As the brutally bitter Irish Civil War intensified in 1922, the Free State Provisional Government’s Public Safety Bill gave military tribunals the power to impose life sentences and the death penalty for a variety of offences, effectively preventing Republican sympathisers from storing arms or ammunition that could be used by Republican forces. Anyone in possession of even one civilian firearm or cartridge could be executed by firing squad.
The number of people executed by the Provisional Government is popularly believed to be 77–81, but the actual number of prisoners executed after capture is over 150: the many prisoners killed without any process of law have not been included in official figures to date.
The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity charts the legal powers used and abused by the emerging state. It examines how those powers were deployed to imprison, intern and execute while turning a blind eye to murder and unofficial executions by withholding witnesses, censoring newspaper reports and permitting the grossest acts of perjury and deception.
At the end of the Civil War, there were 3,000 dead, over 10,000 wounded, 13,000 interned, and many more forced into migration. And in this period of great crisis, the bedrock of law itself had been shattered. This dark, secret corner of Irish history, whose bitter legacy affects Irish society to this day, is uncompromisingly exposed in this shocking and revealing new book.
Table of Contents
1. A Failed State?
2. Shooting Prisoners
3. Military Courts
4. Fisher, Twohig, Gaffney, Cassidy
6. Spooner, Farrelly, Murphy and Mallin
7. Mellowes, O’Connor, Barrett and McKelvey
8. Trial by Army Committee
Selected Trials December 1922
9. The Rathbride Column
10. The Leixlip Column
11. Phelan and Murphy
12. January 1923 Overview
Selected trials from January 1923
13. James Lillis
14. Frederick Burke, Martin O’Shea, Patrick Russell, Patrick MacNamara (Roscrea)
15. The Kerry prisoners
16. Con McMahon, Patrick Hennessey and Sean Darcy
17. February 1923 Overview
18. The Murder of Kevin O’Higgin’s Father and the Trial of the Suspect
19. Thomas Gibson
20. March 1923 Overview: The Kerry Massacres
21. Charles Daly, Dan Enright, Tim O’Sullivan and Sean Larkin (Drumboe Castle, Donegal)
22. The Ballyseede Cover-Up
23. Overview, April 1923
24. The Massacre at Clashmealcon
25. Ennis – The Last Execution – An Innocent Prisoner
26. The Bitter End
About the Author
Seán Enright was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1982 and at the Four Courts in 1993. He practised at the Bar in London for many years and is now a Circuit Judge. He is the author of The Trial of Civilians by Military Courts: Ireland 1921 (2012), Easter Rising 1916: The Trials (2014), and After the Rising: Soldiers, Lawyers and Trials of the Irish Revolution (2016).