Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution

By C. Desmond Greaves | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

The most powerful foe of Labour is capitalistic Imperialism, and in
Great Britain capitalistic Imperialism stands or falls by the subjection or
liberation of Ireland.”—Erskine Childers

ON 26th August the Dublin Gazette announced that Mulcahy had taken Collins’ place as Commander-in-Chief of the socalled “regular” army. He retained his political appointment in the face of some criticism. As if to celebrate the replacement of the genial gangster by the dedicated tyrant, two prisoners were shot out of hand. They were Martin Cordon, held in custody at Clonmel Town Hall, and John Edwards of Waterford, in Kilkenny Jail. The mercenary riff-raff who had joined up on a six months’ contract and expected easy service were now face to face with reality and took out their disillusionment on their victims. On 26th August two Fianna boys, Cole and Colley, were murdered in County Dublin. The circumstances were never satisfactorily explained. The torture of prisoners began.

The Provisional Government found it increasingly hard to maintain that it was opposed by no more than a handful of malcontents. On the morning of 30th August 500 prisoners were placed on board the requisitioned channel steamer Arvonia, herded below at revolver point, and brought from Limerick to Dublin. They were taken ashore on 2nd September and interned at Gormanstown. Characteristic imperial institutions were being revived in Ireland. The murder gang was accompanied once more by the concentration camp. On 5th September both the Irish Independent and the Freeman’s fournal protested at the intensification of the civil war. An English colonial administrator might have heeded them. He would be paid a salary to have no feelings. Such is the psychology of delegated oppression that the Provisional Government must inject the drug of hatred in order to keep up the deception that it was a free agent.

The sweetness and light dispensed by the newspapers was not entirely void of political purpose. The Labour Party had delivered an ultimatum. It was announced that the Provisional Parliament would

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