Collins: Would he be a member of Fianna Fail

cain1798

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2003
Messages
418
What rot.

Neil Jordan has a lot to answer for. Lash an admittedly enjoyable film together, ignore some basic historical facts, make Kitty Kiernan much better looking than she ever was and there you have Michael Collins, hero of the Irish people.

The bitter truth is that after an exemplary career as an IRA officer during the Tan War, Collins left the Army to command the Free State forces following the split in the Army which saw the bulk of Army rank and file, including most of the best local commanders and the entire left wing of the Movement, take a principled stand for the Irish Republic of 1916.

Recruiting a Free State army made up of some pro-Treaty IRA, former members of the security forces, and ‘ceasefire soldiers’, Collins led this country into Civil War. While De Valera’s bloodthirsty rhetoric did little to calm things down, it was at the Four Courts of Dublin that the first shots of the Civil War were fired on the orders of Michael Collins.

Referring to the destruction of Dublin caused by Free State artillery Winston Churchill gloated to the House of Commons “They (Collins & Co.) have not even hesitated, in order to stamp out resistance to the Treaty, to invade by force of arms, and to destroy as a result of their assault even their own property, worth millions of pounds.”

Lord Birkenhead told the House of Lords following the outbreak of Civil War that, “…I rejoice that this task, painful, costly, bloody as it must ultimately prove, is being undertaken by those to whom it properly falls.” He went on to say, as republicans were slaughtered by their own countrymen to appease British politicians that “…at this moment the situation is more hopeful than it has been at any moment since this Treaty was come to.” Oh joy.

Of course the British, generous to a fault, didn’t let the burden of killing republicans fall solely on the Free State. They supplied the artillery to attack the Four Courts. They even provided a British officer to command the battery so that the first shots of the Civil War were fired by Irishmen, at Irishmen, under the command of a British officer. Jolly good show chaps.

Before the Civil War, the first shots of which were fired on Collins’ orders, was to end the Free State would execute 77 Irish republicans, three times as many as the British during the Tan War, including some, like Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellowes who were murdered without trial. And apart from the executions, more were to die, in large massacres such as at Ballyseedy or dieing alone, surrounded and terrified, in quiet country fields and roads at the hands of Free State death squads.

Apologists for Collins argue that these took place after his death. Admittedly so, but they were the natural outcome of a Civil War he started, and many of the atrocities in Kerry particularly carried out by his cabal of Dublin officers and members of The Squad. Michael Collins was a ruthless man; the notion that he would be less ruthless in a Civil War than during the Tan War is romantic illusion.

Three key arguments are typically advanced by Collins apologists. The first is the theory that if you hate Collins, you must be a De Valera fan. This is nonsense, reducing Irish politics to a personality clash and ignoring the republican movement, which was betrayed and assaulted by both Collins and De Valera at different times. Secondly, the suggestion is that if Collins had lived, things would have been different. No explanation is ever offered for this theory and we must judge a man on what he did, not on what we might like to think he would have done. Lastly, the point is made that Collins supplied guns to Northern IRA units after the Treaty was signed, proof they claim of his intent to unite Ireland. Or proof of a desire to keep the Northern divisions neutral during the Civil War?

Lastly, whenever I see a debate like this I am reminded of a story Christy Moore tells that goes something like this: "I was doing a gig in Cork and after it was over I was sitting having a pint and I heard some youth members of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael having a heated debate over which of them Michael Collins would have been a member of. During the 80s there was mass unemployment, mass immigration, erosion of civil liberties, abject poverty, urban and rural deprivation and this is the issue they were getting so hot and bothered about. Such absolute gobshites I decided that day they were both as bad as the other.'

Amen.
 


Rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
8,601
I mean that the 1916 Rising obviously ignored the majority will of the electorate and although Sinn Fein had no involvement in it, its surviving leaders went on to become the leaders of Sinn Fein after their release/escape. Sinn Fein won, I believe, 47% of the vote in November 1918, whereas the IPP won 22% and Unionists won 28% (though SF won 73 of 124 seats due to 'first past the post').
I learned sometime quite interesting about this in a history lecture recently. In the 1918 general election the Home Rule party did not contest 25 different areas. In these areas the Sinn Fein candidate was then elected unopposed and there was no election and so no one voted. The only reason the Home Rule party did not contest these areas was because they knew they had no hope of victory. Hence if they had contested these areas the Sinn Fein's vote would have been higher and hence the majority of people in Ireland supported SF.
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
Cain, by that rationale if the RIRA went into the Four Courts with rifles, sealed it off, and declared their allegiance to the true government of the Republic (them), and the Army Ranger Wing or Garda ERU were used to re-take the building and arrest them, the 'Ahern Government' would be "starting a civil war" because it had "fired the first shots".

