Talk:Black and Tans

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Is it me or is this article not NPOV?

Easily said, but now you must reason. Djegan 00:54, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I agree, though their actions are no doubt atrocious, the article reeks a little too much of a rant based on too much hearsay and too few factual resources. Some elaboration and citations of claims would leave this article much improved. opelwerk 20:41, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, its you. I can assure you it is quite restrained compared to what I would have written about that lot.
An irrelevant statement considering this is an encyclopaedia, not a soapbox. -- Necrothesp 20:14, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Difficult article[edit]

This is always going to be a difficult article to get right as the Black and Tan's actions no doubt varied from place to place and only the larger atrocities were recorded. I've heard alot of similar first hand accounts over the years of their actions in my local area which I am fairly sure are accurate but I couldn't cite anything written. Allegations of state sponsered terroism may seem a little strong but that in the twenteth century government troops were indescrimitly physicly attacking catholics because of their relegion can't be described many other ways, esspecially considering Llyod George was well aware throughout.

This article needs to be rewritten[edit]

When I get a chance, at some point in the near future, I am going to re-write this entire article:

--it does not reflect the results of recent research by historians like Elizabeth Malcolm, W. J. Lowe, and myself;

(Despite the fact that it relies heavily on Dr. Malcolm's article on the subject in the Oxford Companion to Irish History.)

--it contains a number of mistakes;

(In fact, there is a mistake in the first line: the Black and Tans were not the RIC's Reserve Force. The Reserve was a separate force quartered at Phoenix Park, most of whose members came from the North: John Brewer interviewed one of its members for his oral history of the RIC.)

--and it is not NPOV.

(It does not mention, for example, the fact that many reprisals were committed by Irish members of the RIC--a fact to which Dr. Malcolm alludes in her article.)

Dr. David Leeson, PhD, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada

Justified atrocities[edit]

"..atrocities were committed (in most cases as just retribution for Irish brutality).."

I'm astonished that anyone would seek to justify or excuse atrocities against civilian populations. I've removed the reference to 'in most cases as just retribution for Irish brutality'.

I would have thought that the sentence was fine just so long as the word just is removed, provided that a cite can be provided that most atrocities were committed as retribution. Saying they were retribution then becomes nothing more than a statement of fact; it's only POV when we start saying that this justifies them (or, for that matter, if we start saying that it doesn't justify them). Binabik80 01:45, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Eric Barnett

The King made no secret of their horror at the behaviour of Crown forces which made international headlines, damaging British credibility. All Catholic's were branded even those who carried King Georges papers with appointment as an officer and served durring World War I, with distinction. I state the words " And we hereby Command them to Obay you as their superior Officer." Forced immigration was their plight as no protection could be had! Signed: someone who knows what happened. Terrorism no's no boundary, nor do's bigotry by those improperly trained and ill equiped to perform the task at hand.The British & Irish peaple are good peaple if they can see beyond their own pride.

M. Barnett. I am not a fan of the crown, but I have to call "bullspit" on that claim. That kind of claim requests and requires a citation. I studied the Rising and WWI in some detail, and nothing like that was required for Commonwealth Officers, Catholic or Jewish or Anglican, at least not that I've seen. At least during that time period. Catholic officers surely faced some discrimination, but nothing like that. All British soldiers were/are required to swear loyalty to the "Crown in Parliament," in any case. Ireland was never subject to conscription during the Great War, either. It was the "looming conscription" that led to the rebellion, as well as timely German aid, delivered by one Roger Casement. In other words, please cite your ancedote. V. Joe 08:24, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

'Saying they were retribution then becomes nothing more than a statement of fact'- Em, highly unlikely considering we are talking about the British crown forces of occupation taking action in Ireland against the native Irish. Only a British person could even attempt to claim that the colonial occupiers were taking "retribution" upon the, em, natives. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. El Gringo 23:58, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

There is the rub. Define British. The point is that a large number of 'native' Irish saw themselves as British, and still do on both sides of the border. Ireland was part of the UK and Irishmen and woman had exactly the same rights as anyone else living in Wales, Scotland or England. Irishmen and women sat in the House of Lords and Commons as well as holding senior appointments in the civil and military forces. Britain has even had a Irish Prime Minister. Shock horror, not all of these Irishmen were Protestants either! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fallonn (talkcontribs) 09:19, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

El Gringo, please challenge a person on the content of their argument rather than who they are. Logica 13:02, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

its actually depressing to see the Colonialist revisionist crap here. The IRA fought against the military forces occupying their country, the British military retaliated by killing civilians. There is no way you can justify that. If the Iraqi miltary forces went to England and started shooting random people you wouldnt say that they're justified to do so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Ireland was never a colony, it was part of the UK. Many of the troops stationed here were Irish like the RIC. ( (talk) 16:56, 27 December 2013 (UTC))

I understand that if you remove the "just" it could be seen as a mere statement of facts, but that doesn't make it neutral. Why the need to put the reason of the actions commited by the military? That alone makes it impartial, even if it looks like, formally, to be just a fact. Every attrocity commited will always have it's justification. It's like if you say that "in Rwanda the Hutus murdered the Tutsi (in most cases because of the horrors committed by the previous Tutsi rule)" or that "during the latin american dictatorships the military committed torture (in most cases, because of the communists attempt to reach power)". It is NOT neutral, even though it looks like to be a fact. The reason for chosing to bring this fact after the statemente pressuposes justification. -- (talk) 02:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Britannica Encyclopedia's take on the Black and Tans[edit]

