Michael Collins and anti-Treaty side did deal to encourage trouble in North

Leaders agreed on plan in attempt to avert Civil War

According to the archives Michael Collins and Liam Lynch tried to avert the Civil War by encouraging action in the North in May 1922. Photograph: Hulton Archive

According to the archives Michael Collins and Liam Lynch tried to avert the Civil War by encouraging action in the North in May 1922. Photograph: Hulton Archive

 

The leaders of the pro and anti-Treaty forces agreed in May of 1922 to foment a civil war in the North in order to prevent one in the South, according to statements in the military service pension records.

According to the records Michael Collins, the leader of the pro-Treaty forces did a deal with anti-Treaty leader Liam Lynch to try and avert the Civil War by encouraging action in the North.

One of the key witnesses to the deal was Liam Deasy, the Cork IRA man who fought with the anti-Treaty side but after his capture in January 1923 ordered the men under his command to surrender.

In a statement made in support of the pension application of Maurice Donegan, an IRA man sent from Cork to Donegal as a brigade commander in the First Northern Division, Deasy stated: “His appointment to this rank was the result of an agreed policy between Liam Lynch and Michael Collins.

“He was ordered from the 1st Southern area against my wishes at the time, Liam Lynch holding out the hope that a clash in the North would avert the Civil War here.

“Lynch made it clear that he wanted an officer capable of taking charge of a brigade and if necessary a division as at this time he had in contemplation the formation of a further division within the six counties and he had Donegal in mind as a probable OC [officer commanding].”

Do away with the Treaty

Donegan in his claim stated: “Our instructions were that we were to create war in the North with the result that the rest of the country would become involved and therefore do away with the Treaty.” In May and June of 1922 Donegan took part in attacks on northern government forces in Co Derry as well as attacks on pro-Treaty forces in Co Donegal.

He was in Dublin when the Civil War broke out on June 28th seeking to transfer ammunition from the capital to his brigade in Donegal. He fought with anti-Treaty forces in Cork until the end of the Civil War.