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Public power in Europe : studies in historical transformations / edited by James S. Amelang, Siegfried Beer (Thematic work group.

States, legislation, institutions ; 1) 320.94 (21.) 1. Societ e Stato - Europa 2. Europa - Storiografia I. Amelang, James S. II Beer, Siegfried CIP a cura del Sistema bibliotecario dellUniversit di Pisa

This volume is published, thanks to the support of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission, by the Sixth Framework Network of Excellence CLIOHRES.net under the contract CIT3-CT-2005-00164. The volume is solely the responsibility of the Network and the authors; the European Community cannot be held responsible for its contents or for any use which may be made of it.

Volumes published (2006) I. Thematic Work Groups I. II. III. IV. V. VI. Public Power in Europe: Studies in Historical Transformations Power and Culture: Hegemony, Interaction and Dissent Religion, Ritual and Mythology. Aspects of Identity Formation in Europe Professions and Social Identity. New European Historical Research on Work, Gender and Society Frontiers and Identities: Mapping the Research Field Europe and the World in European Historiography

II. Transversal Theme I. Citizenship in Historical Perspective

III. Doctoral Dissertations I. F. Peyrou, La Comunidad de Ciudadanos. El Discurso Democrtico-Republicano en Espaa, 1840-1868

Cover: Imaginary Architecture, fresco, Ist Century B.C., Villa di Poppea, Oplontis, Italy 2003 Photo Scala, Florence - Ministery Beni e Attivit Culturali.

Copyright 2006 by Edizioni Plus Pisa University Press Lungarno Pacinotti, 43 56126 Pisa Tel. 050 2212056 Fax 050 2212945 info-plus@edizioniplus.it www.edizioniplus.it - Section Biblioteca ISBN 88-8492-401-4 Manager Claudia Napolitano Editing Francesca Petrucci Informatic assistance Michele Gasparello

The Establishment of Irish Intelligence: Irish Security Institutions and the IRA between the Wars
Oliver Plauder
University of Graz

Die ersten Jahre der irischen Unabhngigkeit waren wie fr die zivilen Einrichtungen, ebenso fr die militrischen Institutionen von groer Bedeutung. Zum Unterschied zu der Entwicklung der Garda, kam dem militrischen Nachrichtendienst die Bedeutung der Etablierung von internationalen Beziehungen zu. In der Zwischenkriegszeit war es der G2, und darin insbesondere die Arbeit der Nachrichtendienstleiter Dan Bryan und Liam Archer, welche die Grundlagen fr eine sptere Kooperation mit Grobritannien legten. Die regulre irische Armee hatte jedoch mit denselben Problemen zu kmpfen, wie andere Institutionen auch. Die Spaltung der Armee durch den Brgerkrieg und das nachfolgende Problem der stndigen Infiltration durch die IRA, oder die stndige Obstruktion durch Armeeteile, welche das staatliche Zentrum durch links- und rechtsradikale Agitation zerstren wollten, bestimmten die ersten Jahre des Bestehens der Streitkrfte.

From the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921 and its ratification by successive Irish parliaments (Dla) in January and December 1922, the newly-formed security institutions of the Irish Free State have had to counter militant Irish nationalism. The decision at the constituting sessions of the first government had wide ranging consequences for the new state: the signing of the treaty had created the Irish Free State, but it had also led to a movement of so-called Irregulars who were opposed to the Treaty which, in their opinion, sold the six counties of Northern Ireland to the British. From January 1922 onwards the civil and military authorities were confronted by former comrades who vowed to fight the new state. The roots of the conflict lie in the preceding years, when Irish republicans of the physical force movement decided to stage a coup against the British administration in Ireland. On 20 April 1916 Irish revolutionaries staged the Easter Rising which failed only five days later. After the execution of the ringleaders the IRA began a small-scale guerrilla war against British troops that evolved into an independence struggle which was given the name the Black and Tan War, after the khaki uniforms of the British reserve units. The main reasons for its escalation were the ruthless punishment of Irish nationalists after the rising and the attempt by Westminster to implement compulsory conscription
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into the British army. A brutal war against the British was to be followed by an even more ruthless civil war which would end in defeat for the IRA. The end of open conflict did not mean an end to the internal and external struggle. Low intensity warfare continued to threaten day-to-day security. In particular, the development of external relations with Great Britain was to become a main concern for the Free State government. The big question was how to cope with the domestic resistance of republican militants for whom the British were oppressors and the Treaty an act of treason. This article examines the establishment of the civilian secret service, the Garda Special Branch, as well as the formation of its military counterpart, the G2. On the one hand, both services had the task of consolidating the interior structure of the Free State and building up international relations. On the other hand, these institutions had to keep up their efforts in counter-intelligence and counter-espionage. The main task was to protect the state from subversive moves by republican militants who tried to build up their own international networks and to import weapons for another round with the authorities. Military intelligence assumed responsibility for monitoring the IRAs international dimension. Another important agenda for the G2 and the Special Branch of the regular police force was the improvement of their internal structures and their protection from republican infiltration. Obstruction by parts of the army and by radical movements from either side of the political spectrum in union with republican terrorism added to the immense pressure on the already strained institutions. This case study of Irish intelligence institutions aims to demonstrate once more the decisive role which intelligence services have played in many states and societies, although this fact tends to be ignored. The Irish example shows how important the development of information-gathering agencies has been for nation- and state-building. The use of state power and violence will also receive close attention. The Irish case shows just how far a state could go in order to protect itself. In a uniquely Irish phenomenon, ruthless statecraft is followed by overwhelming judicial lenience. We may begin, however, with a short historiographical survey and overview of scientific research and the peculiarities of the analysis of the conflict on the Emerald Isle1.

