Born into a unionist family in Belfast, Robert Haskin served in the British Army before joining the Orange Order in 1912 and, later, the Ulster Volunteers. After meeting Frank Wilson, an IRB man, Haskin joined the Freedom Club in Belfast, where he met Denis McCullough, Ernest Blythe, Bulmer Hobson and other leading Ulster republicans. Haskin was subsequently sworn into the IRB and became involved in the organisation of the Irish Volunteers in Belfast. He was arrested in Tyrone during Easter week, 1916, whilst attempting to get in contact with local Volunteer leaders. He was deported to Wakefield prison before being transferred to Frongoch prison camp, where he was interned until Christmas.
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