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The Irish general election of 1922 took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. For Irish Republicans this chose the membership of the Third Dáil of the Irish Republic; under the provisions of the treaty it was a provisional parliament replacing the parliament of Southern Ireland. From 6 December 1922 it was the Dáil Éireann of the Irish Free State.


As in the Irish elections, 1921, Sinn Féin stood one candidate for every seat, except those for the University of Dublinmarker and one other; the treaty had divided the party between 65 pro-treaty candidates, 57 anti-treaty and 1 nominally on both sides. Unlike the elections a year earlier, other parties stood in most constituencies forcing single transferable vote elections, with Sinn Féin losing 30 seats.

To avoid a deeper split Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins worked out a "Pact" approved on 20 May 1922. It was agreed that the pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions would fight the general election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards. This pact prevented voters giving their opinions on the treaty itself, especially in uncontested seats. However, the draft constitution of the Irish Free State was then published on 15 June, and so the anti-treaty Sinn Féin group's 36 seats out of 128 seemed to many to be a democratic endorsement of the pro-treaty Sinn Féin's arrangements. Others argued that insufficient time was available to understand the draft constitution, but the main arguments and debates had already been made public during and after the Dáil "Treaty Debates" that had ended on 10 January 1922, nearly six months before.

From a distance Winston Churchill opposed the Pact as undemocratic, and made a long statement on 31 May. He was responsible at the time for steering the transitional arrangements between the Provisional Government and Britain, in the period between the ratification of the Treaty and the creation of the Irish Free State.

Despite the Pact, the election started the effective division of Sinn Féin into separate parties. The anti-Treaty TDs then boycotted the new Dáil, even though they had requested, negotiated and approved the terms of the Pact. In hindsight it was a tactical ploy. This boycott gave uncontested control to the pro-treaty members of Sinn Féin, and so enabled W. T. Cosgrave to establish the Second Irish Provisional Government and later the First Executive Council of the Irish Free State.


3rd Irish general election – 16 June 1922
Party Leader Seats +/- % of Seats
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty) Michael Collins 58 (17 unopposed) –30 45.3
Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty) Éamon de Valera 36 (16 unopposed) 28.1
Labour Party Thomas Johnson 16 +16 13.3
Farmers' Party Denis Gorey 8 +8 5.5
Independents 10 (4 unopposed) +6 7.8
Total 128 100

Votes cast

Out of a valid poll of 620,283 votes, the pro-Treaty part of the Sinn Fein party won 239,193 votes and their anti-Treaty rivals secured 133,864 votes. The other parties and independents (see above) all supported the Treaty and secured a further 247,226 votes.

The vote was seen as significant in several ways:
  • The pro-Treaty parties had secured support from over 75% of the electorate on the eve of the Irish Civil War.
  • The non-Sinn Féin parties had support from over 40% of the electorate, showing that a significant part disapproved of the military and political events since the election in 1921, where the Sinn Féin candidates had swept the board unopposed.

Further, the anti-Treaty candidates had taken part in an election that was required under the articles of the Treaty, even though they had argued that it was completely flawed. Their opponents argued that this revealed that their anti-Treaty stance was opportunist, and not principled.

In that the anti-Treaty forces wanted to establish an all-Ireland republic, this election result when considered with the 1921 result in Northern Ireland shows that the anti-Treaty party had an enormous uphill struggle to achieve their constitutional aim.

Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. Adoption of Pact agreement
  2. Hansard 31 May 1922 - Churchill's statement
  3. Younger, Calton "Ireland's Civil War" Muller, London 1968; p.304.

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