Not a good day for Anglo-Irish relations, this day in 1920, Bloody Sunday. It tells in a nutshell how there is no such thing as the moral high ground in any conflict much as the extremists on both sides hurry to claim it.

The excellent Facebook page Rare Irish Stuff tells us of the cold-blooded killings of 14 hand-picked British Intelligence working in Dublin at the height of the War of Independence. They were known as the Cairo Gang by the IRA due to their frequenting of the Café Cairo on Grafton Street.

Michael Collins was one of the High Command of the IRA of the day with Intelligence being part of his brief. He orchestrated the murders in various houses and buildings in the Dublin area within hours of one another, wiping out at a stroke most of the British Intelligence presence in the country.

The Cairo Gang

The Cairo Gang

Collins is quoted as saying “By their destruction the very air is made sweeter. That should be the future’s judgment on this particular event. For myself, my conscience is clear. There is no crime in detecting and destroying, in war-time, the spy and the informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.”

The reprisal did not take long. Dublin were playing Tipperary that afternoon at Croke Park. British Auxiliaries raided the ground and shot about them indiscriminately. Again 14 were killed, 13 innocent spectators together with Michael Hogan of the Tipperary team.Bloody Sunday

Reprisals, counter reprisals. Only in more recent times has there been some understanding that there was evil on both sides, no matter the underlying claims as to who was right and wrong. Good men, young men, died for a cause they believed in. There was no glory in it for anyone, and little gain.