Orders of the Day — Irish Governments' Agreement. – in the House of Commons on 30th March 1922.

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Heads of Agreement between the Provisional Government and the Government of Northern Ireland.

  1. 1. PEACE is to-day declared.
  2. 2. From to-day the two Governments undertake to co-operate in every way in their power with a view to the restoration of peaceful conditions in the unsettled areas.
  3. 3. The Police in Belfast to be organised in general accordance with the following conditions:
    1. (1.) Special Police in mixed districts to be composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants; special arrangements to be made where Catholics or Protestants are living in other districts. All specials not required for this Force to be withdrawn to their homes and their arms handed in.
    2. (2.) An Advisory Committee composed of Catholics to be set up to assist in the selection of Catholic recruits for the Special Police.
    3. (3.) All Police on duty, except the usual Secret Service, to be in uniform and officially numbered.
    4. (4.) All arms and ammunition issued to police to be deposited in barracks, in charge of a military or other competent officer, when the policeman is not on duty, and an official record to be kept of all arms issued and of all ammunition issued and used.
    5. (5.) Any search for arms to be carried out by police forces, composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants, the military rendering any necessary assistance.
  4. 4. A Court to be constituted for the trial without jury of persons charged with serious crime, the Court to consist of the Lord Chief Justice and one of the Lords Justices of Appeal of Northern Ireland. Any person committed for trial for a serious crime, to be tried by that Court—
    1. (a.) If he so requests; or
    2. (b.) If the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland so directs.

Serious crime should be taken to mean any offence punishable with death, penal servitude or imprisonment for a term exceeding six months.

The Government of Northern Ireland will take steps for passing the legislation necessary to give effect to this Article.

5. A Committee to be set up in Belfast, of equal numbers, Catholic and Protestant, with an independent Chairman, preferably Catholic and Protestant alternating in successive weeks, to hear and investigate complaints as to intimidation, outrages, &c. Such Committee to have direct access to the Heads of the Government.

The local Press to be approached with a view to inserting only such reports of disturbances, &c, as shall have been considered and communicated by this committee.

6. I.R.A. activity to cease in the six counties, and thereupon the method of organising the Special Police in the six counties outside Belfast shall proceed as speedily as possible upon lines similar to those agreed to for Belfast.

7. During the month immediately following the passing into law of the Bill confirming the Constitution of the Free State (being the month within which the Northern Parliament is to exercise its option) and before any address in accordance with article 12 of the Treaty is presented, there shall be a further meeting between the signatories to this agreement with a view to ascertaining:

  1. (a.) Whether means can be devised to secure the unity of Ireland;
  2. (b.) Failing this, whether agreement can be arrived at on the boundary question otherwise than by recourse to the Boundary Commission outlined in article 12 of the Treaty.

8. The return to their homes of persons who have been expelled to be secured by the respective Governments; the advice of the Committee mentioned in article 5 to be sought in cases of difficulty.

9. In view of the special conditions consequent on the political situation in Belfast and neighbourhood, the British Government will submit to Parliament a Vote not exceeding £500,000 for the Ministry of Labour of Northern Ireland to be expended exclusively on relief work, one-third for the benefit of Roman Catholics and two-thirds for the benefit of Protestants.

The Northern signatories agree to use every effort to secure the restoration of the expelled workers, and wherever this proves impracticable at the moment owing to trade depression they will be afforded employment on the relief works referred to in this Article so far as the one-third limit will allow; Protestant ex-service men to be given first preference in respect of the two-thirds of the said fund.

10. The two Governments shall in cases agreed upon between the signatories arrange for the release of political prisoners in prison for offences before the date hereof. No offences committed after the 31st March, 1922, shall be open to consideration.

11. The two Governments unite in appealing to all concerned to refrain from inflammatory speeches and to exercise restraint in the interests of peace.

Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government:





Arthur Griffith,

Chairman of the Irish Delegation of Plenipotentiaries, 1921.

Signed on behalf of the Government of Northern Ireland:




Countersigned on behalf of the British Government:





Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

I am quite certain that not only the House, but the whole country, and indeed, by the time the news reaches them, the whole British Commonwealth, will have heard with very great relief the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just given us. It is not an occasion for anything approaching discussion, but there are two points which the right hon. Gentleman read out to us which I regard, if I may say so, with great hope, first, that members of two belligerents in unhappy conflict in Ireland have united together in a common effort to maintain law and order, and the other point realises, indeed, the greatest aspiration of all—that some effort should be made for the unity of Ireland. While I very seldom speak for the House as a whole, I am sure that on this occasion I can say this, that nothing will be lacking in any Member of any party in this House to do anything that we can to maintain this happy atmosphere, and we all, I am certain, join in the fervent prayer that this may be the first step to, and a real foundation of, a lasting peace.

Photo of Mr Joseph Devlin Mr Joseph Devlin , Belfast Falls

I trust the House will forgive me if I also offer my congratulations on the most cheering news which the right hon. Gentleman has conveyed to the House. No one rejoices more profoundly than I at the prospect of an immediate and, I trust, a permanent peace in Ireland. I can only say that if the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has read is the foundation of that future peace—and I trust, future unity of Ireland—then the best work that has ever been done for Ireland, for the Empire, and for the world, was performed to-day. May I be permitted to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman, and to all his colleagues, for the inspired idea which moved him to call this conference together, and I trust, as I pay very free compliments to hon. Members on that bench, that I may also be allowed to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the superb tact and ability with which he has conducted all those Irish matters since he has been entrusted with this task. For my part, having laboured now for over 20 years to try to bring my fellow countrymen in Ulster together—the one great object of my life being to see these causes of conflict disappear, allowing us to approach the consideration of Irish affairs, especially in Ulster and Belfast, from those normal points of view which guide politics here and elsewhere—I trust that we will now be enabled to apply ourselves to the higher and nobler task of fighting for the elevation of the poor, for the promotion of all great human causes, for the creation of better conditions for our people, and for the great purpose of joining together the democracies of these islands in all that can make for the grandeur, and power, and enduring strength of the Empire.

Adjourned accordingly at Fourteen Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.