1920 Irish local elections
All 1806 councillors across Ireland
The 1920 Irish local elections were held in January & June 1920 for the various county & district councils of Ireland. The elections provide an interesting barometer of opinion in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence (1919–21), and were the last elections to be held on an all-Irish basis, with the Government of Ireland Act 1920 being passed at the end of the year, legislating for the partition of Ireland. The next local elections in Ireland were held in Northern Ireland in 1924, with the Irish Free State holding local elections in 1925.
The 1920 Irish local elections were held in two stages:
- Urban area local elections in January 1920
- Rural areas in June 1920
In the 1918 general elections the newly reformed Sinn Féin party had secured a large majority of Irish seats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Because many seats won by Sinn Féin were uncontested, and the elections used the "first past the post" system, Sinn Féin in all contested seats gained slightly less than 50% of the vote. This electoral success provided a propaganda coup for Sinn Féin, and so the British Government introduced the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1919, which allowed for parliamentary elections by proportional representation in all of Ireland for the first time, by the system of the single transferable vote for multi-member electoral areas. The government hoped that the new system would reveal less-than-monolithic support for Sinn Féin, and it was first tested in the 1920 local elections.
The 1919 act mandated elections for all urban councils except Sligo Corporation, which had been reconstituted and elected in 1919. The cumulative first preference votes in the 1920 urban elections were:
|Other Irish nationalists||15|
The 15 January elections saw Sinn Féin, Labour, and other nationalists winning control of 172 of Ireland's 206 borough and urban district councils. The subsequent mayoral elections on 30 January saw a Unionist elected for Belfast, a Nationalist in Londonderry, Labour in Wexford, and Sinn Féin in eight boroughs.
In Westport, only 4 candidates were nominated for the 18 seats on the urban district council, and only 2 of those accepted office. Since 5 councillors was a quorum, Mayo County Council mandated a special election for 15 March, but only one extra candidate was nominated.
The rural elections showed a much greater level of support for Sinn Féin in its core support area. It took control of 338 out of 393 local government bodies, county councils, boards of guardians and rural district councils across the whole island. The county and rural district elections saw virtually no contests outside of Ulster.
Sinn Féin's success allowed them to seize control of virtually every county council and rural district council outside of Ulster. Sinn Féin success in the 12 June rural and county elections extended even to Ulster, with the party winning control of 36 of Ulsters 55 rural districts.
|Party||Councillors||±||First Pref. votes||FPv%||±%|
|Source: Michael Laffan|
Detailed results by council type
County Borough councils
|Londonderry||10||19||1||10||41||No overall control||Details|
|Waterford||19||40||No overall control||Details|
|Armagh||5||8||5||18||No overall control||Details|
|Killiney and Ballybrack||Details|
|Rathmines & Rathgar||Irish Unionist||Details|
- Local Government Board for Ireland (1921). "Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919: Elections". Annual report for the year ended 31st March 1920. Command papers. Cmd.1432. Dublin: HMSO. pp. i–xi, Appendix 1–49.
- Whyte, Nicholas (19 December 2000). "The Irish elections of 1918". ARK. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
- Sinnott, R. "Irish voters decide; voting behaviour in elections and referendums since 1918" (Manchester University Press, 1995), pp.27-28
- Hansard report of the debate on the Bill's second reading, March 1919
- Local Government (Ireland) Act 1919 §9; Sligo Corporation Act 1918
- Candidates from the Ulster Unionist Party and the smaller Irish Unionist Alliance
- Including candidates from parties such as the Irish Parliamentary Party
- Sinnott R., op cit., p.28, says that "..most .. were unionist with a small "u"."
- Martin, H. "Ireland in insurrection" (O'Connor, London 1921), pp.212-218
- O'Day, Alan; Fleming, N. C. (2014). Longman Handbook of Modern Irish History Since 1800. Routledge. p. 69.
- Cmd.1432 p.x
- Cmd. 1432 p.xi
- Philpin, Charles H. E. (2002). Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 415.
- The Green and the Red: Revolutionary Republicanism and Socialism in Irish History, 1848-1923. p. 485.
- Laffan, Michael (1999). The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916–1923. Cambridge University Press. p. 327.