1972 – Éamon Broy, agent for Michael Collins, and later Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, passes away.

Colonel Eamon Broy (or Edward Broy, often called Ned Broy) (1887-1972) was successively a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, the Irish Republican Army, the Irish Army, and the Garda Síochána of the Irish Free State. He served as Commissioner of Gardaí from February 1933 to June 1938.

During the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), Broy was a double agent within the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), with the rank of Detective Sergeant (DS). He worked as a clerk inside G Division, the intelligence branch of the DMP. While there he copied sensitive files for IRA leader Michael Collins. On 7 April 1919, Broy smuggled Collins into G Division’s archives in Brunswick Street, enabling him to identify “G-Men”, six of whom would be killed by the IRA. Broy supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and joined the Irish Army during the Irish Civil War, reaching the rank of Colonel. In 1925, he left the Army and joined the Garda.

Broy’s elevation to the post of Commissioner came when Fianna Fáil replaced Cumann na nGaedhael as the Government. Other more senior officers were passed over as being too sympathetic to the outgoing party. In 1934 Broy oversaw the creation of the “The Auxiliary Special Branch” of the Garda. This was formed mainly of hastily-trained anti-Treaty IRA vet-erans. It was nicknamed the “Broy Harriers” by Broy’s opponents; a pun on the Bray Harriers athletics club. It was used first against the quasi-Fascist Blueshirts, and later against the diehard holdouts of the IRA, now set against former comrades. The “Broy Harriers” nickname persisted into the 1940s, though Broy himself was no longer in command, and for the bodies targeted by the unit was a highly-abusive term, still applied by radical Irish republicans to the Garda Special Branch (now renamed the Special Detective Unit).The Broy Harriers engaged in several controversial shootings, which resulted in death. They shot dead a protesting farmer called Lynch in Cork. They were detested by sections of the farming community.

Broy was President of the Olympic Council of Ireland from 1935 to 1950.

Film fictionalisation:

Neil Jordan’s film Michael Collins (1996) inaccurately depicts Broy (played by actor Stephen Rea) as having been discovered, tortured and killed by the British. In addition, G Division was based not in Dublin Castle, as indicated in the film, but in Great Brunswick Street. Collins had a different agent in the Castle, David Neligan.


Photo: Ned Broy one of Michael Collins ‘G’ men in the ‘Castle’ photographed drawing a ticket for the Irish Hospitals Trust sweepstake.c.1940’s. Ned Broy supported deValera after the Treaty and became Garda Commissioner on the dismissal by deValera of Eoin O’Duffy from that position in 1933.


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