Trial of Civilians by Military Courts in Ireland 1921

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In December 1920, Ireland's War of Independence hung in the balance. The response of the government at Westminster was a declaration of martial law in the south and west of Ireland, placing the courts and civil authorities under the control of the army, and also converting a number of non-capital charges into offenses punishable by death. The army then set up its own courts to bring to trial and to punish those who contravened martial law. The lower tier of the military court sent 549 people to prison and recommended many others for internment. The upper tier of the court tried 128 people. 37 men were sentenced to death, of which 14 were executed. Many others received long sentences of imprisonment. This book provides a full account of the historical context and a legal justification for martial law asserted by the government of Lloyd George. The legal, moral, and constitutional issues are examined, along with an analysis of the circumstances of the conflict and the policy decisions which led to the imposition of martial law. The book also looks at the procedures governing military courts, how they operated, and the men who ran them. Additionally, the constitutional and legal ramifications of ceding control to the army are explored.

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