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Michael Collins

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Autor:   •  September 28, 2010  •  1,077 Words (5 Pages)  •  546 Views

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Michael Collins played a major part in Ireland's history after 1916. Michael Collins had been involved in the Easter Uprising in 1916, but he played a relatively low key part. It was after the Uprising that Collins made his mark leading to the treaty of 1921 that gave Ireland dominion status within the British Empire.

Michael Collins was born in October 1890 in County Cork. This area was a heartland of the Fenian movement. His father, also called Michael, instilled in his son a love of Irish poetry and ballads. At school, Michael was taught by a teacher called Denis Lyons who belonged to the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the village blacksmith, James Santry, was a Fenian. He told the young Michael stories of Irish patriotism and in such an environment, Michael grew up with a strong sense of pride in Ireland and of being Irish.

When he was 15, Collins emigrated to London. He worked as a clerk for the Post Office and he lived within the large Irish community in London. This community was never absorbed into London's society itself. There were many people in London who felt that the Irish undercut the wages paid out to other workers and many in the Irish community felt ostracised. While in London, Collins joined Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League and in 1909, he became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

In 1916, Collins returned to Ireland to take part in the Uprising in Dublin. He fought alongside others in the General Post Office. He played a relatively minor part and was not one of the leaders who was court-martialed.

Collins was sent to Richmond Barracks and then to Frongoch internment camp in Wales. He was released in December 1916 and immediately went back to Ireland. His goal now was to revitalise the campaign to get independence for Ireland. Collins was elected to the executive committee of Sinn Fein and he led a violent campaign against anything that represented British authority in Ireland - primarily the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Army. The murder of RIC officers brought a tit-for-tat policy from the British. Ireland, post-World War One, was a dangerous country to be in. The more killings that were carried out by Collins and the men he led in the newly formed Irish Republican Army (IRA), the more the British responded with like.

The notorious Black and Tans and the 'Auxies' were used by the British Army to spread fear throughout Ireland (though primarily in the south and west). Violence led to more violence on both sides. On November 21st, 1920, the IRA killed 14 British officers in the Secret Service. In reprisal, the British Army sent armoured vehicles onto the pitch at Croke Park where people were watching a football match, and opened fire on them. Twelve people were killed. In May 1921, the IRA set fire to the Custom House in Dublin - one of the symbols of Britain's authority in Ireland. However, many of those in the Dublin IRA were captured as a result of this action. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was given some blunt advice by his military commanders in Ireland. "Go all out or get out" - meaning that the army should be allowed to do as it wished to resolve the problem, or if this was not acceptable at a political level, the British should pull out of Ireland as the army was in an un-winnable position as matters stood then.

Eamonn de Valera, considered to be the leading republican politician in Ireland, sent Collins to London in October 1921 to negotiate a treaty. It was generally recognised by both sides that the situation as it stood in Ireland could not be allowed to continue. The difficult negotiations took three months before the treaty was signed by Collins and Arthur Griffiths. In December 1921, it was agreed that Ireland should have dominion status

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