Rory O’Connor holds what was to become an infamous press conference at the headquarters of the republican party (Cumann na Poblachta) in Suffolk Street, Dublin. He declares that the army is ‘in a dilemma, having the choice of supporting its oath to the Republic or still giving allegiance to the Dáil, which, it considers, has abandoned the Republic’. The contention of the army, he says, ‘is that the Dáil did a thing that it had no right to do.’ When asked if he would obey President Arthur Griffith, he said he would not as he had violated his oath. When asked if the army would forcibly prevent an election being held, O’Connor stated: ‘It will have the power to do so.’ He went on to say that “the holding of the Convention means that we repudiate the Dáil… We will set up an Executive which will issue orders to the IRA all over the country.’ In reply to the question on whether it can be taken that we are going to have a military dictatorship, O’Connor said: ‘You can take it that way if you like. ‘He also explained how the English did not give the Irish any help.
On 8 December 1922, along with three other republicans Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett and Joe McKelvey captured with the fall of the Four Courts, Rory O’Connor was executed by firing squad in reprisal for the anti-treaty IRA’s killing of Free State TD Sean Hales. The execution order was signed by Kevin O’Higgins. Less than a year earlier, O’Connor had been best man at his wedding. The killing remains as a symbol of the bitterness and division of the Civil War. O’Connor, one of 77 republicans executed by the Cumann na nGaedheal government of the Irish Free State, is seen as a martyr by the Republican movement in Ireland.
Photo: Rory O’Connor (left) with Constance Markievicz, June 1922.