May 2nd 1916, Court Martial Of The 1916 Leaders Begins. – Irish Revolutionaries

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May 2nd 1916, Court Martial Of The 1916 Leaders Begins.

May 2nd 1916, Court Martial Of The 1916 Leaders Begins.

The 1916 rising was a major embarrassment for the British so General Maxwell is determined to show the Irish people that rebellion against the crown will not be tolerated.

In the immediate aftermath of the 1916 rising, around 3,500 people are arrested around the country, the vast majority of those are brought to Richmond Barracks in Dublin where the leaders are identified and sent for court-martial.

The 'gallant allies in Europe" part of the proclamation was not enough to prove a German connection to the rising so a letter Padraig Pearse wrote to his mother that mentioned help from a "German Fleet" was enough to charge the leaders with "rebellion with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy”, if found guilty of this charge meant the death penalty.

Starting on May 2nd 1916, 160 prisoners were tried by field general court-martial. The prisoners were held at Richmond Barracks, where they were lined up to be called into a dingy little office on the corner of the square. The trials took place here: None of the prisoners was allowed legal representation and most trials lasted no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

The prisoners did not have access to the rules under which these trials were conducted. Had they done so, they might have asked for the few legal entitlements that the rules allowed; free access to defence witnesses was one, time to prepare a defence was another.

Such was General Maxwell's lust for revenge he ignored all advice even from the viceroy of Ireland at the time not to go ahead with the executions, his decision to execute the leaders starting on May 3rd 1916 was probably the biggest mistake the British ever made in Ireland.

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