Restoration of Order in Ireland Act 1920
|Long title||An Act to make provision for the Restoration and Maintenance of Order in Ireland.|
|Chapter||10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 31|
|Royal Assent||9 August 1914|
|Repealing legislation||Statute Law Revision Act 1953|
The Restoration of Order in Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 31) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed on 9 August 1920 to address the collapse of the British civilian administration in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence.
In effect a special extension of the Defence of the Realm Acts, the Act's aim was to increase convictions of nationalist rebels while averting the need to declare martial law. Following a guillotine motion, Royal Assent was received on 13 August.
The Bill provided for the replacement of trial by jury by courts-martial in those areas where IRA activity was prevalent and a further extension of the jurisdiction of courts-martial to include capital offences. In addition military courts of enquiry were to be substituted for coroners’ inquests. This was primarily as local authorities were finding British soldiers liable in killing Irish people.
Initially the number of convictions steadily increased to 50-60 per week leading to increased internments but also to a large number of men "on the run." However these men could no longer continue in their day jobs while carrying on their guerrilla activities part time. This allowed the IRA to implement a change in approach. They were organised into small, mobile flying columns, or active service units, more suited to ambushes of patrols and convoys than attacks on individuals and barracks as before.
In a crucial judgement, R. (Egan ) v Macready, the Irish Courts ruled that the Act did not give power to impose the death penalty. This would no doubt have proved politically contentious had not hostilities ended the same day.
Despite its name, the courts were of the view that ROIA applied in England too. Following the creation of the Irish Free State, when the Act was repealed by implication, it was still used to deport ex members of the ISDL to Ireland.
- Ainsworth, John S. (2000). British Security Policy in Ireland, 1920-1921: A Desperate Attempt by the Crown to Maintain Anglo-Irish Unity by Force. Proceedings 11th Irish-Australian Conference, Murdoch University, Perth. p. 5.
- Ainsworth, John S. (2000). British Security Policy in Ireland, 1920-1921: A Desperate Attempt by the Crown to Maintain Anglo-Irish Unity by Force. Proceedings 11th Irish-Australian Conference, Murdoch University, Perth. p. 7.
- David J. Clark, Gerard McCoy, p96, The Most Fundamental Legal Right: Habeas Corpus in the Commonwealth, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-826584-0