Royal Irish Constabulary

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Royal Irish Constabulary
Badge of the Royal Irish Constabulary.svg
Agency overview
DissolvedAugust 1922
Superseding agency Garda Síochána
Royal Ulster Constabulary
Legal personality Police force
Jurisdictional structure
National agency United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Operations jurisdiction United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Island of Ireland.svg
Map of Royal Irish Constabulary's jurisdiction.
Size84,421 km2 (32,595 sq mi)
Population8,175,124 (1840)
4,390,219 (1911)
General nature

The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, Irish : Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from the early nineteenth century until 1922. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police, patrolled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police forces, later had special divisions within the RIC. [1] About 75% of the RIC were Roman Catholic and about 25% were of various Protestant denominations.

Irish language Goidelic (Gaelic) language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic (Gaelic) language originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.

Dublin Metropolitan Police

The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it was amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.

Derry city in Northern Ireland

Derry, officially Londonderry, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire meaning "oak grove". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the "London" prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.


The RIC's successful system of policing influenced the armed Canadian North-West Mounted Police (predecessor of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the armed Victoria Police force in Australia, and the armed Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in Newfoundland. [2]

North-West Mounted Police

The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) was a Canadian police force, established in 1873 by the Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald, to maintain order in the North-West Territories. The mounted police combined military, police and judicial functions along similar lines to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and deployed the following year to the Alberta border in response to the Cypress Hills Massacre and subsequent fears of a United States military intervention. Their ill-planned and arduous journey of nearly 900 miles (1,400 km) became known as the March West and was portrayed by the force as an epic journey of endurance. Over the next few years, the police extended Canadian law across the region, establishing good working relationships with the First Nations. The force formed part of the military response to the North-West Rebellion in 1885, but faced criticism for their performance during the conflict.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police mounted police force in Canada

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the federal and national police force of Canada. The RCMP provides law enforcement at the federal level. It also provides provincial policing in eight of Canada's provinces and local policing on contract basis in the three territories and more than 150 municipalities, 600 aboriginal communities, and three international airports. The RCMP does not provide provincial or municipal policing in Ontario or Quebec.

Victoria Police police service of Victoria, Australia

Victoria Police is the primary law enforcement agency of Victoria, Australia. It was formed in 1853 and now operates under the Victoria Police Act 2013.

In consequence of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the RIC was disbanded in 1922 and was replaced by the Garda Síochána in the Irish Free State and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921 agreement between the United Kingdom government and Irish republican leaders which ended the Irish War of Independence

The Anglo-Irish Treaty, commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of Independence. It provided for the establishment of the Irish Free State within a year as a self-governing dominion within the "community of nations known as the British Empire", a status "the same as that of the Dominion of Canada". It also provided Northern Ireland, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, an option to opt out of the Irish Free State, which it exercised.

Garda Síochána police service of Ireland

An Garda Síochána, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí or "the Guards", is the police service of the Republic of Ireland. The service is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Irish Free State Sovereign state in northwest Europe (1922–1937), Dominion status to 1922, succeeded by Ireland

The Irish Free State was a state established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. That treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British Crown forces.


Station badge of the "Irish Constabulary" (on display at the Garda Museum) Irish Constabulary logo, Garda Museum.jpg
Station badge of the "Irish Constabulary" (on display at the Garda Museum)
Badge of the Royal Irish Constabulary. RIC Station Badge.png
Badge of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Tack badge from the RIC Mounted Division RIC Horse Badge.JPG
Tack badge from the RIC Mounted Division

The first organised police forces in Ireland came about through the Peace Preservation Act in 1814 for which Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850) was largely responsible [3] (the colloquial names "Bobby" and "Peeler" derive from his name Robert and Peel), [4] and the Irish Constabulary Act in 1822 formed the provincial constabularies. [1] The 1822 Act established a force in each province [1] with chief constables and inspectors general under the UK civil administration for Ireland controlled by the Dublin Castle administration. By 1841 this force numbered over 8,600 men. The original force had been reorganised under The Act of 1836, and the first constabulary code of regulations was published in 1837. The discipline was strict and the pay low. The police faced civil unrest among the Irish rural poor, and was involved in bloody confrontations during the period of the Tithe War. Other deployments were against organisations like the Ribbonmen, which attacked landlords, their property and stock.