The reason the Free State forces shelled the Four Courts, is because they believed that if they simply walked into the building and arrested the men inside, they would have been fired upon. It was a very reasonable belief to have.

Why did they feel the need to arrest the men at all? Because the courts of justice cannot be occupied by non-governmental armed groups in a democracy - groups who were carrying out a wave of robberies across the state.
 

CJH

Active member
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
214
Lastly, whenever I see a debate like this I am reminded of a story Christy Moore tells that goes something like this: "I was doing a gig in Cork and after it was over I was sitting having a pint and I heard some youth members of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael having a heated debate over which of them Michael Collins would have been a member of. During the 80s there was mass unemployment, mass immigration, erosion of civil liberties, abject poverty, urban and rural deprivation and this is the issue they were getting so hot and bothered about. Such absolute gobshites I decided that day they were both as bad as the other.'
I agree with much of Cain wrote about Collins, but I simply can't let this one go without reply. Maybe Cain we be so good to remind us what SF and the IRA's contribution was during the 80s to ending "mass unemployment, mass immigration, erosion of civil liberties (ha), abject poverty blah blah blah"? It was, eventually, FF, and to a lesser extent, FG, who sorted these problems out. SF/IRA were more interested in blowing up Protestants.
 

Rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
8,601
Cian that is complete bullshit. Michael Collins did not cause the Civil war. The irregulars did when they took over the four courts and began arming themselves all over the country. They also Murdered Henry Wilson and Kidnapped General O'Connell. Michael Collins had no choice, but to attack the four courts because if he didn't the British would have sent men into Ireland to do it. Collins went to extreme measures to prevent the civil war which included the Collins-De Valera pact.

Collins had to respond to the actions of the Irregulars or else the country would have fallen into complete anarchy or the British would have invaded the country
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
Collins went to extreme measures to prevent the civil war which included the Collins-De Valera pact.
which he broke right before the election

Kidnapped General O'Connell.
I believe he was kidnapped in response to an Irregular officer being arrested by the Free State government.

Michael Collins had no choice, but to attack the four courts because if he didn't the British would have sent men into Ireland to do it.
There were lots of British Army units still in the 26 counties in June 1922 (and lets not forget they were still in the Treaty Ports until 1938). We can only guess as to whether they would have been used to re-take the Four Courts. Personally I doubt it.

Collins had to respond to the actions of the Irregulars or else the country would have fallen into complete anarchy or the British would have invaded the country
The British were still there, and in the 6 counties, but I agree with you on the first point: the country was already in anarchy, and this would have only worsened until the Irregulars were made realise that one cannot break the law without suffering the consequences.
 

Rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
8,601
He rightly broke the Collins-de Valera pact because it was undemocratic and should never have existed in the first place. It would never have worked either. I was just using is as an example of how far he was willing to go.

There were lots of British Army units still in the 26 counties in June 1922 (and lets not forget they were still in the Treaty Ports until 1938). We can only guess as to whether they would have been used to re-take the Four Courts. Personally I doubt it.
Fair enough then all the British had to do was make their men active again and command them to deal with the irregulars. I believe they would have if Collins would not because of the outcry in England over the death of Henry Wilson.
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
I believe they would have if Collins would not because of the outcry in England over the death of Henry Wilson
Well wouldn't that have been preferable? If a battalion of British soldiers stormed the Four Courts, arrested the "suspected killers of Henry Wilson" (if that's what the British tabloids were claiming), then continued with their relocation to bases in Britain? Surely that would have been better than ex-IRA men fighting each other?
 

Rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
8,601
badinage said:
I believe they would have if Collins would not because of the outcry in England over the death of Henry Wilson
Well wouldn't that have been preferable? If a battalion of British soldiers stormed the Four Courts, arrested the "suspected killers of Henry Wilson" (if that's what the British tabloids were claiming), then continued with their relocation to bases in Britain? Surely that would have been better than ex-IRA men fighting each other?
Who's to say they wouldn't have gone farther. They may have then, since they were already involved, to destroy the irregulars all over the country and then maybe they would have decided to stay until all violence was over just in case and how long could that have lasted for. The British public and government might have begun to think that the Irish can't handle there own problems and a British force should stay their forever. It also would not have looked good Collins if he was seen as having the British do his dirty work for him.
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
better than if the British were seen as having Collins do their dirty work for them?

I suppose even if the British had taken it upon themselves to crush the Irregulars, then left, we'd have had a civil war eventually. Virtually all nations who are formed by violence (a war of independence) have a civil war.
 

