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The Army Inquiry Committee Papers

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Reference Code: IE/MA/AMTY
Dates: December 1923 - June 1924
Creator(s): Army Inquiry Committee; General Headquarters Staff (Irish National Army)
Level of Description: Fonds
Extent and Medium: 12 archival boxes enclosing 147 files
Access: Open to the public
Language: English
Finding Aid: Download

The Army Inquiry Committee was appointed by President Cosgrave on 3 April 1924 to ‘enquire into the facts and matters which have caused or led up to indiscipline and mutinous or insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the Army’. The appointment of the Army Inquiry Committee followed a tumultuous period for the war-weary National Army, and fulfilled a promise made by President Cosgrave on 12 March 1924 to establish a committee following an Army-wide crisis which developed over the later part of 1923. The aforementioned crisis culminated in the presentation of an Ultimatum to the Free State Government on 6th March 1924 penned by Major General Liam Tobin and Colonel Charles Dalton.

Fulfilling his promise made on 12 March 1924, President Cosgrave worked towards the setting up of an inquiry into Army administration and indiscipline, i.e. the genesis of the Army crisis. Cosgrave wrote to P. McGilligan, T.D. and Minister for Industry and Commerce on 5 April 1924 following his announcement in the Dáil (3 April 1924) to establish the Army Inquiry Committee. Cosgrave suggested that the Committee should commence its deliberations at the earliest possible date and proposed a time, date and location, and set out the terms of reference. In the same letter, Cosgrave introduced his assistant secretary to McGilligan and offered his services to the Committee.

The Army Inquiry Committee met, for the first time on 7 April 1924 in the Council Chamber, Government Buildings, and concluded its work on 7 June 1924 with the submission of its final report to President Cosgrave. During the two month period, the Committee met forty one (41) times and examined twenty seven (27) witnesses.
Paperwork in the collection shows that initial work was delayed owing to the fact that Committee members had to complete groundwork in identifying persons likely to be material to the inquiry, assembling documentation and making contact. President Cosgrave assisted in making contact with particular witnesses including the Judge Advocate General (Cahir Davitt) and the Director of Intelligence (Michael J. Costello) . Committee members also discussed a request made by independent Counsel representing General Mulcahy and other Generals in which Counsel asked for leave to cross examine particular witnesses (mainly Kevin O’Higgins). In advance of the first hearing and to mitigate delays and ambiguity, Committee members also discussed the legal weight of hearsay evidence in expectation that such evidence could come before the Committee. Initial contact with witnesses mainly came from James Creed Meredith, K.C, Chairman of the Army Inquiry Committee and potential witnesses were invited to supply relevant information by way of written statement in advance of their appearance before the Committee itself .

A great deal of secretarial work was carried out before, during and after each meeting. All witnesses that appeared before the Committee were presented with a copy of evidence soon after their appearance and copies were produced for each Committee member to allow for afterhours deliberation. Witnesses included senior officials from the Department of Defence, Government Ministers, Army Directors, and members of the late Army Council (General Mulcahy, Lieutenant General Sean MacMahon, Lieutenant General Gearóid O’Sullivan and Lieutenant General Sean O’Muirthile), who were represented by legal representatives. The Committee explored the circumstances which likely influenced the direction of the Army Council in dealing with demobilisation and probed the effectiveness and competency of Army administration during and after the Civil War. The Committee published the ‘Report of the Army Enquiry Committee, 7 June 1924’ and presented the report to the Dáil. The Report was signed by the five members of the Committee, and in the case of the Chairman, James Creed Meredith, subject to a reservation (contained in an extended report which is held in the collection).

Scope and Content of the Army Inquiry Committee Papers:

AMTY- 01 Papers of the Cabinet Committee established to investigate claims for reinstatement by demobilised Officers (December 1923 – March 1924). Fifty nine (59) files mostly containing application forms completed by Officers that were demobilised as a consequence of Army reorganisation and demobilisation measures. Files also contain related correspondence between the Secretary, Minister of Defence, the Secretary, Cabinet Committee and members of the Cabinet Committee.

AMTY - 02 Army Inquiry Committee –establishment and preliminaries. Three (3) files containing paperwork on the setting up of the Committee

AMTY - 03 Army Inquiry Committee – hearings and statements. Seventy two (72) files containing record of evidence produced in line with the appearance of witnesses before the Army Inquiry Committee. Includes supplementary statements and questionnaires supplied by witnesses and related correspondence between Committee members and witnesses.

AMTY - 04 Army Inquiry Committee – Administration and report. Six (6) files containing draft reports and final report. With bound volume containing minutes of Committee meetings signed by Committee Chairman.

AMTY - 05 Army Inquiry Committee. Seven (7) files containing press reports compiled by the Army’s Intelligence Department on the Army Inquiry Committee.

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