Were most of the Irish leaders of the 1919-21 War really British agents? A different perspective...
• This article (and its endnotes) is copied from indymedia.ie
and (I think) written by Brian Nugent though this is not clear. It's long; I've tried to clarify it, putting emphases here and there.
• Whoever the author is, 'this writer - ignores ... any anti-Jewish sentiments', rather oddly in view of the behind-the-scenes influence of Jews and the coincidences of the Balfour Declaration, US propaganda, and Jewish coup in Russia and elsewhere.
• The article has absolutely nothing on the 'Fed' or the 'Bank of England'. But Freemasons and Jesuits are mentioned; there's deflection from Jews. Note also that newspapers are mentioned (slightly) but their ownership and ability to place stories is not.
• The article is undated; but the latest date in the published sources is 2006.
• The author's evidence includes 1. British Government dealings with guns, money, and 'intelligence' before, during, and after the 'Great War' with the (supposed, traditional) Irish leaders. 2 Newspaper propaganda compared over time, typically pro some man or other from nowhere selected as a future leader. 3 Most importantly, 1940s/ 1950s Witness Statements kept secret for (I'd guess) fifty years..
• Speculative material includes the possibility of controlled political opponents, with artificial antagonistic viewpoints: either could be elected - it simply wouldn't matter.
• Amazingly, there's little on bombings, kidnappings, murders and low level war generally.
• The article's author makes no attempt at an overview, or to answer difficult questions: How many lives did it cost? How many people were killed secretly under cover of lies? Was the 'intelligence' of any value? Did these people matter at all? Was Eire ever free? Did these people have lots of money from unexplained sources, a usual sign of Jewish involvement? Did Jews benefit? British agents may have been given careers etc, but did they contribute to Britain? And ditto for the Irish? Did they prevent worse evils by their pretences?
• The writer's conclusion is '.. they were a great generation.' I have to say they look like a bunch of shits, playing games, acting, telling lies, taking money, and caring nothing for the world, selling the Irish; compared with the real victims in the world, they seem about as heroic as corrupt civil servants collecting unearned pensions. Anyway, the author does not attempt an overview of the whole situation.
I hope to show that there is another way of looking at the War of Independence, that if you throw a more skeptical light on the activities of the leaders like Collins and de Valera you can explain more adequately some of the facts surrounding that time. Its really just a bit of theorising about a possible of hidden history for that period, which mightn't be to everybody's liking but is this writers best guess for what really happened!
While I know this sounds crazy! :-) this writer is suspicious enough of British Intelligence to wonder if in fact most of the leaders of the War of Independence were actually British agents. Believe it or not I would even include Collins, de Valera, Mulcahy, Childers, O'Higgins, the big heavy hitters in the IRB: Dermot O'Hegarty, Bulmer Hobson, Dr Patrick McCartan, Denis McCullough, Sean T O'Kelly, Robert Brennan, Ernest Blythe even maybe Cathal Brugha, Liam Lynch, Ernie O'Malley; and almost all of the Treaty delegation: Gavan Duffy, Duggan, Barton and Chartres. As pointed out, I know this sounds mad! and I cheerfully admit that I really have precious few explicit sources to back it up. This is just a theory OK? Its not proven, its just this writers gut instinct about what was really happening. Hopefully everybody gains by looking at this history from a different perspective and some facts might be surprising enough to those only acquainted with the usual history. And its important too because if we don't find out the truth here then we are condemned to repeat it!
I can only really point to one contemporary figure, Sceilg,
who seems to suggest that both Collins and Dev were working for the British, and one historian, Paul Brew,2
who hints that in his view the British government had so many sources among the Sinn Féin leaders that they were manoeuvring them around to get the best deal at the time of the Treaty. Sceilg really does seem to hint at this state of affairs and he is after all quite an important figure of the time. His real name was John J. O'Kelly, from Valentia island in Kerry, and is mainly famous for his efforts in the Irish language movement, second only to Douglas Hyde I think in Gaelic League circles. He chaired the First Dail debates and even some Cabinet meetings in 1920, while also being successively Minister for the National Language and then Minister for Education. He was furthermore a serious historian, a prolific and learned author, and the long time editor of the Catholic Bulletin which was a highly respected journal of the time.
Apart from his hints there are maybe a few facts about the then leaders which raise a few eyebrows in retrospect. Erskine Childers for example is a key figure at that time. He transported the guns from Germany that landed at Howth in 1914, he was probably the most important adviser to de Valera and controlled access to him when he came back from America 3
- obviously de Valera was President of the Republic at the time - he played some role in Collins' intelligence apparatus,4
was the secretary to the Treaty delegation,5
joint author of de Valera's Document No.2, and at least some of the IRB/Dail money that was transferred from the US went through his bank accounts in London 6
etc etc. It comes as a bit of surprise when you read then in the foreword to the Penguin edition of his book that "in 1916 he was posted to Intelligence at the Admiralty." Later "he was appointed by Lloyd George to the secretariat of the Irish Convention of 1917."7
This was obviously in the middle of his time as an Irish Republican but we are assured by one recent biographer that as a gentleman and all that there is no question of the Admiralty taking any interest in these activities! This biographer has nonetheless admitted that Admiralty Intelligence even sent a telegram to the Irish Volunteers looking for Childers when WWI broke out!8
Incidentally the Admiralty don't seem to have looked upon him as any kind of traitor or anything because they later named a new Destroyer after him.9
There are a few other advisers appointed by de Valera after his return from America that caused at least one contemporary commentator to baulk. This was Pat Moylett, a Mayo businessman and longterm political activist who conducted negotiations on behalf of Griffith with the British Cabinet in 1920, who described how Dev had set up a kind of kitchen cabinet including Childers, who was also a Major in the British army, as Director of Publicity, Major Robinson, his cousin "just retired from the British army", as secretary of the White Cross and:
"We had a new star arise over the Republican horizon in the shape of John Chartres, a man who had been sent to Ireland by Lloyd George on a secret service mission in reference to munitions. We also had Mr. Smith-Gordon, an Englishman, who was appointed M.D. of the National Land Bank, and one or two other visitors of the same ilk. These were put up as an inner cabinet or advisory board by Mr. de Valera."
It'd make you wonder!
I feel as well that it is important to place these leaders in the context of the time. I would point to the period 1900-1914 as possibly the most important era in the shaping of the future Sinn Féin leadership. During that period Ireland is industrialising somewhat, and growing a commercially minded middle class, its the famous time when W.B. Yeats talks about the people being concerned only with adding the 1/2 pence to the pence. In that kind of era, unfortunately, frequently the Irish general public tend to despise those hardy few who would be more concerned with the welfare of the nation than their personal wealth. You can see some of that antipathy experienced by the old Fenians for example who, as pointed out by Sean Moylan T.D., were despised because
"they were all poor men. ... It is a difficult matter for a rich man to appreciate the courage and selflessness of a seemingly ineffectual effort by poor men, and so the Fenians were misunderstood by the well-intentioned but thoughtless, and despised in the homes of those whose only standard of success is material advancement."11
This makes life very difficult for those Irish idealists, and correspondingly very vulnerable to some largesse from the powers that be, which by restoring their wealth enhances their standing in the eyes of the people. This is also a time when the police were hugely popular - not always justifiably so! - and respected, which again might have smoothed the path to the Castle door for at least some of these future leaders.12
Also at that time there is high morale and ample funding among the various police and intelligence agencies all across the Empire and in America, and no doubt they were heavily focused on infiltrating the nascent Irish nationalist movement, the GAA, Gaelic League, IRB etc. Of course this changes dramatically later, especially post 1916, but most of the leaders were involved in the earlier period, and the post 1916 influx of activists tended to look up to and follow the direction of the earlier pioneers. In short I would say that the lifestyle of those leaders pre-1914 is captured in works like Joseph Conrad's 'Secret Agent', leading lives that were very vulnerable and very infiltrated by the police and intelligence agencies. So you would expect to find a lot of agents in this period and the absence to any reference to them makes this writer suspicious that maybe they rose to such prominence that they were able to snuff out any awkward questions about their past. And unfortunately the comparative silence on this subject makes me suspicious that a lot of the key leaders were agents, in other words a large group rather than one or two, because otherwise you would expect those that weren't to have exposed the others.
Again I know I am only speculating but I think also that you can see some of the more crafty intelligence agency techniques at work during those years. One trick that is frequently used by governments, intelligence agencies, (or even secret societies ?) that control a country's media is to allow some apparently negative publicity to shine on a figure that they will use later as a political leader. As an example of what I mean take a government that controls the media and is using that control to kind of brainwash the citizens into thinking that the economic climate in the country is prosperous and booming. An example of that could be East Germany whose government frequently hyped its supposed economic success through a controlled media. But say the govt. knows perfectly well that this is not true, and knows that a generation of people are coming forward who are anything but prosperous. So the trick is that you will give some, apparently negative, publicity to some champion of the poor and oppressed knowing that he will become the future leader of that generation. And of course since the govt. controls the media, it can direct that publicity on one of their own agents. So anyway one commentator of the time has noted that de Valera got a lot of curiously favourable publicity at the time he was avoiding the death penalty at the end of the Rising in 1916.
Also there is some evidence that the media hyped up Collins' activities during the War of Independence, in a way that greatly enhanced his status later. Here is a comment on that by Seamus Robinson TD who was the O/C of the 2nd Southern Division of the IRA in 1921:
"Towards the end of 1920 and the beginning of 1921 the British press had been changing its description of Collins from a "thoug" [tough? Thug?] and "murderer" to "a daredevil"; romanticising him with damnation that praised him in the sight of the Irish people. He was "seen" all over the country leading the columns from Dublin to West Cork where he had been "seen" riding on a white charger like King William at the Boyne. But it was Tom Barry who rode the horse because of a strained foot and King William rode a brown horse! This sort of journalism is not history but it is blatant propaganda. In the case of Mick Collins it put him on a pedestal where he did not properly belong. It enhanced his undoubted influence beyond all bounds. "What's good enough for Mick Collins is good enough for me." It is clear that the British press had got its directions and the anti-national press in Ireland simply quoted the British press without comment ... knowing the reports were false. They could see the aim behind this personal propaganda."
Maybe then that 'good enough' phrase could turn out to be the classic example of media brainwashing of the Irish people!
The other point I would make about intelligence agency tactics is the way that the Collins-de Valera split dominates the post Treaty atmosphere to the exclusion of other figures and a more conciliatory outcome. It would be classic intel practise to polarise the political situation around two or more political figures that they control. Once they control those leaders, and the extremes of the political spectrum, then they just leave it up to the ordinary people to decide who they want to follow. They don't care how it ends up, or who wins elections say, so long as they control the key figures in all shades of opinion. I know that sounds very speculative and convoluted, its just interesting how many insiders, like Sceilg and Tom Barry, noted the close friendship and link between Dev and Collins who then emerge later as supposedly great enemies dominating their respective camps.15
Anyway I don't really think that there is enough uncensored material out there to figure out what was really going on, so my aim is just to get this thesis across two huge hurdles. There are I think two enormous blocks to any such theory that the Irish Independence leaders were dominated by British intelligence agents. The first obvious one is that Dublin Castle is well known to have leaked a lot of information in the 1919-21 period, when the police were under huge pressure and badly rundown, so how could they keep these agents secret ? And secondly how could there have been a successful War of Independence at all if all these leaders were working for the enemy? I will take these in turn:
1) This first problem is I think quite obvious. The RIC Special Branch, DMP Political Department, and maybe Army Intelligence after 1916, were heavily infiltrated by the Irish Volunteer Intelligence Department, certainly not all of whom were British agents, and yet somehow we are to believe that Dublin Castle still housed some super secret all powerful intelligence agency that ran all these Irish rebel leaders as secret agents unknown to everybody?
The first thing I would say, in reply to that, is that the history of the high up duel between the IRA intelligence department and the Castle remains to be written, because at the end of the day Irish historians are only working on censored documents that the Irish and British governments have eventually released. For me anyway, sources like the DMP/RIC personality files are clearly not complete in the form they come down to us. Even some of the Bureau of Military History witness statements are heavily censored e.g. Austin Stack's memoirs as passed on by his widow.16
Also of course it didn't suit anybody to admit later that he/she was a British agent while the Irish government for many years was dominated by people like de Valera, who might have had a vested interest in covering things up, and the UK government would of course like to continue running these agents in later Irish politics and so obviously also had no interest in revealing the real truth. So how do we really know what was happening ? If for example Eamonn Broy, later head of Irish intelligence, was actually running Collins as a police agent, rather than Collins running him, whose interest would it be to reveal that?17
Nobody's, so we can only keep guessing. Its no good taking the word of observers a little outside the loop here because how could they really tell? They obviously knew that Broy met Collins very frequently, to exchange intelligence, but how would they know which direction the intelligence really flowed? Certainly it has to be admitted that Collins, and the whole GHQ staff, seemed to live a charmed life in Dublin those years as even Tom Barry remarked:
"..they seemed to have no fear of arrest or, if they had, they did not show it. ... Their lack of precautions was amazing and even made one angry. ... Mick then became serious and before long convinced me that their only hope of survival was to act as they were doing. That he was right is proved by the fact that during all the Anglo-Irish war not a single senior G.H.Q. officer was captured, recognised and detained."18
For all that I readily concede that there was a huge lower level IRA intelligence apparatus, involving a large number of people collecting valuable intelligence on Dublin Castle, who couldn't all have been under the control of the enemy. RIC codes, telegraph, mail, and telephone communications were routinely intercepted, and the country was full of Irish people, from all walks of life, passing on pieces of intelligence to the local volunteers. Hence it would be very difficult for the Castle to run these agents without arousing the suspicion of this large and alert Volunteer intelligence network. So any attempt to run these highly placed Sinn Féin leaders must have involved very few intermediaries, or entities not so well infiltrated. I would propose three possible modes of running these agents
which could have been feasible in the face of the local dominance of IRA intelligence circles:
(a) My first guess is the Americans.
Obviously the US and UK Secret Services had cooperated very extensively during the war, just ended in 1918, and presumably it is reasonable to suppose that they continued to cooperate closely against the IRA. Don't forget that a very large percentage of the leaders had been for a time in the US and their funding as well came almost exclusively from there. If some of those Irish American leaders, like MacGarrity, were quietly working with US Intelligence, along with the British Embassy in Washington and US Consul in Dublin, then you can obviously see how they could have run a number of agents using entities that were not particularly vulnerable to the local IRA intelligence effort. For example I don't think that the US consulate in Dublin was infiltrated by them, and yet that office seemed to work very closely with senior Castle figures. The US Consul, Mr Dumont, admitted that he was in close touch with the Castle when talking to Pat Moylett before the Truce in 1921, and explained that:
"I might tell you that I am more than a Consul here. I am a political agent."19
This is Sceilg's opinion on the subject, I suspect referring to money that McGarrity might be corrupting the Irish leaders with:
"MacGarrity came over on a visit about the time of the Treaty debates. He turned up after a Party meeting at which I had just presided: that was the first time I had met him, and we never became cordial friends - because I would not be exploited. All the Envoys - MacCartan, Boland, de Valera - were a bit immature for the responsible roles they had to fill, and very easily exploited. Of course, it would be an insult to suggest it then; but they were so, in fact.
(b) My next guess is that the pattern of running these agents could have been the same as was revealed during the 1798 rebellion. Historians found out later that the most important and extensive British spy ring in Dublin at that time was run not by the Police or Army, but by the editor of the Freeman's Journal who reported back directly to the Castle.
Yes it struck me as very singular that de Valera should declare for the Platt amendment - the Cuban plan: it struck us all as somewhat inexplicable. How that was put into his ears, I don't know. Somebody must have got after him. I am afraid it came from the Cope side - from the British Minister in Washington perhaps. When the suggestion came to the Dail, there was no disagreement, but certainly no ardor for it."20
In other words you don't have to look for some trained intelligence figure to run such a ring, it could be a political figure who reported back only to high up government circles in Dublin or London. My favourite candidate for such a person would be Tim Healy who turns up everywhere at this time. He was in close contact with important IRB figures since at least 1915,21
in fact it is said that he was a member of the IRB,22
he interviewed the prisoners in Frongoch and was instrumental in getting them released, a close adviser of Collins during the war - and in receipt of IRA intelligence despatches 23
- and present at the Treaty negotiations,24
and simultaneously is best buddies with the movers and shakers in London like Lord Beaverbrook the biggest media baron in the UK at the time.25
Tim Healy is obviously a barrister that was central to the downfall of Parnell, a self confessed expert on political splits! He was not without some disillusioned clients,26
and the Parnellites openly accused him of accepting money from the Castle to banjax his client's cases.27
Sean MacBride later explained in an Irish Press interview that Healy had been originally blackmailed by the Castle, and was all along their tool during his long career in law and politics.28
This casts a long shadow when you even hear of him giving money to Michael Collins.29
Veterans of that time relate many rumours of Tim Healy's secret influential role in events, which presumably could only be true if he had some 'influence' on many of the key leaders. For example this is what Albert E.Wood, one of the leaders of the Irish Bar, said to Sean Moylan TD who lead one of the Cork flying columns:
"Don't go to see Tim Healy! You have ideals, for which you fought, and Healy is involved in the centre of an intrigue which, if successful, will dash the hopes held by you and your comrades."30
(c) In any case Ireland is a small country and you don't really have to look hard to see some close links between the Sinn Féin leaders and the Castle in those years.
James MacMahon for example, the Irish Undersecretary which makes him no.3 in the Irish administration at the time, just happened to be a good friend of de Valera's, from Blackrock days.31
Dublin is also at this time quite a small cosy kind of place which you can see if you stand on Dame St. today and look across at Eamonn Duggan's old office as IRA Director of Intelligence, no.66, and then look at the short distance from it to the entrance to the Castle. We are in fact told from one source that those neighbours Andrew Cope, the "mainspring of Castle rule" in David Neligan's phrase,32
and Duggan just happened to be best friends during the War. As pointed out Duggan was IRA Director of Intelligence in 1919 and at least for a time in 1920.33
Of course as gentlemen we are assured that there is no question of them discussing politics!34
The same account revealed that Cope's pockets were constantly full of Secret Service money. In fact Cope personally met with most of the important Irish leaders before and after the Truce. He exchanged written and verbal messages with de Valera,35
and then met him "in town" not long before the Truce,36
he is said to have been well in with Boland, and personally met with those leaders imprisoned in Mountjoy also while the War was continuing.37
But most interesting of all are the numerous accounts of his frequently meeting Michael Collins from the summer of 1920 on. Remember again that Cope is pretty much the British government's man on the spot at this time, he said himself that "he had superceded both the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary" in these political matters 38
and he also addressed full Cabinet meetings in London.39
Hence it is not surprising that this ongoing Cope-Collins relationship, which was reported to continue at the height of the war, attracted some suspicion from veterans like Richard Walsh TD who was on the Volunteer Executive and also was IRB Centre for Co. Mayo. He is very definite that the two met about the summer of 1920 in the house of a legal friend of Tim Healy's in Dublin, "I heard at the time that more than one meeting was held at this man's house."40
The house was owned by the lawyer called Kelly from Tuam and he also heard that Lord Beaverbrook was one of the prime movers in these machinations. Lawrence Nugent in his account says that he knew of separate meetings that Cope and Collins were holding together, this time in Dundrum in the house of Martin Fitzgerald's. (The owner of the Independent and Freeman's Journal, he appointed Collins a Publicity agent for the Freeman's Journal). Again Nugent found the thing a bit fishy:
"It was strange that Mick carried on these meetings on his own as both Dev and Cathal Brugha were available."41
Walsh in his account clearly entertains some serious suspicions about Collins' role in events during this whole time, just stopping short of accusing him of being a British government agent. He knew Collins very well from his dealings with him in the Volunteers and IRB and he doesn't join in with the universal praise of his abilities. He says that Collins was vain and egotistical with "none of the qualities of statesmanship and foresight." His main skill "was his keenness in grasping what the key position [in the various nationalist groups] was and then getting control of it." He also relates a story that at one of the Volunteer Executive meetings Cathal Brugha accused Collins of "making contacts with some people working in Dublin Castle and accused Collins and some others of acting with those Castle contacts without any authority." Walsh discussed this with Rory O'Connor later and they figured that Collins wanted and got the position of Director of Intelligence of the Volunteers (previously he was Adjutant General) in order to quell any more of that kind of criticism. Now he had
"an opportunity of establishing any contacts he liked ... and could always use the excuse that he was seeing an individual ....for the purposes of getting information."42
So you can appreciate what his attitude to these Cope-Collins meetings was. This suspicion was not helped when he accidentally found out, in August 1920, that Collins was receiving messages, or one anyway, from a "General Cocker or Cockerbourne" of the "Imperial Intelligence Service".43
So the bottom line is that the important Irish leaders were in close personal communication with at least one key Castle/ British government figure for a long period both before and then after the Truce. One historian notes simply that
"Cope ... Lloyd George's confidential agent ... had long consorted with leading Republicans at Vaughan's Hotel and elsewhere."44
Consequently you don't have to worry about looking for any other intermediaries or police or intelligence personnel who could have run these agents. They were themselves in close contact with Lloyd George's agent most of the time it seems.
Maybe then at some high level in London these various strands come together, the US - Healy - Cope agents, and only there do they get to see the whole canvas, which I suspect, unfortunately, might not be a pretty picture from the Irish point of view!
2) Then you come to the second pretty massive hurdle that blocks this particular thesis. Clearly if all these leaders were working for the other side then how did the War of Independence take off at all?
Surely with the amount of documentation that flowed across Collins' desk for one, is it not the case that the rebellion couldn't have succeeded for a week if he was a British agent? Which is as I say a good point and requires a bit of going into. Again I am really only guessing but I will put forward two possible explanations, the first looking at it from the point of view of a British Intelligence apparatus hoping to keep the Empire together, and the other putting forward a more devious, underhand agenda. I will divide the first theory into separate periods as I try and guess the thinking of British Intelligence during each of these phases in turn:
OK picture the scene, Ireland c.1912. Ignore for a minute the later impression that the Irish Parliamentary Party was corrupt or pusillanimous in the face of the old enemy - and I am certainly not excusing Woodenbridge. Look at the unity and serried ranks of Irish Nationalism united for once since the split had been healed in 1899. The IPP backed up by the flourishing branches of the United Irish League, and the more secret AOH circles, was firing on all cylinders in the House of Commons. For once they had stuck together and genuinely had the UK Liberal government over a barrel. They had even compelled that government to abolish centuries of parliamentary practise and crush the House of Lords veto and so had finally got the Home Rule Bill passed. And that Bill, backed by the determined Nationalist mood in Ireland, must have felt threatening to those in Britain who feared that it meant the end of an Empire. Because obviously if Ireland could wrangle out of them her independence then what about India or South Africa etc? And remember this is an Empire with huge resources of money and experience in dealing with similar situations. There is also plenty of evidence that the most devious minds the Empire could put together were on the case, like the unscrupulous Alfred Milner, that political general Sir Henry Wilson,45
and maybe even King George himself.