Hopefully, the following short survey will afford some insights into the development of the historiography of Irish security in its early stages. To write about Irish intelligence history has been and still is very difficult. Up to the 1960s many persons who set down their memoirs or produced scientific papers were still to some extent influenced by the Irish civil war. Many records have been lost or are still not open to the public. Obviously, secret societies and underground warfare do not generate as many records as ordinary administrative departments. Nevertheless there are still assets for intelligence researchers on which they can capitalize. If materials are not initially disclosed to the public they are eventually released, mostly years later when governments decide to make the

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material available. There is also the chance of leaked papers and documents: although this is not very common, some important files may find their way to the researcher. The difficulty in examining the Irish conflict lies in the difference of understanding of the participants and their use of memory. On both sides of the border there are fundamental distinctions in the perception of tradition and history. The republican movement in particular identifies itself through the history of its struggle. One has to be extremely cautious in the face of terminology like Treaty-ite, anti-Treaty-ite, nationalist, republican, loyalist, unionist, settler or native. Even more important is the evaluation of the accounts of those who took part in the struggle. Do they tell the truth, or do they try to deceive historians, or is their account distorted by their own experiences? These are questions that trouble every researcher who deals with the history of Irish security policy. The modern Troubles pose the same questions in regard to analysis of political murder, counter-terrorism strategies, and the special tactics used by intelligence agencies, for example the use of informers. Hidden in the political side of the conflict are some treacherous traps to snare the unwary researcher. What for one side is seen as the celebration of a fundamental event of the past turns out to be the worst act of humiliation for the other. The deeply-rooted us and them mentality in Ireland is not only true for the broad nationalist vs. unionist conflict, but also for other categories like the opposing sides in the internal conflict of the Irish civil war. As a first group of writers we may identify persons who fought and lived at the time of the Black and Tan War and the Civil War. In historical terms the accounts of these writers are as scientifically dangerous as interesting. People who were in the midst of these bloody conflicts tend to take sides and lose objectivity. We have accounts of IRA members and memoirs of clerks in the administration on both sides. Those of Piarais Basla, Charles Dalton, Terence MacSweeney, Patrick McCartan and other memoirs or recollections may be mentioned for the republican side. British and Irish accounts of events and intelligence autobiographies, were written by Sir Ormonde Winter, Neville Macready, and on the Irish side by Ernie OMalley. For republican recollections of the 1920s researchers may look at the accounts of Florence ODonoghue or Peadar ODonnell. We are talking of memoirs that were written only a few years after the actual events. Yet many rebels and politicians began to write down their memoirs during the 1950s and 1960s so as to round off the political picture of the early 1920s. A second set of analyses focused on the person of Michael Collins. Many former comrades wrote about the legendary IRA leader and politician who had held important posts in the Free State government. Overreliance on one-sided biographies is another source of distortion. Large numbers of reminiscences were prepared throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but to obtain a more balanced picture it may be recommended to look at the latest research by Tim Pat Coogan, T. Ryle Dwyer and others. The third group of writers who examined the Irish situation around 1922 are journalists. For example, Toby Harnden and Martin Dillon deal with the subject of the dirty
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intelligence war on the ground. Despite their concentration on the modern Troubles the reader may find many similarities with the early 1920s. The behaviour of either republican or police murder squads have similiar patterns, though their crimes were committed in different times. Last but not least there are the standard works of modern historians who write extensively about Irish and British security and intelligence history. As far as Irish intelligence history is concerned, the works of Eunan OHalpin who had extensive access to Irish and British archives are fundamental. On IRA-related topics there are the standard works of Lee Bowyer Bell and Peter Hart which deal with republican history overall and whose interesting articles are essential for anyone who wishes to know more about spies and informers. Both authors embedded social discourses in their research. In regard to All-Ireland history the writings of Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery should not be forgotten. The latter has been tasked in 2006 with research on MI6 history by the British Secret Intelligence Service. The works on Irish state institutions also need to be consulted in order to provide a balanced picture. As examples, Peter Herlihy on the history of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Liam McNiffe on An Garda Sochna [the police force of the Irish Free State] may be mentioned. On the history of the Irish army Andrew Duggan should be consulted, or Michael Hopkinsons account of the Irish civil war. Another way of securing more information about Irish institutions is to explore particular chapters of British intelligence history. Many accounts of British security institutions include sections on British intelligence in Ireland or provide insights into the Irish political situation. Among others, the work of Christopher Andrew about the British intelligence system in Ireland may well be helpful. In conclusion, it should be added that Jack Holland has supplied an overview of Irish American relations in regard to the IRA and the Irish state.

