On January 7, 1922, after a lot of fingerpointing, and recriminations, the Dáil passed the Anglo-Irish Treaty by a vote of 64 to 57, and Saorstát Éireann, the Irish Free State, was born, that has never exactly been free, and has always under the influences of American interferences, if not English.
The two dominating personalities of that era, were Eamon, ‘the shrewd americanised’ de Valera, and Michael Collins, and many people have they’re own ideas on who was honourable, and who was not, and for me it’s always been Collins.
While it seems their politics were the same, they weren’t, and they had been cautiously circling each other since the Truce was called the previous July, and De Valera was worried lest his deceitful ways be revealed, needed Collins to believe his devotion to the cause of Irish freedom was the same as what Collins espoused.
However, to fully comprehend what had happened in the six months between July 1921 and January 1922, and through to June 1922, it’s important to look at the time frame.
On July 11th, 1921, a truce is declared between the Irish and British forces, brokered by King George V, and immediately, with warp speed, De Valera and Arthur Griffith headed to London to meet with the British PM, David Lloyd George, (Lloyd George), where De Valera entered into a frantic dialogue of his necessity to return to Dublin with, at the very least, a promise of a 32-county Republic, because things were changing and people were looking to Collins as the real leader.
Lyold George was well aware of American interests in Ireland, and that De Valera was their ticket to a lot of benefits, and he refused, adding to De valera’s precarious position with Irish republicans.
That response put De Valera on the backfoot, who was forced to listen to the only deal he would get. But De Valera was just as wiley and saw an opportunity to create a smokescreen on the deal he had accepted from the British PM, and asked Lloyd George not to reveal that the deal was already in place, and that talks be arranged to make it seem like the deal belonged to another, so that person would take the fall instead of himself.
That smokescreen was the London talks, and both Churchill and Lord Birkenhead would have been notified of De Valera’s underhandedness, in order to enable him to plaster the cracks occurring in his leadership, because it wasn’t De Valera who had the respect of the republican majority, it was Collins, and he knew the majority saw Collins as their leader in waiting, which was a concern for him and his american backers. In fact that made Collins a threat to their pre-made plans, and he had to be sacrificed one way or the other.
De Valera brought a lie back to Dublin, claiming his stance would only hinder the arranged talks, and he ordered Collins to go in his stead, and after much arguing, the Irish delegation, already fractured, arrived in London for the negotiations, with Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton, Eamonn Duggan, and George Gavan Duffy taking up residence in a pre-arranged house.
Michael Collins, however, who brought his own staff from Dublin with him, many of them veterans of his intelligence gathering operation in Crow Street; rented a separate townhouse because he didn’t trust De Valera, and believed one of Griffith’s team was a British spy, and he knew something was off, dawning on him that the British who had no idea what he even looked like, soon would. That aside, that Collins brought his intelligence team, his own trusted security with him, said he was aware of being set-up for death, if not failure.
In fact, why would anyone send their head of intelligence, the very person responsible for every British mishap and failure in Dublin, and every IRA gain, and no doubt Collins, during those talks was filling in the pieces that remained of the jigsaw puzzle that led to his assassination, and De Valera’s every gain, and let’s not forget, it was De Valera’s walkout, his accusations against Collins, that led to the Civil war, only to see in the aftermath of it all, the same De Valera, recognise, and implement everything he castigated Collins for, and if you’re still asking why – well, like I said, De Valera had already agreed to the deal in the meeting he had with Lloyd George following the truce declared on July 11th, 1921, and Arthur Griffith was I believe, not a party to that arrangement, which I believe De Valera’s intent was to create mistrust between Griffith and Collins.
Furthermore, I believe in the days after those fake talks, that while the penny dropped for Collins, he was left with no choice, and under threats that included the British, decided with Griffith’s, to accept the treaty while concentrating on escalating violence in the North, towards a united Ireland. Alas, the powers that be, who were both British and American, aided the treachorous De Valera to get rid of Collins, because unless he was permanently gone, De Valera would have been disposed off.
As for Griffith, what was originally diagnosed as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and saw him hospitalised, he was released and took up his government duties once more, only to, on 12 August 1922, while stooping to tie his shoelace, fell to the ground unconscious. While he regained consciousness, he collapsed again with blood coming from his mouth. Three doctors rendered assistance, but to no avail, and whilst Fr John Lee of the Marist Fathers administered extreme unction to him, Griffith died. The cause of death was classed as cerebral haemorrhage, yet also reported as being due to heart failure, but it’s very possible that Griffith was poisoned, and that ten days later, Colllins was shot dead, makes this author wonder about that…
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