So how were they going to do it? How do you crush the Irish Parliamentary Party? Maybe you simply hype up, fund, and arm her enemies. Unleash the extremes of the political spectrum and crush the IPP in the middle. Specifically you hype up the whole Ulster-Unionist-Protestant question, arm them and use them to try and block Home Rule, and simultaneously you do the same for the extreme Nationalist enemies of the IPP, arm them and let them loose in the political sphere to discredit and campaign against the IPP. The beauty of it is that both wings can feed off one another. The more forthright, and anti-IPP, Nationalists can get a great shot in the arm as the public gets alarmed at the rampant, and government sponsored, activities of the Unionists. The Unionists in turn will become ever more militant claiming that every Nationalist is now an unreasonable Sinn Féiner. The two extremes, by 1913 say, begin to crowd over, dominate the debate, and ultimately crush the IPP.
In a way all they are trying to do is destroy the unity of the Irish political leaders. Now instead of a united unstoppable mass of IPP MP's bringing their great weight to bear on the government, the seats in Ireland are now contested among the competing Irish Nationalist groups, and her unity vis a vis the UK government is lost. So until 1919-20, when the IPP had obviously been crushed, the British government might have been happy to back the later Sinn Féin/IRA leaders as a counterweight to attack the IPP. Then at that point they gradually turn their sights on Sinn Féin which now became the united force of Irish Nationalism, starting with the media maybe. Lawrence Nugent, who was a platform speaker for Plunkett during the Roscommon bye election, shows in his account how the 'Irish Independent' backed Sinn Féin after that election until about 1919/20. Then:
"'The Irish Independent' having attained its ambition in smashing the Irish Parliamentary Party now started to work on the IRA operation and published a serious attack on Republicans."46
But before they start to really try and crush Sinn Féin I think they complacently, and deliberately, allowed the rebellion to start in the 1919-mid 1920 period, confident that they could crush it in due course. After all from their point of view they probably thought that they could always pull the rug out from under the movement later because they controlled the leaders. Secondly as a serious military threat to their position they probably felt that the IRA position was hopeless simply because they didn't have the proper arms and their agents among the leaders were going to make sure that they never got any.47
For arms read rifles specifically, no other armaments really mattered to the IRA, even in the built up areas of Belfast revolvers, shotguns and homemade grenades were pretty useless when set against the all important rifle.48
And rifles, up to I think mid 1920, they simply didn't have in any serious quantity. The Mayo IRA for example only had 2 rifles during much of this period,49
Cavan only ever had 5.50
So maybe from the sober perspective of the professional soldier the IRA just didn't have a prayer when you consider that there was as much as 30,000 British troops travelling through Co.Mayo alone,51
and big numbers of British forces in all parts of Ireland. So for the period 1919 to late 1920 the British government maybe felt that they could, if they wanted to, tolerate a kind of hopeless rebellion, which could be crushed later with ease and with it maybe any hope of Irish independence. But why would they want to? Why not just destroy the Sinn Féin independence movement straight away in 1919, now that the IPP is hardly much of a threat? Easily done seeing as how they control the leaders? I will give two answers to that.
Firstly I think they were maybe deliberately letting the rebellion develop in order to militarise the situation, which then allowed them a free hand to use their military to crush all hope of Irish Nationalism. What I mean is that their military couldn't justify using harsh warlike methods until the situation was seen to have become an out and out military conflict, in which environment they might have felt that they would always win.52
So if they wait and let the war develop then when they move in and destroy Sinn Féin the aftermath could be like the end of the 1798 rebellion with Home Rule, Irish Independence, and all the rest of it crushed once and for all.
The other related point is that I think they hoped that the IRA campaign would descend into a lawless mob like orgy of violence, like unfortunately many revolutions, which the army could then crush and gain many kudos as kind of law abiding white knights saving the island from some kind of sectarian or class massacre, again just like 1798. (And maybe not unlike some more recent British army propaganda!) They might have hoped specifically that the Sinn Féin courts, which they at first made no attempt to suppress, would descend into this kind of arbitrary revenge and sectarian stuff which could then discredit the whole concept of Irish independence. As part of this they might have planned the Ulster anti-Catholic pogrom that broke out in Belfast in mid 1920, as an attempt to add fuel to the sectarian flame. Seamus Dobbyn worked as an Intelligence Officer attached to the Belfast Brigade of the IRA and he said that that pogrom was planned long in advance, having "being prepared by the Masonic pro-British junta."53
That phrase 'junta' would make you think that whoever was planning all this was not necessarily the real government but seemingly some sort of powerful and shadowy Masonic cartel, but anyway his account clearly shows that this pogrom was no arbitrary act and presumably they must have thought that the IRA and the whole Catholic community would take this bait and reply in kind to the Protestant and Unionist establishment.
These then are my guesses as to what was going on during 1919 and early 1920, which if true shows again why the government was not as antagonistic to the Sinn Féin movement, yet, as some might presume.
But this just didn't work. What stands out loud and clear from the available evidence is that the Volunteers were not, unlike in many revolutions, blood thirsty or undisciplined or prejudiced against any group in society, only dedicated to seeing Ireland free. They never took that sectarian bait, they responded by organising a Belfast boycott and later housed the Catholic refugees in Masonic buildings in Dublin, well knowing who was behind the pogrom!54
The Sinn Féin courts did not develop into the sordid kangaroo courts of class or religious prejudices that the British might have assumed would happen. The exact opposite is true, they were very fair to all parties, classes and faiths, proved very popular and brought great credit to the Sinn Féin cause. Sean Moylan highlighted two decisions in the courts in Cork which illustrate this. One was where the English wife of a serving British soldier took a case in the Sinn Féin courts against her local Irish landlord who wanted to evict her in order to get a higher rent. She won the case after pleading her poverty trying to raise a family on her husband's wages. The other case he mentioned was that of two sets of poachers who fished on, I think, the Blackwater. Of course the fishing rights were held by the usual Protestant establishment figures and the poachers seemingly had no hesitation in taking their case in the Sinn Féin courts, arguing about a net. The court confiscated the net and fined them for poaching.
So as you can see the IRA at the time, and everybody involved in these courts, were distinguished in their respect for private property and the lives of those they might have disagreed with. Bear in mind we are talking about ordinary everyday Irish people here who were enforcing court decisions and sitting as judges. Lawyers were initially not present at all and "no difficulty was created by their absence."!56
So why anyway were they so respectful of life and property? (I admit that you could argue that this was not as true post Truce, where you could talk about the many executions - official and unofficial - of the Free State army and the large number of pretty indiscriminate burnings of stately homes by the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.) I think that their fondness for religion, particularly the Catholic religion, was central to this. This point really comes across from the accounts of the time where no operation was planned without elaborate preparations being made to ensure that all the Volunteers had received confession for example. And I think simply that they were sincere in trying to follow the dictates of that religion in respecting life and property etc. This included the lives and property of Protestants, contrary to what some might say where a sincere Catholic is assumed to be anti-Protestant. Maybe this is what the British didn't bank on! The Irish Volunteers were basically decent people who just wouldn't resort to the sort of steps common in other revolutions, maybe partly because they took their religion seriously and also heeded the views of the clergy. I know some might disagree with me but this is definitely a feature of the accounts of the time, with some, like Seamus Robinson's, going into great detail about their theological views.57
So therefore, unusually among revolutionaries, they had if you like an outside standard of morality which was not dependent just on the orders or mores of the movement and government that they were following. What I mean is that if you look at the French or Russian revolutionaries they generally follow pretty blindly what their philosophy or leaders tell them to do, like 'death to the aristocrats' or whatever, whereas the Irish rebels were following a conscience that was maybe rooted in an older set of standards, and taught to them by people mostly outside the Revolution. This might have proved very helpful if those leaders were actually working to some other agenda! Anyway I apologise for waffling on about this but I think if you read the accounts of the time this point will strike you, and is so different to the experience of other countries.
Effectively then my guess is that the government might have been complacent until you get to late 1920 say. Then a different atmosphere develops. The Volunteers proved to be unbelievably resourceful and courageous in my opinion. They continued in the same way that they had won the Roscommon bye election, where they had got around censorship by writing election manifestos in the snow!58
Where they couldn't get any arms from their GHQ by hook or by crook they wrestled them off the RIC and British army. Also some of the individual Brigades set up their own quiet smuggling operations in the UK, in the teeth of resistance from IRA GHQ, and transported them across the country via personal connections among the very nationalistic and brave railwaymen.59
The fact was that the people, now united again after 1919, were unstoppable, the British had underestimated what they let themselves in for. Untrained and unpaid blacksmiths and small farmers proved to be military experts and were giving the British a torrid time irrespective of the arms and other difficulties. With great courage, organisation, and locally great leadership, the Irish were simply winning hands down against the British army and state in this period. Whatever complacency existed before, now it must have been obvious that the Irish were going to get their independence unless the British could swiftly crush the rebellion.
So now what can the government do? Obviously the trick here is to somehow use their control of the leaders to destroy the IRA campaign. I'm sure they teach this in some obscure British military academy somewhere! How to destroy an army that you are the general of! It has its risks and the obvious need of a certain discretion!:-) So say in the intelligence sphere they got Collins et al to resort to the usual tricks to ensnare those Volunteers not already working for them. I would guess things like:
Maybe putting forward new people that they know are government agents and encouraging those IRA leaders not already working for the British to get close to them and maybe be betrayed by them. Betrayed in the sense of being charged later with IRA offences using those new agents as witnesses, they couldn't use their more senior figures for this. Dick Walsh for example says that Quinlisk, the famous agent shot in Cork, was helped a lot by Collins and that Collins specifically asked him to be friendly towards him.60
Liam Tobin was very suspicious of one new agent called Fergus Molloy who nearly trapped him after Collins forcefully compelled Tobin to deal with him despite Tobin's misgivings.61
Another new agent that emerges at this time was called Jameson and in reference to this case we are told that:
"One thing is certain: it wasn't Collins who found him out - Collins had to be convinced to see sense, and didn't until it was almost too late."62
By deliberately encouraging, and compelling, the individual Brigades to send detailed information, including the names and address of the Volunteers, back to GHQ and then deliberately losing those documents to the enemy in repeated raids. Seamus Robinson noted "GHQ's insatiably maw for written reports" and complains that 12 houses of Volunteers were burned down after Ernie O'Malley had sent down these addresses in his reports to Dublin.63
In fact some of the more successful units like in West Cork,64
and indeed Tipperary (that's why O'Malley was in Tipperary, he was sent down by GHQ with a typist to report back from there because they were unhappy with the previous state of reporting in that area) seem to be those that were reluctant to supply that kind of paper work. Eamonn Duggan,66
and especially Richard Mulcahy,68
attracted some contemporary criticism, if not suspicion, for the way that they didn't destroy and then lost in raids these very important documents.
Maybe also in some areas they encouraged important IRA people to take charge of kidnapped enemy personnel, with a view to the eventual release of those prisoners and the later bringing of charges against the IRA people who had held them.
