Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2022), Letters, Volume 30

Sir,—I had hoped that, as a result of the manner in which recent years’ public health measures have highlighted a natural discrepancy between politicians’ democratic ideals and the policies their governments may pursue in an emergency, we would hear no more about Michael Collins’s supposed formation of a ‘military dictatorship’ during the Civil War. The Provisional Government of 1922 drew its authority from the Dáil, and by extension the electorate. The pro-Treaty elements of the IRA/National Army supported and fought for the Provisional Government on that basis. Amongst many other things, W.T. Cosgrave’s statements to the opening session of the Third Dáil made all this clear.

Sadly, I see from John Regan’s review of Ronan McGreevy’s new book (HI 30.3, May/June 2022) that my hopes were forlorn. The central research question that is continually raised in relation to this issue could, perhaps, be best summarised as ‘whether or not there was a democratic deficit during the inter-regnum caused by the British withdrawal’. Of course there was. However, this fact does not a military dictatorship make—at least, not under any sensible interpretation of the modern meaning of the term. I should allow that the similarities between Quintus Fabius Maximus and the bould Mick were legion (pun intended).—Is mise le meas,

Dr THOMAS TORMEY, MA MSc. Ph.D: Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin Historian in residence, Louth County Council, 2021 Tutor, School of History, University College Dublin


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