Throughout the summer of 1921, a series of contacts were made, meetings held and letters exchanged between the President of the Republic Éamon de Valera and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George culminating in the former’s acceptance on 30 September of the latter’s invitation for comprehensive talks ‘with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations’.
On 7 October, the Irish delegation was ratified by the Cabinet and supplied with credentials to ‘negotiate and conclude…a Treaty or Treaties of Settlement, Association and Accommodation between Ireland and the community of nations known as the British Commonwealth’.
The negotiation team was composed of Arthur Griffith (Minister for Foreign Affairs and chairman of the delegation); Michael Collins (Minister for Finance and deputy chairman of the delegation); Robert Barton (Minister for Economic Affairs); George Gavan Duffy and Éamonn Duggan, with Erskine Childers, Fionán Lynch, Diarmuid O’Hegarty and John Chartres providing secretarial assistance.
The British delegation which they faced on the opening of formal negotiations at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 11 October comprised David Lloyd George (Prime Minister); Austen Chamberlain (Lord Privy Seal); Lord Birkenhead (Lord Chancellor); Winston Churchill (Secretary of State for the Colonies); Sir Laming Worthington-Evans (Secretary for War); Sir Hamar Greenwood (Chief Secretary for Ireland) and Sir Gordon Hewart (Attorney General), with Tom Jones and Lionel Curtis providing secretarial assistance.
Biographies of the British and Irish delegates and secretaries can be consulted in .pdf format below in addition to being downloaded from the Downloads page.
Note: The Irish delegates’ biographies are reproduced gratis from the Dictionary of Irish Biography courtesy of Cambridge University Press while those of their British counterparts are reproduced gratis from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography courtesy of Oxford University Press. We are grateful to the staff of both companies for their kind generosity and contribution to our online exhibition.
British delegates’ biographies
British secretaries’ biographies
Irish delegates’ biographies
Irish secretaries’ biographies