A NEW book to be published next month makes the shocking claim that Eamon de Valera, the founding father of the nation, was under the control of the British.
The book, provocatively titled 'England's Greatest Spy: Eamon de Valera', suggests that Dev was terrified of being executed after the Rising and was "turned" in exchange for his life. For some years afterwards, the book claims, Dev was under British control.
The 470-page hardback is published by Stacey International, a London publisher specialising in politics and history.
The author is retired US naval officer and historian John Turi from Princeton, New Jersey. He developed an interest in Irish history through his wife, who was born in Ireland. Turi has been researching his controversial book for a decade.
The case against de Valera by Turi is based firstly on a detailed analysis of Dev's emotionally stunted formative years.
He claims Dev was rejected by everyone in his early life -- his mysterious father in New York (in fact, Dev was probably illegitimate), his mother, his uncle in Ireland, who treated him coldly, even the Church, which rejected his ambitions for the priesthood because of his probable illegitimacy.
His miserable upbringing left Dev with an inadequate personality, Turi suggests, which made him susceptible to being influenced later on.
Turi is scathing about Dev's erratic behaviour during the Rising, when he was in charge of the men at Boland's Mill.
He stayed awake for days, became disorientated and issued confused, sometimes ridiculous, orders. "It was not just his tactics the men questioned," Turi writes, "they questioned his sanity as well."
Dev kept his men "sitting on their heels" while a short distance away at Mount Street Bridge eight Volunteers were trying to hold off hundreds of British soldiers.
In fact the men at Boland's Mill played little or no part in the Easter Week fighting, Turi says, because Dev was so exhausted and fearful.
At the end of the week, when word reached Boland's Mill of the surrender, Turi writes that de Valera "abandoned his men and slipped out of Boland's at noon on the Sunday, taking with him a British prisoner . . . as his insurance against being shot before he could surrender".
"De Valera the cowardly, incompetent, mentally unstable officer who deserted his troops was (later) repackaged as de Valera the lonely hero fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds."
What followed was also suspicious, Turi says.
Dev later claimed that he was tried with a number of other men and sentenced to death.
Turi writes: "Not one of the men allegedly tried with de Valera ever confirmed that such a trial took place, and there is no trace in the British Public Record Office of any trial."
He also quotes the flat denial by the army prosecuting officer, William Wylie, that de Valera had been tried.
Turi also considers Dev's fragile mental state and tearful collapse at Richmond Barracks the night before he was taken to Kilmainham, to where condemned prisoners were sent.
All the events indicate that Dev was terrified of dying, Turi suggests, and that it would have been easy for the British intelligence officer Ivor Price to turn Dev into a British collaborator. Major Price was "skilled at manipulating weakness".
Turi notes that Dev was the only one of four Dublin commandants not to be tried and executed.
He dismisses theories that Dev was spared because he was born in America or because the British realised that further executions would be a mistake; as others were executed later.
The only reasonable explanation, Turi claims, is that Dev was "turned". In all, Turi sets forth a dozen instances of what he calls "de Valera's machinations that aided and abetted British interests" to support this claim.
Some of this 'evidence' concerns Dev's activities in the US after he was released from prison -- which split the powerful Irish-American lobby.
Turi also says the British feared what Michael Collins might do in the North and used de Valera to engineer the situation that resulted in Collins's death.
Turi also calls Irish neutrality during the World War II "a hoax on the Irish people and a major boon for English interests".
His book, which ends with a call for a posthumous trial of de Valera, will be published in Ireland and Britain on November 30 and in the US next year.