1924

Please Note:  1924 and 1925 do not attempt to give the comprehensive month by month detail that is attempted for the previous five years.  In particular, no attempt is made to chronicle the various issues that arose when trying to construct the new state.  Rather they follow two major 'left-over' issues (i.e. the Army Mutiny of 1924 and the Boundary Commission). 

 

Jan

Minority Labour government under Ramsey MacDonald takes office at Westminster.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 297

Jan

Early in January, GHQ of Free State army receives information that Old IRA intends to seize arms and take over a number of barracks.  GHQ informs commanding officers and relocates certain troops.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 48

Jan-26

Mulcahy meets with Cosgrave and McGrath re Old IRA.  Mulcahy had earlier written to Cosgrave saying that Old IRA could possibly in the near future be “a far greater danger than the Irregular one” and criticised McGrath for the encouragement he had given them.  At the meeting, McGrath said that the Old IRA meant no harm and Cosgrave gave some support to the army’s demobilisation scheme.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 49-50

 

 

 

Feb-01&02

Boundary conference takes place in London under new Colonial Secretary J H Thomas but adjourns without agreement.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 298

Feb-11

In a memo to the cabinet of the Free State government, Kevin O’Shiel warns that they should not allow the Boundary Commission to be set up later than May when the rural and county elections are due to be held in Northern Ireland. He argued that this would be a catastrophe as they would take place on a new register and for gerrymandered areas and therefore “no argument of ours will prevail against the GREAT FACT that those districts, once in favour of a Dublin parliament, have all gone in favour of a Belfast parliament”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 299-300

 

 

 

Mar-03

Adjutant-General’s office of the Free State army issues orders severely curtailing the movements of its officers.  Probably aimed at Old IRA.

Valiulis (1985), pg 50

Mar-06

Tobin and Dalton present an ultimatum to the Free State government demanded that they meet with them to discuss their interpretation of the Treaty and that the army council be removed and that army demobilisation be suspended.  They say if the government does not meet its demands they will “take such action that we make clear to the Irish people that we are not renegades or traitors to the ideals that induced them to accept the Treaty.  Our Organisation fully realises the seriousness of the action we may be compelled to take”. 50 Free State officers abscond with war materials including Lewis guns, grenades and revolvers.  More Detail 

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 51; Dáil Debates VI (11th Mar 1924), col. 1894-1895

Mar-07

Executive Council of the Free State government orders arrest of Tobin and Dalton but, despite searches, they elude arrest.  Joe McGrath resigns as Minister of Industry and Commerce which he announces to the Dáil on the 11th March (but continues to fulfill his duties until 19th March).

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 52

Mar-10

Mulcahy releases statement to press saying “Two Army officers have attempted to involve the Army in a challenge to the authority of the Government.  This is an outrageous departure from the spirit of the Army.  It will not be tolerated.”  He goes on to say the Army will stay firm to their duty.  However, the Executive Council is not as sure of the loyalty and appoints Eoin O’Duffy (Chief of the Civic Guards) to the position of General Officer Commanding of the Free State Defence Forces.  One reason for doing this is that they view the mutiny as a faction fight between the Old IRA and the IRB.  (Valiulis says that O’Duffy was a “high ranking member of the IRB, a fact of which the government was obviously unaware”).   In the Dail, Cosgrave described the ultimatum as “a challenge to the democratic foundations of the State”. 

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 53-55

Mar-11

In the Dail, Cosgrave reads the letter of the 6th March from Tobin and Dalton and describes the ultimatum as “a challenge to the democratic foundations of the State”.  Mulcahy reports to the Dáil that officers in Roscommon, Gormanstown, Baldonnel and Templemore had absconded with arms but that the only area that was possibly in danger was County Cork.  Chief of Staff Sean MacMahon is sent to Cork where he prevents any armed action. 

 

A long Cumman na nGaedheal also takes place to discuss the Old IRA position.  More Detail  

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 54-58; Dáil Debates VI (11th Mar 1924), col. 1894-1900

Mar-12

Executive Council meets and decides to take a lenient position towards the Old IRA officers following a second letter from Tobin and Dalton (see below) which probably resulted from contact between McGrath and the Old IRA leaders.  They decided that a cabinet inquiry would be set up into the administration of the army and that those officers who had absconded with arms be given an opportunity to restore the stolen property when arrested and then be released on parole. 

