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exclusive Could mystery of Michael Collins’ death be in missing affidavit?

Affidavit was written by the driver of the armoured car which accompanied Michael Collins to the Béal na Bláth ambush

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The new Michael Collins stamp which was released this week by An Post to mark the centenary of the leader's death.

The new Michael Collins stamp which was released this week by An Post to mark the centenary of the leader's death.

The new Michael Collins stamp which was released this week by An Post to mark the centenary of the leader's death.

corkman

Could a mysterious affidavit finally shed a light on who actually killed Michael Collins?

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts or continued existence of the affidavit written by the driver of the armoured car which accompanied Michael Collins to the Béal na Bláth ambush and which was due to be made public 100 years after the engagement which led to the death of the Free State leader.

According to sources who have spoken with The Corkman, the affidavit was written while McPeake, a WWI veteran of the British Army serving as a machine gunner during the Battle of the Somme, was in a safehouse in the Kilcorney area.

It was then delivered to a Cork-based solicitor’s firm which, this newspaper understands, has been amalgamated with another solicitor’s firm.

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It was when this happened that the affidavit is understood to have gone missing.

An affidavit from such a central figure as Glasgow-born McPeake in the ambush could open a can of worms about the assassination of Michael Collins.

McPeake himself is often named as one of the prime suspects given his British Army background and, three months after the Béal na Bláth ambush, he defected from the Free State forces to the irregulars, taking with him from Bandon Barracks the Sliabh na mBan arrmoured car, armed as it was with a Vickers Machine Gun.

This vehicle was later involved in an attack by the IRA on the Free State forces in the Múscraí Gaeltacht village of Baile Mhúirne. The IRA freed a local man who was being held for possession of a gun, a capital offence at the time, from the clutches of the National Army.

While some historians have blamed an IRA man, Sonny O’Neill, for the killing of Michael Collins, others have pointed the finger of suspicion at Emmet Dalton who was accompanying Collins in his open top touring car.

The motive being ascribed to Dalton is that he too was a British Army veteran, who was decorated for valour at the Somme, and the suspicion was that he was either a British agent or that he acted on behalf of colleagues of Collins in the Irish Government who feared he might incite a Civil War with unionists in the north in a bid to get rid of the border.

The mystery around the missing affidavit comes as events marking the killing of Michael Collins take place all around west Cork in the build-up to Sunday’s commemoration at Béál na Bláth, due to be addressed by both An Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin, and Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar.

Organising committee chairman Garret Kelleher has said that the joint invitation to both leaders is an effort to carry on the event’s tradition of attempting to heal the nation’s historic wounds. For the first time, the event will be broadcast live on RTÉ News Now.


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