January 21st 1919 The Irish Republic Is Established
On December 14th 1918 Sinn Féin had won a landslide victory in the general election winning 75 seats out of 105 on the promise they would not take their seats in Westminster but would instead form their own parliament.
The first meeting of Dáil Éireann occurred on 21 January 1919 in the Round Room of the Mansion House: the residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Being the first and highly symbolic meeting, the proceedings of the Dáil were conducted for the only time entirely in the Irish language, except for previously drafted declarations that were repeated in other languages as well.
Unionists and members of the IPP refused to recognise the Dáil, and four Sinn Féin candidates had been elected in two different constituencies, so the First Dáil consisted of a total of sixty-nine Deputies or "TDs". Forty-two of these were absent from the inaugural meeting as they were imprisoned or on the run from the British.
The Dáil elected Cathal Brugha as its Ceann Comhairle (chairman), and a number of short documents were then adopted. These were the:
Dáil Constitution – a brief, provisional constitution.
Declaration of Independence
Message to the Free Nations of the World – asking nations to recognise Ireland as a separate nation, free from British rule.
Democratic Programme – a tract espousing certain principles of socialism.
The Declaration of Independence asserted that the Dáil was the parliament of a sovereign state called the "Irish Republic", and so the Dáil established a cabinet called the Ministry or "Aireacht", and an elected prime minister known both as the "Príomh Aire" and the "President of Dáil Éireann". The first, temporary president was Cathal Brugha. He was succeeded, in April, by Éamon de Valera.
In September 1919 the Dáil was declared illegal by the British authorities and after that met only intermittently and at various locations. The First Dáil held its last meeting on May 10th 1921. After elections on May 24th 1921, the Dáil was succeeded by the Second Dáil which sat for the first time on August 16th 1921.
Seán MacEntee, who died on January 10th 1984 at the age of 94, was the last surviving member of the First Dáil.
Many will commemorate this important anniversary, but they will try and hide the fact that a 32 county Irish Republic was established that day, not a 26 county one.