Irish Political Offenders, 1848-1922: Theatres of War

By Seán McConville | Go to book overview

11

IMPRISONMENT

War by other means

Under sentence

The courts martial which followed the rising sentenced ninety of the ringleaders and their associates to death. Of these only fifteen sentences were executed; the remainder had their sentences commuted to life or other long periods of penal servitude. Altogether, by original sentence or commutation, 122 men and one woman were sent to penal servitude and a further eighteen to ordinary imprisonment. 1 All were immediately removed to England: the convicts went to Dartmoor and Portland (Constance Markievicz to Aylesbury), and the eighteen hard-labour men to Wormwood Scrubs. 2 Since they had been sentenced by court martial there was no legal obstacle to these transfers. 3


Political prisoners?

Since the mid-nineteenth century the convict prisons and (after 1865) thelocal prisons in England had been administered on the basis of a strict uniformity

1 Briefing document for Cabinet, August 1916; Lloyd George Papers, House of Lords Record Office, E/9/4/15. See also RCP and Directors of Convict Prisons, PP 1917-18 [Cd. 8764], XVII, 109, 11; 5 Hansard, LXXXVII, col. 562; 14 November 1916.

2 RCP, PP 1917-18 [Cd. 8764], XVII, 109, 11. Later, three of the convicts - de Valera, Richard Hayes and Desmond Fitzgerald - were sent to Maidstone 'for disciplinary reasons'. The convict distribution was then: Dartmoor, sixty-two; Portland, fifty-seven; Maidstone, three; Aylesbury, 1 (5 Hansard, LXXXVII, col. 562; 14 November 1916). Seventeen men had been sentenced each to one year's hard labour (imprisonment) and one to two years.

3 Section 133 of the Army Act, 1881 (44 & 45 Vict., c.58) allowed military prisoners (any person imprisoned by court martial) to be removed to any building in the United Kingdom designated by a Secretary of State to be a military prison (subject to the qualification set out in Section 63 (3)). See Opinion of Irish Law Officers, Ms Asquith, 43, ff. 47-8; Bodleian Library, Oxford. The legality of the courts-martial proceedings was challenged, chiefly on grounds of their in camera nature, eventually reaching a special Divisional Court on 23 February 1917. The case wasdismissed, one judge (Mr Justice Darling) using such words as 'incongruous' and 'grotesque' and referring to 'the trivialities which had been submitted to the Court' (See Times Law Report, 23 February 1917: The Times, 4a-b. See also The Times, 31 January 1917, 3b and 13 February 1917, 4a-b).

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Irish Political Offenders, 1848-1922: Theatres of War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Young Irelanders 12
  • 2 - Gentlemen Convicts 45
  • 3 - The Fenians 107
  • 4 - The Fenians in Prison 140
  • 5 - Amnesty 214
  • 6 - The Convict Michael Davitt 276
  • 7 - The Dynamitards 326
  • 8 - The Dynamitards in Prison 361
  • 9 - The Easter Rising 405
  • 10 - Internment 450
  • 11 - Imprisonment 509
  • 12 - Roger Casement 554
  • 13 - Sinn FÉin, 1917-19 606
  • 14 - 'Frightfulness' 653
  • 15 - Bang and Whimper, 1919-22 705
  • Bibliography 769
  • Index 791
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