Provinces of Ireland political divisions of the Republic of Ireland

Since the early 17th-century there have been four Provinces of Ireland: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five, however in the medieval period there were more. The number of provinces and their delimitation fluctuated until 1610 when they were permanently set by the English administration of James I. The provinces of Ireland no longer serve administrative or political purposes, but function as historical and cultural entities.

Dublin Castle administration

Dublin Castle was the centre of the government of Ireland under English and later British rule. "Dublin Castle" is used metonymically to describe British rule in Ireland. The Castle held only the executive branch of government and the Privy Council of Ireland, both appointed by the British government. The Castle did not hold the judicial branch, which was centred on the Four Courts, or the legislature, which met at College Green till the Act of Union 1800 and thereafter at Westminster.

The Tithe War was a campaign of mainly nonviolent civil disobedience, punctuated by sporadic violent episodes, in Ireland between 1830 and 1836 in reaction to the enforcement of tithes on the Roman Catholic majority for the upkeep of the established state church – the Church of Ireland. Tithes were payable in cash or kind and payment was compulsory, irrespective of an individual's religious adherence.

The new constabulary first demonstrated its efficiency against civil agitation and Irish separatism during Daniel O'Connell's 1843 "monster meetings" to urge repeal of the Act of Parliamentary Union, and the Young Ireland campaign led by William Smith O'Brien in 1848, although it failed to contain violence at the so-called "Battle of Dolly's Brae" in 1849 (which provoked a Party Processions Act to regulate sectarian demonstrations). This was followed by a period of relative calm.

Irish nationalism Political ideology asserting the nationhood of the Irish people and their right to sovereignty on the island of Ireland

Irish nationalism is a nationalist ideology which asserts that the Irish people are a nation and espouses the creation of a sovereign Irish nation-state on the island of Ireland. It grew more potent during the period in which the whole of Ireland was part of United Kingdom, which ultimately lead to most of the island seceding from the UK in 1921. Politically, Irish nationalism gave way to many factions which created conflict, often violent, throughout the island. The chief division affecting nationalism in Ireland was religious. The majority of the island's population was Roman Catholic, which is the part that seceded, but a portion of the northern part has a Protestant majority that elected to stay a part of the United Kingdom. Since the partition of Ireland, the term Irish nationalism often refers to support for the island's unification. Irish nationalists assert that foreign rule has been detrimental to Irish national interests. Irish nationalism also speaks to celebration of the culture of Ireland, especially the Irish language, literature, music and sports.

Daniel OConnell Irish political leader

Daniel O'Connell, often referred to as The Liberator or The Emancipator, was an Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th century. He campaigned for Catholic emancipation—including the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, denied for over 100 years—and repeal of the Acts of Union which combined Great Britain and Ireland.

Acts of Union 1800 acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland which united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

The Acts of Union 1800 were parallel acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland which united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The acts came into force on 1 January 1801, and the merged Parliament of the United Kingdom had its first meeting on 22 January 1801.

The advent of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded in 1858, brought a plan for an armed uprising. Direct action began with the Fenian Rising of 1867. Fenians attacked on the more isolated police barracks and smaller stations. This rebellion was put down with ruthless efficiency. The police had infiltrated the Fenians with informers. The success of the Irish Constabulary during the outbreak was rewarded by Queen Victoria who granted the force the prefix 'Royal' in 1867 [1] and the right to use the insignia of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick in their motif. The RIC presided over a marked decline in general crime around the country. The unstable rural unrest of the early nineteenth century characterised by secret organisations and unlawful armed assembly was effectively controlled. Policing generally became a routine of controlling misdemeanours such as moonshine distilling, public drunkenness, minor theft, and wilful property crimes. A Land War broke out in the 1879–82 Depression period, causing some general unrest.

