POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY IRELAND
i) Give two reasons why the 1916 Rising was a military failure.
-capture of the Aud
-capture of Roger Casement
-confusion over orders / postponement
-confusion over 'castle' document
-poor tactics/ not enough soldiers or arms
-no popular support for the Rising before and during Easter week
ii) Mention two consequences of the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising
-anger towards the British authorities for the executions of the leaders
-this anger led to a surge in support for Sinn Fein, who were mistakenly thought to have been behind organising the rising.
iii) Why did the Irish Labour Party not contest the 1918 General Election?
-the party wanted independence to be the sole issue of the election
-obvious popularity of Sinn Fein meant that if they did contest the election, their candidates may not have been elected and the party would have lost 'face'
iv) Write an account of two of the following:
a) The War of Independece, 1919-1921
b) The Economic War , 1932 - 1938
c) Life in Northern Ireland during World War II, 1939-1945.
a) The War of Independence, 1919-1921
The First Dail
-in the 9118 General Election, Irish voters showed their disapproval of British policy by giving Sinn Fein a landslide victory and they pledged not to go to Westminister but rather set up an Irish Parliament - this parliament met at the Mansion House on 21 January 1919
-this parliament,known as the First Dail, reaffirmed the 1916 Declaration of Independence and the Irish Volunteers were reconsituted as the 'Irish Republican Army' or IRA
-on the same day that the First Dail convened on 21 January 1919, several IRA members, led by Sean Treacy and Dan Breen, attacked and shot two RIC officers who were escorting explosives at Soloheadbeg in Co. Tipperary.
-violence spread as other Volunteers began to attack isolated police barracks using guerrilla tactics - fast, violent raids without uniform - searching for arms and funds, targeting and killing prominent members of the British administration.
-others, notable Arthur Griffith, preferred a campaign of civil disobedience rather than armed struggle - the violence was at first deeply unpopular and it took the heavy-handed British response to popularise it among much of the population
-the IRA;s main target throughout the conflict was the mainly Catholic Irish police force, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), which were the British government's eyes and ears in Ireland - a policy of boycott of RIC members pushed the rate of resignation up and recruitment in Ireland down dramatically.
-often the RIC were reduced to buying food at gunpoint as shops and other businesses refused to deal with them - some RIC men cooperated with the IRA through fear or sympathy, supplying them with valuable information.
-other protests included mass strikes organised by workers in opposition to the British presence in Ireland - a general strike was called in Limerick in April 1919, dockers in Dublin port refused to handle war materials and train drivers refused to carry British forces
-by 1920, increased attacks by the IRA forced the RIC to abandon stations in isolated rural areas and retreat the larger towns
Collapse of the British administration
-By June/July 1920, trials by jury could not be held as jurors would not attend, the collapse of the court system demoralised the RIC, and many police resigned and retired - the Irish Republican Police (IRP) was formed under the authority of Dail Eireann to enforce the ruling of Dail Courts
-in addition, the Inland Revenue ceased to operate in most of Ireland - people were instead encouraged to subscribe to Collins' 'National Loan' set up to raise funds for the new government and its army
-British forces, trying to re-assert their control, often resorted to arbitrary reprisals against Republican activists and the civilian population - in September 1919, British soldiers looted and burned the main businesses of Fermoy, Co. Cork, in retaliation for one of their members having been killed in a raid by the local IRA
-Tomas MacCurtain, the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork, was shot dead in front of his wife at his home in March 1920 by men with blackened faces who were later seen returning to the local police barracks.
IRA organisation and operations
-Michael Collins, as Minister of Finance in the Republic's government and IRA Director of Intelligence, was the main driving force behind military operations - providing funds and arms to IRA units and selecting officers
-Collins established an effective network of spies in the Dublin Metropolitan Police and other brances of the British administration and set up the 'Squad', a group whose sole task was to seek out and kill British spies and agents
-support from Cumann na mBan and Fianna Eireann was provided by carrying weapons and intelligence and securing food and lodgings for IRA men -the cause also received widespread help from the general population who generally refused to pass information to the RIC and often provided 'safe houses' and provisions to IRA units 'on the run'
-when de Valera reutrned from the US, he demanded that ambushes and killings be stopped as they allowed the British to portray the IRA as a terrorist group; his proposals to take on British forces using conventional methods were immediately dismissed
-the British responded to the escalating violence in ireland with increasing use of force - reluctant to reploy the regular British Army in greater numbers, they set up two paramilitary police units to aid the RIC - the 'Black and Tans', mainly ex-British soldiers demobilised after World War I and the 'Auxiliaries', consisting of former British army officers
-both groups rapidly gained a reputation for ill-discipline and mistreatment of the local civilian population and they did more harm to the British government's moral authority in Ireland than any other group - in response to IRA actions, they burned and sacked numerous small towns throughout Ireland
-in August 1920, the British set up military courts of enquiry to cover the whole population and empowered the courts to use the death penalty and internment wihout trial
Intensification of the war
-on 21 November 1920, Collins' squad killed 14 and wounded 5 British agents including members of the 'Cairo Gang' at different places around Dublin- in response, Auxiliaries drove into Coke Park during a football match, shooting into the crowd - 14 civilians were killed including one player, and later that day, 3 prisoners were killed in Dublin Castle - known as 'Bloody Sunday'
-in November 1920, only a week after Bloody Sunday, the west Cork IRA, under Tom Barry, ambushed and killed 17 Auxiliaries at Kilmichael in Co. Cork - signified an escalation of the comflict, with Cork , Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary being put under martial law, and in early 1921, 'official reprisals' were sanctioned that began with the burning of several homes in Midleton, Co. Cork
-the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison in London while the centre of Cork was burnt down by British forces in reprisal for an IRA ambush in the city
-the biggest loss for the IRA came when sevaral hundred IRA men from the Dublin Brigade occupied and burned the Custom House (the centre of local government in Ireland) in DUblin in May 1921 - symbolically, this was intended to show that British rule in Ireland was unsustainable - however, from a military point of view, it was a disaster as 5 were killed and over 80 were captured
-by the time of the truce, many leaders, including Collins, were convinced that if the war went on for much longer, the IRA's campaign as it was then organised could be brought to a standstill - plans were drawn up to 'bring the war to England' - key British economic targets would be bombed- however, these plans were abandoned because of the truce
Truce, July 1921 - December 1921
-the War of INdependence ended with a truce on 11 July 1921 - the conflict had reached a stalemate - talks that had looked promising the previous year petered out as David Lloyd George insisted that the IRA first surrender its arms
-fresh talks in the spring resulted inthe truce - the British government thought that the IRA's guerrilla campaign would continue indefinitely, while Collins felt that it could not continue indefinitely due to the lack of arms and ammunition and increased deployment of more regular British soldiers to Ireland
-due to mounting criticism at home and abroad for the actions of British forces in Ireland, the policy of burning houses in reprisal was stopped in June 1921.
-King George V, opening the new Parliament of Northern Ireland, made a fresh appeal for conciliation in Ireland and the speech was well received
-Lloyd George wrote to de Valera suggesting a conference and they agreed to a truce that was intended to end the fighting and start negotiations- delays ensued as the British governemnt insisted that the IRA first decommission its weapons but this demand was eventually dropped - it was also agreeed that British troops would remain confined to their barracks
Treaty, December 1921 - March 1922
-ultimately, the peace talks led to the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) which was then ratified by Dail Eireann on 8 January 1922 - the treaty allowed Northern Ireland to opt out of the Free State if it wished and it subsequently did