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legal battle over the First Dáil loan

19 Oct 2020 / Ireland Print

The legal battle over the First Dáil loan

A recently-published book sheds light on the legal battle surrounding the attempts to fund an independent Irish state 100 years ago.

Crowdfunding the Revolution: The First Dáil Loan and the Battle for Irish Independence, written by Patrick O’Sullivan Greene, has been published by Eastwood, part of the Wordwell Group.

Secret deposits

At the book’s centre is the inquiry established by Resident Magistrate Alan Bell to locate the Dáil funds secretly deposited in the commercial banks.

It also looks at the key role played by Michael Noyk, solicitor and legal adviser to Dáil Éireann, in the counter-state movement.

In 1919, the Irish executive in Dublin Castle was able to use special powers available under legislation passed in the 1880s to suppress the activities of the First Dáil.

Proscribed

An order to prohibit Dáil Eireann was signed on 10 September, while Sinn Fein was proscribed on 25 November.

The book examines the specific measures used to suppress the raising of the First Dáil loan, which were facilitated by the ‘Crimes Act’, the more common name for the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, passed by the House of Commons in 1887, which applied only in Ireland.

In March 1920, this legislation was used to establish a banking inquiry under Mr Bell, who had wide judicial and investigative powers.

Powers

Crowdfunding the Revolution details the extensive powers available to Mr Bell, who could examine under oath any persons whom he believed capable of giving material evidence about an offence.

Inquiries were held behind closed doors and no legal representation was permitted. Witnesses were not excused from answering questions on the grounds that the answer might be self-incriminating and could be committed to prison for refusing to answer questions.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland