Guardians of the Peace
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The establishment of an unarmed police force in the Irish Free State was one of the most significant achievements of the early years of Irish self-government.
As the visible symbol of state authority, the Garda Siochana came under immense pressure in the turmoil of the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Yet it succeeded in securing a remarkably high degree of support and acceptance among a population bitterly divided by the inheritance of civil war.
Guardians of the Peace narrates the creation and building of the Garda Siochana as the new state sought to consolidate itself. Led first by Michael Staines as Commissioner, the new police force was initially planned as an armed body. After a mutiny at Kildare Depot, Eoin O’Duffy was appointed Commissioner and with Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin Higgins, promulgated the concept of the unarmed guard.
Conor Brady traces the story of the Garda Siochana from its foundation. He details the conflicts and tensions between Garda leaders and their political masters. He recounts the establishment of the Special Branch in 1925 and the Blueshirt movement and the emergency of 1939-45.
In his insightful introduction, the author comments The story told in Guardians of the Peace is part of a longer and wider narrative. But it is a story which still has relevance as Ireland moves, hopefully, to a new era of peace and stability. It is above all chronicle of the idealism and the imperfections of ordinary men presented by history with the discharging of a rather extraordinary task.