#OTD in 1922 – Michael Collins secretly authorised the formation of a specially paid unit of seventy IRA volunteers, known as the Belfast City Guard, to protect districts from loyalist attack.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

In Northern Ireland there were continual breaches of the Truce by ‘unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces’. The predominantly Protestant, Unionists government of Northern Ireland supported polices which discriminated against Catholics in which, along with violence against Catholics, led many to suggest the presence of an agenda by an Anglo-ascendancy to drive those of indigenous Irish descent out of the northeast counties.

At the same time London was stepping up pressure on the Provisional Government to take aggressive military action against anti-Treaty units in the south.

In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security, a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed, and many other measures.

The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again. A policeman was shot dead in…

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