Pollard: The Secret Societies Of Ireland

Pdf Pollard, Captain J. B. C., The Secret Societies Of Ireland: Their Rise And Progress, London: Philip Alan & Co., 1922
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The Secret Socieities Of Ireland by H. B. C. Pollard first published 1922, is an account of the rise of violent Irish republicanism  from the mid 18th century to the early 20th century. Pollard claims that the combined malign influences of the Jesuits, freemasonry, atheistic revolutionaries and criminal mafias played a part in the evolution of militant Irish republicanism. A core of highly disciplined republicans in oath-bound, secretive organisations plotted the infiltration of Irish political and social organisations in an attempt to spur the masses into general rebellion against British rule. They emerged in the context of conflicts between Britain and other European powers and international revolutionary movements.

In the 18th century Irish Catholic groups attacked property while Protestants formed groups to terrorise Irish Catholics. In 1795 in Loughall, Co. Armagh both sides fought a pitched battle. However in 1798 many Protestants and Catholics put their differences aside and led by the United Irishmen, attempted to overthrow British rule with French help. The leadership were wealthy Anglo-Irish Protestants such as Wolfe Tone. Robert Emmet who led an 1803 rebellion came from the same group.

In the 19th century, Irish republican groups continued their activities with secret members recruited from across the social, political and religious spectrum. Parallel with constitutional nationalism, Irish republicans in the Fenians, Clan na Gael and the powerful masonic-style Ancient Order of Hibernians with support in America, plotted revolt in Ireland. Unionists responded by creating their own masonic Orange Order and their own secretive movements in an attempt to defeat their conspiracies.

The political stand-off over Irish Home Rule threatened civil war between the nationalist Irish Volunteers and the unionist UVF prior to 1914. However both sides joined the British Army in large numbers to fight in World War I. Hardline republicans however were behind the 1916 Rising and Sinn Fein defeated the Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1918 election. The IRA used guerrilla tactics to overthrow British rule during the Irish War of Independence 1919-22 and both sides committed violent atrocities. Ireland became partitioned between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, a settlement rejected by hardline Irish republicans provoking the Irish Civil War 1922-23.

Pollard claimed that Irish republicanism was really a conspiracy to usurp law and order by a core of fanatics and criminals. He laments the lack of British political will to pursue the war against the IRA and excuses many of the atrocities by the infamous 'Black and Tans' during the conflict. He claimed that the racial characteristics of the Irish race were at the root of the Irish problem and predicted that any peace settlement would soon be followed by a return to violence.

Hugh Bertie Campbell Pollard (1888-1966) was born in London, baptised a Roman Catholic and educated in boarding school. He joined the British Army and was promoted to Captain during World War I. In 1920 he became Press Officer to the information section of the Royal Irish Constablary or RIC, the British police force in Ireland. He was involved in a 'black propaganda' campaign against the IRA producing fake versions of the Irish Bulletin, a gazette read by Irish republicans and fake newsreels purporting to show British progress in the conflict. The exposure of Pollard's activities embarrassed the British government.

Before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Pollard organised a plane to fly the fascist leader General Franco from the Canary Islands to Morocco to take command of his forces in 1936. The British government did not participate in the war but they sought to prevent Spain falling to communism. In 1940 he became MI6 station chief in Madrid where he played an important role in clandestine intelligence gathering inside the Nazi Third Reich.

During World War II, he was involved with the Special Operations Executive or SOE, set up by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to co-ordinate guerrilla warfare by resistance groups against Nazi forces in occupied Europe. Ironically, it is said that the SOE modelled itself on the Irish Republican Army.

During a long career Pollard took part in many other conflicts on behalf of British intelligence, wrote books on military history and became a firearms expert. Pollard also worked as a journalist for the Daily Express and was sporting editor of Country Life. He died in Sussex, England in 1966.

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