During the Irish Civil War, eighty-three prisoners were executed after trial by military court. The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity explores the pressures that drove the provisional government to try prisoners for arms offences by military courts, and how, at a time of great crisis, the rule of law evaporated and the new policy morphed into reprisal executions.
More than 125 further prisoners were killed in the custody of the state: kidnapped and shot; tied to landmines and blown up; shot after surrender, ‘trying to escape’ or even killed under interrogation. These men were killed because they were anti-treaty fighters or because they were suspected of involvement or sympathy with the anti-treaty cause. In the heat of civil war, the inquest system became part of the battle ground where the emerging state connived at the suppression of evidence and turned a blind eye to perjury and cover-up.At the end of the Civil War, there were 3,000 dead, over 10,000 wounded, 13,000 interned, and many more forced into migration. And in this period of great crisis, the bedrock of law itself had been shattered. This dark, secret corner of Irish history, whose bitter legacy affects society to this day, is uncompromisingly exposed in The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity.