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22 June 1922

Source: Irish Independent Friday 23 June 1922
Source: Irish Independent Friday 23 June 1922

Sir Henry Wilson Shot Dead

Lamentable Tragedy

‘Sir Henry Wilson, Chief Military Adviser to the Belfast Government was shot dead at his London residence yesterday. Mr. Griffiths has rightly stated that the vast majority of the Irish people, despite the fact that they differed from Sir Henry Wilson’s political opinions, will be unanimous in condemning and deploring the tragedy. We cannot pretend to know what motive was behind the horrifying deed, but it is obvious, from the various public references, that it is attributed to the bitterness aroused by Partition and the Belfast Pogrom. …If, as is suggested, this was in the nature of a “reprisal,” it can do no good. It is in every way a deplorable and unchristian act, and may produce infinite harm. Certainly, it will tend to inflame passion and intensify existing troubles instead of modifying a difficult situation’

(source Editorial, Irish Independent, Friday 23 June 1922)

John Day, Field Marshel Sir Henry Wilson (c. 1921) Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

John Day, Field Marshel Sir Henry Wilson (c. 1921) Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

British cabinet ministers assumed [the murder of Sir Henry Wilson] was the work of IRA hardliners in the Four Courts, and ordered the British government to capture the building on 25 June. At the last moment the British Government made a final appeal to the Provisional Government to clear the militants out of the Four Courts in Dublin.

Facing sustained IRA opposition to their governing authority and the probable British reoccupation of the country, Free State ministers saw no alternative to military action. They authorised a National Army assault on the Four Courts to begin on the night of 27 June 1922. Knowing of the split in republican ranks, the leaders hoped fighting would be brief and confined to Dublin. However, both moderate and militant IRA officers considered the shelling of the Four Courts a declaration of war against the Irish Republic.

(Source: John Borgonovo, ‘IRA Conventions’ p674, Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Cork University Press, 2017)

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