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1922

Michael Collins assassinated

Irish revolutionary and Sinn Fein politician Michael Collins is killed in an ambush in west County Cork, Ireland.

In the early part of the century, Collins joined Sinn Fein, an Irish political party dedicated to achieving independence for all Ireland. From its inception, the party became the unofficial political wing of militant Irish groups in their struggle to throw off British rule. In 1911, the British Liberal government approved negotiations for Irish Home Rule, but the Conservative Party opposition in Parliament, combined with Ireland’s anti-Home Rule factions, defeated the plans. With the outbreak of World War I, the British government delayed further discussion of Irish self-determination, and Collins and other Irish nationalists responded by staging the Easter Rising of 1916.

In 1918, with the threat of conscription being imposed on the island, the Irish people gave Sinn Fein a majority in national elections, and the party established an independent Irish parliament, Dail Eireann, which declared Ireland a sovereign republic. In 1919, Collins led the Irish Volunteers, a prototype of the Irish Republican Army, in a widespread and effective guerrilla campaign against British forces. Two years later, a cease-fire was declared, and Collins was one of the architects of the historic 1921 peace treaty with Great Britain, which granted autonomy to southern Ireland.

In January 1922, Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith was elected president of the newly established Irish Free State, and Collins was appointed as his finance minister. He held the post until he was assassinated by Republican extremists in August 1922.

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