List of ambassadors of the United Kingdom to Ireland

The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ireland is the United Kingdom's foremost diplomatic representative in Ireland and head of the UK's diplomatic mission in Ireland.

Official title

For several decades the British and Irish governments disputed the respective names of their States: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland respectively. The UK's official policy was to refer to Ireland as the Republic of Ireland. The UK styled its Ambassador in Ireland as Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. Up to and including the year 1999, the Diplomatic List issued by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office referred to the Republic of Ireland. However, this dispute over names was ended following the Good Friday Agreement. Consequently, since 2000 the British Diplomatic List has referred to Ireland, and the credentials presented by the British ambassador, Stewart Eldon, in 2003, were addressed to the President of Ireland.[1] The British Ambassador to Ireland has since been styled officially as Her Majesty's Ambassador to Ireland.[2]

List of heads of mission

The Governor-General of the Irish Free State had been the effective representative of the UK in the Irish Free State, negating the need for a separate envoy. However, following a 1926 Imperial Conference, each dominion's Governor-General became advised by the Government of that dominion rather than by Whitehall and the need arose for an envoy.

The first British diplomatic representatives to the new Irish Free State did not have the title of Ambassador, instead having the title of "Representative", or "Minister". This was a compromise and arose because the nascent Irish state refused to allow the normal title for states within the British Empire of High Commissioner and the UK refused to use "Ambassador" as it indicated a non-existent foreign status. In 1949, when the Oireachtas passed the Republic of Ireland Act and the UK passed the Ireland Act (1948), the state ceased to be a British dominion and the name of the office was changed to Ambassador.[3]


The appointment of the first United Kingdom representative in the late 1930s was a matter of some political discussion in the UK cabinet, the cabinet's minutes of September 1939 recording the following extract:[5]

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs reported that Mr de Valera had expressed himself as willing to receive a representative of the United Kingdom Government in Dublin. He proposed that this representative should have the title of Ambassador, but it had been intimated that this was impossible from our point of view and the title "Representative" had been agreed. The Secretary of State thought that until [the United Kingdom] representative had been appointed, it would be undesirable that the Defence Departments should raise with the Éire Government, the grant of any major defence facilities (e.g. the use of Berehaven)

Ambassadors to Ireland

External links


  1. Journal of British Studies 46 (January 2007): The Irish Free State/Éire/Republic of Ireland/Ireland: “A Country by Any Other Name”? by Mary E. Daly (Professor of Irish history and principal of the College of Arts and Celtic Studies at University College Dublin).
  2. Examples of official usage of current title: Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Embassy Website
  3. The excellent honour of ambassador suits you, sirSunday Independent newspaper article, 16 July 2006
  4. Appointed as "Representative, Éire" in March 1949. A month later, this title was changed to "Representative, Republic of Ireland". In July 1950, he was named "Ambassador, Republic of Ireland".
  5. Cabinet Minutes of 1939
  6. Assassinated by the Provisional IRA on 21 July 1976, 16 days after taking up his appointment
  7. The London Gazette: no. 48325. p. 13693. 1 October 1980. Retrieved 2013-01-7.
  8. "Her Majesty's Ambassador to Ireland officially takes office". British Embassy Dublin. 14 September 2016.
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