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The Independence Struggle 1919-1921
Transcript of The Independence Struggle 1919-1921
Sinn Fein and the First Dail
On 21st January 1919, Sinn Fein held a meeting of the first Dail Eireann (parliament) in the Mansion House Dublin.
Only 27 TD's attended because the remainder were either in jail or on the run.
The Home Rulers and the Unionists refused to attend.
Sinn Fein Government
The new Sinn Fein government set about gaining as much control over the country as possible.
The War of Independence 1919-1921
On the same day the first Dail met 21 January 1921, an RIC patrol was ambushed in Soloheadbeg Co. Tipperary.
The Role of Michael Collins
The IRA also operate an intelligence network, using spies to gather information.
As the IRA increased in numbers, local units called 'flying columns' were formed.
To analyse the struggle for independence in Ireland
Between 1919 and 1921, nationalists in Ireland organised a strong campaign to gain independence from Britain. The campaign took two forms -
Sinn Fein organise passive resistance
The Irish Volunteers became the IRA and they organised a guerrilla war campaign
What is guerrilla warfare?
On that day the First Dail issued:
The Declaration of Independence
A Message to the Free Nations of the World
A programme to improve living and working conditions.
At a later meeting the Dail elected an alternative government. De Valera who had been rescued from jail in England was elected President of the Dail.
Other Ministers included Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith, Countess Markievicz
They gained control of local government
They set up Sinn Fein courts to try people for crimes.
Collins organised a Dail loan to raise money for government.
A local IRA unit led by Dan Breen and Sean Treacy carried out the ambush.
Two policemen were shot dead.
These were the first shots of the War of Independence.
The IRA used guerilla war tactics against the British government forces.
These were ambush or 'hit and run' tactics.
The IRA's main target was the RIC.
They attacked isolated barracks to get arms and ammunition.
The IRA also intimidated the RIC members and their families.
This was organised by Michael Collins, Director of Intelligence.
He got information from secretaries, porters and policemen. He used this information to direct operations.
He also organised a special group in Dublin called the 'Squad'.
Their job was to kill spies and detectives. The British government had a bounty of £10,000 on Collins but failed to capture him.
The men in these units lived in the countryside, getting food and shelter from local people.
They took part in large scale ambushes.
Their leaders such as Tom Barry, Liam Lynch and Ernie O' Malley became well known.
Two of the most important ambushes were those at Kilmichael and Crossbarry, Co. Cork.
Both were carried out by Tom Barry's flying column.
The British Response
David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, realised that he would have to take some action in Ireland.
The British government recruited ex soldiers to overcome the shortage of recruits to the RIC. Members of the new force became known as 'Black and Tans', because they wore a mixed army and RIC uniform.
The government also recruited ex officers. These were known as the Auxiliaries.
They were both unable to deal with the guerilla tactics of the IRA.
Very often they carried out reprisals against local people. They raided and burned houses, beat and shot people.
Major incidents include the burning of Balbriggan.
These actions helped the IRA as they got greater support.
The British Government also introduced the Government of Ireland Act 1920.
Under the Act, two parliaments were to be set up, one in Dublin and one in Belfast.
Sinn Fein rejected this act.
Major Incidents of the War of Independence
Members of the RIC murdered Tomas Mac Curtain, Lord Mayor of Cork, in front of his family.
Terence Mac Swiney took over the role. He went on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, London after he was arrested. He dies after 74 days.
On Bloody Sunday 21 November 1920 Collins ordered the Squad to kill a group of British agents sent specially to catch him. Eleven were killed in their houses or hotels. Later that day in revenge, Black and Tans shot into Croke Park during a football match. 12 people were killed.
The IRA attack on the Customs House in Dublin May 1921 led to the death of over 80 members of the IRA.
By now both sides wanted peace
The IRA was running short of men and ammunition.
The people also wanted peace.
The British government was being criticised at home and in America for the actions of the Black and Tans nd the Auxillaries.
The war was costing a great deal of money.
De Valera returned from America, where he had been during the War of Independence.
He agreed the terms of a ceasefire with Lloyd George.
The ceasefire came into operation on 11 July 1921.