‘Neutrality is not like a simple mathematical formula which has only to be announced and demonstrated in order to be believed and respected. It has in fact always been one of the difficult problems …. Instead of earning the respect and goodwill of both belligerents it is regarded by both with hatred and contempt.’ –Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken was politically and militarily active from a young age, joining the Irish Volunteers at sixteen, and within a few years becoming Chairman of the Armagh Comhairle Ceanntair of Sinn Féin and elected on to the Armagh County Council. During the War of Independence, he commanded the Fourth Northern Division of the IRA. The split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty left Aiken ultimately aligned with the Anti-Treaty side in spite of personal efforts to prevent division and civil war. He succeeded Liam Lynch as Chief of Staff of the IRA in March 1923 and issued the cease-fire and dump arms orders on 24 May 1923 that effectively ended the Civil War.