Irish Republican Brotherhood former secret oath-bound fraternal organisation

The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924. Its counterpart in the United States of America was organised by John O'Mahony and became known as the Fenian Brotherhood. The members of both wings of the movement are often referred to as "Fenians". The IRB played an important role in the history of Ireland, as the chief advocate of republicanism during the campaign for Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom, successor to movements such as the United Irishmen of the 1790s and the Young Irelanders of the 1840s.

The Fenian Rising of 1867 was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland, organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

Order of St Patrick Dormant British order of chivalry associated with Ireland

The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick is a dormant British order of chivalry associated with Ireland. The Order was created in 1783 by George III at the request of the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, The 3rd Earl Temple. The regular creation of knights of Saint Patrick lasted until 1922, when most of Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, a dominion within what was then known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. While the Order technically still exists, no knight of St Patrick has been created since 1936, and the last surviving knight, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1974. The Queen, however, remains the Sovereign of the Order, and one officer, the Ulster King of Arms, also survives. St Patrick is patron of the order; its motto is Quis separabit?, Latin for "Who will separate [us]?": an allusion to the Vulgate translation of Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"

In Belfast, with its industrial boom, the working population mushroomed, growing fivefold in fifty years. Much of the increase arose from Catholic migration and there were serious sectarian riots in 1857, 1864, 1872 and 1886. As a result, the small Belfast Town Police civic force was disbanded and responsibility for policing passed to the RIC. [1] Likewise in 1870, the RIC took over the duties of the Londonderry Borough Police. During the 1907 Belfast Dock strike which was called by trade union leader Jim Larkin, a portion of the RIC went on strike after Constable William Barrett was suspended for his refusal to escort a traction engine driven by a blackleg carter. About 70% of the police force in Belfast declared their support of the strikers and were encouraged by Larkin to carry out their own strike for higher wages and a better pension. It never came to fruition, however, as dissident policemen were transferred out of Belfast four days before the strike was to begin. Barrett and six other constables were dismissed and extra British Army troops were deployed to Belfast. The dock strike ended on 28 August 1907.

The RIC's existence was increasingly troubled by the rise of the Home Rule campaign [5] in the early twentieth century period prior to World War I. Sir Neville Chamberlain was appointed Inspector-General in 1900. His years in the RIC coincided with the rise of a number of political, cultural and sporting organisations with the common aim of asserting Ireland's separateness from England. [6] The potential success of the third Home Rule Bill in 1912 introduced serious tensions: opponents of the Bill organised the Ulster Volunteer Force in January 1913 while supporters formed the Irish Volunteers in response. These two groups had over 250,000 members, organised as effective private armies. In reports to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell, and the Under-Secretary, Sir Matthew Nathan, Chamberlain warned that the Irish Volunteers were preparing to stage an insurrection and proclaim Irish independence. [7] However, in April 1916 when Nathan showed him a letter from the army commander in the south of Ireland telling of an expected landing of arms on the southwest coast and a rising planned for Easter, they were both 'doubtful whether there was any foundation for the rumour'. [8] The Easter Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916 and lasted for six days, ending only when much of O'Connell Street had been destroyed by artillery fire. Although the Royal Commission on the 1916 Rebellion cleared the RIC of any blame for the Rising, Chamberlain had already resigned his post, along with Birrell and Nathan.

Character of the RIC

Webley Royal Irish Constabulary Revolver Webley 1868 RIC.JPG
Webley Royal Irish Constabulary Revolver
RIC and Hussars at an eviction Irish Eviction.jpg
RIC and Hussars at an eviction

During the early 19th century in the United Kingdom, both the idea of police and the word itself were "disliked as a symbol of foreign oppression". Accordingly, the state was later than its European neighbours in developing organised police services: the London Metropolitan Police being established seven years after the RIC. The RIC was as a result pulled in two directions. To some extent it had a quasi-military or gendarmerie ethos; with barracks, carbines, a marked class distinction between officers and men, plus a dark green uniform with black buttons and insignia, resembling that of the rifle regiments of the British Army. [9] However, it also followed civic police forces in the rest of the UK in using non-military ranks such as "constable" and "inspector"; and there was a gesture towards "policing by consent" through attempts to match postings to the religious affiliation of the communities affected.