Well, here's how the above mentioned encyclopedia start their entry on the Black and Tans: 'In their efforts to thwart the terrorism of the Irish Republican Army...'Well, that was enough for me. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can tell a book by its cover. El Gringo 17:30, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Encyclopedia Britannica is American. It has been American since the early 20th century. Just because it is "Britannica" doesn't mean it's British. You think Domino's Pizza is Italian? I hope this kind of presumptive thinking does not creep into your article edits. I shall be keeping an eye out. Logica 22:02, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Easter Rising[edit]

Like it or not the Rising was not a protest, it was an armed uprising. Rightfully so, or not, irrelevant, it was a revolt, not a protest, as IRA men, British soldiers and Irish and British Civillians all lost thier lives. I'm going to change that if it isn't fixed soon V. Joe 08:10, 30 May 2006 (UTC) Sorry all, but after brief reflection, decided to add an immediate fix. V. Joe 08:17, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

The Black and Tans and British government were painted in too good of a light in this article. The Black and Tans were the often the worst of British society as the British government actively recruited criminals. Also the British failed to control these men as they were allowed to do whatever they wanted.

Please leave your signiture if you want your point to be taken seriously. Logica 13:00, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

History should be neutral in its interpretation of what happened. It is funny how if we do not like what we read we condemn it as biased. The British Government did not recruit criminals as Temporary Constables in the RIC (Black and Tans). The majority were ex-soldiers, which is not a supries when you consider that the vast majority of young adult males at the time had served in the armed forces, and had to have a record of 'Good' conduct recorded on their service records before they could join. Many had been decorated for gallantry, including one VC recipient. These men were not the dregs of society, but they were deeply affected by their experiences in the war. One has only to look at the RIC records held by both the British and Irish governments to dispel the hackneyed myth that the Black and Tans were the dregs of society. They were poorly trained policemen dealing with what they believed to be at best a rebellion and at worst criminal violence in what they believed to be part of their own country. And yes, over a third of them were recruited from what are now the 26 counties of the Irish Republic. Many more were from the North and a significant number were the children of Irishmen who had emigrated to Liverpool and Glasgow. Just read their service records for proof. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fallonn (talkcontribs) 09:31, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Their recruitment posters said "men wanted for a dirty job in Ireland". "Gallantry" was conspicuous by its absence during their time in Ireland. Most had a good idea of what they were signing up for. Judge them on their deeds, not the fine words on their records. The non-Irish Tans may have seen themselves as fighting in "part of their own country", but without regarding the inhabitants as equal fellow countrymen and women. Between them and the Auxies, no-one did more to bring about Irish independence.

Lapsed Pacifist (talk) 14:00, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

The Free State would never have happened were it not for World War I. ( (talk) 16:59, 27 December 2013 (UTC))

The famous Limerick hunt[edit]

The Adare Scarteen Hunt used (uses?) black-and-tan foxhounds.

  • Is the name "Black and Tan Hunt" its official title or just a common nickname? Or perhaps it changed it after the negative connotations?
  • I presume the Hunt used/s traditional riding gear coloured hunting pink, not black-and-tan
  • Presumably, the name of the breed of dog came before the name of the hunt. Is there proof the RIC force was named after the Hunt rather than named after the breed of dog? Either is plausible.

jnestorius(talk) 18:31, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 09:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Ben & Jerry's[edit]

Do we really need that section on the Ben & Jerry's "ice cream controversy"? As far as I am concerned, it really adds nothing to the article. In a few years, the ice cream will have been forgotten, but the historical importance of the Black and Tans themselves, and their notorious activities, will not have diminished. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 23:54, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Having received, after all these months, no response to this query, I have removed the section in question. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 21:19, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Relevance of "quote"[edit]

Not sure what connection the quote (interestingly referred to only as "quote") about police being ordered to shoot at possible innocents has to do with the Black and Tan. The person quoted is also not introduced; the context is thus unclear. I suggest the "quote" be expanded, or the section deleted. (talk) 20:30, 10 March 2008 (UTC)SM

That's a good call. The reference is also dodgy, with no explanatory information given, just a website, which could be of questionable validity. Expansion, and a better reference, are in order. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 23:40, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
The speech was relayed by Michael Kelly, John McNamara, Rev. M. English and D.F Crowley to the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland in 1920 (p 66 Evidence on Conditions in Ireland, and formed a critical part of their report. ( Kelly and McNamara, former RIC Listowel, were both present at time of speech). Peter Cotrell's claim that only Mee's account 'survived' is evidently rubbish. RashersTierney (talk) 18:42, 19 October 2009 (UTC)


Instructions to Listowel RIC, 19 June 1920

On 19 June 1920 Lieutenant-Colonel Gerald Smyth is alleged to have made a speech to the ranks of the Listowel RIC in which was reported as having said:

“Police and military will patrol the country roads at least five nights a week. They are not to confine themselves to the main roads but make across the country, lie in ambush, take cover behind fences near roads, and when civilians are seen approaching shout: 'Hands up!' Should the order be not obeyed, shoot, and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets or are in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped and you are bound to get the right persons sometimes. The more you shoot the better I will like you; and I assure you that no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man and I will guarantee that your names will not be given at the inquest.” [1]

At the time it was reported that the tone of the speech proved too much for many of the RIC men who refused to carry out the order and one officer, Constable Jeremiah Mee, put his gun on the table and called Smyth a murderer. He and 13 others resigned, most joining or assisting the Irish Republican Army. Mee became a confidant and ally of Michael Collins.

