We’ve waited more than a century for a Saturday general election

by Padraig Conlon

The last time a general election took place on a Saturday in Ireland was December 14, 1918.

Part of the 1918 United Kingdom General Election, this election was a pivotal moment in the history, and creation, of this state.

Held in the aftermath of World War I, the Easter Rising and the Conscription Crisis, it was the first general election to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, which meant it was the first time women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote.

Previously, all women and most working-class men were excluded from voting.

It took two weeks and a Christmas break for all votes cast to be counted.

When they eventually were, on December 28, the Eamon DeValera led Sinn Fein party – which had never stood in a general election – scored a resounding landslide victory, securing 73 of the 105 seats available for Ireland.

The moderate nationalist Irish Parliamentary Party, which had been the main party in the country since the 1880s, suffered a crushing defeat.

The unionists won 26 seats, and the nationalists of the Irish Party, which had held 68 seats prior to the election, only won six seats.

Sinn Fein had promised in its election manifesto to establish an independent Irish republic.

Following the election, Sinn Fein’s elected members refused to attend the British Parliament in Westminster, and instead formed a parliament in Dublin – the First Dail Eireann, which declared Irish independence in January, 1919.

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