man".
The first bitter exchange then occurred. Stack challenged Duggan:.
"Why did ye sign – how could ye?"
"Because it was war in five minutes unless we signed."
Wednesday 7 December. 24 hours since the signing.
De Valera called a Cabinet meeting for the next day. The rest of the delegates were still returning from London, so around the table were: de Valera, Stack, Brugha, Cosgrave, O'Higgins. The President proposed sacking the three Cabinet Ministers among the Signatories. Cosgrave spoke up for the absent Ministers; should they not be given a chance to explain themselves?. De Valera relented, and called a full Cabinet meeting for the next day.
In advance of that meeting, the President drafted a statement for the Press, announcing the Cabinet meeting and its purpose:
"In view of the proposed Treaty with Great Britain, President de Valera has sent an urgent summons to the members of the Cabinet in London to report at once that a full Cabinet decision may be taken.".
Desmond Fitzgerald, Director of Publicity, read the statement and came into the room to offer his opinion.
"That may be altered, Mr President, it reads as if you are opposed to the settlement."
De Valera replied:
"And that is the way I intend it to read. Publish the statement."
Thursday 8 December. 48 hours since the signing.
The full Cabinet met at the appointed hour in the Mansion House. The returning delegates had come through the front door already uneasy, as, in contrast to the cheering crowds outside Downing Street, and the joyous throngs that had mobbed them outside the building in July after the Truce, the streets of Dublin were empty.
For the first time since the signing, delegate met minister eye to eye.
Around the table were: de Valera, Griffith, Barton, Collins, Brugha, Stack, Cosgrave. Also present, with no voting powers, were Erskine Childers, Gavan Duffy, Kevin O'Higgins, and PJ Duggan.
Stack and Barton later recalled the meeting was tense but not angry, a claim not backed by Frank Gallagher, who, with the assembled Press waiting in the adjoining room, had to speak loudly to drown out the angry words being spoken across the table.
The focus was not so much on the detail of the Treaty, as on how the delegates had come to sign it.
Barton and Duffy spoke of the duress put on them. Collins referred, enigmatically, to "the duress of the facts". Griffith was blunter: the alternative was war.
As to why there had been no referral back to Dublin, the lame reply was that they hadn't thought to refer it.
Collins offered that the Treaty was only being recommended to the Dáil. The ministers against the Treaty knew this was disingenuous; the press at home and abroad was already full-throttle behind the Treaty.
Griffith reproached de Valera for not going to London himself.
De Valera said he didn't go because he trusted Griffith.
The anti-treaty Ministers wanted to stop the treaty being put before the Dáil.
A vote was taken.
Against: De Valera, Stack, Brugha.
For: Griffith, Collins, Barton, Cosgrave.
A 4-3 victory for the pro-treaty ministers.
The next day's scheduled meeting of the cabinet was cancelled.
The Sinn Féin cabinet that had led the country through the darkest days of the War of Independence, never met again.
The narrative now moves to the slow but inexorable slide to civil war.
In the rush of anger, recrimination and justification that took place in those few days after the signing, it's easy to lose sight of just what was agreed in the small hours of 6 December, and how much the British side had CONCEDED, to the representatives of an elected body they had only recently considered an illegal organisation.
The British satisfaction at the Treaty terms was based on the claim that so little more than the terms on offer on 20 July was conceded.
The key is to look at the way that letter showed how much the British were already prepared to concede:
Their largest loss of territory since losing the American colonies in 1784. The largest loss of national territory by any European power, before 1945.
Self-governing dominion status for Ireland, but superior to that of Australia or Canada. Far greater independence than Home Rule would have offered.
All British forces, soldiers, police and judiciary, withdrawn forever from most of Ireland.
The Irish Army - the IRA - formally recognised in an international treaty.
Real economic autonomy, the underpinning of any truly independent state.
No United Ireland, but a promise of a boundary commission.
What then, was so bad about the Treaty that would see the island consumed by civil war within six months?
The opponents saw this:
The status of 'Republic', declared in the 1916 Proclamation, and defended in war for two years, was denied.
The Oath of Allegiance to be taken by members of the Dáil was ultimately to the Crown.
The unity of Ireland was denied by the guarantee to Northern Ireland of its continued existence as part of the United Kingdom. The boundary commission was a sop.
'Dominion Status' gave Ireland the same status as British colonies. They were new countries, full of British settlers, whereas the Irish were a separate people reclaiming old freedoms. Proximity to Britain meant that the latitude allowed faraway countries like Canada and Australia would never be extended to an entity within Britain's own sphere of influence.
On these differences would pivot the tragedy that was about to engulf the infant state.
There were handshakes and goodwill around the negotiating table in Downing Street in those small hours of 6 December, once the Treaty had been signed. But look ahead 12 months after the signing:
The two main Irish Signatories were dead.
The former President of the Republic was a fugitive in his own land.
The four British Signatories were out of office, their main 'offence' being the signing of the Treaty, that had given away so much to the Irish Negotiators.
TO BE CONTINUED.