Relatives of victims of Bowen-Colthurst to seek apology

British officer was responsible for deaths of at least five during Rising, including Francis Sheehy-Skeffington

The GPO after the Rising. Relatives of the victims of Capt John Bowen- Colthurst are to seek an apology from the British government for his actions during Easter Week

The GPO after the Rising. Relatives of the victims of Capt John Bowen- Colthurst are to seek an apology from the British government for his actions during Easter Week

 

Relatives of the victims of the notorious Capt John Bowen- Colthurst are to seek an apology from the British government for his actions during Easter Week 1916.

Bowen-Colthurst, a British officer commanding the Third Royal Irish Rifles 100 years ago, was responsible for the deaths of at least five people during the Easter Rising, including the pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, who was executed on his orders.

Bowen-Colthurst was declared guilty but insane, and lived out the rest of his life in Canada.

He also ordered the execution of two journalists, Thomas Dickson and Patrick McIntyre, who had nothing to do with the Rising.

In addition, he shot and fatally wounded Labour councillor Richard O’Carroll, and a teenager, 17-year-old JJ Coade, as he was walking home.

Condoned

Francis Sheehy-Skeffington’s granddaughter Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington said the murders were condoned at the time and the British government covered them up. They were “completely illegal”, she said.

Ms Sheehy Skeffington maintained Bowen-Colthurst showed every sign of being a sadist, but not of being insane.

“He was behaving erratically, but he was definitely not insane. It lets him off. He lived out his life in Canada and apparently boasted about his actions.

“An apology would mean a lot. My grandmother never got an apology. It would be nice to know that there was a recognition even after 100 years that this was completely wrong,” she said.

The families will also be calling for an apology to the family of Sir Francis Vane, the British officer commanding Portobello (now Cathal Brugha) barracks, who, when he discovered what Bowen-Colthurst had done, tried to have him arrested.

Instead the British command had Vane dismissed and promoted Bowen-Colthurst in his place.