Cabinet Counterrevolution? Ernest Blythe, WT Cosgrave & the death of Michael Collins

Free State Provisional Government Cabinet 1922 - Collins leaning forward on the left; Ernest Blythe opposite him, Cosgrave at the head of the table

Free State Provisional Government Cabinet 1922 – Collins leaning forward on the left; Ernest Blythe opposite him, Cosgrave at the head of the table

How did the Collins-Griffith government
become
the Cosgrave-Blythe government overnight?

And with what consequences for Ireland?

We find, then, two independent bodies with a very direct interest in getting rid of Collins, viz, the junta within the cabinet and the British secret service.
                                                   – John M Feehan

This blogger is a great fan of TG4’s Irish history documentaries: a type of production in which they are rarely excelled.

At the news of their new documentary on Ernest Blythe, (of the WT Cosgrave government ca 1922) this writer looked forward to TG4’s usual high standard of even-handed, circumspect historical chronicling.

Yet it’s hard to know what to call a program which categorically defends Blythe’s role in the shooting of prisoners without trial.  Ireland having those particular prisoners most to thank that self-government was ever won, one was surprised to hear no word on their behalf in the discussion.

Hoping to provide some of the alternative viewpoint which seemed uncharacteristically lacking in that interesting program, here are some excerpts from the book, on the relationship between the Cosgrave-Blythe government, and the death of Michael Collins.

***

“Coogan [pointed out] that Collins’ policy on the North was “unwelcome to his Cabinet colleagues and of course to the British.” In this he supports that Collins was serving on the Cabinet with men whose agenda for the future of Ireland was closer to the British, than to his own. This in itself speaks volumes.

“[John M Feehan further examined Collins’ relationship with some on that Cabinet]:

‘Collins never concealed his contempt for [WT] Cosgrave, whom he regularly referred to as “that bloody little altar-boy.”  He detested [Ernest] Blythe and distrusted Eoin MacNeill and the feeling on their side was mutual, although for political reasons he had to have them in the cabinet.’

“… Exactly one month before the C-in-C’s untimely demise, W T Cosgrave (former Minister for Local Government, and, until then, not a luminary in national affairs) became Chairman of the Provisional Government in Collins’ place… Think how convenient it was, one month later, that Collins’ successor was already sitting at the head of the Provisional Government when both Griffith and the C-in-C suddenly died within two weeks of each other. And with them, all hope of an amicable settlement with honor to the Civil War. All hope of merging anti-Treaty heroes from the War of Independence into the leadership of the Free State Army. All hope of continuing armed resistance against unionist pogroms in the north.

“The Collins-Griffith government became the Cosgrave[-Blythe] government, indefinitely. With a very different direction for Ireland indeed: from there, the Free State seemed to become everything the anti-Treaty side said it was.

“Was the Treaty and the Civil War which it ignited, in a sense, the ‘counter-revolution’? A strategy to put the breaks on the independence struggle; to extirpate its most effective leadership; and replace that leadership’s agenda? In this case, with a Dublin government less staunchly opposed to cooperation with imperialist interests: even willing to perpetuate old policies of colonialistic exploitation?

There are a lot of unanswered questions and mysterious
incidents which [the Cabinet] could have cleared up and did
not, and if the finger of guilt is sometimes pointed at them
they have only themselves to blame
                                – John M Feehan  “

TG4’s documentary is really quite revealing about Ernest Blythe’s role in these events; although, perhaps at times, unintentionally so.

Enigma De Blaghad / The Enigma of Blythe
a documentary by TG4
to air again 7:15 PM Sunday 19 April 2015
/ DeDonaigh 19 Abreann 2015
& might also be seen on the TG4 Player
http://www.tg4.ie/ie/player

Read more
The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?
by S M Sigerson
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

Book Cover - The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?

