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Intimidation of journalists was common in 1920s Ireland

Gerry Adams got himself in hot water with journalists in the past week. 

Speaking at a fundraising function in York, Adams described how Michael Collins’ response to Independent Newspapers’ criticism of the fight for freedom was to “dispatch volunteers to the Independent’s offices” where “they held the editor at gunpoint and then dismantled and destroyed the entire printing machinery”.

The Chairman of Independent News & Media interpreted these remarks as a ‘veiled threat’ to free media in the country.

This controversy reminds us that similar acts of threat and intimidation were frequently carried out in the Cork region in the immediate aftermath of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on December 6, 1921.

Sean O’Hegarty, O/C First Cork Brigade, was passionately against the treaty in the aftermath of its signing. His brigade restricted public meetings, interfered with local newspapers and restricted the publishing of pro-treaty views. When the Times correspondent in the South reported that many of the Cork City IRA supported the treaty, O’Hegarty was furious and he dispatched a number of his volunteers to Dublin where they kidnapped the reporter and forced him to retract his story.

Similarly, when Professor O’Rahilly of the National University issued a pro-treaty pamphlet, O’Hegarty had the printing press and all of the copies destroyed. Justifying his actions, O’Hegarty wrote to Liam Lynch, O/C First Southern Command, on December 30, 1921, that “the pamphlet contained a statement in reference to the Army which was unauthorised and at variance with the truth”. He received full backing from Lynch for his actions.

Kevin Girvin



Co Cork


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