tHe development 1920s


IrIsH IntellIgence InstItutIons

In tHe


Even after the end of the Irish Civil War in July 1923 the state still faced deep-seated and intractable security problems. Institutions which were responsible for defence and justice had to be strengthened by extraordinary measures which suspended parts of the democratic constitution. Moreover, the introduction of special power legislation turned out not to be a particular or extraordinary short-term measure. In practice, repressive legislation against the republican menace became usual, being invoked by successive governments right up to the present2. Despite the fact that democracy was being subverted in an extraordinary manner and that accusations of state violence are sometimes justified, it has to be said that Irish state institutions were preserved by such selective legislation. The Free State government did not hesitate to implement emergency rules to overcome the weakness of its institutions. Secret services in Ireland could rely on these pieces of

The Establishment of Irish Intelligence


legislation to act outside the boundaries of a democratic system. This support set the base for inner consolidation and made external links and the establishment of international relations possible. The weakness of the Irish services was not only a matter of outside interference by radical groups like the IRA. Problems were often self-made. The Free State government intervened in the early years of their development by financial cuts and decisions made for strictly political reasons. The ruling government council wanted a strict hierarchical system which did not allow much structural freedom in departmental decisions. Overall economic conditions in Ireland were also poor, so that social unrest was rife. Previous wars had fostered ruthless attitudes in which people were quick to resort to violence and to settle old scores3. The intelligence services found themselves in an assymetrical conflict, in which they were at the centre of the state structure. Outside of this spectrum lay the IRA, always searching for an opportunity to recover from its defeat. Defeated but not extinguished, the IRA ceaselessly sought money and guns from abroad. Republicans were ever ready to target special parts of that intelligence centre. Forces on the periphery were constantly inhibiting the development of Irish state institutions in the formative years from 1922 onwards. The state had the problem of what to do with its swollen army. After financial cutbacks marauding gangs of disillusioned and unemployed soldiers were roaming the country. Almost 12,000 IRA members were interned in Irish prisons. This was the stage for the creation and development of civilian and military services whose principal goal was to counter radicals both from the left and the right. Most important was the development of strategies and operational tactics against militant Irish republicans and their political off-shoots4.

cIvIlIan IntellIgence

In Ireland

In January 1922 the Irish government disbanded the British-backed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). In August 1922 almost 10,000 policemen had disappeared from rural areas of Ireland. The former backbone of security in Ireland had been forced out of occupation by the IRA which saw the institution as a symbol for British control over the island5. The imminent problem of a missing centralised successor organisation was hardened by financial cutbacks and internal disagreements. In some parts of the country, republican units and vigilante committees took over the security and policing agenda. In effect several forces existed beside each other and cooperation or obstruction depended on local structures and allegiances. Under the terms of the (British) Government of Ireland Act (1920) the RIC and the DMP (Dublin Metropolitan Police) were to pass from imperial control to the Irish administration after three years6. These first problems were soon overcome by the establishment of the Civic Guard which, together with the Dublin Metropolitan Police, formed the first security force7. The first information gathering agency was the Crime Investigation Department (CID) which was structurally attached to the Civic Guard but followed its own lines of political investigation. The CID was formed on the orders of Michael Collins and its headquarters was situated at the Dublin Oriel House. From August 1921 until its disbandment in NoIntelligence Institutions and International Relations


