Biography of Griffith, Arthur (Ó Gríobhtha, Art) - Archontology
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Griffith, Arthur (Ó Gríobhtha, Art)

Art Ó Gríobhtha = Arthur Griffith

b. 31 Mar 1871, Dublin
d. 12 Aug 1922, Dublin

Title: Acting President [1]
Term: 17 Jun 1919 - 27 Nov 1920
Chronology: 17 Jun 1919, appointed Deputy President by the letter of President of Dáil Éireann (Eamon de Valera, absent from Ireland) and submitted to the Dáil on 17 Jun 1919; Dáil ratified the appointment by voting on 17 Jun 1919 [2]
27 Nov 1920, ceased to exercise the functions of Acting President with his arrest by the British authorities
Title: President of Dáil Éireann = Uachtarán ar an nDáil Éireann [3]
Term: 10 Jan 1922 - 12 Aug 1922
Chronology: 10 Jan 1922, appointed President by the 2nd Dáil Éireann [4]
12 Aug 1922, died [5]

A native of Dublin, Arthur Griffith worked as a printer, and joined the Gaelic League and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In 1896-1898 he worked in the gold mines in South Africa, but returned to Ireland in 1898 to edit the "United Irishman", a weekly newspaper. In 1905 Griffith founded the Sinn Féin ('ourselves'), a nationalist party for achieving independence for Ireland, and became its president. The "United Irishman" ceased publication in 1906 and Griffith started a new paper, "Sinn Féin". He took no part in the 1916 Rising, but the British government imprisoned him for his writings. After his release, Griffith stepped down as Sinn Féin president in favour of Eamon de Valera (October 1917), and in the general election of 1918 Sinn Féin had an overwhelming victory. Griffith retained the East Cavan seat he had won at a by-election earlier that year. He did not participate in the first meetings of Dáil Éireann (21-22 Jan 1919) because he had been imprisoned by the British authorities. He was released and appointed Secretary for Home Affairs (2 Apr 1919 - 9 Jan 1922) in the government of de Valera. While in the United States, President de Valera appointed Griffith deputy president. This appointment was ratified by Dáil Éireann on 17 Jun 1919. Over large parts of the country British rule ceased to operate. Civil resistance was accompanied by guerrilla warfare under the leadership of Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy. Griffith along with Eóin MacNéill and Eamonn Duggan were arrested by the British on 27 Nov 1920. Griffith was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail until 30 Jun 1921. Pressure of public opinion led to a Truce in July 1921, and Griffith was chosen to lead the plenipotentiaries to the negotiations that resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 Dec 1921. After a long debate over the Treaty, Dáil approved it by 64 votes to 57. De Valera, who had opposed the Treaty, resigned on 9 Jan 1922. Griffith was elected President in his place. According to the Treaty provisions, on 14 Jan 1922 the pro-Treaty members of the Dáil assembled in Dublin as the Parliament of Southern Ireland. This assembly headed by Griffith and Collins appointed the Provisional Government to serve as a transitional body to whom the British later handed state authority and which functioned along with Dáil departments. In the general election of June 1922 the Treaty party won 58 seats, the anti-Treaty side 36, with the remaining 34 shared by Farmers, Labour, and Independents. The bombardment of the Four Courts held by anti-Treaty forces on 28 Jun 1922 signalled the beginning of Civil War. Griffith died suddenly in Dublin on 12 Aug 1922. Biography source: [6]

[1] President de Valera appointed Griffith as "Deputy President" ("I hereby appoint the Secretary for Home Affairs, Art O'Griobhtha, as Deputy President in my absence."). The Dáil ratified his appointment as "President-Substitute". Further proceedings of Dáil referred to him as "Acting President" ("Acting-President"). See Dáil Éireann Debates , vol. F, p. 112.
[2] Dáil Éireann Debates , vol. F, p. 112.
[3] The English-language Constitution of Dáil Éireann of 25 Aug 1921 used the wording "President who shall also be Prime Minister". At the election on 26 Aug 1921 it was asserted in Dáil (in English) that the proper style was "President of the Irish Republic". At the election on 10 Jan 1922 this was deprecated, and it was asserted, without formal contradiction, that the style was "Uachtarán ar an nDáil Éireann" ("President of Dáil Éireann"); the matter was left unresolved, the incumbents thereafter using the latter style.
[4] Dáil Éireann, op. cit., vol. T, pp. 410-411.
[5] The Irish Times, No. 20,388, 14 Aug 1922, pp. 4-5.
[6] "A Dictionary of Irish Biography", ed. by Henry Boylan (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1998).
Image: photograph, 1918.