Thursday 19 October 2017

Decency of IRA man stopped cycle of killing during World War II

A garda's murder 75 years ago could have led to even more bloodshed but for an act of humanity

Arrest: Pat O'Connell
Arrest: Pat O'Connell

Ryle Dwyer

The murder of Detective Sergeant Denis O'Brien, near his Dublin home on September 9, 1942 had severe repercussions, leading to the execution of Charlie Kerins, the young leader of the IRA. It might also have had further horrific consequences, were it not for the intervention of one those wanted for the murder.

Kerins, who was born in Tralee on January 23, 1918, joined the IRA in 1940. He rose precipitately within its ranks, largely due to the efficiency of the security forces.

After Eamon de Valera came to power in 1932, Ned Broy was appointed Garda Commissioner and given the task of recruiting some former Republicans to combat the danger of a Blueshirt coup d'etat. These recruits - dubbed 'Broy Harriers' -later turned their attention to the IRA when it sought to collude with Nazi Germany during World War II.

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