While working for the post office in Dublin, Richard Mulcahy joined the IRB and the Irish Volunteers, rising to the position of second lieutenant in the 3rd Dublin Battalion in the latter organisation. After cutting telegraph wires in north Dublin at the beginning of the Easter Rising, he was unable to link up with his battalion and instead joined with the 5th (Fingal) Battalion, with whom he seized control of the RIC barracks in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. Interned in Knutsford and Frongoch, he was released in December 1916 and involved himself in the reorganisation of the Volunteers, being appointed Commanding Officer of the Dublin brigade in 1917. He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP in December 1918, representing the Clontarf constituency in Dublin, and briefly served as Minister for Defence in the First Dáil. Mulcahy also operated as Chief of Staff of the IRA during the War of Independence, directing strategy along with Michael Collins and evading capture throughout the conflict despite much attention from the authorities. He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and, following the death of Collins, he became Commander-in-Chief of the national army during the latter portion of the Civil War, when he was known for his ruthless stance against the IRA. He was appointed as Minister for Defence in 1924, but subsequently resigned his army and cabinet positions in 1924 as a result of the army mutiny. He was later reappointed to the cabinet in 1927 as Minister for Local Government and Public Health. He remained active in politics until 1961, succeeding WT Cosgrave as leader of Fine Gael in 1944 and led the party into coalition governments in 1948-51 and 1954-1957, though he deferred the role of Taoiseach to John A. Costello on both occasions.
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