Craig-Collins Agreement


Historical Context

General Michael Collins and Ulster Unionist leader Sir James Craig created their own pact about the fate of Northern Ireland and its border in 1922. Their agreement consisted of five major points, including the establishment of a constitution for every county and the elimination of the Boundary Commission. (In other words, Collins and Craig wanted to set the border themselves.) Unfortunately, relations between Craig and Collins deteriorated and the agreement was never implemented, though it was signed by Collins, Kevin O'Higgins, Craig, Churchill, et. al., on March 30, 1922. As we know, sadly, Collins was killed that August so there was no chance of reviving this accord.


Text of the Craig-Collins Agreement

Heads of agreement between the Provisional Government and Government of Northern Ireland:

(1) Peace is today declared.
(2) From today the two Governments undertake to cooperate in every way in their power with a view to the restoration of peaceful conditions in the unsettled areas.
(3) The Police in Belfast to be organised in general in accordance with the following conditions:

1. Special police in mixed districts to be composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants, special agreements to be made where Catholics or Protestants are living in other districts. All specials not required for this force to be withdrawn to their homes and their arms handed in.
2. An Advisory Committee, composed of Catholics, to be set up to assist in the selection of Catholic recruits for the special police.
3. All police on duty, except the usual secret service, to be in uniform and officially numbered.
4. All arms and ammunition issued to police to be deposited in barracks in charge of a military or other competent officer when the policeman is not on duty, and an official record to be kept of all arms issued, and of all ammunition issued and used.
5. Any search for arms to be carried out by police forces composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants, the military rendering any necessary assistance.

(4) A Court to be constituted for the trial without jury of persons charged with serious crime, the Court to consist of the Lord Chief Justice and one of the Lord Justices of Appeal of Northern Ireland. Any person committed for trial for a serious crime to be tried by that court:

a. If he so requests, or
b. If the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland so directs.

Serious crime should be taken to mean any offence punishable with death, penal servitude, or imprisonment for a term exceeding six months. The Government of Northern Ireland will take steps for passing the legislation necessary to give effect to this Article.

(5) A Committee to be set up in Belfast of equal number Catholics and Protestants with an independent Chairman, preferably Catholic and Protestant alternately in successive weeks, to hear and investigate complaints as to intimidation, outrages, etc., such Committee to have direct access to the heads of the Government. The local Press to be approached with a view to inserting only such reports of disturbances, etc., as shall have been considered and communicated by this committee.

(6) I.R.A. activities to cease in the Six Counties, and thereupon the method of organising the special police in the Six Counties outside Belfast shall proceed as speedily as possible upon lines similar to those agreed for Belfast.

(7) During the month immediately following the passing into law of the Bill confirming the constitution of the Free State (being the month within which the Northern Parliament is to exercise its option) and before any address in accordance with Article 12 of the Treaty is presented, there shall be a further meeting between the signatories to this agreement with a view to ascertaining:

a. Whether means can be devised to secure the unity of Ireland.
b. Failing this, whether agreement can be arrived at on the boundary question otherwise than by recourse to the Boundary Commission outlined in Article 12 of the Treaty.

(8) The return to their homes of persons who have been expelled to be secured by the respective Governments, the advice of the Committee mentioned in Article 5 to be sought in cases of difficulty.

(9) In view of the special conditions consequent on the political situation in Belfast and neighbourhood, the British Government will submit to Parliament a vote not exceeding 500,000 for the Ministry of Labour of Northern Ireland to be expended exclusively on relief work, one-third for the benefit of Roman Catholics and two-thirds for the benefit of Protestants. The Northern signatories agree to use every effort to secure the restoration of the expelled workers, and wherever this proves impracticable at the moment, owing to trade depression, they will be afforded employment on the relief works referred to in this Article so far as the one-third limit will allow. Protestant ex-servicemen to be given first preference in respect to the two-thirds of the same fund.

(10) The two Governments shall in cases agreed upon between the signatories arrange for the release of political prisoners in prison for offences before the date hereof. No offences committed after March 31st, 1922, shall be open to consideration.

(11) The two Governments unite in appealing to all concerned to refrain from inflammatory speeches and to exercise restraint in the interests of peace.

Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government:

Michael O Coileain  (Michael Collins)
Caoimhghin O hUigin  (Kevin O'Higgins)
E. S. O. Dugain  (Eamon Duggan)
Art O Griobhtha  (Arthur Griffith)

Signed on behalf of the Government of Northern Ireland:

James Craig
E. M. Archdale

Countersigned on behalf of the British Government:

Winston S. Churchill
L. Worthington-Evans