66 years ago today Ireland declared its total independence, officially becoming the Republic of Ireland rather than the “Irish Free State” within the British Commonwealth.
The Oireachtas (parliament) gathered to sign “The Republic of Ireland Act” on December 21, 1948, and it came into force on the 33rd anniversary of the Easter Rising four months later, on April 18, 1949.
The Act, which has a concise five sections, granted executive authority of Ireland, and its external relations, to the President of Ireland. The President would act under the advice of Government of Ireland, which would act alone without British influence.
Although Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth for years before, it was still regarded officially as part of the Commonwealth.
Ireland formally severed ties with the British monarchy by repealing the External Relations Act of 1936, under which George VI had all of the power that the President of Ireland has now had for 66 years.
These are the five sections as written on the Republic of Ireland Act:
1. The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936 (No. 58 of 1936), is hereby repealed.
2. It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.
3. The President, on the authority and on the advice of the Government, may exercise the executive power or any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations.
4. This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Government may by order appoint.
5. This Act may be cited as The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.
Britain accepted the Republic’s independence, but they enacted the Ireland Act of 1949 which held that citizens of the Republic would not be treated as aliens under British nationality law; they also guaranteed to support Northern Ireland until the Northern Irish parliament decides they want a split.