Second Letter from Tobin & Dalton

Introduction from Chronology

Executive Council (Free State cabinet) meets and decides to take a lenient position towards the Old IRA officers following a second letter from Tobin and Dalton (see More Detail 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 March 12th).

More Detail

Tobin and Dalton say in their second letter that their letter of “the 6th March was sent you with the sole object of exposing to the Government and the representatives of the people what we consider to be a serious menace to the proper administration of the Army”. 

They go on to state that the army “must be subject to the absolute control of the Civil Authority, and further, that the Army should not have within its ranks any sections or organisations tending to sap allegiance from the only and proper constitutional authority, viz., the Government of the people, which we fully recognise. We are satisfied that we have brought the matter sufficiently before the people, and will consider our object achieved if as a result of our action the Army situation is righted.” 

With this letter, the attitude of the Executive Council towards the mutiny would seem to have changed completely.  O’Higgins put it like this to the Dail: “if the document [letter of 6th March] were taken at its face value it would be simply the Four Courts situation over again. It was represented to us that it need not be taken, and ought not to be taken, at its face value. It was represented to us that certain members of the Army had reacted away from the military authorities, had reacted away from the Staff, by reason of the abuses, irregularities and so on, within the Army. That is something which calls for an inquiry, a most searching inquiry. We were told that these men, while they might have written a foolish, an almost criminally foolish document, were not really taking up the position of challenging the fundamental right of the people to decide political issues here”.  O’Higgins went on to say that “It is all opportunism, if you wish, but in the handling of national affairs, and in the handling of very delicate situations, there must needs be opportunism”. 

It would appear that McGrath met with Tobin and Dalton earlier in the day and (according to the latter) they agreed that (a) there would be a Committee of Enquiry into the administration of the army; (b) all men with active service records would be made members of the Army as long as Army estimates did not exceed four million pounds and (c) All officers and men would return to their posts with any arms removed and there would be no victimisation.

Army Chief-of-Staff informs GOC Dublin Command that “all raiding is to cease as from 9.00pm today”.