Less than a month after his controversial instruction to the unit Smyth was shot dead by an IRA party led by Dan "Sandow" O'Donovan.

What is your point, and please sign your posts. RashersTierney (talk) 20:00, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
My point is encyclopedic, WikiQuote is the appropriate place to list words without context. (talk) 20:08, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
For one thing, your 'context' is so hedged as to amount to weasel wording. Be bold. I have no problem with incorporating this properly, rather than just have it sitting in its own section. Lets agree a formula of words. The testimony of Kelly would be a good starting point. RashersTierney (talk) 20:18, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Do the recent changes head in an acceptable direction? (talk) 20:29, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Bluntly, no they don't. Please stop your disruptive eds. We can get this right here if you want to reach consensus. RashersTierney (talk) 20:39, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Your position is complete removal of context? (talk) 20:46, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
No. As I said, lets agree the wording of the context here. I've made a few attempts, but my slow typing has led to several edit conflicts. Shall we try again? For a start this statement,
At the time it was reported that the tone of - is redundant.
Further, there is little dispute as to the content of Smyth's speech and it was certainly not the tone, but the content, that led to the mutiny/resignations/outrage of the RIC men. RashersTierney (talk) 21:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

The (incrementally expanding) quote probably belongs at Listowel mutiny, where it is curiously absent. This section is so POV-ridden it need to be substantially re-written. Please discuss further edits here. Its what this page is for. RashersTierney (talk) 01:28, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Please clarify your concerns, I'm not sure where your specific objections are. (talk) 01:43, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Are you being deliberately obtuse? Accusing me of Original research, considering you blatant POV pushing, is rich. I have no intention of engaging in an edit war with you. I have asked you several times to discuss edits here, but you insist on having your way. This disruption will have to stop. RashersTierney (talk) 01:53, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
No, I'm genuinely requesting clarification. (talk) 01:58, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Kelly's account is at the start of this thread. If you haven't read it, there can be little wonder why you might be confused. Please read my posts, they're intended mostly for your benefit. RashersTierney (talk) 02:09, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Again, should the quote be moved to Listowel mutiny ? RashersTierney (talk) 02:32, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Let me consider that - I'm of two minds on this, either the event illustrates the Black and Tans or it's an isolated incident over the space of a few weeks specific to Listowel. I think the legendary aspect and it's propoganda impact on the Black and Tans can't be overestimated and therefore - although it may not be specific to the unit as a whole - it colors it so much that it can not be separated. (talk) 02:46, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Are you still 'of two minds'? Consensus does not mean you have a veto over edits here. RashersTierney (talk) 19:24, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
No. I see no reason to delete the content from this article. It's a quite notable and important part of the history of the subject. (talk) 12:12, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Please explain why you think it should be so extensively quoted here, while it is entirely absent from the main article (Listowel mutiny). RashersTierney (talk) 16:59, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
The quote has been a consensus addition, and prominent feature, of this article for over 2 years - uncommented upon as dozens of editors made literally 100's of edits in the interim. You're the first to object. - (talk) 17:10, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but that was before you made this a sub-head linked to the main article. The quote should be transferred to the 'parent' article. There is hardly a need to have it in both. As you say, it is significant and certainly it should be referred to here. RashersTierney (talk) 17:18, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Recent edit-warring[edit]

Hiya, I'm popping in as an uninvolved admin. I have no preference on the content of this article, but I'm seeing a lot of people reverting, often with edit summaries such as "seek agreement on the talkpage". However, most of the people who are reverting, do not seem themselves to be engaging in any kind of discussion here on the talkpage. Since this is a highly controversial topic area, could I encourage all parties to work a little harder at discussion, or at least link to areas where such discussions are taking place? Thanks, --Elonka 21:04, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for taking the interest. I have tried to engage this editor in a meaningful way including on my and his/her/their Talkpage. Invariably the answer comes back that my concerns are unclear or whatever, but the substantive issues are always avoided. I no longer believe this ed. is contributing in good faith. His answer to my question as to how long he has been editing here - eight years (amended from a claim of 'over nine years'??) - is frankly not credible given his apparent inability to reference correctly, provide reliable refs and conduct a constructive debate.RashersTierney (talk) 21:15, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Also there is a history of IPs appearing, not engaging in talk but just using edit summaries on Irish articles. In the case of this editor its over several pages. Reverts have been to try and get the IP to the talk page --Snowded TALK 21:20, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Reverts targeted towards a particular editor are not a good idea, especially when they are no-discussion reverts. Nothing should be reverted unless either (a) it's blatant vandalism; (b) the edit being reverted was made in violation of clear talkpage consensus; or (c) a cogent reason for the revert is provided on the talkpage. By "cogent", this means something like, "I reverted this edit because the sources used don't have anything to do with the subject of the article". Not "I reverted this edit because I don't trust the editor." It's a bad idea to fill up the talkpage with accusations about other editors' motivations. Instead, a better way to proceed is to keep the talkpage discussions focused strictly on civil and collegial discussion about the article itself. And rather than reverting, try changing text, to find compromise wording. That will be a much better way to ensure longlasting changes, especially in powderkeg topic areas. --Elonka 03:40, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
As a general principle I agree with you. However when controversial pages are subject to attack by IPs with a clear POV, refusing to use the talk pages there are few alternatives. --Snowded TALK 04:10, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Black and Tans were not the Reserve Force[edit]

This is a terrible article that contains numerous factual errors.

