Last ‘King of Ireland’ caused a war

Gerard Howlin (Opinion, April 9) writes: “Until Bunreacht na hÉireann established the office of President of Ireland, and Douglas Hyde was elected to it in 1938, the King of England was head of state in Ireland.”

I am in awe of that sentence as setting some sort of record of, while being correct as far as it goes, leaving enough for an entire book about what it manages to omit. But I only have your Letters page.

First, the fact that “the King of England was head of state in Ireland” caused the Civil War in Ireland. The Anti-Treaty side was vehemently opposed to the fact that, among other things, the King would have to approve formally Acts passed by the Dáil, just as he did those passed by the Houses of Parliament. In theory his witholding of such consent would mean, in effect, Britain still ruled Ireland.

However, the huge historic irony is that Dev turned that idea right on its head.

Far from ‘ruling Ireland’, the British did not give a damn about anything outside central London at the time of the abdication of Edward VIII.

He realised that if he brought into effect the new constitution there and then, the British would not even know, never mind care. So he did precisely that.

Finally, a favourite quiz question: what man was King of Ireland while not king of England? Eddie the Abdicator. When he did abdicate, that had to be recognised formally by both Parliament and Dáil.

However the Dáil was not sitting at that particular time, and so had to be recalled.

It took several days for members to get to Dublin. In the interim Edward VIII was still, technically, King of Ireland, although pariament had formally approved George VI.

Frank Desmond

Evergreen Road


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