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The British state and the Irish rebellion of 1916: an intelligence failure or an failure of response

Sloan, G. (2013) The British state and the Irish rebellion of 1916: an intelligence failure or an failure of response. Intelligence and National Security, 28 (4). pp. 453-494. ISSN 1743-9019

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/02684527.2012.735079


The teleological narrative that has dominated the handling of intelligence by the British state in the events that led up to the 1916 Irish Rebellion in Dublin has been characterised as a cocktail of incompetence and mendacity. Using new and existing archive material this article argues that both the cabinet in London and key members of the Irish Executive in Dublin were supplied with accurate and timely intelligence by the Admiralty's signals intelligence unit, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police with respect to this event. Far from being a failure of intelligence here is evidence to show that there occurred a failure of response on behalf of key decision-makers. The warnings that were given by intelligence organisations were filtered through the existing policy preferences and assumptions. As a result of these factors accurate evaluations and sound judgement were not exercised by key officials, such as Sir Matthew Nathan, in Dublin Castle.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:25318
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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