It has become conventional wisdom that the Irish rejection of British rule between 1916 and 1922 did not involve a rejection of the British system of government, known as the Westminster model. This article challenges that assumption by uncovering a tradition of radical thinking about representative democracy from the radical newspaper and pamphlet literature of the preindependence era. This literature suggests that the crisis of constitutionalism that emerged in Ireland during the First World War was preceded by a pervasive critique of the British system of government, with its roots in a wider crisis of British liberalism. This crisis became more profound in Ireland when the Asquith government accepted partition in principle. The 1922 constitution thus had a radical pedigree obscured by later constitutional scholarship. The final section of the essay discusses why this radical impulse failed.

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