Finally as you get into 1921 they might have reverted to more desperate measures. De Valera, just back from the US, thought it a great idea that the IRA should gather together in strength and attack some targets in numbers of 100 or so. These could have been deliberately designed as death or capture traps for large numbers of Volunteers. As part of this tactic the Dublin Brigade organised an attack on the Customs House and a huge number of the attackers were picked up because "due to an early warning" the Auxiliaries had advance knowledge of the operation.69
Around the same time in Meath Collins decided to send in 100 members of the Meath and Fingal IRA to attack a troop train crossing the flat country of North Kildare with 700 British soldiers on board. When they got there they were surprised by a number of lorry loads of military and by a spotter plane although they managed to fight their way out safely.70
Some bright spark decided to send the cream of the Belfast Active Service Unit to Cavan, and when there they were surprised and captured in circumstances that are thought to point to an informer.71
It should be pointed out too that at the same time it was decided to order Sean MacKeon to Dublin, and on his return the local police and military were out in force with full descriptions of MacKeon and his travelling companion, and then famously shot and captured him. Collins had confiscated his revolvers before he left, apparently to avoid being discovered with them.72
Tom Barry was similarly invited to Dublin and at the end of his journey home to West Cork he ran into a huge contingent of Essex military under the direct command of Major Percival. Luckily they didn't identify him and he got away.73
Nonetheless the IRA were still very much in the field and so the next logical step was to cobble together a sweetheart deal with those leaders which possibly garnered the British a better Treaty than their real military situation warranted. Its just my opinion but I think that the military situation in 1921 was much more favourable to the IRA than is commonly written, the British were very much beaten and simply wanted to leave the country in my view. Sean MacKeon even said that in London in 1923, he assured the British that if they had any doubts on that score they could declare war again in the morning and he and the rest of the IRA would beat them all over again!74
So in fact the British were lucky to get away with Partition at that time, and maybe their skills in intelligence - including control of the Treaty delegation - had something to do with it!
Hence one way of looking at how it panned out was that the British were using the Sinn Féin movement to crush the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1913-1919, then in 1919-20 they were happy and complacent about the nascent rebellion which they expected to crush in due course quite easily, then ended up being beaten despite pulling out all the stops in trying to destroy the IRA using their control of the leadership in the late 1920-21 period. This therefore would explain how the rebellion succeeded despite their control of the leadership, because they only tried to use them to crush the rebellion in that late phase, and failed to do so.
(b) That if you like is my theory Mark 1
:-) There is I think another way of looking at it which is possibly a bit more mysterious, but logical in a way. You see the problem with the above is that there is some evidence that people like Cope were really very active in assisting the Irish independence movement, at all times, as if they (the group centred on Lloyd George in London) really did want Irish independence.75
Why? Well maybe they are nice guys and are fond of the ideal of Irish freedom, but frankly I think not! Maybe quite simply they wanted to install a kind of fake independence in Ireland, by giving her nominal freedom while secretly controlling her political establishment. They were granting independence to a clique that they in turn controlled? And maybe they didn't control the IPP as much as they later controlled the Sinn Féin leaders and so needed to swap over the two sets of leaders before conceding Irish independence?
What's interesting in that context too is the role of the secret societies. In practise Ireland at this time is clearly dominated by those societies, the Freemasons and Orange Order on the Protestant side, the Ancient Order of Hibernians backing the IPP and the moderate wing of Irish nationalism, while the Irish Republican Brotherhood controlled everything that moved in the sphere of the more forward Irish nationalism. It is said of the Freemasons in 1918 that:
"The Exclusion of Catholics is secured through the machinery of the Masonic Lodges and that machinery is of course dominated by his Grace the Duke of Abercorn. ... And yet Ireland has been bled and starved to the point of death, while the compass and square dominate the Castle, the Judicial Bench, the Bar, the Constabulary, the Magistracy ..."76
To counteract this many Catholics were secretly organised into AOH branches and they dominated whatever was going for Catholics in the professions, trades and government appointments in the period 1900-16 as you can see in this quote from one observer who knew them well:
"The AOH up to this period [c.1916] and for a number of years afterwards was the most insidious organisation ever established in Ireland as those of us who had to work with them and against them knew only too well. They controlled every form of business and profession in the country. Various types of business had each an AOH branch of their own. Contracts were arranged with institutions for good members. ... I was offered one of those contracts if I would join. The same applied to the professions: doctors had their own branch and appointments were made accordingly. The same applied to the law, education, and every other walk of life in the country....They even tried to get control of the GAA."77
Then throughout this time, in the words of Dorothy Macardle, "the IRB was establishing everywhere its secret but effective control" over the emerging organisations like the Gaelic League, Irish Volunteers, Sinn Féin and the GAA.78
As you can see some of these organisations like the GAA, and in 1914 the Irish Volunteers, were subject to fierce internal wars between the two secret societies with the IRB usually winning out though post 1916. The IRB were secretly pulling the strings in the background throughout this time, especially in the case of the Irish Volunteers as Seamus Robinson relates:
"IRB members were told "We must make sure that no one will be elected an officer of the Volunteers who is not a member of the 'Organisation.' " - as if that was something new or something that we would be allowed to forget, and without adverting to the fact that that sort of thing would undermine the authority and the efficiency of the whole Volunteer movement. Without waiting for the meeting to start officially I walked out in disgust thinking of Tammany Hall. I never again bothered about the IRB. ... After the oath of allegiance to the Dail the IRB became a sinister cabal."79
Of course the vast majority of Irish people at the time had no idea that their country was sewn up like this by the secret societies. They even controlled the electoral system by a clandestine hold on the nomination of candidates by the big political parties. Kevin O'Shiel tells us that in Tyrone the AOH undermined Murnaghan as the IPP MP for Tyrone simply because he was not AOH, his convention "was rigged by the powerful secret society." O'Shiel is clear that the AOH
"was unquestionably engaged in carrying out a policy of weeding out every non-Hibernian Member of Parliament in the [Irish Parliamentary] Party."80
Meanwhile the IRB controlled the candidates on the Republican side. Dick Walsh talks a lot in his account about "the IRB ... interference in the selection of candidates" in the emerging Sinn Féin party. He says that
"the IRB did take an active part in the selection of republican parliamentary candidates in the General Election of 1918, and the previous by-elections."
In the bye elections "as far as I know all the candidates were IRB men" except maybe Plunkett and White. Later in the 1918 election "the IRB members were being put forward as Sinn Féin candidates."81
Dorothy Macardle also says that some of these Sinn Féin TDs complained in retrospect
"that no one who accepted responsibility as an elected representative ought to be subject to secret control."82
So as you can see any outside commentator who ignores the role of the secret societies is going to badly mistaken if he feels he understands Irish politics at that time.
In fact the political power in Ireland rests then with these secret societies, who unknown to the general public really controlled all that happened on the island.
And so the question of who in turn controlled them might yield some answers in trying to figure out what was going on in the power play from 1910-24. Obviously the Freemasons are linked back to the head of their organisation in London while the IRB were controlled by Clan-na-Gael in the US. The AOH (Board of Erin) on the otherhand refused to make a secret deal with Clan-na-Gael in 1909 and so remained independent.83
So if I may be permitted to speculate - and I admit I am doing that a lot! lol - I wonder if perchance it was the case that Clan-na-Gael was secretly allied to or controlled by the Lloyd George group in London, and with the Freemasons, then the whole island would be nicely controlled by this clique with the sole exception of the AOH. Hence they, and their Irish Parliamentary Party, just had to be crushed? This might then be the link between the Lloyd George group in London and the IRB controlled IRA in Ireland?
You might think that I am being overly speculative here talking about this secret society question and placing it in the centre of the real political undercurrents of the period, but in my defence I will point out that many commentators at that time knew well how important those societies were. One book in particular was written on this subject in 1922 by a British army captain, H.B.C. Pollard, serving in the office of the Chief of Police in Dublin Castle.84
For him this whole question of the secret societies, including the clandestine war between the AOH and the IRB, is the real political story of Ireland from 1910-21, and he drew on confidential Castle documents to prove his case.85
He traces the story of these societies back into the 19th century outlining the curious links between these societies and important figures in the UK. For example he draws a connection from the Irish rebels to the Carbonaries in Italy and then notes that they were quietly assisted by Lord Palmerston, when British Prime Minister, because he was also a leading Freemason.86
So he links Irish revolutionaries, and international anarchists/revolutionaries, to the Freemasons which obviously included a lot of important UK (and US) political and security figures over the years. He says that the head of the Invincibles, the famous No.1, was P.J. Tynan and that he was
"closely in touch with government circles in England and a frequent caller at the Irish Office."87
He even says that the head of the IRB James
"Stephens had received some £25,000 from the British government ... and in later years it was a matter of common knowledge that Stephens, besides being Head Centre, had also an agreement with the British government, which threw a peculiar light on his immunity from arrest and his later escape from prison and leisurely retreat to France."88
He draws on works by Barruel, Robinson, Clifford and the Alta Vendita to explain these links between the Freemasons and these Irish and other revolutionaries, and why the Masons favoured revolutions. He even refers to the controversial Protocols of Zion, but he - and this writer - ignores, and hopefully disbelieves, any anti-Jewish sentiments in it, but seems to draw on the curious insight that the writer of those Protocols appears to possess about the thinking of the senior ranks of the Masonic Orders.89
Rather than the Jews he actually links those groups, that Robinson et al mention, back to the Jesuits.90
So effectively I think that Pollard's basic theory is the same as in those Protocols, that sometimes these secret revolutionary groups are allied to the Masons and control countries between them.
Amazingly he even goes further and takes a keen interest in the rituals that societies like Clan-na-Gael practise. He seems to say that these groups are really linked to the occult and those, what might be called, esoteric religions that he is quietly knowledgeable about.91
In reference to these occult circles he claims that "such societies still exist and are by no means inactive."92
Incidentally the old name for the IRB is 'The Phoenix Society',93
which some say is an important occultic symbol,94
and the clandestine name for Clan-na-Gael was the Universal Brotherhood,95
which certainly sounds Masonic.
So there you have another potential explanation for what transpired in Ireland from 1910-22. The theory is that these Masonic secret societies were asserting their control over the country, Masonic leaders in the UK being quietly linked to IRB figures in Ireland and between them destroying the more independently Irish, and Catholic, IPP and AOH. Btw I am only referring here to some of the leadership, I am sure that the vast majority of groups like the IRB were perfectly decent people not involved in any such intrigue.
Whatever the truth of what was going on I venture to suggest that it is a lot more complicated than the history that is normally taught in Ireland! Nonetheless I agree with Richard Walsh who concluded that:
"It was, as I said, a heroic age, and whatever mistakes or blunders were made at the end, it is well that we keep in mind that this generation that lived in Ireland were a great generation ... and can without fear face the verdict of history."96
The WS numbers listed are Witness Statements taken by the Irish army's Bureau of Military History in the 40s and 50s. There are I think over 2,000 of them, some as much as 300 or even 800 pages long representing an enormous fount of new information on the period. I say new because they were kept secret for about half a century, only released to historians in the last few years. They are available in the National Archives in Dublin, whom I'd like to thank. Btw I should point out that many of these writers including Richard Walsh and Seamus Robinson - but not Sceilg I don't think - do include complimentary phrases about people like Michael Collins, which I have discounted, because I think they were just been charitable about an old dead comrade.
John J. O'Kelly [known as Sceilg] W.S. 384, he was also later the President of Sinn Féin c1926 after De Valera split off to form Fianna Fail:
"Long afterwards, I laughed when I found that Harry [Boland], like Michael Collins, was in close touch with Cope." (p.60)
"While de Valera was in America, he and Collins came to be a good deal in touch with each other, though de Valera did not seem a man who would let anybody get very close to him before going out. For a time, Collins, indeed, seemed almost in charge of the correspondence, and some of us began to suspect that the Lloyd George machine was operating here. I am not likely ever to investigate the thing now.