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vember 1923 the CID became a feared force which used unorthodox measures against all sorts of crime. Besides criminal investigation, overall security, as well as the gathering of political and military information, made up the main work of the unit. The CID was also responsible for the protection of government members and the monitoring of the IRA. As an intelligence service it also tried to monitor the movement of British agents in the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Concerning British secret service activity, it has to be said that this was on a very small scale at that time. Throughout the period of the Irish civil war the Oriel House gained the reputation of a ruthless and brutal police force8. The new units operated within the same judicial parameters as the erstwhile RIC and even occupied the same barracks. These similarities, together with its violent use of state power, made the political police force a main target for the IRA. The biggest problem for the new institution stemmed not only from government cutbacks but from the way in which its staff was used to gather intelligence. The CID was established as a bureaucratic institution, and so needed skilled information-gatherers, analysts and disseminators. Members of its staff were all staunch supporters of Michael Collins who had fought the British in the Black and Tan War. Men loyal to Collins served in republican shoot-to-kill and nutcracker units which aimed at killing enemy agents, or detecting British informers. These hardliners from the Squad or the Active Service Unit in Dublin were in no way suited to run a state agency under democratic statutes. Nor did they fit into the pattern of a modern intelligence officer9. Until 8 August 1922 the Oriel House had been divided into a criminal investigation department and another military section. Many former military officers had even been transferred to the Oriel House against their will. After 8 August 1922 the CID was attached to the interior ministry10. In November 1922 the Protective Officers Corps took over the responsibility for safeguarding politicians, staff and locations. Among the 350 members of the CID, a semisecret unit, called the Citizens Defence Force took over intelligence gathering11. The Oriel House in its manifestation during and shortly after the Civil War was abandoned on 29 October 1923. Its staff was transferred to the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) department which also gathered political intelligence but which owing to its former allegiance to the British administration was excluded from an executive role12. As an interim solution which later on became institutionalised, the political intelligence work in the Garda Detectives Division at the DMP was led by David Neligan, a former spy of Michael Collins at the Dublin Castle13. In this particular situation the slimmed down CID had to give over the bulk of its files and card indexes on the IRA to the military service. The struggle for supremacy within the Irish intelligence community was eventually decided in April 1925 when the DMP and Civic Guard (retitled from 8 August 1923 under the Gaelic name, An Garda Sochna) were merged14. The Police Forces Amalgamation Act of 1925 had the effect that ordinary crime work was dealt with by the Garda Crime Ordinary Department and intelligence was diverted to the Garda Special Branch under the auspices of David Neligan. In February 1926 the final blow was inflicted on the military service G2 which had to hand over approxi-

The Establishment of Irish Intelligence


mately 24,000 files to the Garda. Civilian control of counter-espionage and intelligence work on the IRA in the Irish Free State, Northern Ireland and Great Britain was in the hands of David Neligan15.

early IntellIgence metHods

agaInst tHe


The Branch monitored the movement of IRA members and cells throughout the country. The detection of changes in the IRAs executive and army councils was of utmost importance16. The major methods applied against the IRA were observation, agent running, and penetration tactics. Despite horrific incidents instigated by members of the Oriel House throughout the Civil War, the hatred of the IRA focused on members of the Free State parliament who in turn tried to stop state violence. Men like Liam Tobin and Joseph McGrath who had pursued hardline tactics against the IRA were forgiven by the republican movement. Yet Kevin OHiggins, for example, who served as interior minister would become a victim of IRA assassination17. The establishment of the Irish Free State seemed to be an act of treason and its protagonists were viewed as the arch-enemies of the republican movement. Despite a steady decline in the IRA during the 1920s members of the police force, intelligence officers and informers remained targets of republican assassins. It is a characteristic in this early stage of the Dirty War in Ireland that it was primarily easy targets which were hit. Members of the police force were shot when they had least expected it. Men were murdered in their beds or when unarmed. In particular, the split caused by the Civil War, and later on by internal squabbles, led to a great deal of information being provided on the republican movement. In the early 1920s many former intelligence officers were swept into Free State employ. They were well-informed about the composition and calibre of the local IRA battalion. Local knowledge and British support proved to be the most valuable assets in countering IRA moves on the island. There were also other channels and connections which were used against militant republicans. For this purpose the men of Irish intelligence had to look across the Irish Sea and also across the Atlantic.

InternatIonal cooperatIon
Despite some setbacks for the security service, a network of agents and informers reported about IRA activities in Ulster and Great Britain. Old lines of observation and inquiry in the United States were revitalised and assisted in uncovering IRA plots to smuggle guns into Ireland. First contacts with British passport controllers were established and Irish agents and informers reported from Liverpool and Glasgow. In an extraordinary development some relocation programmes for informers whose cover had been blown were established. The Irish Free State had to pay for protection schemes for its exiled agents abroad18. The Garda Special Branch left the matter of IRA contacts in foreign countries in the hands of military intelligence notwithstanding the existence of good contacts with the Department of the Metropolitan Police in London. The previously-mentioned contacts in the U.S. were only used for the purpose of counterIntelligence Institutions and International Relations