 

Cosgrave announces in the Dáil that a cabinet inquiry will be set up into the administration of the army and it will consult with McGrath.  He also reads a further letter from Tobin and Dalton (dated 12th March).  More Detail

 

Dáil Debates VI (12th Mar 1924), col. 1972-1998; Valiulis (1985), pgs 59-61

Mar-13

Editorial in the Irish Times states “Mutiny is mutiny, and, with all respect for Kevin O’Higgins, …., twenty-four hours cannot change it into a merely frank expression of military discontent”.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 63

Mar

Government of Northern Ireland requests a postponement of the Boundary conference until the 24th April due to the illness of Craig.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 300

Mar-14

Cahir Healy takes his seat in the House of Commons.  He had been released from the Argenta in February but re-arrested.  He was re-released after the intervention of the new British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald but against the bitter opposition of the NI Minister for Home Affairs Dawson Bates.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 301

Mar-16

One of the Old IRA (Capt George Ashton) is arrested.  McGrath telephones O’Higgins and tells him that Ashton’s arrest will cause trouble “unless it is seen to”.  (McGrath had telephoned Cosgrave but he was ill and unable to come to the phone.)

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 130

Mar-18

Mulcahy sends memo to GHQ saying that all members of the army who removed material from barracks or who were absent from duty had until the 20th March to return the material.  Afterwards, they were to be allowed out under open arrest.   Gearoid O’Sullivan, Adjutant General, sent the detailed orders to the officers commanding.  In particular, he said that the men were allowed out under open arrest (parole) until the time fixed for the investigation of the charges against such persons.  More Detail  

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 66-71

Mar-18

GHQ receives information that a meeting of Old IRA officers is being held in Devlin’s Public House in Parnell St., Dublin with speculation that they planned a coup or the kidnapping of the entire cabinet.  Nine soldiers are dispatched there and they arrive about 9.30pm.  The soldiers had no authority to raid the public house so they told the officers inside that they would be arrested on exiting.  They telephone Adjutant General Gearoid O’Sullivan for instructions – he told them to enter the public house, preferably without using force.  Reinforcements were sent, the area was surrounded and civilians evacuated.  The government troops entered but the officers inside had barricaded themselves upstairs and “guns were plainly discernible in the dark”.  The troops again telephoned O’Sullivan and he gave orders to “force the place” and arrest the entire party. A number of the officers inside (possibly including Tobin and Dalton) had escaped across rooftops.  When the government troops went upstairs (under Colonel McNeill), there was a stand-off but 11 Old IRA officers eventually surrendered (some were on the roof).  Seven revolvers, one automatic weapon and fifty rounds of ammunition were confiscated.  At some point during the raid, McGrath arrived and vigorously protested the army’s action arguing that it was not authorised by the government.  The officer commanding informed him that his instructions were to arrest the entire party.  In his report, the officer commanding said that McGrath was “under the influence of drink”.  After the arrests, “Mr Joseph McGrath … asked permission to stand the prisoners a drink – permission was not refused in the circumstances”.  O’Higgins reported to the Dáil to the next day that the following officers were arrested:  Cols. James Slattery, Chris O'Malley, Frank. Thornton, Commdts. Pat McCrea, Joseph Shanahan, ex-Commdt. Leahy, Commdt. Joe Dolan, Bob Halpin, Patrick Griffin, Charles Byrne, A.D.C. to the President; Lieut. Michael Collins.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 71-73; Dáil Debates VI (19th Mar 1924), col. 2221

Mar-19

The Executive Council met and discussed the activities of the previous evening.  (Cosgrave was ill and not present.)   Despite arguments from Mulcahy that the Army had acted in accordance with the Defense Forces Act, the Council decided to ask for the resignations of the Chief-of-Staff, Adjutant General and Quarter Master General and to advise the President of Council that Mulcahy be removed as Minister of Defence and O’Duffy be placed in charge of the Army.  Mulcahy had left the cabinet meeting but, on hearing the cabinet’s advice to the President, resigned his post.  Adjutant General O’Sullivan and QM General O’Muirthuile resigned their administrative posts and commissions and, after some time, so also did Chief of Staff MacMahon (who was in Cork at the time).   