One of the most egregious of these errors comes right at the beginning, where the Black and Tans are referred to as the "Reserve Force."

This is not correct. As Elizabeth Malcolm clearly states on p. 48 of her recent book The Irish Policeman 1822-1922:

"The third element of the RIC was the 'reserve force' established by statute ( 2&3 Vic., c.75) in 1839 and based at the Phoenix Park depot, but capable of being deployed in any part of the country where extra men were urgently required. Originally 200 men, plus 12 district inspectors and head constables, the reserve was boosted during the Famine to 400 in 1846 and 600 in 1847, before being reduced to 400 again after the end of the Land War in 1882. The reserve, a permanent force under the control of the inspector general, was paid for centrally. It could be deployed rapidly, without the prior approval of either Dublin Castle or of local magistrates. men from the counties and the depot were posted to the reserve for varying periods and in it they gained experience of policing major outbreaks of public disorder."

What is more, this actual reserve force remained in existence until the RIC was disbanded. In fact, one of the men interviewed by J. D. Brewer for his book The Royal Irish Constabulary: An Oral History talks about serving in the RIC's real reserve force.

The Black and Tans, by contrast, were part of the 'free quota'--the main RIC force that was deployed throughout the country. They lived and worked in police barracks alongside Irish constables, and no official distinction was made between the two. This is clear from D. M. Leeson's dissertation, and from other sources. I could even point you to the relevant documents preserved at the National Archives of the United Kingdom.

In fact, as far as I can determine, this Wikipedia article is the only source for this mis-identification, which everyone here seems to have swallowed without question. But this error has been allowed to persist for so long that it has begun to creep into other documents--including other Wikipedia articles. It should be removed at once.--Cliodule (talk) 17:18, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Go for it. RashersTierney (talk) 17:26, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Thats it be bold. BigDunc 17:28, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I've modified the lead and hatnote to reflect the concerns above. You will find that the source of the error is ref # 1. RashersTierney (talk) 19:03, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. If you check the Revision History, I think you'll find that ref #1 could not be the source of this error: it was published in 2007, but the error appears in this article at least as far back as 2006. More likely this article was the source of the error in ref #1.--Cliodule (talk) 21:39, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Article needs to be re-written by author who doesnt have a post colonial inferiority complex. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rinseout (talkcontribs) 16:27, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Surely the Black and Tans had an official title. I'm sure they were not called the RIC Black and Tans Division or some such nonsense. It wouldn't be the first time two similarly named divisions existed within the RIC/RUC, note the Special Patrol Group was originally named the Police Reserve Force, which was changed to Special Patrol Group in 1970 to avoid confusion between the Reserve Force and the newly formed RUC Reserve per Richard Doherty's The Thin Green Line - The History of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC.-- (talk) 18:08, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Their official title is mentioned in the first line of the article - Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force. Denisarona (talk) 06:33, 29 October 2015 (UTC)


The article currently states:

The new recruits received three months' hurried training, and were rapidly posted to RIC barracks, mostly in Dublin, Munster and eastern Connacht. The first men arrived on 25 March 1920.

This appears to imply that the training took place in Great Britain. Was this so? Andrew Gwilliam (talk) 22:29, 29 November 2011 (UTC).

The only references to training I can locate state that it took place at Gormanstown Depot, and lasted from a few days up to a month only. (Leeson p 78) See also Gormanston Camp. RashersTierney (talk) 02:34, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Given the furore the Black and Tans is currently causing for Nike, should the intro not even make a passing reference to the terror and infamy which the Black and Tans are regarded with still in Ireland? Avoiding this gives the impression that they were just another crowd of British state murderers to arrive in Ireland. They were the outstanding British state terrorists of the 20th century in Ireland, even if the Parachute Regiment gave them a run for their money in Derry in 1972 etc. The intro should highlight this as it is central to understanding the importance of these thugs. (talk) 20:48, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

No, the clean facts will do. Night of the Big Wind talk 00:40, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Legacy section[edit]

I've flagged up the statement regarding the British still being "despised by many in Ireland". One, it's exceptionally vague, and two, it doesn't qualify as common knowledge. There are certainly a number of people in Ireland who do indeed despise the British, but as it stands this statement is not encyclopedia-standard. WelshDaveRyan (talk) 19:28, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

It is not my addition, so I don't have to give written proof of it. Face-smile.svg But out of my own experiences, I can tell you that it is a fact. The killings and atrocities after the Rineen Ambush will be responsible for that, I guess. I have to add that it is mostly the older generation (65+) who spits on the floor when the Black and Tans are mentioned. I think that you will notice it more often in areas affected by the atrocities of them, like Cork, then in other areas. Night of the Big Wind talk 11:19, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
The RIC carried out the reprisals following the Rineen Ambush. ( (talk) 17:04, 27 December 2013 (UTC))
Get your facts right and read the book of Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc: Blood on the Banner, The Republican struggle in Clare, Mercier Press, Cork, 2009, page 167-169 ISBN 978 1 85635 613 8. The Banner talk 22:02, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
The Black and Tans were only armed policemen like the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Auxiliary Division. ( (talk) 16:30, 28 December 2013 (UTC))