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espionage which in effect meant the defence of the state. As long as they served their purpose no offensive measures were initiated. Penetration of the Irish diaspora in the United States was ultra vires for the Branch. The leniency and lapse in monitoring the international dimension of IRA networks in Europe and some Russian contacts was to lead to several difficulties in the 1930s. Fascist Blueshirts and Left-Wing republicans were under surveillance, but their contacts in foreign countries lay unexplored. Though counter-intelligence abroad was not a priority for the Garda Special Branch, Neligans men maintained links with Scotland Yard. Garda officers travelled to London to identify IRA members and helped to extradite them19. In the long run the IRA could not be wiped out. Informers shattered the trust at the base of the republican movement and broke into its structures. The problem was that it could not break the ideology and the core value of historical remembrance in republican circles20. In the few years after 1922 the Irish civilian intelligence service survived several structural changes and the steady threat presented by the IRA. In 1926 a consolidated Garda Special Branch was established under the strong hand of an experienced officer who was able to establish a more analytical service than had existed just a few years before. With the accession of amon De Valera to the post of the Taoiseach (prime minister) in 1932 the game of leniency and hardline measures continued. The appointment as chief of the Garda Special Branch of amon Broy, another ex-spy in the Dublin administration and former staunch Collins supporter, led to another escalation. His death squads, the Broy Harriers pursued the IRA in unrelenting fashion from 1933 on. Immediate campaigns by the IRA were countered but destroying the nationalist movement was impossible. Strike and counter-strike, violence and counter-violence were the order of the day. For the time during the inter-War period, containing militant nationalists was the key strategy. Without possessing a full picture of the international support for the IRA, civilian intelligence needed the expertise of the military agency which reported on international IRA networks.

mIlItary IntellIgence

In Ireland

The first years of Irish independence were marred by violence and insecurity. Therefore the first steps in consolidation were of great importance to the military intelligence system. By contrast with the development of the civilian intelligence service the military agency was given the task of establishing overall international relations. Between the Wars the successive G2 chiefs Liam Archer and Dan Bryan established a close cooperation with the United Kingdom. The Irish Free State had forged its alliance with Britain following the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921. The British government maintained control of the so-called Treaty Ports and monitored the Irish coast for IRA smuggling activities through the deployment of its navy21. Irish army chiefs were not unhappy with this solution for the virtually non-existent Irish navy would not have been able to set up an operating coastguard. In addition the guarding of the ports would also have strained the resources of the Irish army. The only real loss early on to Irish military intelligence was the absence of control of the submarine cables

The Establishment of Irish Intelligence


across the Atlantic as well as the British monopoly of control of Irish wireless stations. This meant that the Irish military intelligence agency gave away all its signal intelligence (SIGINT) assets22. At the outset the intelligence directorates problems were similar to those of every other Free State organisation. Many Collins loyalists flooded into the Free State army to fight the Irregulars. The months of civil war left a bloated Irish army of 50,000 men, which was five times the number after its first deployment. In August 1922 the army had no apparatus or equipment to build up a security net so as to fend off IRA penetration into many of its units. A positive aspect was once again that many former IRA members had served in the Collins intelligence directorate against the British. These men were ruthless hunters of their opponents and were now logistically supported by the British Army. The British believed that a rapid defeat of the IRA would be crucial in the internal Irish conflict. The Irish army was built up only to the point where it posed no real threat to Great Britain23. So the Free State and its military intelligence system was capable of deploying the personal and local networks of informers to the extent that by July 1923 the IRA rebellion had been crushed24. The real problems were to occur after the end of the Civil War. With Collins violent death on 22 August 1922 and the end of the Civil War in July 1923 many of these military intelligence officers had no further prospects in the Irish army. Mass job cuts, less money and a feeling that their deeds were not honoured led to an invisible structure of discontent inside army intelligence. These developments could not be seen by the official intelligence directorate at the general staff headquarters because many sympathisers sat in information-gathering positions. One cannot talk of penetration by the beaten IRA. It was more of a renaissance of the Old IRA as it was called, a republican refuge in the newly-established army. These unseen layers of dissatisfaction were to explode in the faces of the military leadership in March 1924 as a fully-fledged mutiny25. Although army intelligence had failed to discover the Old IRA plot, it emerged stronger out of the affair. Newly-established units monitored the discontented elements whose existence had been revealed to the public by open rebellion against the leadership. As a result of the Civil War and the Old IRA mutiny the military intelligence service grew stronger. The director of intelligence maintained direct contact with the Minister of Defence and the army s chief of staff. In autumn 1923 the army collected all files from the civilian services and established six departments at general headquarters in Dublin26. In addition, army intelligence controlled the files of all IRA members imprisoned in jails and internment camps. The G2, as military intelligence was called from 1924, had its own range of problems. As with the Oriel House many members who had been useful in the Black and Tan War were of no use in a modern agency which attempted to collect information in a bureaucratic manner. After the truce institutionalised inefficiency, constant distractions and influence by or against the Oriel House, and ruthless brutality in the fight against IRA cells hampered intelligence work and hindered efforts to gain the support of the population.
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agaInst tHe


