#OTD in 1923 – Frank Aiken orders the Anti-Treaty fighters to “dump their arms” and return home.

After General Liam Lynch was shot by Free State soldiers in the Knockmealdown Mountains and died later that evening in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. Many historians see his death as the effective end of the Civil War, as the new IRA chief of staff Frank Aiken declared a ceasefire on 30 April and on 24 May ordered IRA Volunteers to dump their arms and return to their homes. Coincidentally the Good Friday Agreement was signed on the 75th anniversary of Liam Lynch’s death.

Éamon de Valera supported the order, issuing a statement to Anti-Treaty fighters; “Further sacrifice on your part would now be in vain and the continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic”. End of the war.

Thousands of anti-treaty IRA members (including de Valera on 15 August) were arrested by Free State forces in the weeks and months after the end of the war, when they had dumped their arms and returned home.

Failure to end the war conclusively – either by military means or negotiation – meant that the Anti-Treaty IRA and its successors never fully accepted the 1922 Treaty settlement. This factor contributed to further campaigns by the IRA in the 1940s, 50s and later in the Troubles in the north.

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