*Following the divide and conquer policy of the British government in the form of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, there was great bitterness between those supporting that settlement and those opposing it. The following is the summary of the events that occurred leading up to the Civil War. It is a portion of TA Jackson's Ireland Her Own, published 1947.
Pro and Anti Treaty Civil War
Debate on the Treaty generated intense bitterness; and this found expression in a split which eventuated in a Civil War between the forces of the "Free State" and of the "Republic". Formally, debate centered on the Oath - which casuists and ideologues held to be a violation of the Oath of Fidelity to the Republic already taken by the Dail and the IRA. More concretely, it turned on the issue of Partition which, it was contended, the Treaty conceded in principle - leaving its rectification to problematical chances. A renewal of the pogrom in Belfast point the objection.
These grounds of ideological and political division were reinforced and developed into an absolute split by a sharp conflict of economic interests, centering upon the Land Hunger, which was a by-product of the stoppage of emigration to the USA, the Dominions, and England - a result, first, of war-caused prohibitions, then of post-war unemployment crisis.
As we noted earlier, the Land Purchase Acts
presupposed for their ameliorative effect the constant functioning of the emigrant-ship. During the war its place was filled by recruiting. Some 500,000 men from the Twenty-Six Counties served in the British Forces during the war
; their demobilisation, in face of the economic situation in England, and in the world generally, precipitated an intense crisis.
In 1919 a land-seizing movement hand sprung up in the west of Ireland. The action of the Dail Eireann
land courts, and of the Republican police, in suppressing this movement created an intense resentment which helped to swell resistance to the Treaty, which, for its part, was supported strongly by the more bourgeois elements (including especially the much-hated "ranchers"). The line-up was between the actually or potentially Land Hungry, supported by Republican intellectuals and urban revolutionaries, on one side; and the urban bourgeoisie, the State functionaries, the landowners, and the upper strata of the peasantry on the other. The skilled labour elements - and the Labour Party generally - were paralysed by division.
Involved in the struggle was a conflict which had profound consequences - that between the IRB - which under Devoy
's influence was Pro-Treaty - and the majority section of the IRA which was anti-Treaty. The resulting dissipation of the moral authority of the "Fenian" body told heavily on the side of the disintegration and the disillusioned-pessimism in the years that followed.
*(Tomorrow: from the same source "Civil War and the Six Counties")