REVIEW:Irish Narratives; British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21; The Final Reports.
On 11 July 1921 the Irish war of independence - which began in 1916 with Easter Rising - ended with a truce between British forces and the Irish Republican Army. Although the war was ended through a mutual compromise, historians claim that there was a clear winner in the area of intelligence.
A book of Irish Narratives, produced by Peter Hart, details how Michael Collins allegedly exposed British intelligence, thus forcing the British to fight blind and eventually call a truce. The book also details the recent release of two confidential self-assessments prepared for the army and the police in 1922, which challenge historians' views.
The first document - 'A record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the part played by the Army in dealing with it (Intelligence)' - was written by those in the British Army's GHQ in Ireland and reportedly outlines the failure of counter-insurgency prior to 1920.
The second report was written by Sir Ormonde de l'Epee Winter, a former soldier and the last chief of British intelligence in southern Ireland, shortly after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed. The report is said to describe the organisation and methods of the IRA and blames the 'intelligence gap' on the lack of resources rather than Collin's tactical genius.
Hart - who unearthed the two British intelligence documents - includes experts from the two reports in his book, 'Irish Narratives; British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21; The Final Reports', to show that while both accounts are tainted by prejudice they suggest that the British Army was getting to grips with the IRA. He also attempts to show that the reports support views that the army's winter and spring attacks against the IRA were a clear success.
CONCLUSION: Provides readers with a detailed and personal account of intelligence during the Irish war of independence, and expands on the history of Irish revolution.
Title: Irish Narratives; British Intelligence in Ireland, 1920-21; The Final ReportsAuthor: Peter Hart (Editor) Published by: Cork University PressISBN: 1-85918-201-1Price: EUR12Reviewer: Caroline Turner