War of Independence Centenary Series: Michael Collins - Intelligence and Violence in the War

"One of the cardinal maxims of guerilla warfare: the guerilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win." Henry Kissinger.

Michael Collins was appointed the Minister of Finance in the Dail in 1919. He was also Director of Organisation and Intelligence of the Irish Volunteers, which in 1920 became the official army of the State, the Irish Republican Army, with Cathal Brugha as its Chief of Staff. Collins was also president of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization which had infiltrated the IRA. This tangled web meant that Collins actually ran the military war against the British, not the Minister for Defense, Cathal Brugha. But perhaps more effective than the military tactics he used against the British was his unparalleled use of espionage, with an intelligence network that had infiltrated practically every aspect of the British government's operations in Ireland.

This lecture covered Michael Collins's intelligence campaign against the British, including his use of moles like Eamon (Ned) Broy and David Nelligan; the Squad or Twelve Apostles, the tight-knit group who carried out sanctioned assassinations against British military or counterintelligence.

This is the second lecture in our War of Independence Centenary Series with Executive Director Dr. Elizabeth Stack.