Irish local elections, 1920

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Irish local elections 1920
United Kingdom
1914 ←
January & June, 1920 → 1925

All 1806 councillors across Ireland
  First party Second party Third party
  Éamon de Valera.jpg Tomjohnson.jpg Sir Edward Carson, bw photo portrait seated.jpg
Leader Éamon de Valera Thomas Johnson Edward Carson
Party Sinn Féin Labour Party Irish Unionist
Councillors 550 394 355

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

Background[edit]

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.[1][2]

The electoral method introduced by the 1919 Act is still used in elections in the Republic of Ireland and most elections in Northern Ireland today.

January 1920[edit]

The urban borough elections result for first preference votes were:

Party % votes
Sinn Féin 27
Unionists[3] 27
Labour Party 18
Other Irish nationalists[4] 15
Independents[5] 14

Excluding the more unionist province of Ulster, the urban results were:[6]

Party % votes
Sinn Féin 41
Independents 21
Labour Party 17
Other nationalists[4] 14
Unionists 7

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.[7]

June 1920[edit]

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.[8]

Sinn Féin's success allowed them to seize control of virtually every county council and rural district council outside of Ulster.[9] 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.[7]

Results[edit]

Map of Ireland's various county, urban, and rural district councils.
Party Councillors ± First Pref. votes FPv% ±%
Sinn Féin 550
Labour Party 394
Irish Unionist 355
Old Nationalist[4] 238
Independent 161
Municipal Reform 108
Totals 1806 100%
Source: Michael Laffan[10]

Detailed results by council type[edit]

County councils[edit]

Authority SF Lab U Ind IrishNat Total Result Details
Antrim Irish Unionist Details
Armagh Irish Unionist Details
Carlow Sinn Féin Details
Cavan Sinn Féin Details
Clare Sinn Féin Details
Cork Sinn Féin Details
Donegal Sinn Féin Details
Down Irish Unionist Details
Dublin County Sinn Féin Details
Fermanagh Irish Nationalist Details
Fingal Sinn Féin Details
Galway 10 24 No overall control Details
Kerry Sinn Féin Details
Kildare Sinn Féin Details
Kilkenny Sinn Féin Details
Laois Sinn Féin Details
Leitrim 19 19 Sinn Féin Details
Limerick County Sinn Féin Details
Londonderry Irish Unionist Details
Louth Sinn Féin Details
Mayo Sinn Féin Details
Meath Sinn Féin Details
Monaghan Sinn Féin Details
Offaly Sinn Féin Details
Roscommon Sinn Féin Details
Sligo 20 20 Sinn Féin Details
Tipperary Sinn Féin Details
Tyrone Irish Nationalist Details
Waterford 19 40 No overall control Details
Westmeath Sinn Féin Details
Wexford Sinn Féin Details
Wicklow Sinn Féin Details
Totals

District Councils[edit]

Authority SF Lab U Ind IrishNat Total Result Details
Armagh UD 5 8 5 18 No overall control Details
Belfast Corporation 5 12 35 5 60 Irish Unionist Details
Blackrock UD Details
Clontarf UD Details
Cork Corporation 30 56 Sinn Féin Details
Dalkey UD Details
Drumcondra, Clonliffe, & Glasnevin UD Details
Dublin Corporation 42 14 1 14 80 Sinn Féin Details
Galway Details
Killiney & Ballybrack UD Details
Kilrush UD 5 7 12 Irish Nationalist Details
Kingstown UD Sinn Féin Details
Limerick 26 6 0 4 0 40 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
Totals

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sinnott, R. "Irish voters decide; voting behaviour in elections and referendums since 1918" (Manchester University Press, 1995), pp.27-28
  2. ^ Hansard report of the debate on the Bill's second reading, March 1919
  3. ^ Candidates from the Ulster Unionist Party and the smaller Irish Unionist Alliance
  4. ^ a b c Including candidates from parties such as the Irish Parliamentary Party
  5. ^ Sinnott R., op cit., p.28, says that "..most .. were unionist with a small "u"."
  6. ^ Martin, H. "Ireland in insurrection" (O'Connor, London 1921), pp.212-218
  7. ^ a b O'Day, Alan; Fleming, N. C. (2014). Longman Handbook of Modern Irish History Since 1800. Routledge. p. 69. 
  8. ^ The Green and the Red: Revolutionary Republicanism and Socialism in Irish History, 1848-1923. p. 485. 
  9. ^ Laffan, Michael (1999). The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916–1923. Cambridge University Press. p. 327.