By Eamonn Duggan – part of our Ireland in 1919 series
When Dáil Éireann decided to seek funding from the public in 1919 to cover its own costs and the cost of implementing policies the elected members had campaigned on in the general election of December 1918, there was a very positive reaction from those who supported the counter-state and wished to see the end of the British administration in the country.
On the other hand, the reaction of the authorities in Dublin Castle and that of the government in London was, initially, one of indifference which quickly became one of alarm once the realisation dawned on them the majority of Irish people were embracing the National Loan campaign with a zeal and vigour that reflected the changing political situation in the country.
In the early months of 1919, the government in London, led by Lloyd George, was pre-occupied with the aftermath of the ‘Great War’ and the Paris Peace Conference. Lloyd George was determined to attain the best possible settlement for Britain at the conference and, in his pursuance of that goal, he largely ignored what was happening in Ireland.
The 1918 general election result was a seismic one which changed the political landscape forever and heralded the arrival of Sinn Féin as the major party in the country.