The Statute of Westminster, 1931 - An Irish Perspective

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Title: The Statute of Westminster, 1931 - An Irish Perspective
Authors: Mohr, Thomas
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Date: Nov-2013
Abstract: The Statute of Westminster Act, 1931 enjoys a prominent place in general histories of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other former Dominions of the British Empire.  This famous legal instrument is seen as an important milestone in the evolution of the Dominions from colonial status to fully sovereign states.  By contrast this famous legal instrument receives far less attention in works dedicated to Irish history even though the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 granted the self-governing Irish Free State the same status as the afore-mentioned Dominions. In addition, since the 1930s the Irish courts have maintained that the provisions of the Statute of Westminster had no impact on Irish constitutional law. This article argues that the marginalisation of the Statute of Westminster in Irish historiography and Irish law is particularly unfortunate when the proper context of this historic piece of legislation is fully appreciated.  This article will examine the impact of the Irish Free State on the enactment of the Statute of Westminster and the closely related issue of the impact of the Statute of Westminster on the Irish Free State.  Examination of these inter-related themes reveal perceptions of the Statute of Westminster at the time of its enactment when parliamentary debates focussed on its significance to the development of Anglo Irish relations at the expense of consideration of its impact on the evolution of the British Empire. This article will also examine the significance of the Statute of Westminster in advancing Irish sovereignty and in facilitating the creation of the current Irish Constitution that was brought into force in 1937. 
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Journal: Law and History Review
Volume: 31
Issue: 4
Start page: 749
End page: 791
Copyright (published version): 2013 The American Society for Legal History
Keywords: Statute of WestminsterBritish EmpireIrish Free StateBritish CommonwealthImperial law
DOI: 10.1017/S073824801300045X
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Law Research Collection

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