Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Events of Shame - British murder during Easter Rising

The British murdered more than just the rebelsThe Easter Rising has been spoken of alot lately. This major event in history will be talked about quite a bit this year as 2006 is the 90th anniversary of the Rising.

Since it's a hot topic right now I figured I would use my 'Events of Shame' feature, which focuses on shameful aspects of Irish history, to focus on the murder of Irish civilians carried out by British troops during the Easter Rising.

Many revisionists like Kevin Myers like to use the deaths of Irish civilians as a way of justifying their enmity towards the 1916 rebels. There's just one problem - they fail to acknowledge that the British were responsible for the murder.

While they choose not to acknowledge this, I will acknowledge it and I will use this article from the Guardian to outline to my readers the role of the British Army in the Rising that the revisionists like to keep under the carpet...

As this article by Richard Norton-Taylor reveals, British soldiers shot dead unarmed prisoners after they had surrendered, along with innocent bystanders, during the 1916 Rising.

The papers, released in 2001 at the public record office, also showed how army officers and civil servants covered up evidence that rebel prisoners and uninvolved civilians were summarily shot, to avoid what they called "hostile propaganda".

The top Home Office official, Sir Edward Troup, told the prime minister, Herbert Asquith: "The root of the mischief was the military order to take no prisoners."

He added: "This in itself may have been justifiable, but it should have been made clear that it did not mean that an unarmed rebel might be shot after he had been taken prisoner: still less could it mean that a person taken on mere suspicion could be shot without trial."

Although Sir Edward said some of the people shot were "probably fighting or sniping" he admitted there was "little doubt that others were not taking any active part". Though the police described the area where the shootings took place as a "nest of Sinn Feiners", some were probably not even sympathisers.

Sir Edward wrote the memo, marked "very confidential", at a time the Liberal prime minister was under pressure from MPs in summer 1916 to conduct a public inquiry into the shootings in Dublin's North King Street by soldiers of the South Staffordshire Regiment. (I'll interject here for anyone not aware, but this refers to 15 Irish civilians who were bayoneted by British troops in cold blood)

The memo was based on a secret inquiry carried out by the army. Sir Edward strongly advised against publishing the evidence, on the grounds it could be used for "hostile propaganda". He added: "Nothing but harm could come of any public inquiry that would draw further attention to the matter."

Sir Edward, who won the day, advised Asquith to take the line that the deaths had been "thoroughly investigated", though he admitted that if the events had occurred in England, "the right course would be to refer the cases to the D of PP [Director of Public Prosecutions] ".

The North King Street area was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in late April 1916. It is known one officer, Captain Bowen Colthurst, later described as mentally unstable, shot six people in cold blood, including the pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington.

What had not been documented were the circumstances surrounding other shootings.

James Moore was killed by soldiers at his front door in Dublin's Little Britain Street. "He was probably a perfectly innocent person," the memo notes.

Under the heading "The Case of Patrick Lawless and three others killed and buried at 27 North King Street", the memo says: "It is not unlikely that the soldiers did not accurately distinguish between refusing to make [sic] prisoners and shooting immediately prisoners whom they had made [sic]."

Thomas Hickey, described by his widow, as a "great Britisher" and their 16-year-old son, Christopher, were also shot. "There is nothing to show [they] were Sinn Feiners or had taken any active part in the fighting," the document says.

One document shows that by October 1916, 187 "Irish rebels" had been court-martialled, and 14 death sentences had been carried out. The records of the proceedings had to remain secret, army officers insisted, because of "the position of any general who in the future may be required to cope with another rising".

An unidentified army officer in London admits: "I think the evidence in some of the cases was far from conclusive".

The government's law officers argued there was no legal justification for the trials to have been in secret.

The army responded by saying that if the evidence was published "a certain section of the Irish community will urge that the sole reason for trial in camera was that the authorities intended to execute certain of the Sinn Feiners, whether there was evidence against them or not".

Part of the proceedings was later released to the families. General John Maxwell, the British officer sent to Ireland to oversee martial law, referred to "possible unfortunate incidents we should now regret". He added in a letter to the Daily Mail: "A revolt of this kind could not be suppressed with velvet glove methods."

I think you'll agree this makes for shocking reading and it will hopefully dispel some of the fantastical notions that certain Irish people have about the British army's actions during the Rising.

The fact is the British Army engaged in cold blooded MURDER and this was swept under the carpet so as not to cause a hostile reaction from the Irish public.

Well I say it's time to sweep these things out from under the carpet and confront the revisionists who like to demonise the 1916 Rebels so much.

I hope this post has proved enlightening to many of you who I'm sure were not aware of these facts which were left hidden for so long.

I admire the Easter Rebels and I take pride in the Easter Rising and I utterly CONDEMN the activites of the British Army during the revolt.

The revisionists can invent as many pro-British, anti-Irish tales as they want. The facts speak for themselves and I think Irish people are smart enough to look at these facts and come to the conclusion that the 1916 rebels weren't criminals or evil people, on the contrary they were patriots. They were brave people.

They were the foundation of this country. And personally speaking, I am damn proud of them.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.