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1982: The term 'Irish Free State' deemed 'inappropriate' by An Taoiseach

The rebuttal was in response to a letter from England which suggested that the ‘Irish Free State’ should be renamed the ‘Irish Secular Free State’.

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Government buildings
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

ON 15 MAY, 1982, a letter was sent to An Taoiseach Charles Haughey from Bristol in England which made reference to an article in the publication ‘The Christian Irishman’.

The article in question made reference to a “strong plea” by The Southern Association of Baptist Churches for government to “act decisively in the area of marriage and family law” and to “legislate without any sectarian bias”.

Having attached this article, the author questioned whether Haughey wished to “make the ‘Irish Free State’ into an ‘Irish Secular Free State’”.

The response, from John Hurley on behalf of Haughey, made assurances that the “interests and traditions of the Protestant community” would be protected “in the context of a united Ireland”.

The letter ended, however, with a rebuttal.

In closing, may I remark that your reference to the ‘Irish Free State’ is inappropriate: the name of the State is Ireland.

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(Taken from file 2012/90/977, available from the National Archives)

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About the author:

Paul Hyland

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