The rank structure was as follows Note: some changes of detail took place over the period: [10]

Historical development

Enforcement of eviction orders in rural Ireland caused the RIC to be widely distrusted by the poor Catholic population as the mid 19th century approached, but the relative calm of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods brought it increasing, if grudging, respect. [1] From the 1850s the RIC performed a range of civil and local government duties together with their policing, integrating the constables with their local communities. In rural areas their attention was largely on minor problems such as distilling, cockfighting, drunk and disorderly behaviour, and unlicensed dogs or firearms, with only occasional attendance at evictions or on riot duty; and arrests tended to be relatively rare events. Despite their status as an armed force, constables seldom carried guns, only waist belt, handcuffs and baton. Often, along with the priest, they would have an informal leadership role in the community, and being literate would be appealed to by people needing help with forms and letters. While "barracks" in cities resembled those of the British Army, the term was also used for small country police stations consisting of a couple of ordinary houses with a day-room and a few bedrooms; premises would be rented by the authorities from landowners and might be changed between different sites in a village. Their pay was low, it being assumed by the authorities that they would get milk, eggs, butter and potatoes as gifts from local people. By 1901 there were around 1,600 barracks and some 11,000 constables. [11]

The majority of constables in rural areas were drawn from the same social class, religion and general background as their neighbours. Measures were taken, not always successfully, to maintain an arms-length relationship between police and public. Constables in charge of police stations were required to make regular reports to their superiors, and would from time to time be moved around the district to prevent acquaintanceships from developing too closely. A constable was not permitted to marry until he had been in the force for some years, and was not supposed to serve in his home county, nor in that of his wife. [12]

During the Lock-out, the police break up a union rally on Dublin's Sackville Street, August 1913 1913lockout.jpg
During the Lock-out, the police break up a union rally on Dublin's Sackville Street, August 1913

During the 1913 Lockout RIC were brought in to support the Dublin Metropolitan Police in guarding blacklegs and controlling public meetings. On 31 August 1913 at 1.30pm the DMP and RIC rioted in O'Connell Street, attacking what they thought was a crowd come to hear the Trade unionist Jim Larkin speak. Their intelligence was flawed; although Larkin did arrive, smuggled into the Imperial Hotel owned by the main Lockout employer by Nellie Gifford, and some ITGWU union supporters were present, the crowd waiting for Larkin was 2 kilometres away in Croydon Park; the people they baton-charged were mainly those returning home from Mass. Two trade unionists, John Byrne and James Nolan, were beaten to death and from 400 to 600 people were injured. The RIC and the formerly respected DMP largely lost the support of the middle classes when photographs of the streets were published and police actions were revealed in the subsequent inquiry, in which MP Handel Booth said that the police, "behaved like men possessed".

The Irish War of Independence

The Sinn Féin triumph in the general election of 1918 (the coupon election), winning 73 out of the 105 Irish seats, was followed by the Sinn Féin members' decision to convene themselves as the First Dáil, a new parliament. This body first met at the Mansion House, Dublin, on 21 January 1919, and announced a unilateral declaration of independence. This created a dramatically new political reality in Ireland. Of the 17,000 policemen in Ireland, 513 were killed by the IRA between 1919-21 while 682 were wounded. [13] The vast majority of the men serving in the RIC in 1919 were Irish-born and raised. [13] Of the RIC's senior officers in 1919, 60% were Irish Protestants and rest Catholic while 70% of the rank and file of the RIC were Roman Catholic with the rest Protestant. [13] The RIC was trained for police work, not war, and was woefully ill-prepared to take on the counter-insurgency duties that were required in 1919. [14]

On the day the new parliament first met, two RIC constables, James McDonnell and Patrick O'Connell, were killed when the Soloheadbeg Ambush was carried out by a group of volunteers from the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, while on duty guarding gelignite in transit to the local mines in South Tipperary. [15] This event marked the beginning of the Irish War of Independence. [16] The Irish Republican Army under the leadership of Michael Collins began systematic attacks on British government forces. While the British Army controlled the cities of Ireland, the RIC bore the brunt of such assaults in the provinces. The RIC were especially targeted because of their role as local representatives of and intelligence gatherers for the British administration.

