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Assembly speaker Robin Newton and Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl come together for Dáil centenary event

Assembly speaker Robin Newton is joined by historian Dr Eamon Phoenix (centre) and Dáil ceann comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl at a Stormont event to mark the centenary of the first sitting of Dáil Éireann. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

THE speaker of Dáil Éireann joined DUP Assembly speaker Robin Newton last night at a special event at Stormont which recalled the first sitting of the Irish parliament.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl was among invited guests for ‘Perspectives on the first sitting of Dáil Éireann', organised as part of the Assembly Commission's Decade of Centenaries series.

A lecture entitled ‘Ireland in transition 1918-19: From Conscription Crisis and the 1918 Election to the First Dáil and Partition' was delivered by Dr Éamon Phoenix.

Dr Phoenix said it was important to mark first Dáil, which he described as “the beginning of an independent Irish legislature”.

“It's very important that there's an event in Stormont, a parliament that was not convened when the First Dáil met,” he said.

“Until that stage the debate had been about home rule.”

Dr Phoenix said the First Dáil, which was based on the Sinn Féin manifesto, was “was not opposed to a federal Ireland but opposed a divided Ireland”.

The historian said it was only attended by 27 TDs in January 1919 as most of those elected to it were still in jail.

The body held its first sitting on the same day as two RIC officers were shot dead at Soloheadbeg in Co Tipperary - the first shots of the ‘War of Independence'.

Several leading members of the first Dáil, including Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins, were also elected to the fledgling parliament in Stormont in 1921 but did not take their seats.

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