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1915 -1916 Secret Police Files Released Online

Untitled-1Secret pivotal period Irish history files recorded by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) dating from 1915 and 1916 have been made available today, online, for the very first time. Those involved in the compilation of this series of historic reports state that the information provided gives a fascinating insight into the events leading up to the 1916 Rising.

(Click on image on left for larger magnification.)

These reports begin in June 1915, and continue on, up to April 1916, just four days before the beginning of the 1916 Rising. The reports include details of intelligence material and reports by then detectives, concerned in the movement of more than 230 pro-independence suspects.

The full documentation when uploaded is expected to give details of the surveillance of people like tobacconist and Proclamation signatory Thomas J.Clarke, latter the person most responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising, also Cornelius “Con” Colbert, latter Thomas Clarke’s bodyguard, shot by a firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, on the 8th May 1916. There are also references to the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, latter returned to the British House of Commons for the Tipperary constituency, in which he defeated the Liberal Catholic Denis Caulfield Heron by 1054 to 898 votes. The election was declared invalid because Rossa had been an imprisoned felon.

A report of 1st June 1915, the first in this weekly series online today, traces the movements and associations of a number of individuals, including Professor Eoin MacNeill and Thomas Clarke with Thomas Byrne, Thomas MacDonagh (Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary), Frank Fahy, George Irvine and Seán T.Ó Ceallaigh. It also notes the movements of Ernest Blythe, Bulmer Hobson and Darrell Figgis and the meeting of J. J. Walsh with Frank B.Dineen, L. J. O’Toole and Michael McCartan. A description is provided of the assembly of ‘about 34 Sinn Féin Volunteers without rifles’ in Rutland Square, under the leadership of Joseph McGuinness.

An issue of the Republican Irish newspaper ‘Ná Bac Leis’ (Never Mind Him) from 29th May 1915 is also included, with translations of the leading paragraphs, for the authorities in Dublin Castle.

Despite all this surveillance by the DMP, the 1916 Rising, when it eventually happened, was regarded as a massive failure of intelligence, with the long-serving Chief Secretary to Ireland, Mr Augustine Burrell (1907 to 1916) resigning shortly after the Rising, having been criticized for not having foreseen this unexpected rebellion.

“The Chief Secretary’s Office, Crime Branch: Movement of Extremists Collection”, is being made available online on a weekly basis in chronological order according to what happened on each day 100 years ago, as part of the National Archives 2016 centenary programme and can be accessed here on the National Archives website.

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