A point that became clear during the recent controversy over an RIC commemoration in Dublin Castle was the various blindspots in general knowledge of the RIC. One clear gap was in awareness and knowledge of the Special Constabulary (from later became the B-Specials or B-men). The Irish Story has just published an overview I’ve written on the Ulster Special Constabulary which you can read it here.
While the Special Constabulary was created under existing legislation (from 1832) it was largely identical to a scheme for arming unionists to oppose Home Rule that had been put forward in 1911-12. Proposed by Sir James Craig to the British cabinet in the summer of 1920, it came in the immediate wake of revivals of the UVF in a number of locations earlier in 1920. At the Twelfth of July demonstrations that summer, Sir Edward Carson had announced that if the British government didn’t accept the assistance of a reorganised UVF, they would ‘take matters into their own hands’. The next day the London Times was scathing:
“If indeed that organisation was revived as a defensive police force for Ulster the most serious consequences would almost certainly ensue. Upon Sir Edward Carson lies largely the blame for having sown the dragon’s teeth in Ireland.”
For more, check out the Irish Story article….
Cartoon lampooning Edward Carson when Special Constabulary scheme was being put in place (note the ‘made in Germany’ tag on his rifle). From Dublin Evening Telegraph, 14/9/1920.