Free State or Republic?

Free State or Republic?

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30/08/1923 (of event)


01min 06sec




35mm, film, intertitles

black and white


National Film and Television Archive


British Film Institute

Rights Holder

British Film Institute

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Newsreel showing elections which would determine whether the Irish people wanted a Free State or a Republic in the aftermath of the disagreement over the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. This shows scenes from the general election, called by WT Cosgrave shortly after the Civil War, on 27th August 1923. National Army troops are shown guarding polling booths; votes are counted; General Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Defence, returned; Madame Charlotte Despard (sister of former Viceroy Lord French and a republican diehard) is seen; and Vivian de Valera, son of Eamon (in prison). The pro-Treaty side won (Cumann na nGaedheal 63, Labour 14, Farmers 15, Independents 16 and Independent Labour 1 - all for the Treaty - and Sinn Fein 44 - against the Treaty).


The Irish Free State came into being in December 1922, replacing two co-existing but nominally rival states: Southern Ireland, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and which from January 1922 had been governed by a Provisional Government under Michael Collins; and the de facto Irish Republic under the President of Dáil Éireann, Arthur Griffith, which had been created by Dáil Éireann in 1919. In August 1922, both states effectively merged with the deaths of their leaders and both posts came to be held simultaneously by W.T. Cosgrave.

Shot List

'Daily Sketch. Topical Budget. Free State or Republic? Soldiers guarding Dublin Polling Booth in momentous election'. Soldiers on street, crowd scene. 00:26 'Counting the votes'. Interior scene. 00:34 'General Mulcahy (right) Minister of Defense, whose troops captured De Valera, has been returned'.00:47 'Mrs Despard (Lord French's sister). A noted Republican'. 00:56 'Vivian De Valera. Son of the Republican Leader'.


Filmed by Yates


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