All other e-reader formats:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Read reviews:
http://www.rabidreaders.com/2014/12/03/assassination-michael-collins-s-m-sigerson-2/

Or ask at your local book shop
 
 
 
 

The Shooting of Michael Collins by Feehan cover image       “The Shooting of Michael Collins:
          Murder or Accident?
by John M Feehan
http://www.amazon.com/Shooting-Michael-Collins-Murder-Accident/dp/0946645035

 
 
 
 

Michael Collins by Coogan cover image“Michael Collins
by Tim Pat Coogan
http://www.timpatcoogan.com/books/michael_collins.htm

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Michael Collins: The real meaning of the 1916 Rising

1916 Proclamation heading close-up

How Ireland Made Her Case Clear

Following are excerpts from Michael Collins’ own writings on 1916 and the struggle for Irish freedom

“The period from 1914 to 1918 is an important one in the struggle for Irish freedom.  It was a transition period.  It saw a wholesome & necessary departure from the ideas and methods which had been held & adopted for a generation, and it is a period which is misread by a great many of our people, even by some who helped that departure, and who helped to win the success we have achieved.

“The real importance of the Rising of 1916 did not  become apparent until 1918.  It is not correct to say now that the assertion of the republican principle which was stated by the leaders of the Rising was upheld as the national policy without a break.  The declaration of a Republic was really in advance of national thought, and it was only after a period of two years’ propaganda that we were actually able to get solidarity on the idea.

“The European War, which began in 1914, is now generally recognised to have been a war between two rival empires…Germany spoke frankly of her need for expansion, and for new fields of enterprise for her surplus population.  England, who likes to fight under a high-sounding title, got her opportunity in the invasion of Belgium.  She was entering the war ‘in defence of the freedom of small nationalities.

“America at first looked on, but she accepted the motive in good faith, and she ultimately joined in … ‘Shall,’ asked President Wilson, ‘the military power of any nation … be suffered to determine the fortunes of peoples over whom they have no right to rule except the right of force?

“But the most flagrant instance of the violation of this principle did not seem to strike … President Wilson, and he led the American nation – peopled so largely by Irish men & women who had fled from British oppression – into the battle and to the side of that nation which for hundreds of years had determined the fortunes of the Irish people against their wish, and had ruled them, and was still ruling them, by no other right than the right of force.

“There were created by the Allied Powers half-a-dozen new Republics as a demonstration of adherence to these principles.  At the same time, England’s military subjection of Ireland continued.  And Ireland was a nation with claims as strong as, or stronger than, those of the other small nations.

This subjugation constituted a mockery of those principles, yet the expression of them before the world as principles for which great nations were willing to pour out their  blood and treasure gave us the opportunity to raise again our flag of freedom and to call the attention of the world to the denial of our claim.

“We were not pro-German during the war any more than we were pro-Bulgarian, pro-Turk, or anti-French.  We were anti-British, pursuing our age-long policy against the common enemy.  Not only was this our policy, but it was the policy that any weak nation would have pursued in the same circumstances…

“We remembered that England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity, and we took advantage of her engagement elsewhere to make a bid for freedom.  The odds between us were for the moment a little less unequal… We had made common cause with France when France was fighting England.  We made common cause with Spain when Spain was fighting England.  We made common cause with the Dutch when the Dutch were fighting England…

“Our position was our old position.  Our aim was our old aim.  Our intention was simply to secure liberation from the English occupation …

“The Rising expressed our right to freedom.  It expressed our determination to have the same liberty of choice in regard to our own destinies as was conceded to Poland or Czecho-Slovakia, or any other of the nations that were emerging as a result of the new doctrines being preached…

Our claim was to govern ourselves … It was a gesture to the world that there could be no confusion about. It was an emphasis of our separate nationhood and a declaration that our ultimate goal was and would continue to be complete independence...

“We were to learn that freedom was to be secured by traveling along a different road … that it was [the English] presence alone which denied it to us, and we must make that presence uncomfortable for them, and that the only question between us and them was the terms on which they would clear out and cease their interference with us.”

 Read more
Path to Freedom cover image
The Path to Freedom
by Michael Collins
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/157332.A_Path_to_Freedom

 

 

Book Cover - The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?

 

 

The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?
by S M Sigerson
Paperback or Kindle edition here:
www.amazon.com/dp/1493784714

All other e-reader formats:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/433954

Best Reads of the year – Rabid Readers Reviews
http://www.rabidreaders.com/2015/01/05/best-rabid-readers-reviews-reads-of-2014/

Customer reviews:
http://goo.gl/sDmWfh

Or ask at your local book shop