New Powers - Aug 1920

New Powers - Aug 1920

In August 1920 the British Government introduced the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act in an effort to gain control amid the growing lawlessness which prevailed across the country.

These new powers gave the military more authority with respect to arrests and raids, which duly increased as the month unfolded. In many instances, the military and police acted beyond the law and increased their intimidation of the civilian population. However, it had little effect and the IRA attacks on RIC and military patrols continued resulting in the deaths of more than six constables while several others were severely wounded.

By August 1920 most RIC barracks throughout the country had been attacked or raided for arms. Many lay a smouldering heap of ruins and abandoned by the police. The destruction of the barracks, particularly in rural areas allowed the IRA to roam with impunity and control vast swathes of the countryside. The police had also endured repeated attacks as they went on patrol, and by the summer of 1920 they were also targeted coming from mass and other social gatherings. Members of the RIC were also ostracised from the local community, shunned for local shops or from partaking in other ways in the community, which they had enjoyed prior to the War of Independence. In August several RIC fearful for their lives and perhaps fed up with the constant harassment resigned their posts. Surviving an IRA attack, Constable O’Reilly resigned his post in Killorglin, county Kerry, as did Constable Reddington, a veteran of the First World War. Several others in Killorglin did likewise. In troubled Bandon, Waterford native John Aherne also resigned his post fearing for his safety, while in Charleville in the same county Constable Flannery did likewise. These were just a few examples of many RIC men who quit their posts as the War lingered on. In September George Morley, an RIC constable based in county Offaly committed suicide so difficult had his situation become.


Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 05.08.1920, page 5

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