Under the first of Collins successors as chief of staff, Joseph McGrath, so-called Intelligence Officers (I/Os) were inserted at general staff level and in each of the five local military districts in Ireland. This system was partially inherited from the IRA but also from the British administration where local I/Os in different units and at different levels reported to their superiors or headquarters. In urgent cases direct lines to the general staff office were established. The main aim was to collect military and political intelligence at home and abroad. The military intelligence community was strictly centralised and secure lines of communication were established. Like the Garda Special Branch, the G2 ran agents in neighbouring Ulster, but it has to be said that Northern Ireland lay under the authority of only one I/O. There was also a counter-espionage section which was tasked with defending the Free State against military spies from Britain. Despite several discussions from the time of the truce onwards, civilian and military agencies seemed to duplicate their efforts. The G2 had a contract with the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin which listened into private conversations on the phone, opened mail traffic and monitored telegrams. Intelligence activities targeted prominent republicans and anti-Treatyites. Trade unions, Irish communists, the republican womens organisation (Cumann na mBan) and republican youth organisations were also monitored. Lines of communication and the quality of information depended on the capability and competence of local I/Os. The situation in Dublin under the leadership of Liam Archer and Dan Bryan could be described as very good, while intelligence gathering in republican Cork was usually difficult. In a first analysis in 1923, Liam Archer argued in favour of a better coordination between the G2 and the civilian authorities. Despite their disagreements the civilian authorities and the G2 went after the IRA with uncompromising vigour even after the Civil War had ended27. Special powers enabled the army to use military tribunals which meted out severe sentences which were only reduced or quashed in particular cases of mass amnesties. Until 1925 G2 members succeeded in keeping abreast of the IRA strategy of switching from a land war to urban guerrilla tactics involving small cells. Justice Minister Kevin OHiggins supported the troops in their fight against militant nationalists and even halted efforts to establish republican platforms on political lines. An early attempt at the gun and the ballot box was averted by this manoeuvre28. Although OHiggins restricted political agitation it was not possible to prevent it. G2 men took their chance and infiltrated arch-republican groups as well as their left-wing counterparts at the end of the 1920s. It was G2 units which first constructed a complete geographical and topographical map of Ireland and used it in operational planning on the ground. It was impossible to insulate every single bridge or railway station against IRA attack but there was a general build-up in security and success in infrastructure protection. Restrictions on and observation of republican drills did not defeat the IRA but it halted mass defections to the physical force movement. In 1926 Free State wireless units were more sophisticated, a little bit better protected against code-breaking and surveillance attempts from abroad, and could listen into Northern Ireland units themselves. It has

The Establishment of Irish Intelligence


to be mentioned that lots of military intelligence work went into the protection of barracks and units. Members of the G2 security units tried to prevent republican infiltration of parts of the army and were deeply suspicious of contacts with nationalists by serving or former soldiers29. Though the internal fight against the IRA was handed over to special units of civilian intelligence the whole surveillance work of the G2 in Ireland never stopped. The source of all these problems had multiple roots which lay inside and outside Ireland. In order to detect gun running plots, for example, the key republicans in Ireland itself had to be known. On the other hand, military intelligence had to follow their lines of contacts or rather their connections to allies abroad.


