Sunday, June 05, 2005


Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Here is some of the background to the creation of the notorious " BLACK & TANS " by the British especially with the insistence & recommendations of Winston Churchill.

In 1918, England decreed the conscription of Ireland's manhood to save her from the great German advance... In December, at the General Election, all Nationalist Ireland declared its allegiance to the Republican ideal, and the Sinn Fein policy of abstention from Westminster was adopted.

In January, the Republican representatives assembled in Dublin and founded Dail Eireann, the Irish Constituent Assembly, Once again proclaiming the Republic . A message was sent to the nations of the world requesting the recognition of the free Irish Sate, and a national government was erected.

No sooner had the new Government begun to flourish, established
its Courts, appointed Consuls, started a stock-taking of the country’s undeveloped natural resources, and put a hundred constructive schemes to work, than Britain stepped in, with her army of Soldiers and Constabulary, to counter the work, harassing and imprisoning the workers. This move of England's called forth a secretly built-up Irish Republican Army which, early in 1920, began a guerilla warfare, and quickly succeeded in clearing vast districts of the Constabulary who were ever England's right arm in Ireland.

In 1920, the British government attempted to solve the Irish question by passing legislation partitioning Ireland and granting it limited self-government. It believed – wrongly - that this would satisfy the majority of Irish nationalists. Meanwhile, it had responded to the Irish Republican Army’s developing physical force campaign with repression.

From the outset, the IRA campaign was mainly directed against the Royal Irish Constabulary – by June 1920, 55 policemen had been killed, 16 barracks destroyed and hundreds abandoned. As a result its conviction rates, recruitment levels and morale, all fell sharply. In response, the British government initiated changes (autumn 1919), which in effect transformed the force into an auxiliary army, by equipping it with motor vehicles, rockets, bombs and shotguns. By January 1920, Westminster felt compelled to take more drastic action. It launched a recruitment drive in England to attract ex-soldiers to join a new force, soon nicknamed the ‘Black and Tans’ owing to the distinctive uniforms its members were initially issued with. It eventually numbered about 10,000 and quickly acquired an unenviable reputation for ill-discipline. Owing to the urgent need for men, selection procedures had been increasingly relaxed. Some of those who enlisted had been brutalised by war: almost all were ignorant of Ireland and ill-trained. Moreover, they were attached to scattered RICA barracks, mainly in the south west, under no effective control from police or army officers.

As the IRA campaign intensified, the government responded in July 1920 by establishing a second force, the Auxiliaries. They were better-paid and recruited from demobilised army officers. Eventually 1,900 men were enlisted and these were divided into 15 heavily armed and mobile companies, and deployed in the ten Irish counties where the IRA was most active. But, like the Black and Tans, its members were also ill-trained for guerrilla warfare, and knew little of Ireland. Though under nominal RICA control, they generally operated independently and they also established a reputation for drunkenness and brutality. Meanwhile, during 1920, troop numbers in Ireland were steadily increased and their powers extended. In August, they were empowered to intern citizens without trial and court-martial those suspected of political offences.

Despite these reinforcements, police frustration and the strain resulting from the persistence and virulence of the IRA campaign, led to them conducting ‘unofficial reprisals’. These ranged from assaults on IRA suspects and supporters, occasionally causing death, to the sacking of towns, such as Limerick and Balbriggan. They were condoned by police officers and ignored by the government as they helped sustain the force’s fragile morale, and facilitated the gathering of intelligence. The price however was the alienation of public opinion, both in Ireland and in Britain.

The worst reprisals occurred during the crescendo of terror and counter-terror in October 1920. On 21st November, ‘Bloody Sunday’, IRA agents gunned down 19 suspected Army intelligence officers in Dublin. Later that day, Auxiliaries who were despatched to a football match at Croke Park to search for wanted men, fired indiscriminately into the crowd, causing 12 deaths and wounding 65. On 9th December, two lorries transporting Auxiliaries were ambushed by an IRA ‘flying column’ in County Cork, killing all but one of the occupants. Two days later their Auxiliary colleagues, along with Black and Tans, entered Cork and sacked and burnt part of the city centre. Reluctantly, the British government was thus compelled to declare martial law over much of south-west Ireland. Later it sanctioned ‘official reprisals’; if an IRA ‘outrage’ occurred, troops were given authority to blow up the property of those suspected of involvement.

