Poblacht na h-Eireann, War News No. 14

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This issue of Poblacht na h-Eireann is the War News No. 14, published on 12 July 1922. This issue was released as the opening battle of the Irish Civil War was ending in Dublin. The articles in this issue were aimed at converting readers to the anti-treaty IRA’s cause. The continued references to Cathal Brugha’s death seek to stoke anger among readers, and provide fuel for retaliation against the Free State forces. It is important to analyze the articles as separate entities, while also thinking about how they fit into the larger propaganda points of the document.

Twelve Months

This article reminds readers that one year has passed since the Truce was declared with England, effectively halting the Irish War of Independence. The author states that in the year since “The Republic was deserted and betrayed by weak men,” and that Cathal Brugha has been killed today. The purpose of these statements is to set the reader up for the awakening that the author claims all people are having in Ireland. They have now realized that the Treaty has done nothing to improve their positions, and the death of Cathal Brugha has now reinvigorated the movement. Brugha’s death was a huge blow to men on both sides of the Civil War as he was a prominent figure, and a veteran of the Easter Rising. His death did rally those on the Republican side to carry on the fight in his name, but by and large the public remained opposed to the Civil War.

Mrs. McSwiney’s Arrest

This article features a letter from Muriel McSiney, the wife of Terence McSwiney, in which she wishes to clarify that she was in fact arrested with members of the Anti-Treaty IRA as they evacuated the burning Granville Hotel. She was forced to march to Amiens Street Station, where she was held for over two hours with the men, before finally being allowed to return home. McSwiney was one of the more prominent and vocal women involved with the Republican movement, so it is interesting that she was released rather quickly. However, at this early stage of the Civil War, the Free State had not begun imprisoning women. They would eventually begin arresting and imprisoning women who aided the anti-treaty movement.

Escape of Prisoners

The mass escape of Anti-Treaty IRA prisoners is reported in this article. After the large scale arrests in Dublin during the initial battle of the Irish Civil War, large groups of Anti-Treaty IRA men were arrested. The Free State had not worked out the means to successfully hold large numbers of prisoners, as they were not expecting to arrest so many men. Therefore, the men were placed in Portobello Barracks which was not fully secured and were able to find a way to escape and rejoin the fight.

The Price of Peace

This article outlines the speech given by Lloyd George in the British House of Commons on 26 June 1922, in which he stated that he worked to end the conflict in Ireland because they would have struggled to raise enough men, from a “population tired of war” to successfully win the conflict. He also felt that the British government could not properly protect the loyalist groups in Ireland. The purpose of this article becomes evident in the closing sentences, when it discusses how the current Free State leadership was bluffed into signing the Treaty and is now finishing England’s work, by attempting to destroy the Republic. The author is attempting to show readers that the leaders of the Free State government are weak and untrustworthy, and have ultimately betrayed the original ideals of the Republic. What must be noted here is that the speech by Lloyd George cannot be taken fully at face value. The facts of who was actually winning the Irish War of Independence will likely be debating by historians forever, with little chance of a definite winner ever being selected. If England was losing the conflict, George would certainly never admit so to anyone, particularly in a medium that would reach the public. He would have created other reasons as to why England was willing to negotiate with the Republicans.

Uncensored War Notes

This article discusses the recent battles between the Free State Army and the Anti-Treaty IRA outside of Dublin. It draws attention to the fact that the censor has suppressed news of artillery being employed in Enniscorthy, Ferns, and Drogheda. The British government had provided the Free State Army with artillery guns, which they first used during the battle in Dublin. They continued to do so throughout the Irish Civil War, particularly when engaging large groups of men. This article also addresses the battle in Sligo, in which Free State Troops, under General Sean MacEoin, were fighting to take control of the area. Within two days of this paper being published, MacEoin’s men would drive the Anti-Treaty IRA out of Collooney.

Raids (Castle Methods)

This article publishes a telegraph from Laurence Ginnell, T.D., to Michael Collins, in which he addresses the undisciplined and criminal actions taken by the Free State Army when they raided the home he was staying in. Ginnell states that soldiers “robbed house last night including sixty pounds of my money.” The “Leader gave receipt signed Finnegan, said he had Captain Doran’s orders to shoot me at sight.” The Captain Doran mentioned here is most likely Michael Doran.[1] The article also address two other instances in which Free State Soldiers shot horses and broke photographs when they raided homes. The author closes by stating “The Black-and-Tans all over,” which seeks to draw a connection between the previous atrocities committed during the War of Independence and the atrocities being committed by the Free State soldiers.

The Funeral of Cathal Brugha

As stated in the article, Brugha’s funeral was one of the largest in Dublin. He had been a prominent member in the Republican movement, and was a well-known veteran of the Easter Rising. The fact that he died while fighting for the Republic in the Irish Civil War, only elevated his status in Republican circles. Funerals were used by many as propaganda tools, typically as shows of strength or support for an ideal. In the case of Brugha’s funeral, Republicans wanted to show that the movement still had strength and the widespread support of the people. The article states that “Few Free State troops were in the streets. They had been confined to barracks…by the death of Cathal Brugha.” This sentenced is used to illustrate that the movement was growing in strength. This was not entirely true however, as the Free State Army was short staffed at this point and likely confined troops to barracks to protect the positions and also avoid any unnecessary confrontations with Republicans in the streets.

Mutiny

This article is short and works to show that men were abandoning the Free State Army and joining and the Anti-Treaty IRA to fight for the Republic. This was likely true and men did desert the Army throughout the Civil War for various reasons. Allegiance and loyalty would prove to be somewhat fluid throughout the conflict.

Priests Refuse Aid To Republican Soldiers

This article addresses that Catholic priests refused spiritual aid to members of the Anti-Treaty IRA who were dying, and provides multiple examples that occurred within the first few weeks of the Civil War. Irish Bishops had condemned members of the Anti-Treaty IRA who opposed the state. They even went as far as excommunicating those who continued to fight, as they were considered murders and common criminals. This was a serious blow to the men of the Anti-Treaty IRA, as they were largely Catholic; however, it did little to weaken the movement or stop any violent action.

The common theme throughout the paper was to delegitimize the Free State, show it’s leaders as being weak, and it’s soldiers as carrying out the same atrocities as the Black and Tans. The paper strived to portray the Republican cause in a noble light, suggest that the movement was gaining ground daily and would soon defeat the Irish Free State forces to implement the Republic. This issue was published early in the Civil War, when the Ani-Treaty forces were still stronger than the Free State Army, so documents like this were important for Anti-Treaty IRA morale.

 

**For the history of Poblacht na h-Eireann please see our article at: Poblacht na hÉireann, War News: The History

Notes: 

[1] Michael Doran Military Service Pension Collection 24SP9443

 

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