and InternatIonal


External contacts to the British Army helped to build up several important networks to counter republican propaganda and attempts of weapons stocking by the IRA. British diplomats and emissaries, or the Royal Navy, gave important information on the activities of IRA members in ports like Glasgow, Liverpool and Holyhead. Diplomatic networks in Europe were as important as contacts in the United States. In contrast to the Garda Special Branch, the G2 undertook more offensive actions. If the established political connections did not secure the desired results, private detective companies were hired to track Irish-American supporters of the IRA. The G2 seemingly had great success in infiltrating the Irish-American support network. Though not every single shipment of Thompson machine guns could be halted at an American port, because U.S. law saw no juridical restriction against export of weapons, many moves could be countered at an earlier or later stage30. U.S Customs Authorities, for example, moved in against suspected IRA members when they were suspected of violating the Espionage Act31. The reason for this was the cultivation of relationships with institutions like the Bureau of Investigation which had monitored Irish nationalists since the time when labour unrest in the U.S. had been instigated by Irishmen. Attempts by the IRA to acquire weapons or to garner support among left-wing groups in continental Europe and the Soviet Union did not succeed. It was easy for the G2 and Army officials to establish ties with several European police forces and to extract information on those republican adventures. Once the Irish officials mentioned republican connections to the local communist party many local authorities were quick to act. The intimidating picture of an IRA-Soviet cooperation on foreign soil was simply too much for many securocrats in Europe. The most important tie was that to the British authorities. At a meeting between the armys chief of staff, Diarmuid OHegarty, and members of the Metropolitan Police in London, a crackdown was initiated on republican networks in Scotland and England in 192332. Another field of cooperation which was to become important at the beginning of the Second World War was cooperation in passport control matters. Lists of names and files of suspicious persons were exchanged. For the British it was important, particularly with the advent of 1939, that Englands backyard in Ireland was secure. The Irish
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authorities did most of the surveillance work but got logistical support in their hunt for IRA journeymen. This liaison was the beginning of a cooperation which culminated in the installation of a British Passport Control Office (PCO) in Dublin. The PCO was a disguise for the British Secret Intelligence Service which worked under the cover of the passport office. G2 had uncovered the role of the PCO at the beginning of the war but played the game with the British33. The question of extradition in regard to IRA members invariably played a major role in the Anglo-Irish security liaison. Judicial decisions halted mass extraditions in many cases. Republicans could not be extradited that easily. In other cases, especially in Northern Ireland, informal agreements paved the way for an exceptional method of prisoner extradition. Captured IRA members were often transported to the Irish border and simply dumped on the other side of the boundary line. Other important points were the development and implementation of press censorship which fell under the aegis of the G2. Many liaison efforts did not concern the IRA directly but were pushed by the British because they fitted in with their programme of national defence. The Irish in turn were supported against the IRA. After the first struggling years in the 1920s it may be said that under the careful leadership of Liam Archer and Dan Bryan the G2 flourished and built up strong ties with the British forces. Although the IRA could not be overcome the G2 managed to contain its international network. Its success did not lie in an imminent victory over the IRA but in proving that the ties between the intelligence services were much closer than people had ever suspected. Although official state relations between the Irish government of de Valera and Britains Churchill administration were not good, officials of the respective intelligence agencies maintained excellent relations. It is often argued that there had been successive intelligence failures which led to the bombing campaign of 1939. That may well be true, but despite the fact that Sean Russells effort in the 1930s had been ignored, the IRA campaign did not last very long34. Nor could the IRA score decisive victories during the inter-War period. G2 did not prevent the IRA bombing campaign in Britain but it proved that intelligence liaison could work behind the official curtain and that many projects could still be realised.

It took the Irish Free State administration almost four years to establish the Garda Special Branch and the G2 in a period during which internal and external factors threatened state institutions and obstructed their development. Violence, a weak economy, financial cutbacks by the government, and feuding between army and civilian services hampered quick progress. It seems extraordinary that under the circumstances of civil war and the obvious threat of the IRA the intelligence services were able to emerge against the backdrop of such unpromising conditions. It took the Irish intelligence agencies only four years to assume the shape which they still have, more or less, at the present day. In a more important step it was the work of men of intelligence who built up relations with their former arch-enemy and neighbour Great Britain. Where else

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should Ireland have looked? To the United States with its big Irish population? They did, in particular the military agencies. With the development of Irish diplomatic missions in 1922 the government could also make a stab in the direction of central Europe, a direction which had been denied by the concert of powers in 1918. So it took the Irish Free State government and its intelligence agencies only a few years to establish international links during the first years of its existence. The real problems lay in insecurity at home. As long as the British government openly supported the Free State the militant nationalist movement had in reality no chance of overthrowing the state. Even with de Valeras accession to power in 1932 and the deteriorating relations with Great Britain the close ties between the Garda Special Branch, G2 and their British counterparts, MI5, MI6 and the Metropolitan Police did not end35. What began under severe pressure in 1922 and was reshaped in 1926 in the event helped to stabilise the state throughout the 1930s. Irish intelligence agencies with the help of their British allies were able to contain the republican movement for most of the time. At times of IRA offensives the state was able to defend itself by more ruthless means. The wide use of Special Power legislation permitted a very hard line against the IRA. Democratic rules and jurisdiction were abandoned in order to pin down republican militants. Although the state employed the strategy of general amnesties for republican convicts, one may properly talk of the excessive use of force and state violence. The system held to its hard line, which in the end prevented a radical takeover of the Irish state. People who argue that the republican idea cannot be extinguished are also right. On the contrary it has to be said that between the years 1922 and 1945 the Irish state mounted an immense effort which forced the IRA to its knees and into an unofficial truce. Most important: the Irish state did not do it alone. The main reasons can be found first and foremost in the relations between securocrats in Ireland and Great Britain. The past, present and future of Irish policing and intelligence service activity entails some key tasks which have haunted the agencies and will undoubtedly continue to be the main operation responsibilities. It is a fact that the IRA and its splinter groups will not go away. So formal policing will have to deal with militant republicanism and hooliganism in the future. At present there are ongoing investigations into the failures, corruption and collusion activities surrounding the Garda Special Branch. The problem of infiltration by the IRA, illegal cooperation with republican terrorists, immoral conduct in agent running and an absence of cross-border co-operation are not only a legacy from the long Irish conflict. These points have to be tackled in the future if the Irish services wish to continue a more-or-less successful strategy against republican terrorism. The proper conduct of operations is of the utmost importance and has to be accompanied by daily intelligence work in the battle against republican terrorism.


