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Martial Law extended in Ireland
General Sir John Maxwell inspecting the Cadet Corps at the Royal Barracks, Dublin. Photo: Irish Life, Vol. 17, 19 May 1916. Full collection available at the National Library of Ireland.

Martial Law extended in Ireland

General Maxwell defends handling of Rising

Dublin, 29 May 1916 - A Proclamation extending Martial Law in Ireland was issued this weekend by Dublin Castle.

The order has been extended until further notice due to the prevailing ‘disaffection and unrest’ around the country, which is the cause of anxiety and alarm.

General Sir John Maxwell, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland has spoken to the press and said that the Proclamation had been issued at his request. He reminded  the public that civil government was still suspended, and that the present state of the country involved certain risks.

He also said that all the arms in the country had yet to be given up and that the courts-martial would continue.

The Proclamation extending Martial Law in Ireland and distributed from Dublin Castle. (Image: © IWM)

Accusations of excessive force refuted
Maxwell defended the policy which led to the initial arrests and executions, promising these methods would continue to be used ‘in the case of nine or 10 fugitives who are said to be deeply implicated in the actual Rising who are still at large.’

General Maxwell denied that excessive force had been used in suppressing the Rising:

‘I cannot go over it all again now, but I think it ought to be made clear that in the beginning the rebels and those who controlled them were responsible for many acts which, even if one were to admit a state of war, which of course one cannot do in dealing with civil commotion, were quite outside the rules of warfare.’

‘They were murders in cold blood, and any impartial judge and jury would have been bound to find it so.’

General Maxwell pointed also to the collaboration with Germany as something that ‘made the situation very much more dangerous from the Imperial point of view.’

Regarding the prospect of future talks on Ireland, General Maxwell said:

‘I am not a politician, and I cannot speak as such, and this is the most disagreeable work a soldier can have, and nobody who knows anything about the army can think that a soldier would dream of prolonging it.’

Dr Fearghal McGarry of Queen's University, Belfast, discusses the aftermath of the Rising and its effect on Irish political life.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.