Calls to boycott the January 17 State commemoration of the RIC have concentrated on the integral role of Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries, recruited mainly from England. Black and Tan recruits began deploying after March 1920, the British officer-based Auxiliary Division some months later.
Before this, on the evening of March 19, 1920, a disguised RIC force invaded the home of Cork Lord Mayor Tomás Mac Curtain. They shot him dead at the door of his bedroom. A coroner’s jury found that “the murder was organised and carried out by the RIC officially directed by the British government”.
Three RIC officers were named, including District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who was promptly relocated to Lisburn. Soon afterwards, juries in Tipperary and in Dundalk found the RIC responsible for similar killings, the Dundalk jury naming the RIC shooter. As a consequence civilian inquests were suppressed, replaced by military courts of inquiry.
Michael Collins as IRA director of intelligence ordered that Swanzy be killed for his part in MacCurtain’s assassination. On August 22, 1920, Cork IRA volunteers shot Swanzy dead, using Mac Curtain’s personal handgun.
Immediately afterwards loyalist mobs burned-out Catholic-owned businesses and homes in Lisburn, an activity that spread to Dromore and Banbridge. According to Brendan O’Leary’s Treatise on Northern Ireland, 1,000 fled Lisburn and walked to Belfast. There, a full-scale anti-Catholic pogrom was in train.
The Minister for Justice, Mr Flanagan, said last September that RIC officers were “murdered” in the line of duty. He should be asked, in the case of Tomás Mac Curtain and Oswald Swanzy who was murdered?