UK, not Great Britain[edit]

Not all the Black and Tans were British, some were Irish. In May 1800 Great Britain had become the UK, so the introduction should say the men were recruited from the UK rather than from Great Britain. ( (talk) 18:11, 27 December 2013 (UTC))

and under what ID did you previously take this line (including the grandfather stuff)? ----Snowded TALK 21:31, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
The intro needs to be corrected. After the Acts of Union 1800 there was no longer any Great Britain, only the UK. ( (talk) 13:01, 28 December 2013 (UTC))
Bollocks. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The overall state entity had changed, but although GB within it was no longer an independent state, it still existed. Andy Dingley (talk) 14:19, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
My great-grandfather was from Belfast so it is a mistake for the article to claim that all the men were recruited from Great Britain. ( (talk) 15:41, 28 December 2013 (UTC))
Presumably though he was previously British Army, but not RIC. He wouldn't have been alone as such, even from Ulster.
I'm happy with the lead as it is, as simplicity is a virtue in a lead and the Black & Tans were indeed predominantly English (not just GB - AIUI there were more from Ulster in it than from Scotland). The article should not state more than this, as they weren't exclusively British. If you'd like to reword some reasonable text indicating that the majority British or English but that this wasn't exclusively so (please remember that simplicity is still a great virtue in a lead), then go for it. I would strongly oppose though saying that the Black & Tans were Irish, as what we're meaning here is Ulstermen and that's a big difference.
If there's an Irish (and not Ulster) Black & Tan member, then we should list them by name in a specific section (they'd be notable enough) and that sort of claim would need a thumping great WP:RS behind it. Andy Dingley (talk) 16:40, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Ulster is part of Ireland, it is not a separate country like Scotland. It seems pointless saying Great Britain when the British Isles were both part of the UK at that time. ( (talk) 17:16, 28 December 2013 (UTC))
Whatever one's view of the politics of Ulster, it is surely a significant point in this article to distinguish Black & Tan member's origins as being either from Ulster or Ireland-other-than-Ulster. As far as I'm aware, there were some Ulstermen in the Black & Tans (not many, as that's not where they were primarily recruited, but some did join) but there were no Irishmen-other-than-Ulstermen. If there are counter-examples to this, they'd be significant to add. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:45, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
The book "Blood on the Banner, The Republican struggle in Clare" lists on page 332 15 men from County Clare as members of the Auxiliaries, with only two of them protestant. All were ex-soldiers or ex-officers. The book also lists on page 333-334 46 men from County Clare as members of the Black and Tans, half of them with a prior military background. Extrapolating to other counties, it will be just enough to say that the Tans were predominantly (or in fast majority) from the isle England (England, Scotland, Wales). The Banner talk 16:57, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Do you happen to have any breakdown for numbers of England / Wales / Scotland too? Andy Dingley (talk) 17:44, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I am sorry, the book is only about County Clare. The Banner talk 19:02, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

"From throughout the United Kingdom" is more than suffice for the lede. The article body can deal with the breakdown specifics of most being from Great Britain. Mabuska (talk) 22:05, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Strongly agree with 92.11.* in saying that, "Ulster is part of Ireland". Banner's reference is also very interesting. On the back of it, I'm going to boldly reword the sentence to remove reference to the nationality of the Tans and focus on the essentials: "The Black and Tans (Irish: Dúchrónaigh) were a force of Temporary Constables recruited to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) as during the Irish War of Independence."
The issue of where they came from is better dealt with in the article or briefly elsewhere in the lead IMO. --Tóraí (talk) 23:14, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with Tóraí on removing where they where recruited from altogether and thus reverted the article back to the stable version until a consensus is reached. I feel it is essential to state at the onset when mentioning "recruited" that it states at the very basic and most general the factually correct "from throughout the United Kingdom" seeing as that covers GB and any from Ireland. ::Why do I think it is essential? Because it helps inform the reader straight off that the B&T where not specifically a force recruited locally in Ireland as will most likely be assumed by stating nothing. The fact the body of the text doesn't elaborate on their recruitment area until well on into the article when it states "In January 1920, the British government started advertising in British cities for men willing to "face a rough and dangerous task"" which can very well include Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry and Belfast as they are British cities at the time.
Also the majority, say 80% of the "Foundation" section can be removed as being non-relevant to the article itself. Other articles deal with this information and should be linked too. Mabuska (talk) 23:35, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Very strongly disagree with Tóraí. The Black & Tans were (and are) hated as much as they were (even compared to the RIC) because they were strongly identified as a force of "English foreigners", brought over to Ireland to act without mercy or local involvement. Even if this isn't so simple that we can say "they were all English", this predominantly English bias and certainly the perception of them as being English and un-Irish is a crucial part of their history. Andy Dingley (talk) 23:38, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
That's all well and good but for two things:
  1. The article currently defines the Black and Tans as following: being (a) men; (b) from Great Britain; (c) who joined the Royal Irish Constabulary; (d) as Temporary Constables; (e) during the Irish War of Independence.
  2. A source has been provided that shows that (b) is not true: there were Black and Tans from County Clare, which is on the island of Ireland (not Great Britain).
I've no issue with what ever the eventual outcomes is. But per Wikipedia:Verifiability: "Any material that needs a source but does not have one may be removed." In this case, the claim is not just unsupported it is contradicted by a RS.
So, I'm reverting back. Verifiability tops any supposed policy over a "stable version". --Tóraí (talk) 00:08, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
My 2¢, add another sentence that explains that the tans were largely English and seen as "foreign" (or "un-Irish"). I'll dig one out presently. --Tóraí (talk) 00:16, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
You are wrong, Tóraí. My book only shows that the Black and Tans were not exclusively from outside the island Ireland. Nothing more
Beside that: when you start shooting at the enemy, you won't ask the guys under attack where they were born... The Banner talk 00:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
That's the point, Banner. The article said they were exclusively from outside of the island of Ireland ("men from Great Britain"). The books says otherwise.
I've just now expanded the second sentence using a reference that marries two issues at hand. The references says they were raised in Britain but had Irish members:
  • Robert Gerwarth; John Horne, eds. (2013), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe After the Great War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 202, The Black and Tans were the ex-servicemen recruited as RIC constables throughout Britain in late 1919 and constituted a force of approximately 9,000 men before the war's end. However, 'Black and Tans' also came to refer to the Temporary Cadets of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC, a force of some 2,200 ex-officers, formed in July 1920, and in practice virtually independent of military and policy control. Both forces were made up of veterans from all services. ... Both Auxiliaries and Black and Tans had Irish members. 
--Tóraí (talk) 00:39, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, Tóraí, even in 1921 Limerick, Galway, Londonderry, Belfast and Dublin were within Great Britain at that time (although the official term at that time was United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland). So "men from Great Britain" was correct. The Banner talk 01:11, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