By mid-1921 the British government had become more amenable to a political settlement with the IRA. In two and a half years over 1,300 people had died in the conflict (550 of them troops and police), yet military victory still seemed a remote and uncertain prospect. The British public would not accept the further repressive measures thought necessary to achieve it, was increasingly critical of those already taken and desired peace – though not at any price

BBC-HIstory-wars-1916 Easter Rising-Aftermath-the Black & Tans


The assassinations of the British Intelligence officers virtually crippled the intelligence operations of Dublin Castle. Bloody Sunday also marked an emotional turning-point in the War of Independence and has gone down as a central event in nationalist history. Although thousands were in attendance at Croke Park that day, the exact events which led to the killings have never been conclusively proven, with each side contradicting the other. The only public statement issued by the authorities was one hurriedly drafted by Dublin Castle, blaming the IRA for shooting at Crown forces when they arrived to raid Croke Park. No authoritative account from the British side had ever been published. Now, after almost 83 years, the official British record of a military inquiry, known to have been carried out in lieu of an inquest on the fourteen Irish fatalities but held in camera, has recently become available in the British Public Record Office at Kew. It finally enables rival accounts to be compared.

AND HERE IS THE REACTION OF " THE TIMES" (of London) a day after the event:


The Times Reacts To Bloody Sunday
"The dreadful day's work in Londonderry will carry Northern Ireland another stage towards a finally ungovernable condition. The loss of life is heartrending. All humane people, however they may differ about all else to do with Ireland, must lament it. There is the usual flat contradiction between the official account of what happened, what some eyewitnesses are saying, and the accounts coming from within the Bogside. If the Army's account is accepted, then the IRA gunmen have directly brought on their own people so many deaths and so much suffering. If the accounts from the Bogside are anything like correct, It would seem that the IRA has now got what it has long been trying to provoke without success: a breakdown of battle discipline in the Army or a major operational misjudgment.

"This is an occasion on which it is imperative that the truth of the matter be established to the reasonable satisfaction of the British people - and of the Irish people too if such a thing were possible. If what occurs does not appear in firm outline in the course of the next few days from a comparison of the testimony of credible witnesses, it will be necessary to institute a court of inquiry."

But such an open & fair inquiry into the event has never taken place. I guess the Irish Catholics are after all expendable.


Come Out Ye Black And Tans / Black and Tans
Lyrics by:
Dominic Behan brother of the Irish playwrite Brendan Behan

I was born on a Dublin street where the royal drums did beat,
And those loving English feet they tramped all over us,
And each and every night when me father came home tight
He'd invite the neighbors outside with this chorus:

Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man,
Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders,
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away
From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.

Come tell us how you slew them poor Arabs two by two,
Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows,
How you bravely faced each one with your 16-pounder gun,
And you frightened them poor natives to their marrow.

Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell,
When you thought him well and truly persecuted,
Where are the sneers and jeers that you bravely let us hear
When our heroes of '16 were executed?

Well the day is coming fast and the time is here at last,
When each yeoman will be cut aside before us,
And if there be a need, sure me kids would sing, "Godspeed,"
With a verse or two of Stephen Behan's chorus:


This Sceptred ISLE

The Road to Partition 1917-1920

the Blanket: a journal of protest & dissent
Aspects of British Propaganda during the War of Independence

FEATURE from Vol. 11 No. 2 Summer 2003
by Tim Carey and Marcus de Búrca

AND: Bloody_Sunday_(Ireland_1920)

on Black & Tans

also see on Bloody Sunday January 30, 1972
Irish Northern Aid Inc.

History of Ireland from ancient era to the present


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