A fascinating article on the IRA’s treatment of alleged informers during the 1919-1921 War of Independence popped into my mailbox this morning courtesy of the ever entertaining and informative Irish Republican Education Forum on Facebook.
The article appears on the blog ‘The Irish Story’ and was written by Padraig Og O Ruairc, the Co Clare-born author and historian. O Ruairc examines in detail the where’s, who’s, what’s and when’s of the IRA’s attitude towards British spies and in the first really detailed study of informers during this period, he writes that a total of 196 people were killed by the IRA, allegedly for working for the British.
You can read the whole article here.
Here’s one surprising revelation:
‘The execution of suspected spies was almost exclusively a ‘Southern’ phenomenon. Apart from a cluster of executions in Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan the IRA execution of spies was almost unknown in Ulster.’
Here is his map of executions of informers by the IRA and not surprisingly the bulk of victims were killed in Co Cork, the south Armagh of the 1919-1921 Troubles. Seventy-eight of the 196 slain informers were killed by the IRA in that county.
The most surprising revelation, about which I would like to know more detail, is his claim that the IRA ‘disappeared’, Jean McConville-style, twenty-five alleged informers during the Tan war. Their bodies were never recovered.
Perhaps Mr O Ruairc will some time in the future tell us more about them: who were they and what were the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’?
Were any efforts ever made to locate their bodies? After the Treaty were such victims just forgotten, their fate written out of the story of the fight for Ireland’s independence? Why the silence?
Should the Irish government, which has condemned the Provisional IRA for its behaviour in this regard and co-operated in efforts to recover the ‘disappeared’ from the North, not do more now to restore the ‘disappeared’ from their own conflict and jurisdiction to their families?
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Hi There – thanks for spreading the word about the article. To answer your question “Perhaps Mr O Ruairc will some time in the future tell us more about them: who were they and what were the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’?” I already have – if you read my most recent book “Truce, Murder, Myth and the last days of the Irish War of Independence” there is a discussion on this in the Chapter on Spies. We’re any efforts made to locate their bodies – yes I’ve written about that two on both the Irishstory.com and History Ireland Magazine particularly about efforts in 1922 – 23 to retrieve bodies of four men 3 British soldiers and 1 RIC secretly buried in my home county of Clare. Some of the bodies such as Joyce in Galway and Kirkby in Tipperary have been recovered and this is something I have also written about. You ask / state “After the Treaty were such victims just forgotten, their fate written out of the story of the fight for Ireland’s independence? Why the silence?” I’ve been writing about it for years, I’ve written six history books most of which deal with the subject in some way or other – so there is no conspiracy of silence … on my part at least! Go buy and read my books if you want to know more about the 20 or so dissappeared in the War of Independence – they were all named in my last book Truce which the article was based on and which I’d recommend to you as a starting point for research on this subject.
…Ah I see from your next blog posting you did buy and are reading my most recent book! Enjoy it Ed, thanks for the compliments and remember there’s five more where that came from – all available on Kindle!
indeed! and enjoyed it, i did! thanks padraig and good luck…..
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