That's just stupid. It is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Ireland". That "and" means it's joining together two separate things. Ireland was not and never has been part of Great Britain which terms means England, Scotland and Wales. (talk) 14:19, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Andy. The fact that the vast majority of Black & Tans came from Britain is hugely important and should be stated in the lede. ~Asarlaí 00:45, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
@Banner, only if by "Great Britain" you mean "United Kingdom". But I don't think that's Andy's point. And I don't thiknk that is how anyone else here interpreted the word "Great Britain" in the sentence.
@Asarlaí, it is very significant to mention that the Tans and Auxiliaries was made up largely of non-Irishmen. Towards the end of the book, "The Black and Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920-1921", David Leeson discusses the propaganda and mythos of the revolutionary period and the problems republicans had in fitting the RIC into this. To republicans, Leeson says, the war was "them" vs. "us" / "oppressor" vs. "oppressed". But the RIC, as an enemy, didn't fit into that. They were fellow Irishmen. And they were not oppressors. In quieter times they just did the work of ordinary policemen and did it fairly.
The arrival of the Tans and Auxiliaries was a propaganda boon for republicans because, Leeson says, it allowed republicans to marginalise the Irish and pleasant elements of the RIC in discourse and focus attention on a "them" vs. "us" / "oppressor" vs. "oppressed" dichotomy. This was only possible because the Tans and Auxiliaries were largely recruited outside of Ireland ("them") and recruited for the sole purpose of suppressing the Irish revolution ("oppressors").
So, yes, that the Tans were largely recruited from Great Britain is an important thing to say. But it is verifiably not true to suggest that they were exclusively from Great Britain ("The Black and Tans were men from Great Britain..."). --Tóraí (talk) 09:02, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
My point is that the Black & Tans were English, and this is a major reason for the reaction to them. They were deliberately English, to recruit men who had no ties or loyalty to Ireland.
They were not exclusively English. But this is the exception rather than the rule: we should describe that (and quantifying it would be very useful), but their perception was as an English imperialist force deployed into a non-English society, with all the deliberate and implicit alienation of them that this gave rise to.
Maybe (subject to sourcing) we find that the Black & Tans were really all good Catholic Irishmen from County Clare. In which case we're also working to refute a century-old myth of how English they were. The point is though that the perception of them has always been as "foreign English bullies tramping our fair Irish land": this arises from a deliberate choice by their English recruiters, their actions (they were hardly seen as Marshall Plan-wielding Yanks were in 40s Germany) and by decades of politicised mural art since.
Our article writing skill should be accurate, but more valuable even than accuracy is simplicity and clarity. It is better for us to produce an article that leaves the reader with an accurate impression afterwards than it is to over-complicate the text of an article and sacrifice readability in fear of being less than perfectly accurate. It's not wrong for us to simplify in a lead, if that both makes the article more perceptibly accurate overall, and that we expand the detail later in the body. Andy Dingley (talk) 11:34, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree whole-heatedly in sentiment. But I think the topic was complicated rather than simplified. There comes a point where simplification becomes generalisation and generalisation introduces complication. Saying, "The Black and Tans were sent over from Britain", is a good way to start an oral history. It's not a good way to start an encyclopedia entry.
I know it's unsatisfying but I suggest starting with the absolute bed rock truth and building up from there. Trust that the reader will read at least the first paragraph. Not everything needs to be (or can be) in the first sentence. For example, there is no indication that the Tans harassed the civilian population (the reason for their infamy) until the very last sentence in first a paragraph at present. And that's OK. --Tóraí (talk) 14:52, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Truth isn't bedrock. Truth is the crinkly, convoluted stuff that grows on the top. We can't explain a complex truth in one bite. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:24, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Precisely. Truth is built up over the course of an article. Trying to fit the "truth" into one sentence is a folly. So start with the bedrock. Which isn't the whole of the matter. And build from there. --Tóraí (talk) 19:40, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Most sources I've come across use the term 'Black & Tans' to refer specifically to the non-Irish Temporary Constables recruited into the RIC. How many sources include Irishmen in the term 'Black & Tans'? Should we explain that most sources don't include Irishmen, but some do? The source that has been added to the lede seems to contradict itself: it begins "The Black and Tans were the ex-servicemen recruited as RIC constables throughout Britain" and ends "Both Auxiliaries and Black and Tans had Irish members".
Until that issue is dealt with, is anyone opposed to stating in the lede that "most of them came from Great Britain"? That's a key fact (an absolute bedrock truth) presented in a clear and straightforward way. Saying in passing that it was "recruited in Britain in 1919 (although it contained Irish members also)" is not the same as saying that most of them came from Great Britain. ~Asarlaí 18:35, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I think it's better to state England (as both more accurate and significantly clearer) rather than GB. A good sourced breakdown by region would be useful though. Andy Dingley (talk) 19:28, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I've never seen a source that made a distinction between Irish and non-Irish Black and Tans. The only distinction I've ever seen is that the Auxiliaries are sometimes included in the label Black and Tans also (despite having different uniforms).
I've no objection to saying that most came from GB. And England more precisely, like Andy says. Although, I've never seen a source that said exactly where its members came beyond "recruited in Britain".(See below.) In any event, however, can we keep it out of the first line? --Tóraí (talk) 19:40, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Torai, as far as I can see, you have no support for your view which you reimposed on the article and kept amending despite being advised to wait for a consensus at the talk page. This does not garner good faith. Secondly your edit summary "add second sentence with source for being raised in Britain but contained Irish members also" - what you've essentially said and provided evidence of is that they were recruited from around the UK yet you seem to object to stating it explicitly! "recruited from throughout the United Kingdom" more than suffices and is hardly objectionable. Region breakdown can be left for the body of the article. I find your view and apparent disagreement quite perplfexing when you've basically provided the source needed to state "United Kingdom" or is that faux pas to you to have United Kingdom used when it includes Ireland? You also seem to fail the grasp of WP:BRD. Mabuska (talk) 22:08, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I've got a grip on BRD and other essays, such as Wikipedia:Don't revert due solely to "no consensus". --Tóraí (talk) 22:58, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Regardless of that and what name is used (GB/UK or whatever), I feel it is essential to state where they where generally recruited from in the lede for the simple reason as already stated - unless you do, the reader will assume that they where Irish straight off and the article still at present doesn't illuminate the reader on their origins - just that they came from British cities - which does include all Irish cities then. Mabuska (talk) 22:17, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
"I feel it is essential to state where they where generally recruited from in the lede ..." It is said in the second sentence. --Tóraí (talk) 22:58, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
It's the source that says they recruited in Britian, not me. Find a source that says "throughout the United Kingdom" and then add it to the article.
Without a source for it, what would be be objectionable would be the impression it would give that the Black and Tan recruits came from "throughout the United Kingdom" (suggesting somehow that there was meaningful numbers of recruits from Ireland). In reality, the RIC was falling apart from mass resignations in Ireland and the Black and Tans was created to backfill vacancies (hence recruitment from Britain). As we can see from the numbers below, virtually all of those came from Great Britain. So it would be misleading (without a source) to say "throughout the United Kingdom" when so few recruits came from Ireland.
I think on this, I'll find more support from others in this discussion than you. --Tóraí (talk) 22:24, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
On the issue of "throughout the United Kingdom", Leesons discusses the highly regionalised nature (even within England) of recruitment to the Black and Tans:

"Moreover, almost half of these Englishmen came from London and the Home Counties, in spite of the fact that this area made up less than a quarter of Great Britain's population (see Table 3.3). The only other region of Britain that was over-represented in the sample was the south. Every other region of the island was under-represented, especially the north and the midlands: only 27 per cent of the men in the sample came from the northern and central counties, which made up 48 per cent of Britain's population. The proportion of Scotsmen was also low, but as we shall see this was in line with the proportion of Scottish soldiers in the British Army. Moreover, there were very few Welshmen in the sample: only 16 recruits out of 1,153. The regional nature of British recruiting for the Royal Irish Constabulary becomes even clearer when we consider where men enlisted. The majority of the men in the sample—55per cent—enlisted in London. The next largest group—19 per cent—enlisted in Liverpool, while another 8 per cent enlisted in Glasgow. The remaining 18 per cent of the men in the sample enlisted in 46 different communities, most of them Army and Navy recruiting centres in Table 3.2." (page 72)

So, as Andy says, not just Britain, but England and London, the Home Counties and the south of England in particular. --Tóraí (talk) 22:58, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

"I feel it is essential to state where they where generally recruited from in the lede ..." It is said in the second sentence. --Tóraí (talk) 22:58, 30 December 2013 (UTC) - well obviously it is there, but did you not suggest removing it altogether? Hence why I made the point I made. Just to further highlight Tans from Ireland, the man in charge of the Black and Tans when they opened fire in Croke Park was a former UVF man from Belfast. Mabuska (talk) 12:12, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

