A native of Co. Monaghan, Eoin O’Duffy joined Sinn Féin, the Irish Volunteers and the IRB in the aftermath of the Easter Rising and became commander of the IRA’s Monaghan Brigade during the War of Independence. He led a number of raids, including an attack on an Ulster RIC barracks in 1920, and subsequently rose through the ranks of the IRA, becoming Director of Organisation and deputy Chief of Staff by the end of the war. O’Duffy was elected to the Second Dáil in 1921 and supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He was made General and Chief of Staff of the army in February 1922 and later joined its war council, where he took control of operations in south west Munster. He was appointed as commissioner of An Garda Síochána in August 1922 and was extremely influential in the early development of the newly established police force. Following his dismissal by Fianna Fáil in 1933, O’Duffy took on a leading role in the Army Comrades Association, later named the National Guard and colloquially known as the Blue Shirts. The organisation joined with Cumann na nGaedheal and the National Centre Party in September 1933 to form the Fine Gael party, of which O’Duffy became president. Drawn increasingly towards fascism over the previous years, he was forced to resign from the party and later led an “Irish Brigade” to fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936-37, after which he faded from political life.
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