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Fraught final push for Irish Treaty deal would not go well

Colum Kenny


A century ago this week, with tensions high on both sides, prime minister Lloyd George and Sinn Féin’s Arthur Griffith had reason to be hopeful

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The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Chairman Arthur Griffith TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Chairman Arthur Griffith TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Robert Barton TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Robert Barton TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Michael Collins TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Michael Collins TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Éamonn Duggan TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Éamonn Duggan TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: George Gavan Duffy TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: George Gavan Duffy TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

Griffith and de Valera on Dawson Street, Dublin, 1921: “Sancho Panza next to Don Quixote,” wrote French journalist Simone Téry. (Courtesy National Museum of Ireland)

Griffith and de Valera on Dawson Street, Dublin, 1921: “Sancho Panza next to Don Quixote,” wrote French journalist Simone Téry. (Courtesy National Museum of Ireland)

Ulster intransigence. 'Sunday Independent', November 6, 1921

Ulster intransigence. 'Sunday Independent', November 6, 1921

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The Irish delegates, painted by John Lavery in London, 1921: Chairman Arthur Griffith TD. (Courtesy Dublin City Gallery/The Hugh Lane)

This week, a century ago, Lloyd George and Arthur Griffith found a way forward. Griffith and Collins thought that it would deliver an independent Irish state of 28 counties, including Tyrone and Fermanagh.

Parts of counties Derry and Down were also in play. This was one reason why Griffith and Collins were soon to agree terms for a treaty. But the events of early November 1921 have been misunderstood. And, after Griffith and Collins died in 1922, the deal that they thought they had won on redrawing the Border died too.


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