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Death penalties & executions in the Civil War

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:54 pm
by DrNightdub
The Public Safety Act of Oct 1922 created a system of military courts to try a range of offences; these courts martial were given the power to impose various punishments, up to and including the death penalty, though after some debate in the Dáil it was agreed that all sentences would have to be ratified and confirmed by the Free State Army Council before being carried out.

I appreciate this is an extremely delicate subject and my intention in raising it isn’t to stir up a hornet’s nest on the rights and wrongs of the policy (although just for the record, I personally feel that if someone surrenders, it is abhorrent to subsequently kill them, regardless of whether such provisions are on the statute books – those may legalise the death penalty but they don’t legitimate it).

However, I am hoping that someone may be able to provide some purely historical facts relating to this policy of the Free State government, so I’ve a few questions – they stem from one particular incident but I’d like to get a feel for the more general picture first, before returning to that in a later post:

- Obviously, there were large numbers of Republicans interned after the passing of this Act – surely the death penalty wasn’t automatic in all cases if “only” 77 were carried out? What, then, were the criteria?
- Were there any instances of the death penalty being passed by courts martial but subsequently overturned by the Army Council when submitted for confirmation?
- Were there many death sentences confirmed but not carried out – excluding prisoners who “signed the form” or those whose cases were tried during the brief amnesties in Oct 1922 and Feb 1923?

I appreciate any factual light anyone can throw on this.

Re: Death penalties & executions in the Civil War

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:28 am
by bannerman
Hello Kieran,
Just spotted this - Im on my way to work looking at it in anternet cafe. I dont have the time to respond to your queries now but I'll try do so later in the week. Cert is in the post.
Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc

Re: Death penalties & executions in the Civil War

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:16 am
by enfield
Hello Padraig. I am sure you know that Martin (Bob) Dwyer, in Cashel Folk Village is also working on this very subject. I you want his phone number just pm me.