left to right: Michael McDonnell, Tim Keogh, Vinny Byrne, Paddy Daly and Jim Slattery
The core of Collin's assassination work was done by "The Squad". The Squad was ‘officially’ established on 19 September 1919 at 46 Rutland (Parnell) Square (though by that time it had been in operation for two months and had already carried out two killings). Members were paid £4.10s per week. Officially the unit was a part of the Dublin Brigade under Dick McKee from Finglas, but they were separate from the Battalion structure and directly under the command of Collins, McKee and Mulcahy. They developed a vast network of sympathisers who ranged from Dublin Castle detectives to women working in lodging houses, which enabled them to identify British agents. The first commander was Michael McDonnell, and later Paddy Daly O'Donnell was in command on Bloody Sunday, but soon afterwards his health colapsed and Collins sent him to USWA to recuperate.
The founder members were
Further members included
Colonel J.V.Joice, W.S. NO.1762 Chief of Investgation Staff of the Bureau of Military History, gives a list of names of members of the Squad, G.H.Q. Intelligence Staff and the Active Service Unit., dated 18th February, 1959
From statements to hand, the Squad may be defined as a Special Unit formed by the Director of Intelligence, Michael Collins, for special duties decided on by him and to deal with enemy agents, spies and informers. It operated directly under his own particular direction and was solely responsible to him. Its activities were not, however, strictly limited to the liquidation of spies and informers. On occasions it took part in other military operations in conjuction with units of the Dublin Brigade such as , for example, the burning of the Custom House. Starting with a numerical strength of four, it was increased from time to time but never exceeded twenty. Some members, however, claim that it never numbered more than twelve and for this reason its personal became known as The Twelve Apostles.
Dublin ‘Active Service Unit’ men sometimes augmented the Squad
There were around 12 groups of gunmen
Of the IRA men involved, only Frank Teeling was captured during the operation. He was court-martialled and sentenced to hang, but escaped from Kilmainham Jail before the sentence could be carried out. Patrick Moran and Thomas Whelan were arrested later and, despite their protestations of innocence, were both hanged for murder in connection with the killings in March 1921
Reaction from strain. George White went further and suggested that by April 1921 there were serious breaches of discipline in the squad because of drink, that Collins wanted to replace Tom Keogh with the abstemious Paddy Daly. ‘The attitude of HQ Squad was definitely disobedient and they cut up rather rough. ’ White is supported by a series of letters dating from the previous month from the O/C Fingal. He complained of a disturbance at a dance held in the hall in Portrane asylum. When five men, led by Joe Dolan, refused to leave they were bundled into a padded cell. For the twenty minutes they were inside they slashed at the walls and door with knives.
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