Subject: Kevin Barry, the Irish rebellion, etc.
Carl J Boyd <[log in to unmask]> writes:
Question: I thought that only uniformed enemy had to be treated as
prisoner of war and ununiformed could be executed as spies. Is this
I believe that is correct. The IRA during the rebellion wore uniforms
when fighting--of course, they could take off the uniforms on the way
To quote yet another song:
A broad black brimmer, the ribbon frayed and torn by the careless
whisks of many a mountain breeze,
An old trenchcoat, all battle-stained and worn, and britches nearly
threadbare at the knees
A Sam Browne belt with a buckle big and strong ...
is a description of the IRA uniform in the 1920s.
Since the British did not accept the existence of the Irish
government, they also did not accept that the Geneva Convention
(which applies to war between nations) applied to the Irish
The legal situation changed a bit at the end of the Second World
War. Otto Skorzeney and his Nazi commandos were charged with war
crimes because of their tactic of penetrating an area wearing
Allied uniforms, and changing into German uniforms only when
beginning their attack. They mounted a successful legal defense
by demonstrating that the Allies used the same tactic. So
presumably this is now permitted under the Geneva Convention.
In Northern Ireland today, the same arguments continue. The IRA
claim to wear uniforms when operating and claim prisoner of war
status under the Geneva convention. The British government
refuses to apply the Geneva Convention since the IRA is not
the armed force of a recognized government.