The Squad (Irish Republican Army unit)

The Squad (Irish Republican Army unit) image

The Squad, nicknamed the Twelve Apostles, was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit founded by Michael Collins to counter British intelligence efforts during the Irish War of Independence, mainly by means of assassination.



On 10 April 1919, the First Dáil announced a policy of ostracism of Royal Irish Constabulary men. At the time Sinn Féin official policy was against acts of violence. Boycotting, persuasion and mild intimidation succeeded against many officers. However others escalated their activities against republicans and in March 1920 Collins asked Dick McKee to select a small group to form an assassination unit.


Liam Tobin at the funeral of Michael Collins in 1922

When The Squad was formed, it came directly under the control of the Director of Intelligence or his deputy and under no other authority. The Squad was commanded by Mick McDonnell.

The original "Twelve Apostles" were Mick McDonnell, Tom Keogh, Jimmy Slattery, Paddy Daly, Joe Leonard, Ben Barrett, Vincent Byrne, Sean Doyle, Paddy Griffin, Eddie Byrne, Mick Reilly and Jimmy Conroy. After some time The Squad was strengthened by the following members: Ben Byrne, Frank Bolster, Mick Keogh, Mick Kennedy, Bill Stapleton and Sam Robinson. Owen Cullen (a member of 2nd Battalion) was driver for a short time, and Paddy Kelly of County Clare for a short time. They were employed full-time and received a weekly wage.

Sometimes, as occasion demanded, The Squad was strengthened by members of the IRA Intelligence Staff, the Active Service Unit, munition workers and members of the Dublin Brigade, Tipperary Flying Column men, Dan Breen, Séumas Robinson, Seán Treacy and Seán Hogan, and also Mick Brennan and Michael Prendergast of County Clare. The IRA Intelligence Staff consisted of the Director of Intelligence Michael Collins, the Deputy Director of Intelligence Liam Tobin, the Second Deputy Director of Intelligence Tom Cullen, the... more

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