Though independence promised to rid Ireland of ‘a base imperialism that has brought naught but evil’ (Sinn Féin manifesto, 1918), the Irish Free State architecture was based heavily on the existing British institutions. Although there was what some call a revolution between 1916 and 1921, the institutions and personnel of the state remained broadly the same (incorrectly, as regime change occurred within the then existing constitutional framework). For instance, much of the personnel in the Irish civil service before independence was Irish and remained in position after independence. Some Irish Irelanders spoke of returning Ireland to a system of Chieftains and Brehon Law (the ancient Irish legal system), but few took this seriously. Given the close links with the USA of many of the political leaders in the new state, it may seem surprising that Ireland did not adopt a Presidential system. Even if they had wanted to, the Irish were forced into accepting the constitutional framework imposed by the British as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which laid down the state structures. The basis for these was changed in 1937 when a new constitution was adopted, but the institutional changes were more symbolic than real.
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