Colonel Gerald Smyth’s Speech to RIC Condoning ‘Shoot on Sight’ Tralee 1920

#OnThisDay 1920 Colonel Gerald Smyth, a one armed WW1 veteran from Co. Down made a speech to the RIC in Listowel in which he said-

“Take cover behind fences near roads, and when civilians are seen approaching shout: ‘Hands up!’ Should the order be not obeyed, shoot, and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets or are in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped and you are bound to get the right persons sometimes. The more you shoot the better I will like you; and I assure you that no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man and I will guarantee that your names will not be given at the inquest.”
Hunger strikers will be allowed to die in jail, the more the merrier

Fourteen RIC constables led by Jeremiah Mee resigned, most joined the IRA. Smyth ordered the 14 to be arrested as they left the room but no constable would do so.

Smyth was shot dead by the IRA four weeks later. His assassin, Dan ‘Sandow’ O’Donovan allegedly said to him, “Colonel, were not your orders to shoot on sight? Well you are in sight now, so prepare. (to die)


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