Governor-General's Address to the Oireachtas

Governor-General's Address to the Oireachtas

The Governor-General's Address, sometimes called the Governor-General's Speech or the Speech from the Throne, was a formal address delivered by the Governor-General of the Irish Free State to a joint session of Oireachtas of Saorstát Éireann at the beginning of each new parliamentary session. Modelled on the Speech from the Throne delivered before parliaments in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth of Nations, the idea of beginning each session with a Governor-General's Address was discontinued in 1923 after just two addresses.

The first Address: December 1922

The first "Governor-General's Address" was delivered by the newly appointed Governor-General, Timothy Michael Healy, on 12 December 1922, 6 days after the coming into existence of the Irish Free State. Unlike other examples internationally the speech itself was delivered not to the upper house but to the lower house, Dáil Éireann, and involved no ceremony. Members of Seanad Éireann, at the invitation of the Ceann Comhairle assembled in the Dáil chamber to witness the Speech.

The Governor-General began by reading a message sent by King George V which read:

With the final Enactment of the Constitution the self-governing Dominion of the Irish Free State comes into being.

The Constitution is itself founded on the Treaty that was framed a year ago between the Representatives of Great Britain and of Ireland.

It is my earnest hope that by the faithful observance on all sides of the Pact so concluded the peace and prosperity of Ireland may be secured. It is in the spirit of that Settlement that I have chosen you to be the first Representative of the Crown in the Irish Free State.

With all my heart I pray that the blessing of God may rest upon you and upon the Ministers of the Irish Free State in the difficult task committed to your charge.

In the Speech itself, which was written by the Executive Council, the Governor-General told members of the creation of the Boundary Commission.

The Parliament of that portion of the Province of Ulster called Northern Ireland, taking advantage of Article 12 of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, has seen fit to present an address to His Majesty, by the effect of which the powers of your Parliament and Government have ceased to extend to Northern Ireland. Accordingly it becomes the duty now of my Government to take such steps as may be necessary for constituting the Commission which is to determine in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions, the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.

Members were also informed of forthcoming legislation that would deal with the implementation of the Irish Free State Constitution, the creation of a new judiciary, reform of the Poor Law, the creation in law of the Civil Guards (later named "An Garda Síochána") and other legal reforms.

After its conclusion, a motion of thanks was proposed in each House for the Governor-General's Speech. The Houses then debated in detail the full contents of the speech.

The second Address: October 1923

The second Governor-General's Address was delivered to a Joint Session on 3 October 1923. The text had been distributed in advance. Its contents were discussed in detail in subsequent weeks in both Houses.

No further Governor-General's Addresses were even given.

External links

* [ Text of the first Governor-General's Speech (December 1922)]

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