The Anglo-Irish Treaty is introduced to replace the Republic with a dominion of the British Commonwealth with the King represented by a Governor-General of the Irish Free State. The Treaty is finally signed on December 6, 1921.
Éamon de Valera does not join in on the negotiations. His opponents say that he does so because he knows that the British will only allow an Irish dominion, not a republic, and does not want to be blamed for giving up the idea of a republic. De Valera says he is angry because the delegates working out the treaty had not asked him before signing the treaty. But at a secret session of the Dáil during the Treaty debates and publicised in January 1922, de Valera’s ideas for a treaty include dominion status, the “Treaty Ports,” a veto by the parliament in Belfast, and the king as head of the Commonwealth. Ireland would pay a share of the imperial debt.
On January 9, 1922, when the Treaty is accepted by a vote of 64 to 57, de Valera resigns as President of the Republic and a large minority of Sinn Féin Teachta Dálas (TDs) leave Dáil Éireann. De Valera states, “In view of the vote that was taken here on Saturday and which I had definitely to oppose as one that was tending to subvert the Republic which I was elected to my present position to defend and maintain; and as it appeared to me also to be a vote which would tend to subvert the independence of the country, I could no longer continue— as I was beaten in that — I could no longer continue in my present office feeling I did not have the confidence of the House. I therefore wish to place my resignation in the hands of the Assembly.”
A motion to re-elect De Valera as President is defeated along pro and anti-treaty lines by 60 votes to 58. Arthur Griffith, de Valera opponent and former colleague, is elected President of Dáil Éireann in his place.
Following the vote, Griffith says, “Before another word is spoken I want to say: I want the Deputies here to know, and all Ireland to know, that this vote is not to be taken as against President de Valera. It is a vote to help the Treaty, and I want to say now that there is scarcely a man I have ever met in my life that I have more love and respect for than President de Valera. I am thoroughly sorry to see him placed in such a position. We want him with us.”