Michael Collins Video Analysis Preparation for an essay on ‘ A named leader of the Irish War of Independence’ 1. The IRB – Irish Republican Brotherhood – used British involvement in WW1 as an opportunity to ‘strike out for independence’ – the phrase ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity.’ 2. The IRB leadership including Thomas Clarke infiltrated Eoin Mac Neill’s IVF (The section that had not gone to fight in the Great War). They used the IVF to launch a military coup to take control of Ireland. 3. The IRB rebels seized a number of buildings throughout Dublin on Easter Sunday declaring Ireland to be a Republic – no longer having any connection with Britain. 4. The buildings included Boland’s Mill, Jacob’s biscuit factory and the GPO – public rather than important military targets. 5. The IRB leadership understood that the British would execute them – they felt that their own ‘blood sacrifice’ would inspire other Irish men to rise up against the British. 6. The British defeated the rebels and arrested them. Over the coming days the leaders were executed by firing squad at Kilmainham jail. These drawn out executions and the incarceration of hundreds of young Irish men – quickly turned the Irish public opinion against the British, who appeared to show no mercy towards the ‘heroic’ rebels. 7. Sinn Fein -‐ -‐ a small political party lead by Arthur Griffith was blamed for the rising by the media – who wanted to attach a name to the rising – despite Sinn Fein not being involved in it. The membership of Sinn Fein rose as people wanted to support this anti-‐British movement. 8. The Home Rule party or IPP started to loose support as it was seen to be looking after the British interests, and did not support the rising. 9. The only leader to not be shot was Eamon de Valera – due to his American ancestry – he was to emerge as the leader of Sinn Fein – running a Republican movement from within the British jails. These jails became known as the ‘Republican Universities’ as the nationalists recruited new men to help fight for independence. 10. Sinn Fein was determined to ignore the British government in Ireland and instead established their own Irish government – which was set up on the 21st January 1919 at the Mansion house in Dublin. The members of the first Dail however were constantly on the run from the British authorities. 11. Michael Collins had fought in the 1916 rising and when released from jail – he joined the Sinn Fein party under Eamon DeValera. 12. He was appointed a member of the first Dail – he was Minister for Finance. 13. He was a persuasive speaker and helped Sinn Fein gain a lot of support. 14. He was also appointed the ‘Director of Intelligence’ – meaning that he developed a network of spies to prevent the British from successfully spying on them. He even had a double agent working for him – ‘Ned’ Broy – from within Dublin Castle. 15. Collins used a guerrilla warfare tactic against the British forces in Ireland – including the RIC and the British army. His forces were able to seize weapons and destroy the British police force in the countryside. It made it increasingly difficult for the British to patrol parts of Ireland. 16. Collins was not the overall commander of the IRA but he did successfully organise and command ‘flying columns’ – squads of trained Irish soldiers who would ambush the British forces and then disappear. They would not stay in the same place for more than one night, moving at night and sleeping in the hills. 17. Collins escaped arrest while the rest of the Dail cabinet were captured by the British and imprisoned – he proved extremely elusive for the British spies who were not even able to build a file on him. This helped him become a national hero as the man the British could not defeat. While Eamon de Valera was in jail – Collins lead the war of independence and his significance grew. 18. Collins used his position as the Director of Intelligence to draw up files on every member of the British G-‐Men. He also sent them a letter warning them not to collaborate with the British government, or risk execution. 19. He used his ‘squad’ to execute the G-‐Men and any ‘collaborators’. This took place on Bloody Sunday 1920. 20. In total, 31 people were killed – fourteen British (including the infamous Cairo Gang), fourteen Irish civilians and three republican prisoners. 21. The Black and Tans (a group of ex-‐military British soldiers brought into Ireland to swell the ranks of the British forces ) drove into Croke Park in the aftermath of Collin’s Squad’s assassinations and fired into the crowd, killing members of the audience and a player – Michael Hogan. This event was to prove decisive as the English press and public started to ask questions about their own forces in Ireland. 22. Following Bloody Sunday, De Valera returned from America to Ireland – he was unhappy with the guerrilla tactics -‐ believing that this tarnished their reputation and prevented the British from negotiating with them. 23. De Valera ordered the IRA to undertake large-‐scale engagements -‐ this involved an attack on the Custom House, which had a devastating impact on the IRA, which was now under pressure from lack of men and arms. 24. The attack cost the IRA many men and arms – however it did enable the British to be seen to negotiate with De Valera and the IRA as they were now seen as a more legitimate force rather then as terrorists. 25. De Valera was invited over for secret negotiations with Lloyd George – the British Prime Minister. 26. During these negotiations Lloyd George made it clear that he was prepared to offer the Irish greater independence – a ‘Free State’. But importantly he would not give them a ‘Republic’ as this would cause the British Empire to disintegrate. 27. After Northern Ireland opened its Home Rule Parliament -‐ the British agreed to offer a truce to the War of Independence, which was put into place on July 11th 1921. 28. De Valera appointed a team of delegates to negotiate with Britain – He included not only Arthur Griffith but also Michael Collins who was very reluctant to go. 29. However he eventually accepted the position as a plenipotentiary -‐ one who has full power to negotiate and sign a treaty. 30. Contracting this however, De Valera insisted that they report back to him before they sign any Treaty. 31. Fearing ‘an immediate and terrible war’ Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and the Irish delegation sign a treaty with Britain. It gives Ireland almost complete control over its now independent government. They will be able to make decisions on virtually every aspect of government without interference from Britain. 32. This ensured that the now very weak IRA would not loose the war to the increasing British forces. 33. However the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 only established a ‘Free State’ not a Republic – meaning that its politicians would still have to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. 34. In addition the 6 counties of Northern Ireland would remain separate until a review took place, on whether they wanted to remain part of Britain or part of the Irish Free State. 35. The Dail met to discuss ratification of the Treaty – they passed it 64 members to 57. In protest De Valera refused to recognise it and left the Dail with many of his deputies. 36. This was the beginning of the Pro-‐Treaty and Anti-‐Treaty political factions. 37. Each side also had a military wing, which was either in favour of the Treaty or against it. – These became known as the Regular Army and the Irregular Army (Anti Treaty). 38. June 1922 a general election was held to determine whether the Treaty should be accepted. The pro-‐treaty side won the election but rather than accepting this, the anti-‐treaty IRA seized the Four Courts. They were lead by Rory O’Connor and Tom Barry. 39. Collins came under increasing pressure from the British to restore law and order – else they would return and remove the forces in the Four Courts. 40. Irish men found themselves facing other Irish men in an impending Civil War. !922-‐23.
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