The line to go on would be to try and trace Cope's first meeting with Collins, and follow it down. Cope was sent here specially for that work. It was very freely said - and I believe it to be true - that Lloyd George was fully aware that de Valera was returning to Ireland at the Christmas of 1920, and that, of course, would have been arranged by Cope and Collins. The details would have been kept probably from Cathal Brugha's knowledge... [Sceilg liked Brugha, and wrote an Irish biography of him. He goes on to say that Collins was annoyed at the peace feelers of Fr. O'Flanagan and the Galway County Council resolution ...] The reason being that it was breaking into his own negotiations with Lloyd George. You may take it that Collins was in close negotiations with Lloyd George, through Lloyd George's agents at that time.
Another thing that occurs to me is that Archbishop Clune did not come over until the day after Collins accepted the appointment as Substitute-President. When Griffith was arrested - this was well before de Valera came back - it devolved on me to preside at a meetings of the Cabinet until a substitute was appointed. Griffith sent out a letter from Mountjoy by Noyk, the solicitor, suggesting Cathal Brugha as his substitute. If Brugha refused, Stack was to take it on; failing him, Michael Collins was to act. I was in the chair when the letter was read by Diarmuid O'Hegarty. Brugha or Stack would not act, but Collins consented; and Dorothy McArdle has a most misleading account of it. He was hardly twenty-four hours in harness when the New York Gaelic-American had a fullpage photograph of Ireland's new fighting chief. Had I time, I could easily trace all those all those developments. But then I have no heart for that kind of thing. I am quite sure you will look upon it as I do. If you investigated it, and found something unworthy of the period, you would rather not have found it.
The selection of Archbishop Clune and the sending of him here looked very fishy to me also. It was not accidental: it was being hatched for a good while. The mere fact that they would send Dr. Clune to Mountjoy prison to see Griffith is suspicious. Cope had been visiting Griffith, and he would, no doubt, exonerate his employers and the Imperial Government by throwing all the blame on the Castle, and Griffith would get an opportunity of sending that information out to Collins, and to others, especially the gullible. The investigation of all that would be very sickening. I got plenty of revolting echoes of it even in Mountjoy." (p.63 et seq.)
"I knew all about Mrs Llewelyn Davies from London friends ... Earlier, Mrs Davies lived in Donegal a good deal. We knew well she was very intimate with many people - among them Michael Collins. I don't think I ever introduced her name into anything I wrote. We did not care about her. She was a daughter of James O'Conner M.P., who was pretty well known to me, and they lived in Bray. One Sunday, they ate shellfish, and it poisoned the whole family except this girl, who happened to be away, so far as I can recollect. She went over to London, and became a clerk in Lloyd George's office. In time, she went up very much in his estimation. There was then a man to whom the Wizard felt very much indebted, Llewelyn Davies, who was a solicitor, and had been largely instrumental in getting Lloyd George into Parliament. In gratitude, let us presume, Lloyd George arranged that the Davies marry Miss O'Connor. Some years after her marriage, she came over and, with two children I think, lived a good deal in Donegal. Her husband, who was solicitor to the Post Office, I think, used to come over to see her in the beginning. In time, she had rooms at the Gresham. The whole story is something one would rather forget." (p.66)
"Looking back casually on the whole thing, I feel I would much rather forget it all. I was much surprised the other day at a statement by William O'Brien of Galway, who said he thought Arthur Griffith was one of the greatest men our race produced. Griffith had some ability, and he had a mighty respect for his own views; but, in all the time that he was in the Dail and I presiding, I can't remember one suggestion from him that would be worth preserving. You know with what reluctance I say that. He did not distinguish himself in any way whatever, except by his opposition to the Republic to which he had sworn allegiance. He would make casual references to Davis and to Irish industry, and anybody who did not accept his view was dense! He had become a very terse writer and would have been an excellent journalist, if he had the broad outlook of Rooney. To meet him at his fireside as I used to when he returned from South Africa was a pleasure not easily forgotten, and it is in that role that I prefer to remember him.
...[Also says that "I think it was very easy for any man of substance to get Griffith's ear." Including Martin Fitzgerald the wine merchant. (ibid p.20) As outstanding intelligent personalities of the time he mentions particularly Joseph MacDonagh, the brother of the executed Thomas.] I have no hesitation in saying that Joe MacDonagh was the man who impressed me most. Both Collins and Griffith used seem vexed with him or envious of his facility in discussing a wide range of pretty vital subjects, but they were not in the same plane as he ...
De Valera was not on the same plane as MacDonagh either. He was recognised as leader, because described as the only surviving Commandant after the Rising. ....As far as my recollection goes, de Valera never said anything of real moment. He was always well received, and would talk a great deal, but I don't know of any subject relating to any of the departments towards which he contributed a really helpful suggestion. I say that without prejudice. He once clashed with Count Plunkett and appeared in a very sorry light; and he certainly had lost the confidence of the majority of his Sinn Féin colleagues before the Sinn Féin split came in 1926." (p.67)
"Diarmuid O'Hegarty was Secretary to the First Meeting of the Dail, and then Secretary to the Cabinet. I feel that Diarmuid was one of the mysteries of our political life. I am saying nothing against his soldiery qualities or anything like that. He was arrested in 1916 and deported to England. I don't know whether he was sentenced. When the train got to Chester or some such station, a porter walking up and down shouted: "'Egarty, 'Egarty! Anybody by the name of 'Egarty?" Of course he attracted the attention of everybody. At last, somebody said to Diarmuid: "I wonder could this be you?". Diarmuid got right back to Dublin on the plea that T.P. Gill could not get on without him. So we were told, and we accepted the statement at its face value. There was a wonderful feeling of trust then. Diarmuid got into touch with the Prisoner's Dependent's Fund, and moved about in the old circles. When the amalgamation took place in August, 1916, O'Hegarty and Belton were put on the composite committee. O'Hegarty and Collins were very close friends. O'Hegarty and I were fairly intimate too, because we rehearsed plays together in the Keating Branch.
[Michael Collins was appointed to a post with the National Aid Committee] largely through O'Hegarty and Belton. Thus links were established with all the prisoners coming out of gaol. Diarmuid had no special qualifications or claims that I could see; yet he became Secretary to the first meeting of the Dail, then Secretary to the Cabinet. Later, he abandoned the Republic, and became Secretary to the Cosgrave Government. In time, he was put into the Board of Works, and is now in charge of it. But what is he worth from the point of view of national service and national character, or national culture or the national language? He is alert where his own interest in concerned; and I hope he has some better traits than those I have discerned.
I have already said that I feel Michael Collins was in touch with Cope from the date of his arrival here, and I am convinced that de Valera came entirely under Collins' influence in this respect when he came back from America, if not earlier." (p.70-71)
"She [Dorothy Macardle] wrote that book under de Valera's direction and tutelage, and, so far as I can recollect it - except in so far as it embodies official documents acceptable to de Valera - I do not hesitate to brand it as altogether the most misleading volume that has been written on the Republic.
I have little doubt that there was great influence brought to bear on him after he [de Valera] came over [from the US], and none whatever that he came over on invitation to continue the negotiations in which Michael Collins had long been engaged.
As regards the military situation at the time, its alleged weaknesses must have been put forward as a reason for inaugurating negotiations. Yet I don't doubt that Collins and his group had a supply of arms within reach." (p.74)
[At the meeting when the delegates first returned from London Collins said practically nothing:] "It was not the attitude or statement of a candid man. If you were present or witnessed it, that is what you would think too." (p.76)
He refers to Moya Davies in response I think to a query from the Military History Bureau researcher who asked was it she who tried to entrap Austin Stack. Sceilg says no it was Mrs. Maud Walsh, a sister of the judge Sir James O'Connor: "a sinister figure. He wrote a History of Ireland afterwards, which was just terrible." This spying was on behalf of Cope.
Michael Collins knew Mrs Moya Davies since 1913. Her husband Crompton "at that time was Lloyd George's solicitor and Solicitor General at the Post Office." (Meda Ryan "Michael Collins and the women who spied for Ireland" (Cork, 1996) p.21) When a Sinn Féin delegation went to see President Wilson in London in January 1919 they stayed with the Davies' in London, apparently because Mrs Davies was "a close friend of George Gavan Duffy and Michael Collins." (Robert Barton WS 979 p.12) He also used to stay with Mrs Davies in Portmarnock in 1920 and 21. (Pat Moylett WS 767 p.147) Of course she is the person who is said to have borne two children by Michael Collins, and rumour has it that he was afraid to have his private life exposed by the powers that be, in case he might go the way of Parnell! She herself claimed later that she was a spy and a close adviser to Collins. (Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.353).
I appreciate that Sceilg is really only talking about a few of the leaders, and I start speculating about a longer list, but I just think that it is unlikely that those really in the know would not have seen what Sceilg seems to have, and their silence is what I am going by. This includes people like Cathal Brugha that are very close to the centre of the action, although Sceilg likes him and defended him from charges that he went unhindered to his work everyday during the height of the war. He did attend his business during the troubles, Sceilg concedes, "it is true, but not regularly while the crisis was on." (J J O'Kelly WS 384 p.58) But even Sean MacEoin was interviewed by Brugha at his business premises in Dublin (Sean MacEoin WS 1716 p.159), showing that he conducted IRA business openly where everybody knew he worked? It is said btw that Cathal Brugha had important Castle contacts since at least early 1918, Walsh reckons it might have been Broy which seems likely because of their shared interest in athletics. (Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.151)
As I say I am only guessing about these leaders, some facts just jar with the usual interpretation of events. e.g. Robert Barton, a Captain in the British army, is reported to have been placed in charge of prisoners effects in Dublin Castle after the rebellion in 1916. That could of course be just a cover story for identifying the prisoners on behalf of British intelligence, who would certainly have wanted him there to do that at that time. (Robert Barton 979 p.43)
"This, after all, is historically how Britain achieves peace in Ireland. In 1920-21, the police and army regularly made raids on leading Sinn Féin figures, only to discover that they were under the protection of other parts of the British state. Those arrested were rapidly released even when incriminating material was found; in one famous case, that of Erskine Childers in 1921, a senior British official [Cope] carried his bags out of jail" (Paul Bew Yorkshire Post December 22 http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/606/sinn%20Féin.htm
Paul Bew's thinking on these lines is also referred to in the introduction to Peter Hart ed. "British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21 / The Final Reports" (Cork, 2002).
"I tried to see Mr. de Valera through various channels, but on each occasion I was sent back to Erskine Childers as I was informed he was the only man that could make an appointment for me with Dev." (Patrick Moylett WS 767 p.81)
James Maguire of Glenidan Co.Westmeath WS 1439.
He "was the brains behind this, as he was behind many of the Irish documents" prepared by the Irish plenipotentiaries in London. (Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.298)
This is discussed in the coded part of a letter from Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha to Diarmuid Lynch in America.(Diarmuid Lynch "The IRB and the 1916 Insurrection" (Cork, 1957) p.224)
The Foreword by Geoffrey Household in the Penguin edition of Erskine Childers "The Riddle of the Sands: a Record of Secret Service" (London,1978) p.16-17.
Leonard Piper "Dangerous Waters" (London, 2003) p.137.
