In response to the executions, on 30 November, Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Anti-Treaty IRA, ordered that any member of Parliament (TD) or senator who had signed or voted for the ‘murder bill’ should be shot on sight. He also ordered the killing of hostile judges and newspaper editors. On the same day, three more Republican prisoners were executed in Dublin.
On 7 December, Anti-Treaty IRA gunmen shot two TDs, Sean Hales and Pádraic Ó Máille, in Dublin as they were on their way to the Dáil. Hales was killed and O’Máille was badly wounded. It is said that Sean Hales was shot by the British Secret Service because he was pressuring the Provisional Government into holding an inquiry into Michael Collins’ death, as he did not accept Emmet Daltons version, however, he was, in fact, shot by the IRA. After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Free State government decided on the retaliatory executions of four prominent Republicans (one from each province). Accordingly, on 8 December 1922, the day after Hales’ killing, four members of the IRA Army Executive, who had been in jail since the first week of the war: Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett and Joe McKelvey, were executed in revenge. O’Connor and Mellows particularly were revered heroes of the War of Independence. This was arguably an unlawful act, as the four Republicans had been captured before the Dáil passed the legislation authorising executions. Later on the same day the Dáil debated the executions and retrospectively approved them by a vote of 39-14.
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