Anti-Briscoe bias was motivated by republicans’ anti-semitism

The latest pension records from the Irish Military Archives show that Robert Briscoe’s application for a State pension, for IRA service in the War of Independence, was resisted by fellow republicans.

There was a long-term campaign to undermine his contribution to Ireland’s revolutionary struggle. This was based on an accusation that he had financially profited from his role as Liam Mellows’ personally appointed senior IRA arms procurer.

This rumour was reinforced by an official investigation by Frank Aiken, in 1926, at the behest of Seán Lemass. Although the investigation found no substance to the allegations, suspicion followed Briscoe through his four decades as a Fianna Fáil TD. Scholarly historical accounts repeated the accusations, often without mentioning there was no substance to them. However, my research in Israel and Britain has established that the anti-Briscoe effort was motivated by prejudice against his Judaism.

The personalised nature of this campaign is reinforced by his relationship with Eamon de Valera (this is the subject of a forthcoming article in Irish Studies in International Affairs, November).

De Valera trusted Briscoe implicitly, which would have been impossible if Briscoe was guilty of profiteering. De Valera entrusted Briscoe with highly sensitive, secret political endeavours.

Perhaps this newly available information will put an end to almost a century of suspicion.

Dr Kevin McCarthy

Sean Hales Terrace


Co Cork

More in this section

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

  • 15
  • 20
  • 25
  • 32
  • 44
  • 47
  • 40

Full Lotto draw results »