Irish policemen in the Palestine mandate, 1922-1948
Gannon, Seán William
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This thesis explores Ireland’s influence on and involvement in the policing of British Mandated Palestine and, through an examination of five distinct but interrelated aspects of the Irish experience, assesses Ireland’s impact on the policing of Palestine. Making use of an extensive variety of official and private papers, together with oral histories, it first examines the raising of the British Section of the Palestine Gendarmerie which, recruited from amongst the disbanding Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) in 1922, marked the beginning of significant Irish involvement in Palestine’s policing. Official efforts to make this British Gendarmerie more politically palatable by obscuring the fact that it was being drawn from R.I.C. sources are explored as is the impact of its largely ‘Black and Tan’ composition on public perceptions of the force. Secondly, it looks at the British Gendarmerie as ‘an Irish Constabulary’, examining the extent to which, in terms of organisation and ethos, it was modelled on the R.I.C. and to which ‘Irish’-style influences were imported into its successor, the British Section of the Palestine Police (BSPP) in 1926. The factors which influenced Irish R.I.C. personnel to enlist, particularly the part played by the Republican campaign against R.I.C. personnel in 1922, are also explored. Thirdly, it evaluates claims that 1) the British Gendarmerie followed the example set by its Irish parent forces in terms of personal behaviour and professional conduct, and that 2) the emergence of what were termed ‘black-and-tan tendencies’ in the BSPP in the 1930s and 1940s was a consequence of its own R.I.C. roots. Fourthly, it analyses the factors which influenced Irish enlistment in the BSPP between 1926 and 1947, with particular focus on the postwar period during which almost half of all Irish enlistments occurred. Finally, the extent to which ‘Irishness’ shaped the personal perspectives and professional experience of Irish BSPP personnel in the postwar period is examined. Throughout the thesis, the implications of its findings for an understanding of some of the wider aspects of Irish and imperial history are explored.