Barton admits that they called a "new British Destroyer" after him.(Robert Barton WS 979 p.28)
Patrick Moylett WS 767 p.82. The John Chartres mentioned, known as "the Mystery man of the Treaty", prepared one of the documents used by Collins during the negotiations on the subject of the Commonwealth. It proposed changing the structure of the latter so that it could embrace maybe all nations, including the United States, become an alternative to the League of Nations, leading to a "new world order" in which "war would become impossible." (Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.304-5)
Sean Moylan WS 838 near the beginning. Lawrence Nugent describes the difficult economic pressure that was exerted on these pioneers in the c1914 period.(WS 907 near the beginning.)
"When I left my home for the Depot in the Phoenix Park in [to join the RIC in 1907] I carried with me the regards and good wishes of all and sundry. It never occurred to anyone that I was doing anything unpatriotic - not even the old Fenians and Land Leaguers who still survived, amongst them my father - a veteran of both organisations." (J J McConnell WS 509 p.1)
Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.48.
Seamus Robinson TD, WS p.49. "One member was specially selected by the Press and the people to put him into a position which he never held; he was made a romantic figure, a mystical character such as this person certainly is not; the gentleman I refer to is Mr. Michael Collins." (From a speech by Cathal Brugha during the Treaty debates.)
When Martin Fitzgerald bought the Freeman's Journal Piaras Beaslai became the leader writer for it and at that point "a good deal of publicity was given to Mick Collins" in the paper.(Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.180) From the same source we are told that deliberately to court personal publicity he dressed up in military uniform for the Sinn Féin ard fheis and "gained some of the popularity which he was looking for." (ibid p.161)
Seamus Robinson has more things to say about Collins, not all of it complimentary!:
"The first time I found Mick Collins to be a bit of an artful dodger, was when he arranged the first, the "phoney" attack on French." French was actually never expected in Dublin at that time which was the occasion of a big Volunteer gathering in Dublin, giving him an opportunity to show off to the gathered delegates:
"However, Mick was able to give the impression to the Volunteer officers, from all over the country that he not only organised the attacks on spies that had begun in Dublin but that he also led them, taking part in them!......And that was the nearest I ever saw Mick Collins to a fight....This dummy attack on French was followed by several other apparently serious attempts but they all failed because of inaccurate information."
He then refers to his question during the Dail debates, which he stands over and adds:" One looks in vain to find either the question or the answer in the new editions (27/2/'25) of the Dail debates." (Seamus Robinson TD, from Belfast and Glasgow originally, then O/C of the Tipperary Brigade during the War and later (c.Sept 1921) of the 2nd Southern Division WS p.47-50)
This is the question:
"There are many thousand people enthusiastic supporters of the Treaty simply because Michael Collins is its mother—possibly Arthur Griffith would be called its father. Now, it is only natural and right that many people should follow almost blindly a great and good man. But suppose you know that such a man was not really such a great man; and that his reputation and great deeds of daring were in existence only on paper and in the imagination of people who read stories about him. If Michael Collins is the great man he is supposed to be, he has a right to influence people and people ought to be influenced by him. Now Dr. McCartan said that he could understand many people saying: "What is good enough for Michael Collins is good enough for me." Arthur Griffith has called Collins "the man who won the war." The Press has called him the Commander-in-Chief of the I.R.A. He has been called "a great exponent of guerilla warfare" and the "elusive Mike" and we have all read the story of the White Horse. There are stories going round Dublin of fights he had all over the city—the Custom House in particular. If Michael Collins was all that he has been called then I will admire him and respect his opinions, if my little mind cannot comprehend his present attitude towards the Republic and this Treaty. Now, from my knowledge of character and psychology, which I'm conceited enough to think is not too bad, I'm forced to think that the reported Michael Collins could not possibly be the same Michael Collins who was so weak as to compromise the Republic. The weak man who signed certainly exists and just as certainly therefore, I believe the reported Michael Collins did not ever exist. If Michael Collins who signed the Treaty ever did the wonderful things reported of him then I'm another fool. But before I finally admit myself a fool I want some authoritative statement. I want, and I think it all important that the Dáil, the country, aye, and the world, got authoritative answers to the following questions: (a) What positions exactly did Michael Collins hold in the army? (b) Did he ever take part in any armed conflict in which he fought by shooting; the number of such battles or fights; in fact, is there any authoritative record of his having ever fired a shot for Ireland at an enemy of Ireland?" (Seamus Robinson TD during the Treaty debates http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/DT/D.T.192201060002.html)
Robinson had plenty of experience of mythologising because he feuded with Dan Breen as to the latter's real role during the War of Independence in Tipperary. He ended up calling it this "The Great Tipperary hoax."! (Seamus Robinson WS 1721 Appendix IV) Breen it seems sometimes called himself the O/C of the Tipperary brigade that actually Robinson was in charge of, and apparently Mrs Seamus O'Doherty wrote "My Fight for Irish Freedom." (ibid Appendix II). He tried to write to the newspapers, the Press group, about this in the 40s and 50s but they never published his letters.
I wonder if the British army's dealings with General Smuts form a kind of model for what they hoped would happen with Collins. Could Smuts too have been a kind of double agent? This is from PJ Little who was for a time the Dail's representative in South Africa:
"A word about General Smuts may be important.....Smuts was really a follower of Cecil Rhodes originally, and, being an ambitious and clever lawyer, he was very much, at that time, in touch with the British, but, just before the Boer War, Kruger, who was President of the Transvaal, made him Attorney General in the Transvaal...His colleagues told me that he was not a military genius himself..." (WS 1769 p.80. He also says that the British had poisoned the food that they gave to people in the concentration camps in order to kill off more of them.)
When Smuts became Attorney General he also took over and became the dynamic head of their Secret Service.(http://rapidttp.com/milhist/vol032gb.html
) A few bits from the wikipedia article on Smuts:
"Through 1896, Smuts' politics were turned on their head. He was transformed from being Rhodes' most ardent supporter to being the most fervent opponent of British expansion. ...After the Jameson Raid, relations between the British and the Afrikaners had deteriorated steadily. By 1898, war seemed imminent. Orange Free State President Martinus Steyn called for a peace conference at Bloemfontein to settle each side's grievances. With an intimate knowledge of the British, Smuts took control of the Transvaal delegation. Sir Alfred Milner, head of the British delegation, took exception to his dominance, and conflict between the two led to the collapse of the conference, consigning South Africa to war."Of course it was well known that Milner wanted that war all along and therefore was looking for those negotiations to collapse. You can read Smut's role in the negotiations that ended the ear here: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/armstrng...9.htm
. It's fascinating if you read those chapters how much it is similar to Ireland in 1921. Then after that of course he once more became a close ally of the British and fought with them during WWI and II.
"..those two leaders....seemed to be close friends." (Tom Barry "Guerilla Days in Ireland" (Tralee, post 1955) p.158)
Mrs Austin Stack WS 418.
Broy in his witness statement includes an account of Stephens' jail break that he claims he has from old DMP files. (Eamonn Broy WS 1284 p.12) I notice that that contrasts with Captain Pollards statement that it was well known that Stephens was working for the Castle (see below in the main text) so maybe Broy is covering up the degree of police infiltration of the Fenians? I wonder then if he was really persona non grata with his superiors in the DMP as he claimed? He is very well read, an expert French speaker, as you can read in his statements. He and Collins used to share a love of Russian nihilists. He also goes on and on about how the RIC were despised in the country when he was growing up but this again is clearly exaggerated and, I would say, blatantly untrue. Even lots of his Sinn Féin Colleagues had old connections to the RIC: Michael Staines was from an RIC family, Eamonn Duggan was the son of an RIC constable based in Longwood Co.Meath, and Michael Collins' family were always very friendly with the local RIC in Clonakilty. (Peter Folan WS 316)
Tom Barry "Guerilla Days in Ireland" (Tralee, post 1955) p.148-9.
Pat Moylett WS 767 p.85. Pat Moylett later bumped into the consul in the toilets of the Gresham talking to General Brind who a high up Intelligence Officer for the British!
J J O'Kelly W.S.384 p.62. There is quite a bit of evidence of close and secret US involvement in Ireland at the time:
Richard Walsh thought that the US government had a lot of leverage at this time too mainly because the UK government was so heavily indebted to the US after WWI. (Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.79)
From an article on the 'secret' US role of the time:
"`The United States was both the rose and the thorn of the Irish problem.' These words -- which adapt one of Hegel's most famous formulations - flowed from the pen of Carl Ackerman, an American journalist, in the Atlantic Monthly in the summer of 1922. Ackerman's three lengthy articles had one theme; he wished to stress the 'secret' role played by American diplomats, politicians and journalists in the resolution of the `Anglo-Irish war' by the `Treaty settlement' of 1921.
The `American education of Michael Collins' consisted of informing Collins that the decisive American injection of support for his cause [money and possibly arms]-- which he had been promised by his comrades in arms Eamon De Valera and Harry Boland - would never materialise. A key figure here was the Dublin US Consul, Frederick Dumont, who had been lucky not to lose his life on Bloody Sunday in November 1920 - he had been playing cards with some British intelligence officers just before Collins's death squad struck at them. " (Spectator 31 May 1997 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3724/is_199705/...79124
by Paul Bew Professor of Irish Politics at the Queen's University, Belfast)
This American journalist Carl Ackerman, who interviewed Collins twice, was also a British spy reporting back to Basil Thomson in London.(Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.293)
The implication then is that the US government had some influence over this money arriving from America, that it had strings attached which the US government could pull.
The Treaty delegation were all collectively treated to dinner in London by an important US banker during the negotiations. (Robert Barton WS 979 p.39)
21. "From the first then [c.1915], the "Sinn Féiners", as they were then called, regarded T[imothy].M.H[ealy] as a man whom they instinctively turned to in their needs.... " (Mrs T.M. Sullivan, Timothy Healy's daughter, WS 653 p.1)
22. See footnote 28 below.
23. He also had a secret printing press in his home. (Patrick Meehan WS 478) I think these despatches might be from T J McElligot who was in close touch with Collins and leaked some secret RIC documents (TJ McElligot WS 472). Healy c.Nov 1918 is reported "receiving Michael Collins and Harry Boland at his Chapelizod home, Glenaulin, and discussing the wisdom (or otherwise) of their plan of campaign. He was often visited by Collins while the latter was 'on the run.' " (Mrs T.M. Sullivan, Timothy Healy's daughter, WS 653 p.2)
24. "Mr Healy was I understood brought over to London [during the negotiations] but not as a lawyer. He was asked to do some political work which was the wrong thing altogether for he had always been quite candid about his attachment to the crown." (Austin Stack via his widow WS 418)
