#OTD in 1922 – The IRA kidnaps more than forty loyalist activists and ‘B’ Specials.

In mid-January 1922 the Monaghan football team was arrested in the North on their way to play Derry in the final of the Ulster Championship. On 7 February the IRA responded by kidnapping forty-two prominent loyalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and held them as hostages. A party of eighteen armed B-Specials, when travelling by train to Enniskillen, were stopped at Clones railway station in Co Monaghan by an IRA group. The B-Specials reacted immediately by shooting Commander Fitzpatrick. His colleagues retaliated by fatally shooting four Specials and arresting the survivors. Trouble in the North was at boiling point and in the three days after the Clones incident thirty people were murdered in Belfast.

Pressure from Churchill and Chamberlain on Craig and Collins helped to secure the release of the Monaghan footballers and the Fermanagh/Tyrone loyalists but for some time the British suspended the evacuation of troops from Ireland.

Collins and Craig had further discussions in Dublin in early February but the meeting broke down over the question of the boundary revision. Craig informed reporters that he had the assurance of the British Government that the Boundary Commission would make only slight changes. He complained that the maps which Collins produced led him (Craig) to the assumption that Collins had already been promised almost half of Northern Ireland. Craig would agree to minor changes but if North and South failed to agree, there would be no change at all. Collins issued a statement which refused to admit any ambiguity and said that majorities must rule.

The British and the Provisional Government finally agreed that an Irish Free State Agreement Bill would legalise the Treaty and the transfer of power to the Provisional Government and would authorise the election of a Provisional Parliament to enact the Free State Constitution. Final ratification of the Treaty would be deferred until the British confirmed the Free State Constitution; only then would Northern Ireland be allowed to exclude itself formally from the Free State.

Photo: Colour image of the IRA patrolling Grafton Streets Dublin, during the Irish Civil War in 1922

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