"...did you not suggest removing it altogether?" No. I suggested removing the statement that the Black and Tans were (exclusively) "men from Great Britain". Recruited in Great Britain, yes, and 98% came from Great Britain apparently, but they not exclusively from there. --Tóraí (talk) 15:29, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

No wait you wanted to have it removed from the first line. Regardless, and this will seem ridiculous on my behalf, but your last sentence has made me realise that I misinterpreted your viewpoint and proposal, and ironically I never argued against what I now realise your pushing for - to state that the B&T weren't exclusively from Great Britain. Despite that I still see no reason as to why we can't say "throughout the United Kingdom". The fact you have a source that says they came from Great Britain with some from Ireland equates to the United Kingdom as both islands where a part of it. As also stated beforehand, the specifics of where the bulk or whatever came from can go into the article to bulk it up as the article contains next to frig all on it. It is one of those "the sky is blue so no source needed" things. Mabuska (talk)

No problem re: mis-understanding. This is the internet :-)
WRT "throughout the United Kingdom", as I wrote above, it's misleading to say they came from across the UK. And in any case, the second line does point out that some were Irish. But, even that aside, the 2% that came from places other than Great Britain came from elsewhere in the Empire – not elsewhere in the UK. So would be "throughout the world", not "throughout the United Kingdom".
As for whether the sky is blue, yes, you do need a source if asked for one. You may notice that the article on Sky doesn't say it is blue. It says it appears to be blue and cites the 1868 proceedings by John Tyndall. The sky is in fact colourless. --Tóraí (talk) 23:58, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
Well it was various shades of grey today ;-) Sources are required for things that may be challenged, though my suggestion simply used less words to convey what is the same point as is already in the article. What is in the lede now still only covers the UK and ignores the 2% from across the Empire so that is a moot point for you raise in opposition of my suggestion. Though it is only a matter of semantics, nothing major to keep going on about. Mabuska (talk) 20:43, 12 January 2014 (UTC)

Regional breakdown[edit]

The Leeson book has a table breaking down the "native region" of recruits as temporary cadets, temporary constables and Black and Tans for the month October 1920 (see here).

  Temporary Cadets (212) Temporary Constables (149) Black and Tans (1,153)
Central England 15% 9% 12%
Northern England 19% 6% 15%
London and Vicinity 34% 60% 47%
Southern England 8% 7% 12%
Eastern England 2% 5% 3%
Scotland 4% 6% 8%
Wales 8% 2% 1%
Other 10% 5% 2%

The Temporary Cadets, Leeson says, were most diverse, including men from elsewhere in the Empire (e.g Canada and South Africa) in their ranks.

Something which is confusing me here is the distinction between "Temporary Constables" and "Black and Tans". Elsewhere, Leeson makes a remark that the Tans are described in some sources as being temporary constables whereas he says they were a permanent force. Anyone got insight into this? --Tóraí (talk) 20:31, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

OK, it appears that within the Auxiliaries was another division, called the Veterans and Drivers Division, that were classed as Temporary Constables and not Temporary Cadets. --Tóraí (talk) 21:05, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Timothy O Connell Quote[edit]

As this quote clearly states it refers to the 'Auxies' and not the Black and Tans should it not be removed? It's not relevant to the Tans — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:39, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

I believe the quote is intended to illustrate the confused perception of the two groups, as indicated in the heading of O'Connell's statement. I've modified the lead-in text to clarify this issue. However, the preceding editor's point has some value, as the statement itself may not be a good reference for Black and Tan behavior at all, precisely because of this confused perception. jxm (talk) 01:05, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I've reinserted the ref for the O'Connell quote, which was lost in the last edit, to illustrate the confusion statement in the lede. The intent is to show some evidence, as I noted above. However, for clarity, perhaps the ref itself should start with "See for example..." or somesuch text. Thoughts? jxm (talk) 18:06, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

First picture[edit]

Closing discussion initiated by banned User:HarveyCarter
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

The first photograph should be removed from the article because it promotes smoking. ( (talk) 09:52, 31 March 2016 (UTC))

It's a photo from the past - it isn't promoting anything. Denisarona (talk) 10:03, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Children might be encouraged to start smoking from seeing that picture. ( (talk) 10:40, 31 March 2016 (UTC))
They might be encouraged to start shooting Catholics too, but you didn't mention that did ya, ya feckin' murderous Brit. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:54, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
I notice two of the Black and Tans have cigarettes in the second picture. I suggest both pictures are removed from the article. ( (talk) 10:58, 31 March 2016 (UTC))
He also has a Lewis gun. Are you suggesting that this photo might encourage young children to take up machine-gunnery too? He's safer with the fag in his hand. While he's smoking, he's not shooting anyone. Andy Dingley (talk) 11:09, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Far more people die from smoking than from gun violence. ( (talk) 11:20, 31 March 2016 (UTC))

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Other things using the name[edit]

Nike puts foot in it with 'Black and Tan' trainers.vThey were supposed to commemorate St Patrick's Day. But calling them after a violent British paramilitary unit that terrorised the Irish wasn't a good move Article includes others, eg ice cream flavour. Carbon Caryatid (talk) 03:24, 8 May 2017 (UTC)