Police cleared of use of ‘unnecessary violence’ during Lockout
Constables commended for their bravery
The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances that took place in Dublin during August and September last exonerates the police from the use of ‘unnecessary violence’.
The report, written by two barristers - Denis Henry, K.C., and S.L. Brown, K.C. - goes on to commend police for their courage and patience under circumstances of great difficulty.
For the purposes of their investigation Mr Henry and Mr Brown focused on 15 separate riots that took place in Dublin in August and September 1913. The commission sat for 18 days and heard evidence from the police and from civilian witnesses, including 46 witnesses who attested that the police used excessive force.
The commission found that the riots which took place across the city ‘had their origin in organised attacks on the police. Although all the riots were directly or indirectly the result of industrial disputes, they were not confined to working men, and in all of them the worst element was supplied by those who seldom or never work, and who may be described as the corner-boys and criminal class in the City.’
The worst rioting took place on Sunday, 31 August 1913 when there was rioting in six separate districts across Dublin between 5pm and 8pm, after the appearance of the labour leader, Jim Larkin, at a proclaimed meeting on Sackville Street.
In respect of the rioting on Sackville Street, the report says that the deployment of the police was ‘wise and effectual’ and that they acted with ‘prudence and skill’.
The report concedes that while the riot was at its peak there may have been ‘isolated incidents’ where the police used unnecessary force, but this was due to a ‘misunderstanding’.