Irish local elections, 1920
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 with slightly less than 50% of the vote because of the "first past the post" electoral system. This 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 urban borough elections result for first preference votes 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.
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. It should be noted however that 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
|Armagh UD||5||8||5||18||No overall control||Details|
|Belfast Corporation||5||12||35||5||60||Irish Unionist||Details|
|Cork Corporation||30||56||Sinn Féin||Details|
|Drumcondra, Clonliffe, & Glasnevin UD||Details|
|Dublin Corporation||42||14||1||14||80||Sinn Féin||Details|
|Killiney & Ballybrack UD||Details|
|Kilrush UD||5||7||12||Irish Nationalist||Details|
|Kingstown UD||Sinn Féin||Details|
|Londonderry UD||10||19||1||10||41||No overall control||Details|
|New Kilmainham UD||Details|
|Pembroke UD||Irish Unionist||Details|
|Rathmines & Rathgar UD||Irish Unionist||Details|
|Omagh UD||Irish Nationalist||Details|
|Sligo UD||7||5||4||24||No overall control||Details|
|Dublin South RD||Details|
|Strabane UD||Irish Nationalist||Details|
|Waterford||19||40||No overall control||Details|
- 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
- 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.
- Local Government Board for Ireland (1921). Annual report for the year ended 31st March 1920. Command papers. Cmd.1432. Dublin: HMSO. p. x.
- 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.