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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ireland 1932

According to, in the 1932 General Election, Fianna Fail swept to power in the Irish Free State and Eamonn de Valera, the leader of Fianna Fail, became Prime Minister. Despite gloomy predictions, the country did not erupt into civil war and Cosgrave gave up power without a fight. de Valera immediately adopted policies designed to cut all ties with the UK. He abolished the "land annuities" in 1932 and the Dail's Oath to the King of England in 1933. Also in 1933, he reduced the powers of the British governmental representative in Ireland (and in fact abolished the post in 1937).

The "land annuities" caused the most contention in Britain. The annuties were money that the British government had loaned to Irish farmers before the Government of Ireland Act of 1921 and which the farmers had agreed to repay. Part of the Anglo-Irish treaty was that the Free State government would collect these debts and return the money to Britain. Britain was so furious with the Irish for keeping the money, that they imposed a 20% tariff on trade with the Free State. The Irish found that they could no longer sell their beef to Britain or Northern Ireland and so they retaliated by imposing a tariff in the opposite direction. This prevented Britain selling coal to Ireland. However, Britain did not depend on Ireland as much as Ireland did on Britain, and this seriously crippled the Irish economy.

After 5 years, in 1938, the two countries signed an agreement to end the trade war. Under this settlement the Free State give Britian £10,000,000 to pay off the annuities and in return Britian pulled out of her naval bases in Ireland. Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany in 1933 and, since then, British relations with Germany had deteriorated. Therefore pulling out of the naval bases was a hard choice for Britain, considering that war was looking increasingly possible.

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