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Political Imprisonment and the Irish, 1912-1921$
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William Murphy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199569076

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199569076.001.0001

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‘The Same Walls & Doors & Gates & Persons’

‘The Same Walls & Doors & Gates & Persons’

Internment (Britain) May 1918–March 1919

(p.108) 5 ‘The Same Walls & Doors & Gates & Persons’
Political Imprisonment and the Irish, 1912-1921

William Murphy

Oxford University Press

In the spring of 1918 the government reacted to the rise of Irish separatism, linked to the separatists’ anti-conscription stance, by interning in Britain a clutch of prominent Sinn Féin members. These internments immediately posed a series of questions. Which arm of state would be tasked with holding the internees? What regime would they seek to impose? Could they avoid prison conflict? What would the internees’ attitude to their incarceration be? Would they pursue in Britain the model of prison protest so effective in Ireland in late 1917/early 1918? How would the Irish nationalist public react? This chapter examines these so-called ‘German Plot’ internments using a broad range of sources, but particularly internees’ letters, to explore internees’ experiences, including deaths due to influenza, building discontent, and successful escape attempts. It analyses reactions to the internments in Ireland and assesses the high politics that informed policy decisions relating to the internees.

Keywords:   ‘German Plot’, anti-conscription, letters, internment, Sinn Féin, politics, influenza, escapes

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