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Police cleared of use of ‘unnecessary violence’ during Lockout
The report into the actions of the police during August and September of 1913 found that officers acted with 'prudence and skill'. Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 6 September 1913

Police cleared of use of ‘unnecessary violence’ during Lockout

Constables commended for their bravery

Published: 14 February 1914

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.

Conor Brady talks about the report of the Disturbances Commission and the impact it had on the police force in Dublin. (Holding Image: National Library of Ireland, CLAR 73)

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.’

A letter from the Bedford branch of the  National Union of Railway. It demands an impartial inquiry and also calls for 'the punishment of the uniformed who were guilty of the unprovoked assaults on the people' of Dublin. Click to enlarge.
(Image: National Archives of Ireland, CSO/RP 1914  3382)

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’.


Century Ireland

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