“2. It is understood before decisions are finally reached on a main question, that a dispatch will be sent to members of the cabinet in Dublin, and that a reply will be awaited by the plenipotentiaries before final decision is made.
3. It is also understood that the complete text of the draft treaty about to be signed will similarly be submitted to Dublin and a reply awaited.”
The “plenipotentiaries” were under specific directions from the President to communicate full version of the draft treaty to Dublin. They disobeyed that direction. But why?
1) The poor quality telephones is sometimes one excuse.
2) threat of immediate resumption of war by the British is even touted as a reason.
3) A final excuse is that although the British never accepted them as delegates of a sovereign state with plenipotentiary powers to sign without recourse, that the Dáil has given them lower and Griffith felt he could explicitly disobey the President’s direction.
4) it was an effective coup Griffith backed by the minister for finance, Collins.
5) the delegates had gone native in London society.
6) the cabinet and Dáil would have a say (ie they recognised they did not have plenipotentiary powers) and if they signed their names it had a better chance of passing.
7) they genuinely believed that land annuities, oath, partition, and giving three ports to the British, and De Valera would have agreed if he hadn’t held himself in reserve. Though it’s hard to read article 5 now and think it was a good deal. http://treaty.nationalarchives.ie/do...r-1921-page-1/
Does History actually record why Griffith and the others signed in breach of their direct instructions (resulting in the mythology that the blame lay with the President who wasn’t contacted).
Edit: I notice the current government version on the website has a timeline, which has no reference to the Presidents instructions to the delegates. A curious omission. Here’s its timeline:
Counter proposals are presented by the British and brought to Dublin for full consideration by the Cabinet in Dublin on 3 December. External association is stipulated as the plenipotentiaries’ default position in the negotiations to follow. The oath of allegiance, as worded in the British document, is rejected – even if the consequence is a resumption of war – while it is reiterated that no document can be signed without reference back to the Dáil.
3 DecemberDe Valera visits counties Clare and Galway and makes speeches defining his republican position.
4 DecemberDiscussion by both sides of the written Irish counter proposals. 5 DecemberA meeting is held between Lloyd George and Collins which discusses the proposed boundary commission in more detail.
6 DecemberAn ultimatum is delivered by Lloyd George to the delegates in which they are faced with the option of either signing the text of the Treaty as it stands or refusing to sign and face the consequence of an immediate resumption of war. The ‘Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland’ are signed by both delegations at 2.15am.
8 DecemberDe Valera issues a public statement that he cannot recommend acceptance of the Treaty. The Cabinet decides by 4 votes to 3 to recommend the Treaty to the Dáil on 14 December.