From the autumn of 1919 onwards, the RIC was forced to abandon its smaller barracks in isolated areas. A national personal boycott of members of the force was declared by the IRA. The Dáil Courts and alternative legal enforcement units were set up by republicans. RIC members were threatened, and many were attacked, leading to substantial resignations from the force (see figures below). In October 1920, RIC wages were increased to compensate for increased hardship and cost of living increases. In rural areas, many small shopkeepers refused to serve the RIC, forcing them to obtain their food and other necessities from miles away.

By October 1920, according to UK government sources, 117 RIC members had been killed and 185 wounded. [17] Over a three-month period during the same year, 600 RIC men resigned from the force of 9,500. In the first quarter of 1920, 500 police barracks and huts in outlying areas were evacuated. The IRA had destroyed over 400 of these by the end of June to prevent their subsequent reuse.

The consequence of this was the removal of RIC authority in many outlying areas. This allowed the IRA to assert political control over these areas. Large houses were burned, often to punish their owners for allowing them to be used for policing or military purposes or as revenge for the government-backed burning of republican homes. Much of the country's rich architectural heritage was destroyed.

To reinforce the much reduced and demoralised police the United Kingdom government recruited returned World War I veterans from English and Scottish cities. They were sent to Ireland in 1920, to form a police reserve unit which became known as the "Black and Tans" and the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Paddy O'Shea, the son of a regular RIC sergeant, described these reinforcements as being "both a plague and a Godsend. They brought help but frightened even those they had come to help". [18] Some regular RIC men resigned in protest at the often brutal and undisciplined behaviour of the new recruits; others suffered crises of conscience which troubled them for the rest of their lives. [19]

Some RIC officers co-operated with the IRA, either out of political conviction, fear for their lives and welfare, or a combination of both. A raid on an RIC barracks in Cookstown, County Tyrone, in June 1920, was carried out with the help of sympathetic RIC men. The barracks in Schull, County Cork, was captured with similar inside aid. The IRA even had spies within the upper echelon at Dublin Castle.

The Government of Ireland Act, enacted in December 1920, came into force on 3 May 1921, partitioning Ireland into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. However, continuing unrest led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment of the Irish Free State.

Disbandment of RIC

In January 1922 the British and Irish delegations agreed to disband the RIC. Phased disbandments began within a few weeks with RIC personnel both regular and auxiliary being withdrawn to six centres in southern Ireland. On 2 April 1922 the force formally ceased to exist, although the actual process was not completed until August that year. [20] The RIC was replaced by the Civic Guard (renamed the Garda Síochána the following year) in the Irish Free State and by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

According to a parliamentary answer in October 1922 1,330 [21] ex-RIC men joined the new RUC in Northern Ireland. [22] This resulted in an RUC force that was twenty-one percent Roman Catholic at its inception in 1922. [21] As the former RIC members retired over the subsequent years this proportion steadily fell.

Some former RIC men joined the Garda Síochána. These included men who had earlier assisted IRA operations in various ways. Some retired and the Irish Free State paid their pensions as provided for in the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty agreement. Others, still faced with threats of violent reprisals, [23] emigrated with their families to Great Britain or other parts of the Empire, most often to police forces in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. A number of these men joined the Palestine Gendarmerie, which was recruiting in the UK at this time.

RIC members

Group of RIC members pictured in Waterford in November 1917 R.I.C. group with County Inspector Hetreed (26931112476).jpg
Group of RIC members pictured in Waterford in November 1917

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Black and Tans, officially the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve, was a force of temporary constables recruited to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) during the Irish War of Independence. The force was the brainchild of Winston Churchill, then British Secretary of State for War. Recruitment began in Great Britain in late 1919. Thousands, many of them British Army veterans of World War I, answered the British government's call for recruits. Most of the recruits came from Britain, although it also had some members from Ireland. Their role was to help the RIC maintain control and fight the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the army of the Irish Republic. The nickname "Black and Tans" arose from the colours of the improvised uniforms they initially wore, composed of mixed khaki British Army and rifle green RIC uniform parts. The Black and Tans became known for their attacks on civilians and civilian property.