Collinsite

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2003
Messages
44
badinage seems to suggest that it would have been better if Collins had dithered over the taking of the fourcourts and the proclomations made by O'Connor and that things would be rosier if the British had come back.If their soldiers had returned to the 26 counties they'd never have left and what Government would be negotiating with them today?Certainly not a Government of a free republic

Collins ,for all his faults,always stood by the will of the Irish people.No film or no hatchet historian can change that historical fact.It broke his heart that civil war broke out ,but like a true leader he eventually made the difficult decision and stook to his principles.Thanks to him we have crossed many of his 'stepping stones'.

As CJH said,such debates as this one are utterly pointless.Anything relating to what Mick Collins may or may not have done after 22 August 1922 will do nothing to aid history
 

Harpey

Active member
Joined
Dec 1, 2004
Messages
100
I believe that had collins lived there would have been little reason for this thread, as he would most likely have not allowed an electoral division of the movement, and the formation of CnaG/FG and FF. i like to think that he would have worked for unity amongst those he fought for and beside. It is putty in our hands now however to claim and remodel any historical figure. Quite simply there are precious few people to tell us whether of what type of a fellow he was and if he indeed was up for constitutional politics at all as the case may have been.
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
If they returned to the 26 counties they'd never leave and what Government would be negotiating with them today?
Do you have any evidence of any kind for making that statemtent, or did you just make it up? Considering the British no longer claim any territory where the majority of people do not want them there, it seems ridiculous to suggest they wouldn't have granted the 26 counties Dominion status (which would allow us to declare independence ourselves) or full independence, in the 1960s at the latest.
 

Collinsite

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2003
Messages
44
I often have such doubts myself as to what party Collins belonged to.Such doubts are clarified though whenever I hear the older people talk of him.They always equate him with FG, saying he was on the Fine Gael side of the civil war etc.They would know the way of the world better than those of us who see words in a biography or pictures on a website.
 

Collinsite

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2003
Messages
44
Well perhaps,I disown that claim.It is however not without justification.We were the first to go against their will and acted as a catalyst for others to get dominion status.I think that a return of British troops at a time when our own 'army' were divided would have been a terrible turn of events at such a time of heightened emotion
 

badinage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
776
I think that a return of British troops at a time when our own 'army' were divided would have been a terrible turn of events at such a time of heightened emotion
As I said earlier: there was no "return". There were thousands of British troops on the island at the time: the Treaty had only been signed 6 months earlier. Where do you think Collins got his artillery from? As I understand it, Royal Artillery officers accompanied the deployment of the guns across from the Four Courts, and taught the Free State forces how to use them.

Even if the British had left the Free State by that stage: they had only retreated to the Treaty Ports. Yes I agree that it would have undermined the sovereignty of the Free State if British troops had dealt with the Irregulars before withdrawing to the Treaty Ports, and I think there would have been a civil war anyway, but I really don't think using British troops to shell the Four Courts instead of Free State troops would have been that big a deal.

It would have been an emotional blow to Collins and others who had spent several years fighting 'crown forces', but to the ordinary people of Ireland, who despised the Black n' Tans and the Auxies, but never especially disliked actual British Army soldiers, I think it would have been forgotten about within a few years.
 

rockofcashel

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 23, 2005
Messages
8,208
Website
www.sinnfein.ie
So are we all agreed.

Collins was a Shinner, and so far amongst all the posts, theres yet to be one decent rebuttal of the idea that he would probably be a Shinner today.

Actually let me be honest. I dont give a shite. What I do find funny though is the amount of different histories of Ireland that can be written in the space of two hours.

Also just on a certain point. For FG people. On the day that Gay Mitchell was elected, his doughter proudly wore a t shirt emblazoned with Collins picture.

How many honest FGers beleive that a man of the gun like Collins would have anything more than utter contempt for such a sorry excuse for a west brit even. I refuse to call him an Irishman. Or like I said before, what would Collins have made of the quintessential FGer of recent times, Mr Bruton.

personally from my own reading of the life and times of Mick Collins, he wouldn't have pissed on the abovementioned two men if they were on fire.

As for Brian Hayes, he'd probably have run for petrol
 

jmcc

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Messages
45,192
rockofcashel said:
personally from my own reading of the life and times of Mick Collins, he wouldn't have pissed on the abovementioned two men if they were on fire.

As for Brian Hayes, he'd probably have run for petrol
I'd expect Collins would have executed Mitchell, Bruton and Hayes as traitors. Had these people, and perhaps McDowell, been around at the time, they would have been informers at least and active collaborators at worst.

Regards...jmcc
 


New Threads

Most Replies

Top Bottom