O’Higgins later in the day went to the Dáil and said that the Parnell St raid deviated from government policy and had been carried out without the authority of General O’Duffy who it had appointed to handle the crisis.  He also said that the army was racked by secret societies and that it was “not unquestionably, unequivocally, without reserve, simple the instrument of the people’s will”.  He also said that that a sense of proprietorship had developed among members of the army council and that the “certain high Army Officers” whose resignation had been demanded by the government were “not the personnel to deal with a mutinous revolt.”  (He also named the three members of the cabinet inquiry into the army as Professor Eoin Mac Neill, T.D., Minister for Education (Chairman); Mr. James Creed Meredith, K.C. and Mr. P. McGilligan, T.D.) 

Mulcahy denied that the Army is not the obedient servant of the State; says he did not consult O’Duffy as his position had not been formalised and that the raid had been carried out in accordance with law and the military discipline.  He also said that he had resigned because he could not “stand over condoning mutiny”. 

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 74-80; Dáil Debates VI (19th Mar 1924), col. 2204-2233;

Mar-20

O’Higgins announces to the Dáil that Colonel Hugo MacNeil is to be acting Adjutant-General and Colonel Felix Cronin is to be acting Quartermaster-General.  Also that Cosgrave (still absent through illness) is to take over as Minister of Defence.

 

Dáil Debates VI (20th Mar 1924), col. 2242

Mar-21

Men arrested in Parnell St raid on 18th are released after agreeing to terms set out on 18th March.  Over the coming period, many of them (and others involved in the Old IRA) resign.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 80-82

Mar-23

In an article in the The People newspaper, Cahir Healy warned the British public that, in the light of the Army Mutiny, civil war could break out again in Ireland “Unless something is done very soon about the Irish Boundary Commission”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 301

Mar-25

Around this date the committee to investigate the army was set up with the following members: J Creed Meredith (Chair); Gerald Fitzgibbon; P. McGilligan; DJ Gorey and Major Bryan Cooper.  [The last three represented Cumann na nGaedheal; the Farmers Party and the Independents.  The Labour Party did not nominate anyone as they wanted the committee to be a committee of the Dáil rather than a departmental committee appointed by the Executive Council.  The terms of reference of the committee were ‘to enquire into the facts and matters which have caused and led up to the indiscipline and mutinous and insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the Army’.  [These were expanded later.]  Committee had no power to subpoena, or examine witnesses under oath.  Also the hearings were closed and transcripts would not be published.  Despite protests Mulcahy, O’Muirthuile, O’Sullivan and MacMahon agreed to attend but McGrath, Tobin, Dalton, etc refused to attend.  The committee held 41 meetings and interviewed 27 witnesses.

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 85-87

 

 

 

Apr-02

Cosgrave announces in the Dáil that Patrick McGilligan is to take over (from McGrath) as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

 

Dáil Debates VI (2nd Apr 1924), col. 2748;

Apr-24

Boundary conference reconvenes in London but finally collapses.  Cosgrave is subsequently pessimistic of negotiations achieving anything.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 299

Apr-26

Following collapse of the Boundary conference, the Free State government requests the British government to take immediate steps to constitute the Boundary Commission.  When Craig continues to refuse to appoint a Commissioner, the British refer the matter to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 302

 

 

 

May-01

Lord Birkenhead, former Lord Chancellor and Treaty signatory, urges Craig to appoint a representative to the Boundary Commission on the basis that the Treaty article governing the boundary issue (Article 12) only implied “a re-adjustment of boundaries”. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 302

May-07

O’Higgins writes to Cosgrave saying that the alleged ambiguity on Article 12 should be cleared up before the Boundary Commission sat as it “cannot be left to the tender mercies of the British nominee of the Commission”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 303

May-10

Cosgrave writes back to O’Higgins saying that he felt that he could not object to the chairman interpreting Article 12.  He also said that Lionel Curtis had informed him that the British government could not interpret an article to which they were but one of two parties.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 303

 

 

 

June-05

British announce Mr Justice Richard Feetham, of the South African Supreme Court as chairman of the Boundary Commission.  At the beginning of July, Feetham takes a tour of the border areas and asks for clarification on two issues (unanimity in the Commission and power to order plebiscites) from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

 

Phoenix (1994), pgs 303-304

June-17

Report of the Army Inquiry Committee published.  Overall, it was favourable to Mulcahy and the army leaders and said that the Old IRA was a mutinous organisation bent on using the army for political purposes. However, they also criticised Mulcahy and the army leaders for reviving the IRB within the army at the end of 1922 and beginning of 1923 saying that it was a disastrous error of judgement..  There was a separate report by the committee chair – Meredith – which was very critical of Mulcahy’s handling of the Old IRA.  This report was not published.  Valiulis comments that “The army mutiny of 1924 was the final echo of the civil war, the last vestige of the Volunteer mentality of an independent, political army”. 

