On the 22nd of August 1922 the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) was formed, it was separate from any of the existing police forces and under the control of the Minister for Home Affairs. Members for the new force were drawn from the Army and Republican Police and were based in Oriel House, Westland Row, Dublin. The force consisted of over one hundred men and three women, the women were officially employed as secretaries but were in fact employed to deal with women engaged in hostilities against the State.
On Saturday the 16th of September 1922 Anthony Dean, a civilian attached to the Criminal Investigations Department at Oriel House was shot dead when two armed men enter Oriel House on the pretence of reporting a stolen car. When the two men had gained entry they opened fire with two Webley revolvers. Dean was hit once and died instantly from his wounds. Dean was unmarried and was 27 years old.
On the night of Monday the 13th of October 1922 Civic Guard Henry Phelan 1347 stationed at Callan was shot dead in Mollinahone County Tipperary. Phelan, with two other Civic Guards, had cycled to Mollinahone to buy a Hurley ball, they stopped off at Miss Mulhall’s Public House for some refreshments. Soon after the three Civic Guards had entered the Public House when a group of armed men entered shouting ‘Hands Up’ as the armed men were shouting ‘Hand Up’ a shot was fired and Phelan fell mortally wounded, the bullet entered the lower part of his left jaw and exited through the back of his neck his spinal cord being severed. Unknown to Phelan and the other tow Civic Guards the Public House was a well know anti-treaty establishment, Miss Mulhall’s son was a member of Na Fianna. Phelan was a native of Mountrath where he was buried.
On the morning of Wednesday the 7th of March 1923 C.I.D. Officer Patrick J Kelly was killed when the Anti-Treaty IRA attacked the Customs and Excise Office at 4 Beresford Place Dublin. A group of Irregulars were placing a bomb at the door of the office, hearing some noise outside the building Kelly went to investigate, on opening the door the bomb exploded killing Kelly outright. Patrick Kelly was from Dublin, he was 23 years old.
On Friday the 19th of October 1923 C.I.D. Driver was shot dead during an armed raid on Ashtown Candle Factory, Castleknock. Three soldiers of the National Army held up staff at the factory and stole £40. One of the soldiers, William Downes, was executed in Mountjoy and another was shot dead while fleeing from pursuing police.
Oriel House C.I.D. Badge
This badge was allegedly issued to detectives serving with Oriel House. I say allegedly because there are several stories about the issue of the badge and at least two different designs which make me unsure. 150 of the badges were ordered from O’Callaghan’s of Dame Street who were the supplied the Free State Army. O’Callaghan’s gave the order to the Irish Jewellery Company of Kevin Street. During the manufacture of the badges the Anti-Treaty side heard that they were being made and broke into Irish Jewellery Company and stole them. They were allegedly used by the Anti-Treaty side to impersonate Oriel House detectives. The story sort of divides here, one version says the because of the security breach no more badges were made, the other version says more badges of a different design were made.
Both badges are similar in design. An O on top of an H for Oriel House topped with a half sunburst with s e for Saorstát Éireann, on one design the background enamelling on the half sunburst is orange and a more yellow shade on the other. The letters on one design are picked out in green enamelling whereas the other design there is no enamelling. Both design are numbered in the cross-bar of the H. A badge was contained in a leather wallet which had the badge number in metal on the front.
I have seen several mentions of the theft of these badges on the internet which give a reference to an Irish Department of Justice file. I have checked with the Irish Department of Justice and they tell me the reference number given is not the type of referencing system they use but if anyone has a copy of this file I would really appreciate a copy.
The Citizens Defence Force
The Citizens Defence Force (CDF) was set up to protect private property, mainly business premises, from attacks from the Anti-Treaty forces. It is reported that it was made up of 101 full-time and 50 part-time members. Members reported to Oriel House and did not use names, each member had a numbered badge and this number was used when giving reports.
Seamus Dwyer, killed in his own business premises, is reported to have been in overall charge of the CDF but Dáil records show although considered for the post he did not take it up.
So far we have identified the following as being involved with the CDF:
Captain Henry Harrison, O.B.E., M.C. secretary of the Irish Dominion League. Born in Ardkeen near Newtownards County Down, spent a week in Derry Jail in 1889 for assisting evicted tenants of the Oliphand Estate Falcarragh County Donegal, he was acquitted at his trial. He was elected unopposed as the Irish Parliamentary Party MP for Mid-Tipperary in 1890, he was 23 years old when elected, one of his sponsors was Archbishop Croke. At the outbreak of WW1, aged 47, he joined the Royal Irish Regiment in which he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant serving as a Scout officer on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918, wounded in action, he was awarded the M.C. in 1916 adding the Bar in 1917, he was invalided out of the army in 1919.
Harrison died in 1954 and so far we have been unable to find the details of his involvement. He is reported as being appointed head of the CDF but on his death in 1954 several Irish newspapers published lengthy obituaries giving minute detail of his life but none mentioned any involvement with the CDF.
James Joseph Brady fought in Jacob’s during the Rising states he attended a meeting with Seán Milroy, Brigid Lyons Thornton a Captain Moynihan of the C.I.D. and others in 1922 which set up the Citizens Defence Force.