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Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

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Irish Left Review
Joined up thinking for the Irish Left

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Human Rights in Ireland
www.humanrights.ie

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NAMA Wine Lake

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Was Michael Collins assassinated?

category national | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Thursday December 19, 2013 23:17author by M Congannon Report this post to the editors

New book re-opens the case

"The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened At Béal na mBláth?" by S M Sigerson (Kindle / Create Space 2013) is a controversial new study about the revolutionary leader's death.

This new work about Michael Collins is generating some fierce arguments in online forums. For those who haven't heard, Collins was a leader of Ireland's War of Independence (1919-21). He's adulated by many as one of the founders of modern guerilla warfare. In any case, he was at the helm when Ireland, after 700 years of trying, finally forced the British to the negotiating table.

In 1922, shortly after signing a controversial treaty with England, he was shot to death. And that's where the debate begins. Was it a simple military action? Was it an assassination? Although my first question is "After ninety years, why doesn't anyone know?"

The more I tried to research whether this book is to be believed, the less I found anyone can tell us about exactly how Collins died. "Accident of war" is the argument which is hotly defended by some. Assassination buffs consider the suspicious factors too many to accept. Writers like Bernadette Devlin have called it "mysterious," even though he was in uniform, with an army convoy, in the midst of the Civil War, at the time,

Bitter wrangling continues as to who was true, who was a traitor, and what role the colonialistic English governours played in it all. Collins has taken a lot of hits by mud-slingers. Was he a martyr or a sell-out? Were his opponents the real revolutionaries? Or back-stabbing turncoats?

This book goes further than any other I've seen in minutely analyzing the evidence. Various witnesses' versions are itemized and cross-referenced. One can get a bit dizzy following the forty pages of "Contradictions and Corroborations" about the twenty-minute ambush. But it makes one point clear enough: someone lied.

The explanation offered as to exactly what did happen certainly contradicts the conventional wisdom. I don't want to give away the climax. But it's definitely different from any previous attempt. Most of what you thought you knew about it will probably be found on the scrap heap under the "Debunking the myths" section.

If nothing else, it's refreshing to hear analysis of Collins by an author who's clearly no stranger to the history of revolutionary struggles. Sigerson places Collins in a wider context of other wars for self-determination, and the dangers they face.

It's a good read. Collins fans will probably enjoy it, and argue about it, from now on.

Related Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FZ1BCBA
author by Mike Novackpublication date Sun Dec 22, 2013 14:54Report this post to the editors

The problem here is with the term "assassination". We do not usually apply this term when the forces engaged are above a certain size. Questions like this can perhaps best be addressed by approaching from extremes.

Thus, those leading the forces of A might hope a particular leader of the forces of B might be killed in a attack of an army of A against an army of B where this leader of B can be expected to be present. But we never call such an attack an "assassination attempt".

On the other hand, an attack against the leader of B who at the time is accompanied by only a few body guards we would call an "assassination attempt".

What I am saying here is that we can for the moment leave "intent" out of it and simply consider the size of the groups engaged to determine if the term "assassination" could be applied even if the intent (that Collins got killed) was there. In my opinion, far too large for the term "assassination".

author by Janus eyepublication date Mon Dec 23, 2013 00:49Report this post to the editors

The past is irreversible although re-interpretive. What happened at Beal-na-Blath was a military ambush by the irregulars on the regulars, in a lousy civil war. What happened cannot unhappen. Move on and prepare for the 2014 local elections.

 
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