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Heroes or Traitors?Experiences of Southern Irish Soldiers Returning from the Great War 1919-1939$
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Paul Taylor

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381618

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381618.001.0001

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date: 20 July 2018

Were Ex-Servicemen Targeted?

Were Ex-Servicemen Targeted?

(p.75) 2 Were Ex-Servicemen Targeted?
Heroes or Traitors?

Paul Taylor

Liverpool University Press

The violence towards ex-servicemen varied in intensity in correlation to the level of violence experienced by other segments of the population, indicating they were not disproportionately targeted as a group. Due to the concentration of violence in parts of Munster and Dublin, there were significant swathes of the country that were relatively peaceful. Support for extreme nationalism was limited by geography and generation, and decreased over time. There are several reasons to question the proposition that ex-servicemen were specifically victimised. As a class they could not be defined as ‘loyalist’ any more than the general population could be defined as ‘republican’. Many joined the IRA. It would be ironic if they had persecuted fellow ex-servicemen only for serving in the same army that they did. That suspected spies were given warnings or left alone because of insufficient evidence, contradicts the proposition that ex-servicemen were executed simply for their war service. If the IRA wished to make a statement that they were targeting ex-servicemen then it would have sought to assassinate higher profile ex-officers. Most victims were of low status and from the same community background as the IRA; they were suspected of being informants, their local knowledge making them a dangerous threat.

Keywords:   violence, Munster, Dublin, extreme nationalism, loyalist, IRA, spies, ex servicemen

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