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Sir James Craig, the Ulster man who beat the ‘Welsh Wizard’ Lloyd George at his own game

Monday marks the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which partitioned Ireland and led to civil war. Author Gretchen Friemann reveals the high-stakes poker between Northern Ireland’s premier, Sir James Craig, and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that led to the deal

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Meeting: Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland

Meeting: Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Credit: PA

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Credit: PA

PA

Front row from left, George Gavan Duffy, Erskine Childers, Robert Barton and Arthur Griffith

Front row from left, George Gavan Duffy, Erskine Childers, Robert Barton and Arthur Griffith

The first Northern Ireland Cabinet with Sir James Craig, the Prime minister, in the chair with (from left), EM Archdale, Minister of Agriculture; Sir Dawson Bates, Minister of Home Affairs; Lord Londonderry, Minister of Education; HM Pollock, Minister of Finance, and JM Andrews, Minister of Labour

The first Northern Ireland Cabinet with Sir James Craig, the Prime minister, in the chair with (from left), EM Archdale, Minister of Agriculture; Sir Dawson Bates, Minister of Home Affairs; Lord Londonderry, Minister of Education; HM Pollock, Minister of Finance, and JM Andrews, Minister of Labour

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Meeting: Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister, the pugnacious former stockbroker Sir James Craig, had intended to have nothing to do with the peace negotiations that culminated in the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in the early hours of December 6, 1921. Having won devolutionary powers for the Six Counties a year earlier, he wanted no part in a discussion that might dilute those gains.

But Ulster unionists’s relations with the Conservative Party were not what they once were. Before the First World War, the Tories had torpedoed the Liberal Party’s efforts to settle the Irish question.


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