Further movement to Civil War. An IRA convention is held in the Mansion House in defiance of a 15th March Dáil Éireann decree, despite the Dáil prohibiting it. Richard Mulcahy, the new Minister of Defence having succeeded the anti-Treaty Cathal Brugha, promised that the IRA would remain loyal to the government. However, the army had never been in control of the civil authorities, and certainly no longer felt bound by the decisions of a government that swore allegiance to the English crown.
Rory O’Connor days earlier had indicated open defiance against President Arthur Griffith. At this convention with between 220 and 223 delegates present, a resolution was passed saying that the IRA ‘shall be maintained as the Army of the Irish Republic under an Executive appointed by the Convention’. An Executive of 16 members was elected headed by Liam Lynch, including Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Ernie O’Malley. Ireland was moving to a horribly divisive civil war between compatriots and friends who had fought the British for many years.
Throughout the countryside, as British soldiers evacuated their army posts in concurrence with the terms of the Treaty, IRA brigades moved in to replace them. But these groups were not necessarily pro-Treatyites. This led to the ambiguous situation of anti-Treaty IRA men holding military and police strong posts in the provinces. In February, an anti-Treaty Tipperary IRA brigade raided a barracks in Clonmel which had been evacuated by British troops, and seized more than 300 rifles, 200,000 rounds of ammunition, two armoured cars, two armoured Lancia cars, ten ordinary Lancia cars and Crossley tenders and two others cars as well as seven machine-guns and hundreds of boxes of bombs.10 The fact that factions of the IRA, who repudiated both the Dáil and the Treaty, had gained weapons through such raids was a huge worry to the government.
Photo: From right: Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith, and an unidentified National Army officer, 1922 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)