The period of a hundred years ago is a contentious one in Irish history. Sandwiched between the War of Independence and Irish Civil War, late 1921 to early 1922 saw the signing and ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the transfer of power from the British establishment to the Irish Free State. This included the phased disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), which had served as the nations police force for nearly 100 years, replaced by the Civic Guard, later to become the Garda Siochana.
While this transfer of power from one policing authority to another was inevitable following the ratification of the treaty, the RIC already had to contend with the existence of openly public IRA policing since the truce period from July 1921 onwards; the IRA, under the nose of the existing British administration and in allegiance to their own Dail Eireann, openly undertook policing activities which they could not have been able to do so before. While a fragile peace existed between the two policing authorities occasional incidents did occur where both clashed in the carrying out of their duties. One such incident led to a case being heard at the Oulart Petty Sessions Court, held in Enniscorthy on Monday the 2nd of January 1922.
During this case a publican by the name of Denis Redmond was accused of allowing his pub in Ballygarret to serve drink on a Sunday the 11th of December 1921. On the day in question Constable Donoughue, stationed in Gorey, entered Redmonds premises by it’s yard gate which was open. He continued through the kitchen and into the pub, the doors of both which were also open. There he found Mrs. Redmond whom he asked as to why the pub was open, to which she responded that she was getting flour. While both were speaking two men entered the premises and the constable enquired as to their identities and reasons for being there. Both men said that they had seen the constable, who was not in uniform but in plain clothes, enter the premises and that they had followed him inside to see if he was a ‘bona fide traveller’. In response the constable identified himself and he asked both men to do the same. A somewhat comic situation followed.
While one of the men named William Cullen from Ballygarret gladly identified himself his companion, Jason Dempsey of Tingar, stubbornly would not. Instead only doing so in Irish, with Cullen having to provide the English. Constable Donoghue asked the men for their authority on the premises to which they replied that they belonged to the IRA police of the area. He then instructed both men to leave the premised to which they ignored and a request by the constable for Mrs Redmond to remove them gave similar results. The second direct request to the men was met with laughter and the responce for the constable to leave instead. He informed them that they were both committing an offence and Dempsey asked if he (the constable) had any notion of putting them out by force. However both men then left the premises, the constable doing so also.
In the deliberations that followed Mr. Redmond told Major Crosbie, whom was presiding over the case, that he had gone to take in the cows hence why the gate was left often to let them in. Following a comical period of questions also between the Major and constable as to the pub being open or closed the former dismissed the case altogether.
‘A battle of vigilance’ New Ross Standard 6th January 1922, p8