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The IRA in Britain, 1919-1923'In the Heart of Enemy Lines'$
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Gerard Noonan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380260

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380260.001.0001

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Combating the ‘Sinn Fein Movement’ in Britain

Combating the ‘Sinn Fein Movement’ in Britain

The Response of the Authorities, 1919–1923

(p.263) Chapter 6 Combating the ‘Sinn Fein Movement’ in Britain
The IRA in Britain, 1919-1923

Gerard Noonan

Liverpool University Press

This chapter studies the reaction of the authorities to the threat posed by Irish republicanism in Britain, 1919–1923. The political situation in post-war Britain and the British Empire, the context which coloured the government's view of the republican movement, is sketched. Bolshevism was seen as particularly threatening. The means by which politicians and the police attempted to frustrate IRA gunrunning and violence during the war of independence are then examined. These are compared and contrasted with the tools their predecessors employed when wrestling with the Fenians in the 1860s and 1880s. Republicans’ experiences of the British criminal justice system – the courts and the prisons – are explored. The focus then shifts to the post-treaty and civil war periods, when the British authorities were helped by some of their former enemies in the IRA now ensconced in power in Dublin to frustrate republican activities. The author contends that the British government was slow to react to the republican threat during the war of independence and that the police found it difficult to tackle IRA violence. However, in the period following the passage of the treaty, the new Irish authorities worked reasonably well with their British counterparts to neutralize the republican menace.

Keywords:   Bolshevism, British Government, Criminal Justice, Police, Prisons, Violence

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