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The Arnon Street killings, also referred to as the Arnon Street murders or the Arnon Street Massacre, took place on 1 April 1922 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Six Catholic civilians, three in Arnon Street, were shot dead. It is believed that members of either the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) or of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were responsible, acting in retaliation for the killing of an RIC officer by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

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1989 Jonesborough ambush

The Jonesborough ambush took place on 20 March 1989 near the Irish border outside the village of Jonesborough, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Two senior Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan, were shot dead in an ambush by the Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade. Breen and Buchanan were returning from an informal cross-border security conference in Dundalk with senior Garda officers when Buchanan's car – a red Vauxhall Cavalier — was flagged down and fired upon by six IRA gunmen, who the policemen had taken for British soldiers. Buchanan was killed outright whilst Breen, suffering gunshot wounds, was deliberately shot in the back of the head after he had left the car waving a white handkerchief. They were the highest-ranking RUC officers to be killed during the Troubles.

Soloheadbeg ambush

The Soloheadbeg ambush took place on 21 January 1919, when members of the Irish Volunteers ambushed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers who were escorting a consignment of gelignite explosives at Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two RIC officers were killed and their weapons and the explosives were seized. The volunteers acted on their own initiative and had not sought authorisation for their action. As it happened on the same day that the revolutionary Irish parliament first met and declared Ireland's independence, it is often seen as the first engagement of the Irish War of Independence.

RUC Special Branch was the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and was heavily involved in the British state effort during the Troubles, especially against the Provisional Irish Republican Army. It worked closely with MI5 and the Intelligence Corps. The RUC came under criticism for its handling of its agents within paramilitary organisations, including from other RUC officers. Appointed in 1984 to investigate claims of a RUC "shoot-to-kill" policy, former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, John Stalker, said that he "had never experienced...such an influence over an entire police force by one small section" in regard to Special Branch.

Killeen Landmine attack

The Killeen Landmine attack took place on the 20 May 1985 when four Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed when the Provisional IRA exploded an estimated 1,000 pound roadside bomb hidden in a trailer at Killean, County Armagh. The attack occurred just three months after nine RUC officers were killed and 37 injured in the 1985 Newry mortar attack.

Drew Harris

Jeremy Andrew Harris is the current Garda Commissioner of the Republic of Ireland since September 2018. He previously served as Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) from 2014 to 2018.


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  9. W. Y. Carman, page 143 "British Military Uniforms From Contemporary Pictures", Hamlyn Publishing Group 1968
  10. J D Brewer, 1990, The RIC: An Oral History, Belfast
  11. Jim Herlihy, The Royal Irish Constabulary, Four Courts Press, 1997, ISBN   1-85182-343-3, p. 116
  12. 1 2 3 Cottrell, Peter The Anglo-Irish War The Troubles of 1913-1922, London: Osprey, 2006 page 20.
  13. Cottrell, Peter The Anglo-Irish War The Troubles of 1913-1922, London: Osprey, 2006 pages 49-52.
  14. "The Soloheadbeg Ambush - 21 January, 1919". Garda Síochána Historical Society. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  15. Aengus O Snodaigh (21 January 1999). "Gearing up for war: Soloheadbeg 1919". An Phoblacht . Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  16. Some 500 policemen and ex-policemen were killed between 1919/22. See Police Casualties in Ireland, 1919-1922 by Richard Abbott, The Mercier Press Ltd (1 Jun. 2000) ISBN   978-1856353144
  17. Chris Ryder, page 32 "The RUC 1922–1997", ISBN   0-7493-2379-5
  18. McKenna, John, 2009, A Beleaguered Station, Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, ISBN   978-1903688434
  19. Chris Ryder, pages 44–45 "The RUC 1922–1997", ISBN   0-7493-2379-5
  20. 1 2 Chris Ryder, page 60 "The RUC 1922–1997", ISBN   0-7493-2379-5
  21. Jim Herlihy, The Royal Irish Constabulary, Four Courts Press, 1997, ISBN   1-85182-343-3
  22. Chris Ryder, pages 45–47 "The RUC 1922–1997", ISBN   0-7493-2379-5