 

Valiulis (1985), pgs 85-87 and pg 82

June-26

Mulcahy introduces, what is essentially, a censure motion in the Dáil that it was contrary to the best interests of the state and ill-considered of the Executive and to have removed the army council.  The Labour Party abstained and the motion is defeated.

 

Valiulis (1985), pg 112

 

 

 

July-31

Judicial Committee says that majority would rule on the Boundary Commission and that it did not have power to order plebiscites.  Also, authorises British Government to appoint a Northern Ireland representative to the Boundary Commission.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 304

 

 

 

Aug-14

Nationalist MP for Armagh Nugent is reported (privately) to be of the view that it would be prejudicial to the Catholics of Northern Ireland that their minority status be made more hopeless by the exclusion of Fermanagh and Tyrone and suggesting that the six counties should be left as they are in return for concessions from Craig.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Aug-16

Writing in The Weekly Westminster, Cahir Healy emphasised the Collins-Griffith view that “clause 12 was inserted [in the Treaty] in order that the “will of the people” might be the determining factor in any arrangement arrived at.  There was to be no coercion of Ulster, and, equally it was recognised that if Ulster claimed the privilege of non-coercion of herself as a whole, she could not at the same time seek to hold against their will the large nationalist minority, who constituted majorities in her border counties”.   This was part of the on-going debate on the scope of Article 12.   

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 305

 

 

 

Sept-08

Lord Balfour publishes letter sent to him on 3rd March 1922 by Birkenhead regarding the interpretation of Clause 12.  The letter argued in favour of  a limited interpretation i.e. that the clause only implied limited changes to the borders of Northern Ireland (‘rectification’) as opposed to the view of Collins that large transfers of territories were implied.  Birkenhead said that “The real truth is that Collins … in a moment of excitement committed himself unguardedly to this doctrine and that it has no foundation whatever except in his overheated imagination.”  This view was endorsed by Llyod George on the 10th September.

Phoenix (1994), pgs 306-307

Mid-Sept

In private, Feetham raises with the Colonial Office the idea of legislation to permit a plebiscite to be taken but this is refused by the Colonial Office.

Phoenix (1994), pg 307

 

 

 

Oct-02

In a speech, Austen Chamberlain claims that the boundary issue had been left to the Commission “under a form of words which was deliberately adopted to exclude a dismemberment of Northern Ireland as would be created by cutting out whole counties or large slices of counties”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 307

Oct-08

The Executive Council decide that a demand should be made that a plebiscite in all Poor Law unions which showed a Catholic majority in 1911.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 307

Oct-08

MacDonald’s government falls at Westminster.  New election called.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Oct-11

De Valera announces that abstentionist Republican candidates would be run in all NI constituencies. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Oct-16

A convention in Omagh calls on all pro-Treaty nationalists in NI to abstain from voting the forthcoming Westminster elections and demanded a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the inhabitants on the border.  At the subsequent elections, no nationalists are returned.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 309

Oct-23

After the passing of the enabling legislation in Westminster in early October, the British Government appointed Joseph R Fisher to be the Northern Ireland representative on the Boundary Commission.  Fisher was a former editor of the Northern Whig Even though Craig had refused to nominate a NI representative to the Boundary Commission in public, it would seem that he was allowed to nominate a representative in private.  Also, even though Fisher agreed (along with his two colleagues on the Commission) to maintain secrecy, it would seem that he kept Craig informed.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 308

Oct-25

De Valera arrested in Derry and imprisoned for one month for breaching an exclusion order.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 309.

 

 

 

Early-Nov

Boundary Commission holds first formal meetings.

Phoenix (1994), pg 310

 

 

 

Dec-01

Executive Council decides to push for a plebiscite in border areas based on the Poor Law Union. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 310

Dec-05

At a meeting in London with the Free State counsel, Feetham ruled out any alteration to the NI border that would lead it not to viable as a unit and also argued that the Anglo-Irish Treaty gave the Commission no powers to take a plebiscite saying “If the Article did intend that, it stopped very far short of what was really necessary”.

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 311

Dec-22

The members of the Boundary Commission finish a tour of the border area.  They went to Armagh, Newry, Fermanagh and Derry meeting various delegations on the way (but some refused to meet them).  The Commission requested written submissions by January. 

 

Phoenix (1994), pg 311

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