E. OHalpin, Defending Ireland. The Irish State And Its Enemies Since 1922, Oxford 1999; M. Hopkinson, Green Against Green: The Irish Civil War, Dublin 1988; J. Bowyer Bell, The IRA 1968-2000. Analysis of a Secret Army, London 2000; J. Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army. The IRA 1916-1979, Dublin 1983; P. Hart, The
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Oliver Plauder

I.R.A. and Its Enemies. Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923, Oxford 1998; P. Hart, The I.R.A. at War 1916-1923, Oxford 2003; L. McNiffe, A History of the Garda Sochna, Dublin 1997; J.P. Duggan, A History of the Irish Army, Dublin 1991. 2 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 79. 3 Ibid., p. 2. 4 Hopkinson, Green Against Green cit., p. 258. 5 C. Brady, Guardians Of The Peace, Dublin 1974, p. 2. 6 Ibid., p. 29. 7 McNiffe, A History of the Garda Sochna cit., p. 12. 8 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 12. 9 Bell, The Secret Army cit., p. 35; OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., pp. 15-16. 10 Ibid., p. 12. 11 Ibid., p. 13. 12 McNiffe, A History of the Garda Sochna cit., p. 40. 13 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 59. 14 McNiffe, A History of the Garda Sochna, Dublin 1997, p. 31; motion brought forward in Dail on 31 July 1923. 15 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 62. 16 Bell, The Secret Army, Dublin 1983, p. 51 17 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit. 18 Bell, The Secret Army cit., p. 74; case of Sean Harlin. 19 Ibid., p. 74; identification of Jim Killeen (IRA) in London. 20 Bell, IRA 1968-2000 cit., p. 72. 21 Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies cit., p. 116; capture of the Seattle Spirit on the way to Cork City, on 4 June 1922. 22 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 15 23 Correspondence of Katherine ODoherty, National Library of Ireland (NLI), McGarrity Papers, MS 17471. 24 Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies cit., pp. 125; 265. 25 Duggan, A History of the Irish Army cit., pp. 130-137 and OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., pp. 45-53. 26 Ibid., p. 55; see Bell, The Secret Army cit., p. 40. Units: Directors Office, Command Branch, Secret Service Branch, Finance Branch, Cypher Branch and Records Branch. 27 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 18. 28 Bell, The Secret Army cit., p. 45. 29 Confidential Reports on Irregular Activities, National Library of Ireland, J.J. OConnell Papers, MS 22146 (5). 30 Hart, The I.R.A. at War cit., pp. 178-186 and J. Holland, The American Connection. U.S. Guns, Money And Influence in Northern Ireland, Boulder 1999 p. 68. 31 U.S. District Court Documents, New Jersey (14. September 1925), National Library of Ireland (NLI), McGarrity Papers, MS 17530(2). 32 OHalpin, Defending Ireland cit., p. 22. 33 OHalpin, MI5 and Ireland cit., p. 20. 34 Bell, The Secret Army cit., p. 131. 35 OHalpin, MI5 and Ireland cit., p. 5.

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Andrew C., Secret Service. The Making of the British Intelligence Community, London 1985. Bartlett T. - Jeffery K. (eds.), A military history of Ireland, Cambridge 1996. Bowyer Bell J., The IRA 1968-2000. Analysis of a Secret Army, London 2000. Bowyer Bell J., The Secret Army. The IRA 1916-1979, Dublin 1979. Brady C., Guardians Of The Peace, Dublin 1974. Coogan T.P., De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow, London 1993. Coogan T.P., Michael Collins: a biography, London 1990. Duggan J.P., A History of the Irish Army, Dublin 1991 Dwyre T.R., Eamon de Valera, Dublin 1980. Hart P., The I.R.A. and Its Enemies. Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923, Oxford-New York 1999. Hart P., The I.R.A. at War 1916-1923, Oxford 2003. Herlihy J., The Royal Irish Constabulary. A Short History and Genealogical Guide, Dublin 1997. Holland J., The American Connection. U.S. Guns, Money And Influence in Northern Ireland, Boulder 1999. Hopkinson M., Green Against Green: The Irish Civil War, Dublin 1988. McNiffe L., A History of the Garda Sochna, Dublin 1997. ODonoghue F., No Other Law. The Story of Liam Lynch and the Irish Republican Army, 1916-1923, Dublin 1954. OHalpin E., Defending Ireland. The Irish State And Its Enemies Since 1922, Oxford 1999. OHalpin E., MI5 and Ireland, 1939-1945, Dublin 2003.

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