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President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
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President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State

The President of the Executive Council (Irish: Uachtaráin na hArd-Chomhairle) was the title of the prime minister in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922-37.

Under the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922 executive authority was vested in the King and exercised by the Governor-General, who was provided with an Executive Council to 'aid and advise' him. The head of the Executive Council was to be known as the President of the Executive Council.

In reality, the Irish Governor-General as with other Commonwealth governors-general did not have a central role in government, with the dominant figure being the President of the Executive Council. Reflecting the pre-1918 form of the Westminster Model1 the Irish Prime Minister in practice had limited powers and functions.

Table of contents
1 Key facts about the Office
2 Presidents of the Executive Council
3 Notes

Key facts about the Office

Under Professor Brian Farrell's analysis of Irish prime ministers, published under the title Chairman or Chief?, the President of the Executive Council had little option but to be a chairman, with the principal power possessed by the Executive Council collectively. However a strong leader could exercise authority beyond the limits laid down in the 1922 Constitution.

Presidents of the Executive Council

NoNameBornFirst
elected
PartyConstituencyAssumed
office
Left
office
Left
Dáil Éireann
Died
1. W.T. Cosgrave June 6, 1880 August 1917 Cumann na nGaedhael Carlow - KilkennyDecember 6, 1922March 9, 1932February 4, 1948November 16, 1965

2. Eamon de Valera October 22, 1882 December 14 1918 Fianna Fáil Clare March 9, 1932December 29, 1937June 23, 1959August 29, 1975

The Office of President of the Executive Council was replaced by that of Taoiseach under Ireland's 1937 Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann

1>
Preceded by:
President of the Republic 2 (1921-22) answerable to Dáil Éireann
Irish Prime Ministerial Offices
Irish Constitutional Theory
Succeeded by:
Taoiseach (1937 - present)
Preceded by:
Chairman of the Provisional Government (1922) answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland
Irish Prime Ministerial Offices
British Constitutional Theory
Succeeded by:
Taoiseach (1937 - present)

Notes

1 Up to 1918 the British Prime Minister's powers within the Westminster Model of government were theoretically quite limited. Under David Lloyd George, however from 1918 the Prime Minister's role within the Westminster Model increased, as Lloyd George unilaterally claimed additional powers for himself that had previously belonged to the cabinet, most dramatically, the power to seek a dissolution. The Free State constitution reflected pre-Lloyd George constitutional theory on the powers of a prime minister. In contrast the later Irish constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, reflected post Lloyd George concepts of prime ministerial power.
2Arthur Griffith (Jan-Aug 1922) opted not to call himself President of the Republic but President of Dáil Éireann