The establishment of the Department of External Affairs was formally proposed by legislation in 1923. The Department was initially composed of a group of somewhat iconoclastic individuals. They had been part of the Propaganda Department of the clandestine Irish Government during the independence struggle and who later had accepted the 1921 peace treaty with Britain.1 The establishment of this Department was attacked by some members of the Dáil (lower house of parliament) during the passage of the enabling legislation as a useless impertinence and an extravagance. Indeed, the Department of Finance argued that no separate Department was required. It suggested that such external responsibilities as were necessary might most effectively be devolved upon the office of the President of the Executive Council.2 As late as 1943, and under a new constitution, a leading opposition politician — and later Taoiseach (prime minister) — described the Department of External Affairs as having been ‘the Cinderella of Government Departments’.3


Foreign Policy Foreign Affair External Affair Secondary Legislation European Affair 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Ben Tonra

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