The Truce, signed in early July 1921 by the IRA and the British Forces in Ireland, brought peace to the south but was largely ignored in the north.
Negotiations to bring a lasting settlement to Ireland were held between Sinn Féin and the British Government throughout autumn 1921. The leadership of the Lisburn Loyalist Association – one of several loyalist groups established during this period – sent a clear message to Northern Ireland prime minister Sir James Craig during the talks: ‘Stand firm!’. There was anxiety that the North would be coerced into an independent Ireland.
On 6 December 1921 the parties signed the Treaty, which was later ratified. Under the terms of the agreement, the 26 counties were to be known as the Irish Free State, with dominion status within the British Empire. Northern Ireland’s status would remain unchanged; it exercised its right to opt-out of the Treaty in December 1922, the same month the agreement came into effect. As part of the Treaty, a Boundary Commission was established to consider any potential changes to the border.
By 1922, Unionists now had a Home Rule parliament they had never asked for, while the settlement in the south failed to give the Republic many had fought for. The issue would divide Sinn Féin and the IRA, and lead to the civil war.