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Thread: Liam Mellows and the build-up to Civil War, 1922

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    Default Liam Mellows and the build-up to Civil War, 1922

    Article on Liam Mellows and his role in the lead-up to the Civil War (sixth in a series), as the Four Courts were seized by the anti-Treaty IRA in April 1922, causing a desperate scramble for a peaceful solution - efforts that Mellows was vocal in opposing.

    Rebel Herald: Liam Mellows and the Opposition to the Treaty, 1922 (Part VI)

    As a proponent of the Republican cause, few could match Mellows for sheer, raw intensity. When one of his friends, Robert Briscoe, expressed doubts about their cause of action, Mellows was quick to set him back on course, as Briscoe remembered:

    Never was [Mellows] so brilliant, so ardent and so emotional. I knew that this great effort he was making and the intensity of his feeling was not to save one poor soldier for Ireland. It was because of his love for me. He was wrestling for my soul with the devil of doubt.
    Briscoe was so taken that he went down to the Four Courts the next day to enlist in its garrison. Visiting Mellows one day, Briscoe was flabbergasted to find wastebaskets there brimming with bank notes, the fruits of recent bank raids. Mellows enlisted the other man's services in laundering the money.

    (Liam Mellows)

    Years later, when Briscoe, now a TD for Fianna Fáil, rose to give his first speech to the Dáil, he was met with jeers of 'bank robber!' from the opposing benches. "I have to admit they were not entirely unjustified," he conceded in his memoirs.

    Not everyone within the ranks, however, was happy with the direction they, and the country as a whole, were going. On the 3rd May 1922, a delegation of five anti-Treaty IRA officers attended the Dáil to request that a committee be formed, consisting of delegates from both factions, in order to find a way out of the impasse.

    Mellows, as the TD for Galway, was the first to speak – and to object. To him, this motion was "plainly another political dodge." So long as the Treaty remained, unity was an impossibility. He repeated what he had said four months earlier at the Treaty debates:

    "You can have unity tomorrow on the question of the maintenance of the Republic but you will not have unity in this country either among the people or in the army upon any other basis."
    Nonetheless, such a committee was formed, with Mellows - surprisingly enough, perhaps - as one of its members. Despite its efforts, the committee failed to find a solution. When this failure was read out to the Dail, Mellows was seen staring vacantly ahead, a grim expression on his face.

    (Group photo of pro and anti-Treaty IRA officers together – (left to right) Seán Mac Eoin, Seán Moylan, Eoin O’Duffy, Liam Lynch, Gearóid O’Sullivan and Liam Mellows)

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