The Treason Felony men

The following is a draft list of those who were charged and found guilty by the northern government, up to around 1954, under the archaic Treason Felony Act of 1848 (which still stands in the UK). The Act charges:

If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to intimidate or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom or any other of her Majesty’s dominions or countries under the obeisance of her Majesty, and such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, shall express, utter, or declare, by publishing any printing or writing . . .  or by any overt act or deed, every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . . to be transported beyond the seas for the term or his or her natural life.

Jack McNally notes (in his memoir Morally Good, Politically Bad published in 1989) that the sentencing provision under the Act (as quoted above) was transportation for life. This was amended (under an 1857 Penal Servitude Act) to the equivalent term in penal servitude. This provision seems to have been in force in the 1930s and 1940s meaning, somewhat ironically, that the sentences handed out by the northern government’s courts were unconstitutional.


The list is complied from contemporary newspaper accounts but is not neccessarily exhaustive as it relies on the charges under the Treason Felony Act being reported alongside more conventional charges such as possession of firearms.


25th April 1936

Jim Killeen, Adjutant General, IRA

Mick Kelly, GHQ,IRA

Sean McCool, Donegal

Jack McNally, Belfast

Tony Lavery, Belfast

Jimmy Steele, Belfast

John Fox, Portadown

Mick Gallagher, Tyrone

Johnny McAdams, Derry

Liam Mulholland, Belfast

Charlie McGlade, Belfast

Liam Rice, Belfast

Mickey Trainor, Belfast

Arrested in an RUC raid on an IRA meeting at 10 Crown Entry, Belfast on 25th April 1936. Having been savaged by the National Council for Civil Liberties for its oppression of opposition and, in particular, its draconian use of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act, the northern government chose to use an archaic piece of legislation, the 1848 Treason Felony Act, to  prosecute those present. The IRA members were present nominally to hold a courtmartial of Lavery, then the Belfast IRA O/C, but it seems equally likely that a gathering of most of the senior IRA commanders in the area under northern government control was to cover a much broader agenda. This may have included the possibility of a major campaign inside the north.

Charged and tried for treason felony, sentences were handed down on 22nd July 1936 varying between 7 and 2 years. Each was specifically charged that he and the others arrested at Crown Entry and

…divers other evil disposed persons feloniously and wickedly did compass, imagine, invent , devise and intend to deprive and depose our Lord the King from the style, honour and royal name of the Imperial Crown of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and the said felonious compassing, imagination, invention, device and intention then feloniously did express, utter and declare by divers overt acts and deeds and further, that you at Belfast aforesaid on 25th April 1936 and on divers other days as well before as after thatday together with the said others and divers other evil disposed persons, feloniously and wickedly did compass, imagine, invent, devise and intend to levy war against our Lord the King in Northern Ireland by force and constraint to compel him to change his measures and counsels; and the said last mentioned felonious compassing, imagination, invention, device and intent feloniously and wickedly did express, utter and declare by divers overt acts and deeds; contrary to the Treason Felony Act 1848.

This wording was also used for the others charged under the Act listed below.

July 1939

William McAllister

In July 1939 he was detained in London, brought back to Belfast and charged with Treason Felony as documents found in a raid on his house on 15th January 1937 identified him as Adjutant of the Belfast IRA. Twelve days after the raid, the IRA shot the Belfast IRA’s Intelligence Officer, Joe Hanna, believing him to be an informer. After the raid McAllister had went on the run and ended up in London. During his trial, the court was read part of the 1934 Constitution and Governing Programme of the Irish Republic, reputedly found in McAllister’s Lincoln Street home in 1937. On 24th November 1939 he received 7 years.

15th August 1940

Gerald Higgins, Sevastopol Street

Kevin Harrison, Grovesnor Road

James Weldon, Servia Street

John Maguire, Lady Street

Sam McComb, Alma Street

Terry Benson, Sultan Street

Joe McKenna, Cairns Street

Frank Hicks, Alma Street

Joe McManus, Sultan Street

Dan Rooney, Cyprus Street

Billy McKee, McDonnell Street

Charlie McCotter, Slate Street

Eddie Dalzell, Ross Street

Thomas McMenemy, Cullingtree Road

Patrick McGuinness, Ton Street

William McGarry, Getty Street

All were members of D Company present at 19 Getty Street when the RUC raided it on 15th August 1940. Dalzell and McMenemy had tried to escape over a wall with the latter being shot and wounded. All were tried and found guilty of treason felony and given seven years on 22nd November 1940.


9th March 1942

Rex Thompson, Skegoneil Avenue

William Smith, Ashfield Gardens

Arrested on March 9th, 1942. Both were charged with treason felony and there was a minor sensation about their case as both were Protestant. On 4th August, Thompson pleaded guilty and got six months while Smith pleaded not guilty to treason felony but guilty to other charges of publishing seditious documents and got nine months.


November 1942

John S. S. Graham, Antrim Road

David Fleming, Regent Street

Hugh McAteer, William Street (Derry)

John Lynan, Crumlin Road

McAteer and the others (captured at IRA publicity HQ on the Crumlin Road) were arrested separately but were effectively tried together for treason felony in October and November 1942. McAteer got 15 years, Graham and Fleming 12 years and Lynan got twelve months.

17th October 1954

Sean O’Callaghan, Cork

Sean O’Hegarty, Cork

Liam Mulcahy, Cork

Eamon Boyce, Dublin

Philip Clarke, Dublin

Tom Mitchell, Dublin

Patrick Kearney, Dublin

Jack McCabe, Dublin

Arrested after the raid on Omagh barracks on 17th October 1954, eight were charged with various offences including treason felony (ironically all were from the south). That December all were found guilty and received sentences of ten years penal servitude, apart from Boyce who received twelve years.


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