25. He used to write to him describing the latest happenings among the "Shinns". (NLI Ms 23,266 et seq.)
26. Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, the widow of Francis that was murdered during the 1916 rising, had employed Healy to act for her during the inquest. Later she had some harsh words to say about her barrister as Healy himself complained that she had "published appalling lies about me in the Irish World to the effect that I had offered her a bribe from Asquith and threatened to deprive her of her own son if she did not consent." (Frank Callanan "T.M. Healy" (Cork, 1996) p.732)
Healy acted for PJ Little in defending a libel case against his New Ireland newspaper: "I had to settle, as my counsel, T M Healy and A M Sullivan, were against me, as I soon found out." (P J Little, later a Fianna Fail chief whip, WS 1769 p.19)
27. It was reported in the Freeman that he had "sold his clients for blood-money to Dublin Castle". (http://www.eiretek.org/chapters/books/THealy/healy26.htm)
28. "MacBride argued that there was considerable alarm at what he [Collins] might yet do to 'Thorpe', the pseudonym given to the Castle's longest serving and probably most important informer. The Burke and Cavendish murders in the Phoenix Park of 1882 which outraged England and dashed Home Rule from Parnell's grasp were carried out by a Fenian splinter group, the Invincibles, who were thought to have been sent to the gallows by an informer called Carey who was himself subsequently murdered. But then rumours began to circulate that the real informer was 'Thorpe'. ...MacBride's theory was that Collins had learned that 'Thorpe' was in fact Tim Healy, a trusted adviser of his, an uncle of Kevin O'Higgins, and destined after Collins' death to be the first Governor General of the Irish Free State. If Healy was a spy he changed Irish history, being the most active of Parnell's opponents in the disastrous split of 1890......MacBride's theory however was that Healy, then a member of the IRB, with a Clan na Gael emissary, returned to the Clan man's hotel unexpectedly one evening to find the proprietor, Captain Jury, a British agent, going through the Clan man's luggage. Somehow they managed to poison Jury. The Clan man got back safely to America but the Castle made Healy an offer he could not refuse. Either he went to work for them, or he faced a murder charge. Accordingly to MacBride, Healy then became an agent and remained one throughout his long career in law and politics." (Tim Pat Coogan "Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland" (New York, 2002) p.390 et seq. quoting Sean MacBride's interview in the Irish Press 16 and 18 October 1982)
29. "We did not know what was going on behind the scenes, nor indeed did we much care. In the first place, Collins became very intimate with Tim Healy. Fanny Sullivan told me afterwards that, one night out at Glenaulin, Tim Healy put £25 into Mick's pocket! - to meet the out-of-pocket expenses Mick must incur every day. And when Mick had left, Tim said: "Sure he is only an overgrown baby, a big baby." Collins and Tim Healy became intimate, Tim Healy and Gavan Duffy had family ties, and Mrs Duffy began to refer, in Rome, to "her cousin Michael Collins." Great times! And the results became pretty obvious." (J J O'Kelly WS 384 p.80)
30. Sean Moylan TD WS 505 p.2. Another example is Richard Walsh who said that Healy was "supposed to play a large part in the business" of the Cope-Collins links.(Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.78)
St. John's Ambulance Brigade secretly transported British officers around Dublin during the 1916 Rising, and also transported Tim Healy! (Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.38)
31. Michael Hopkinson ed. "The last days of Dublin Castle / The Diary of Mark Sturgis" (Dublin, 1999) p.157.
32. David Neligan WS 380 p.18.
33. Ormonde de Winter described him a being Director of Intelligence at least for a time in 1920. (see under Duggan in Peter Hart ed. "British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21 / The Final Reports" (Cork, 2002))
34. Incidentally Eamonn Duggan never signed the Treaty, his signature was pasted on from an old card that the delegation had access to.(Robert Barton WS 979 p.34)
This is from James J O'Connor who was a Solicitor in Dublin and nephew of Judge James O'Connor a leading, and controversial, figure in the peace negotiations of the time:
"The British government sent over to Ireland one Alfred Cope as a special representative of the British Cabinet in Ireland to act as an Assistant Under-Secretary, the Under-Secretary then being Mr. James McMahon. While here Mr. Cope became very friendly with Mr. Eamonn Duggan, a solicitor, who was later one of the signatories of the Treaty and was a very active man in the Republican Movement.
Cope, of course, knew this but when he met Duggan in the Dolphin Hotel or other places socially he never asked him any questions. One night Mr. Eamonn Duggan arrived home about 12 o'clock and just as he was going to bed the telephone rang. At the other end of the telephone at a place about 9 miles outside Dublin was a man who was high up in the Republican Army, who told Duggan that he and two others were on a very important mission into Dublin and that their car had broken down at this place, asking Duggan if he could do anything to get them into the city which was at that time surrounded by sentries, curfew being imposed. Duggan asked him for his telephone number and said he would ring back in a few minutes. He rang Mr. Cope and said, "My dear Cope, there are three friends of mine stranded at a village about nine miles outside Dublin. Their car has broken down. Could you do anything to get them into the city?" "Where are you"? said Cope. "I am at home". "I will be with you" said Cope " in about twenty minutes". Mr. Cope rang up one of the British military barracks, ordered out a staff car which, of course, in view of his position was always at his disposal. The staff car driven by a British Staff Officer arrived at Cope's house, collected him and drove to Mr. Duggan's house, collected Mr. Duggan and drove out through the sentries to the village about nine miles outside Dublin. Here they met the other three men in a licensed premises. They had a drink, as men do on these occasions, drove back into the city, again passing the sentries on the outskirts.
When the car got to College Green Duggan said to Cope, "Now my dear fellow, you have done all I asked you to do, stop the car here and let these three men out. They can walk the rest of the way home and you and I will go down to the Dolphin and have a drink, which they did.
The next day Cope went into his office in Dublin Castle. He went into James McMahon, the Under-Secretary, who told me the story. He related to him the events of the night before and said "I am very worried. I know, as you do, all about Duggan's activities. I know most of the officers who drive these staff cars but I don't know the Captain who drove me last night. I don't know the three men whom he met or who they may be. They may be all right, but they may be associates of Duggan's and the other men who are in this movement. If this Captain goes to Macready who is the G.O.C. of the Forces I may have some difficulty in explaining my conduct."
McMahon thought a bit and said, "I will tell you what you will do. Get out another staff car as quickly as you can. Go up to French (who was then Lord Lieutenant in the Vice-Regal Lodge), tell him that you are associating with Duggan for the purposes of getting information from him." "But, of course, that's not true" said Cope, "I never ask Duggan any questions". "It doesn't matter" said McMahon. "Tell French also that you use some of the Secret Service money which you always carry in your pocket to give Duggan drink and that you used more of it last night to give the three men, whom you met out in this village, drink and that you got some useful information from them."
After some hesitation Cope rang up the military barracks, got out another staff car, drove up to the Vice-Regal Lodge and asked to see the Lord Lieutenant, whom he saw. He told him all about the incidents of the night before and about the information he was supposed to be getting from Duggan and about the information he had got the night before. He also told the Lord Lieutenant that he was sending a report over to the Prime Minister which was so secret that he could not even show it to His Excellency. He went away and that forenoon General Sir Neville Macready arrived at the Vice-Regal Lodge to see the Lord Lieutenant. He told him that the Captain who had driven Duggan and Cope the night before had reported to him (Macready) the events of the evening and that he was going to have Cope arrested as a traitor and that, were it not for his important position, he would have had him arrested but did not like to take any steps without the approval of the Lord Lieutenant.
"You will do no such thing" said French."Mr Cope has already been here this morning and has made to me a full report about the incidents of last night and in my opinion he risked his life to get some important information to His Majesty's Government. I have just dictated a letter to my Secretary addressed to the Prime Minister recommending that some suitable honour be conferred on Mr. Cope by His Majesty the King in the next Honours List."" (James J O'Connor W.S. 1214 p.5)
35. Through Mrs Nugent in fact. (Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.223)
36. David Neligan "The Spy in the Castle" (Dublin, 1999, 1st pub. 1968) p.147.
37. See footnote 1 above.
38. Pat Moylett WS 767 p.88. Even Austin Stack talks about Cope:
"I mention this incident [where Cope tried to contact him] here as I believe Mr Cope was England's chief instrument in bringing about the signing of the "Treaty". I know he frequently met some of our Ministers and others who subscribed to and supported the document." (Mrs Austin Stack enclosing her late husband's memoirs. WS 418)
39. Michael T. Foy "Michael Collins' Intelligence War" (Gloucestshire, 2006) p.229. Mark Sturgis said that "not only does he do all the work in the Castle but the plotting laurels fall to him too." (Michael Hopkinson ed. "The last days of Dublin Castle / The Diary of Mark Sturgis" (Dublin, 1999) p.158)
40. Richard Walsh WS 400 p.74. At one of these pre Truce Collins-Cope meetings Collins even gave his correct name and had a drink with a British officer.(Sir William Darling "So it looks to me" (London, 1952) p.212)
41. Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.222-223.
42. Richard Walsh TD WS 400 p.69, 71 and 73.
43. ibid p.74-79. I think this is Brigadier General Sir George Cockerill, MP for Reigate, close friend of Lloyd George, 'Director of Special Intelligence at the War Office' (Nicholas Pronay and Keith M. Wilson "The Political Re-Education of Germany and Her Allies After World War II" (1985) p.54), and author of "What fools we were" (London, 1944) and "Scribblers and Statesmen" (Melbourne, 1943). This is from Pat Moylett's account, it was he that was delivering the message: WS 767 p.51. He had taken an interest in Irish intelligence for a long time before this, see for example CO/904 Personality file on Thomas Ashe 2 Dec. 1917. Dermot O'Hegarty was furious when he realised that Walsh had found out about this message.
44. David Fitzpatrick "Harry Boland's Irish Revolution" (Cork, 2003) p.398 referring to c.September 1921. The truce had only been signed in mid July.
45. Kevin O'Shiel names Bonar Law, Wilson, and Milner as the big names trying to stop Home Rule.(WS 1770 p.329)
46. Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.180.
47. Liam Mellows, appointed Director of Purchases for GHQ in Nov 1920, complained to Mary Woods:
"He said he [Collins] was interfering with his job as Director of Purchases by buying arms across the water and paying more for them than he was. He was buying them, he said, not to use them but to prevent him (Liam) from getting them. This shocked me. .." (Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.261 quoting Mrs Woods UCD P17a/150.)
In the procuring of arms Richard Walsh TD said that "there seemed to be nothing being attempted by G.H.Q. agents, and it could not have been for want of money" (Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.131.) Walsh was himself in England procuring arms so he knew the true situation.
The Cavan IRA come just short of accusing Collins of embezzlement of the funds they sent down to procure arms, so frustrated were they of their treatment on that score. (Bernard Brady WS 1626 and Sean Sheridan WS 1613)
The Meath IRA were in fact not permitted to use the rifles captured at Trim, they were put in a Divisional dump which was not used until the train ambush at Stackumney late in the war.(David Hall WS 1539)
Sceilg relates what happened in Kerry: "My wife got a substantial sum of money from Denis Daly of Caherciveen to get guns, and Collins or his associates would not give them." (J J O'Kelly WS 384 p.75)
In West Cork Tom Barry had no better luck: "Sean McMahon was Quartermaster General. I had little contact with him except on two occasions when I had failed to beg, borrow or steal .303 or .450 ammunition from him.
...To one of the officers from a particularly inefficient unit who asked for arms, Mick [Collins], with a scowl on his face, his hands deep in his pockets, his right foot pawing the ground, shot back, "What the hell does a lot of lousers like you want arms for? ....Get to hell out of this and do not come back until ye have done some fighting." (Tom Barry "Guerilla Days in Ireland" (Tralee, first published 1949) p.150-152). His account seems to detail almost every rifle they had, I don't believe any came from GHQ.
Sean Moylan in North Cork didn't get on any better:"My own experience of GHQ was not a too happy one." (Sean Moylan WS 838 p.101). So much so that when Ernie O'Malley came down and asked some questions on behalf of GHQ (that seems to be O'Malley's job most of time, feeding info back to GHQ) the fed up Moylan "answered all the questions with perfect inaccuracy."!(ibid p.102). He had tried to purchase arms from GHQ using an inheritance that he had got but came back feeling ripped off with little to show for it, a few bits and pieces and only one rifle and bombs that only exploded by immersion in a turf fire! lol. (ibid p.95)
Lawrence Nugent's impression, he was an IRA Quarter Master in Dublin, was that the US Irish leaders did not wish to supply weapons in any quantity into Ireland before the Truce.(Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.27) Then during the truce period he discovered that a typed agreement existed between Michael Collins and the British where Collins agreed not to import arms. (Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.287)
Notice the curious financial situation here. The IRA received a lot of money from the Dail, who raised it using a loan, to purchase arms yet the IRA volunteers had to try and buy arms from IRA GHQ. Where did the money go is a question asked by many of these writers like Sceilg, Lawrence Nugent and Dick Walsh (e.g. Dick Walsh WS 400 p.172).
48. From Roger McCorley's Witness Statement.
49. Dick Walsh WS 400.
50. Bernard Brady WS 1626, Sean Sheridan WS 1613 and Peadar MacMahon WS 1730.
51. Dick Walsh WS 400.
52. Eamonn Broy says that the British military were always looking for an excuse to take control in Ireland, like in the aftermath of the 1916 rebellion: "It was felt by the police, and by a great many others, that the net result of the insurrection had been to put the British military in complete control, a thing the military had always desired." (Eamonn Broy WS 1280 p.67)
53. Seamus Dobbyn WS 279 p.15. It was planned a long time in advance and timed to go off after some IRA operation so that they could say that it was in response to nationalist provocation.
54. Lawrence Nugent WS 907 towards the end.
55. Sean Moylan WS 838 p.30-31.
56. Sean Moylan WS 838 p.26.
57. Seamus Robinson 1721 near the beginning.
58. Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.72.
59. Dick Walsh WS 400.
61. Ibid p.97.
62. Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.237.
63. Seamus Robinson WS 1721 p.37.
64. Quoting Tom Barry "No orders or anything else were written at that time—in our brigade anyway". It is definitely the case that those written documents were very common elsewhere, Lawrence Nugent describes these kind of documents which he tripped across when he was clearing out one of his arms dumps in Dublin. They were very detailed and specific apparently, naming all the names of the IRA people without demur. (WS 907 near the end.)
65. Sean MacEoin WS 1716. Collins was fed up with his lack of reports so he sent down a GHQ man to check things over but he only lasted a few days.
66. Eamonn Duggan writing to Collins after his offices were raided explained that the British have seized "a lot of intelligence stuff, which I had hidden away in clients bundles." (Peter Hart ed. "British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21 / The Final Reports" (Cork, 2002) p.88)
67. Documents seized on a raid of Collins safe house unnecessarily yielded the Castle valuable info when they "ought to have been destroyed long previous." (Eamonn Broy WS 1,280). GHQ eventually issued a directive asking that at least those Departments that have been raided should inform the others that are likely to become known about from the captured documents. De Winter notes that "Mulcahy the Chief of Staff, and Collins the Minister for Finance, must have been fully occupied sending out the necessary communications." (ibid) British Secret Service got another valuable haul of papers from Collins at the time of the Customs House fire.(Michael Hopkinson ed. "The last days of Dublin Castle / The Diary of Mark Sturgis" (Dublin, 1999) p.182)
68. Richard Walsh notes, pointedly, that "on two or three occasions very important documents in his [Mulcahy's] custody were captured by the British." (Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.66)
69. David Neligan "The Spy in the Castle" (Dublin, 1999, 1st pub. 1968) p.147.
70. Matthew Barry WS 932.
71. Seamus McKenna WS 1,016 p.30.
72. Sean MacKeon WS 1,716 before p.186.
73. Tom Barry "Guerrilla Days in Ireland" (Tralee, post 1955) p.164.
74. Sean MacKeon WS 1228. Richard said that "A moderate estimate" of IRA strength in 1921 would be about 50-60,000 troops albeit partly unarmed.(Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.166), and Sceilg had an even higher figure. This is great contrast to the figures that Collins is usually quoted as mentioning.
75. Lord Muskerry stated in the House of Lords in 1924 that Cope:
"attended meetings held by heads of Department to consider the best means of putting down outrages and restoring law and order, and then conveyed the information to the leaders of the Sinn Féin organisation, with the result that the plans came to nought, and in many cases her Majesty's officers and men lost their lives." Muskerry went on to say later that:
"Since the debate he had received a number of letters from officers and ex-officers of the RIC and others, and they all made damning statements. Some of these letters were signed and bore the addresses of the writers, but they were marked "private and confidential" and he could not give up their names." (The Times 20 March 1924 p.8)
The British Secret Service were watching Cope at least from September 1920,(Michael Hopkinson ed. "The last days of Dublin Castle / The Diary of Mark Sturgis" (Dublin, 1999) p.46.) and in turn Cope was going through de Winter's files in the days before Bloody Sunday.(ibid p.76) Could this be what Muskerry was referring to?
76. John D. Nugent "The AOH and its critics" (Dublin, 1911) p.22-23. Curiously 1921 was the best year in the history of Irish Freemasonry with flourishing membership and branches.(The Times 27 Feb 1922 p.12) A few other references to Masonic influence in Ireland at the time:
"All officers of the Post Office who held senior positions were Freemasons - the Secretary, the Controller, the Senior Floor Superintendent, various Assistant Superintendents and overseers." (Diarmuid O'Sullivan WS 375 p.6)
Lawrence Nugent, who served on a Dublin jury, explained how, when it wanted to, Dublin Castle could pack a jury with Freemasons.(Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.179)
It is worthy of note I think that at a meeting in the Viceregal Lodge when it was decided to bring over the Black and Tans "all the members of the Kildare St Club were invited." (Peter Folan WS 316 p.12)
77. This is by Lawrence Nugent, originally from Roscommon, he later resided in Dundrum, then he lived in Mount Street and had a high class drapers shop at 22 Baggot St in Dublin (WS 907 p.7). The reference to the GAA was an attempt to use the AOH dominated C.J. Kickam club in Dublin to control the GAA in early 1917 (ibid p.86). The GAA was otherwise a totally IRB show.
In the account written by Archbishop Walsh's former secretary, Monsignor Curran, we are told that "their job-hunting was notorious since the Liberals came to power and was openly and unashamedly practised by Joe Devlin and the AOH (Board of Erin) since the Insurance Act of 1911.....the all powerful AOH became a replica of Tammany Hall as painted by its enemies." (Rev M.Curran WS 687 p.302)
When the treaty was signed the AOH burst back into life and recommended acceptance of the Treaty.(Lawrence Nugent WS 907 p.273) A strange echo of the IRB's position! Incidentally the two Belfast leaders of these organisations, Denis McCullough President of the Supreme Council of the IRB and Joe Devlin President of the AOH (Board of Erin), didn't get along as badly as you might think because at one point McCullough was able to get some machine guns from Devlin, these had been imported by the National Volunteers.(Denis McCullough WS 915 p.8)
78. Dorothy Macardle "The Irish Republic" (Dublin, 2005, first published 1937) p.23.
In Diarmuid Lynch "The IRB and the 1916 Insurrection" (Cork, 1957) p.34 you can read how the IRB controlled secretly the Oct 1917 Sinn Féin Convention, following the pattern they had used at the Gaelic League Ard Fheis of 1915. He points out that: "When the Provisional Committee of the Volunteers was formed in Oct-Nov 1913: The majority of the Committee were members of the IRB, a fact unknown to the minority (which included the Chairman) - the IRB being a secret body, the continued existence of which was unknown to the public." (ibid p.44)
Captain Pollard stated that the IRB controlled so many organisations that "it was its influence and corruption which achieved those mysterious appointments to position of persons singularly devoid of all merit, which were, and are, a marked feature of Irish life." (Captain H.B.C. Pollard " (Kilkenny, 1998) p.75)
A few notes by sceilg on the IRB:
"As to what some of these people say, groups of them had ulterior motives all the time." (J J O'Kelly WS 384 p.48)...."Thus, Collins had a secret organisation within the Army and even within the Dail."..."His [Collins] position in the IRB gave him and his followers influence because unknown and unsuspected."..."Without it [the IRB], I don't think the split would ever have reached the dimensions to which it grew. To my mind its secret nature was its most sinister aspect." ...."Still the secret organisation was operating behind the scenes, and the effects and extent of this were subsequently seen only too vividly." (ibid p.51)
"I don't like to harp back now, and follow the intrigue that was carried on by the IRB in the Dail. .....No doubt about it there was intrigue." Goes on to describe how they maneuvered him out of his position as Minister for the National Language and instead "got some unripe fruit at the expense of the Republic." (ibid p.53)
79. Seamus Robinson WS 1721 p.18. No doubt the IRB is referred to in this reference from Sceilg:
"How Mr Collins - up to then practically unknown in Ireland - was being pushed into prominence by a hidden force, some of us first detected on the occasion of the Ashe funeral ." (Peter Hart "Mick / The Real Michael Collins" (Oxford, 2005) p.152 quoting Sceilg in the Catholic Bulletin Oct 1922 Vol XII p.629) And a few other corroborating references:
"I understood at the time that the main function of the IRB was to control both the leadership and the activities of the Volunteer movement from within." (Seamus McKenna WS 1,016 p.1 of Addendum)
"For years past the IRB (a secret organisation) was in existence and controlled and directed the Irish Volunteers." (Sean Farrelly WS 1,734 p.8)
80. Kevin O'Shiel W.S.1770 p.139.
81. Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.46-47.
82. Dorothy Macardle op.cit. p.23.
83. Owen McGee "The IRB" (Dublin, 2005) p.322-4. The Clan-na-Gael emissary was wined and dined by Eoin McNeill oddly enough. Is he closer to all this intrigue than is usually said?
84. Captain H.B.C. Pollard "The Secret Societies of Ireland" (Kilkenny, 1998 first published 1922).
85. Diarmuid Lynch says that Pollard has one error in that he describes a 1914 IRB constitution when it was actually a 1917 one seized in a government raid. (WS 4 p.10)
86. Pollard op.cit. p.38.
87. Ibid p.62. Sceilg knew Tynan in New York: "Some say he [Tynan] was not No.1 at all, but I feel convinced he was." (J J O'Kelly WS 384 p.85) Actually Pollard says that Tynan was involved in the Maamtrasna murders.
88. Ibid p.45.
89. To clarify he only refers to the Protocols at one point and then glosses it with the statement that the Times had discovered them to be forgeries. But I don't think he would have referred to them at all if he thought they were just useless forgeries.
90. Ibid p.12. By the way if you wanted to speculate about that it is interesting that Clan-na-Gael was centred on Notre Dame University, which is a major Jesuit university in the US (Owen McGee "The IRB" (Dublin, 2005) pp.322-4).
91. The book was reviewed in 'The Occult Review' in December 1922. It is even said that he possessed Jack the Ripper's knives! (Robin Odell "Ripperology: A Study of the World's First Serial Killer And a Literary Phenomenon" (Kent State University, 2006 p.121).
Later Major Hugh B C Pollard he was a firearms expert who travelled through Mexico c1910, served in WWI, edited the sporting life before the WWII during which he served in the SOE. He was at one time MI6 station chief in Madrid. It should be pointed out that he isn't very sympathetic to Irish nationalism and is somewhat condescending with regard to Irish claims for self determination.
92. Pollard op.cit. p.196.
93. The "Phoenix Society....thenceforward...should be known as the IRB." (Eamonn Broy WS 1284)
94. http://www.illuminaticonfessions.webfriend.it/newarticles_61_70.htm .
95. Pollard op.cit. p.53.
96. Richard Walsh TD from Balla Co.Mayo WS 400 p.181.
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