Originally Posted by Wicknight
It is though found in the Republic of Ireland act 1948 as the official description of the State.
The name of the State, in English, is "Ireland", the description of the State, in English, is "The Republic of Ireland" (we are a republic and our name is "Ireland")
Well, yes, but a description is not a name. I am not generally referred to as Mr. Tall dark handsome and Distinguished even though that is my description.
The Republic of Ireland Act emerged from a particular historical context. From 1922 to 1937 we were not a fully independent state. Article 1 of the Anglo-Irish treaty provided that the Irish Free State should have “the same constitutional status in the Community of Nations known as the British Empire as the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.”
This was known as Dominion status
and, in essence, we fought the Civil War over whether we should accept this or hold out for "The Republic" that was declared in 1916 and endorsed by the first Dail. From the British point of view, the Colonial Laws Validity Act forbade a Dominion Legislature to pass a law repugnant to an Act of the Westminster Parliament.
Meanwhile, in March 1922, the Westminster Parliament passed the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, which gave the Treaty legal force. In June of that year, there was a general election. The Third Dail was to sit as a constituent assembly to enact the Constitution. On 5 October 1922, the Irish Free State Constitution was approved by the constituent assembly. The Westminster Parliament subsequently enacted the Irish Free State Constitution Act. The Irish Free State Constitution came into force on 6 December 1922, by virtue of Article 83 of the Constitution itself and the operation of the Irish Free State Constitution Act.
The Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstat Eireann) Act 1922 stated that the Constitution had to be construed by reference to the Treaty - in other words, the 1922 Constitution was not the most fundamental law in the State; the Treaty was. And Article 51 formally vested Executive authority in the Crown. Article 12 specified that the Oireachtas consisted of the King, the Dail and the Senate, and Article 66 provided a right of appeal from the Irish courts to the privy council in London (effectively the House of Lords) The king of England was the Head of State and he was officially represented by a Governor-General who lived in the old Vice-regal lodge, now Aras an Uachtarain. And there was the other bugbear of the Civil War - the Oath of Allegiance.
When de Valera came to power in 1932, he set about dismantling the remnants of British rule - the oath and the Governor-General were abolished but the King remained. [Indeed when Edward VIII abdicated, Ireland and the other Dominions had to pass emergency legislation to install his successor as King.] This process culminated in the adoption of Bunreacht na hEireann in 1937. This declared Ireland to be a sovereign, independent and democratic state with all authority deriving from the people. The new Constitution did not derive any authorty from Britain.
But, oddly, the Constitution did not provide for a Head of State. It provided in great detail for the office of President but nowhere does it say that the President is the Head of State. From 1937 to 1949 the King continued to act as the Head of the Irish State in accordance with the External Relations Act, which decreed that he would accredit ambassadors and sign international treaties on Ireland's behalf.
During this period the question as to whether Ireland actually was a Republic was controversial. De Valera insisted we were, more hardline Republicans were unconvinced. The Republic of Ireland Act was intended to settle the matter and thus Section 2 says: "It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland"
. The Act also removed the last vestiges of the Kings functions and conferred them on the President. This made the President the de facto Head of State though to this day the Constitution remains silent on the matter.