On the morning of 15th May, 1922, over 1,000 recruits of the newly established Civic Guard suddenly broke ranks during Commissioner Michael Staines' TD address at Morning Parade in the training depot at Kildare Barracks.
The recruits immediately set about raiding the armoury while Staines and his senior officers withdrew under armed protection and evacuated the barracks much to the annoyance of Michael Collins, the Chairman of the fledgling Provisional Government. For almost seven weeks, Collins and the mutineers struggled to reconcile their differences in the midst of the Irish Civil War. Both sides were unaware that their efforts to resolve the dispute were thwarted by a group of anti-Treaty Civic Guards intent on destroying the new force.
This book investigates the reasons why the earliest recruits of the Civic Guard took up arms against their own masters and brought about a significant security risk that had direct implications for both the civil war and the future structure of its successor, An Garda Síochána.
To date, the events surrounding the Civic Guard Mutiny of 1922 have remained one of Irelands best-kept historical secrets. Despite the presence of the relevant files in the National Archives of Ireland, the mutiny has largely been overlooked or hastily summarised in publications devoted to the history of Irish policing, regardless of the direct involvement of many senior Irish political figures. Indeed, the events of the mutiny have been neglected by historical commentators to such an extent that in the 1960s one veteran of the dispute wrote a series of short articles about the mutiny entitled Smothered History.
To appreciate the complexities of the mutiny, an understanding of the historical background of Irish policing is necessary. My primary focus here concerns the decision of the Provisional Government to establish a new police force modelled on the disbanded and world-renowned Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), which has been the target of republican attacks in the War of Independence between 1919 and 1921. The transition of police power from the RIC to the Civic Guard is identified as the moment that the Provisional Government failed to take decisive action to avert an imminent mutiny. This book examines the actual events of the mutiny, but a significant part of it is also concerned with the repercussions for the force. The assessment of the aftermath of the mutiny is helped by the reports from the official enquiry into the dispute, which provided a series of recommendations for the future of Irish policing that have been preserved and embraced by An Garda Síochána.