Seán Mac Eoin recalls his release from prison as part of the truce negotiations in 1921.
On 7 March 1921, Seán Mac Eoin (1893-1973) was arrested and sentenced to death for the murder of an RIC District Inspector McGrath in January 1921. During an attempt to escape he was shot and wounded he was later transferred to Mountjoy Prison. He remained there until he was released as part of the peace negotiations with the British in August 1921.
Seán Mac Eoin recalls the period following his arrest, the truce talks and the events leading up to his release. As part of the truce agreement, the British government was to release all members of parliament who had been imprisoned. On 6 August 1921, the British government released every member of parliament except Seán Mac Eoin.
They put up that I was sentenced to death and that was that.
At the cabinet meeting on the 6 August 1921, Michael Collins supported by Arthur Griffith declared that the Dáil would continue to convene if Seán Mac Eoin was not released. There was an objection from one member of the cabinet who did not feel it worth risking the fate of the negotiations for Mac Eoin’s life.
It wouldn’t be wise to risk the truce for the sake of one man.
Michael Collins served the ultimatum to the British and also gave a copy of it to The Irish Times newspaper and they published it. Seán Mac Eoin was released on 8 August 1921.
'Survivors 1916: General Sean McEoin' was recorded on 5 December 1964. The presenter is Terence de Vere White.
Seán Mac Eoin was a soldier during the War of Independence and leader of an IRA (Irish Republican Army) flying column in north Longford during that conflict. He was first elected a Sinn Féin TD in 1921 for Longford Westmeath. He also served in different constituencies for Sinn Féin, Cumann na nGaedheal and Fine Gael until his defeat in 1965. He was also Minister for Justice (1948-1951) and Defence (1951 and 1954-1957).
'The Survivors' was a project undertaken in the early years of Irish television to record personal accounts of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. In the early 1960s, Telefís Éireann (RTÉ Television) began to record interviews with individuals who had taken part in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. These interviews were recorded the working title of ‘The Survivors’.