In 1913 there was a major strike in Dublin as James Larkin (whose family had come from Killeavy and Burren) tried to assert workers’ rights to be members of trade unions. Strikers were attacked by police and they reacted by forming the Irish Citizens Army – intended merely to protect strikers from RIC attacks.
It may have been somewhat na
During 1914 as the Irish Citizens Army became more overtly military, he resigned his position.
Despite this, Francis was to be brutally and summarily executed by the British less than two years later. Skeffington was a journalist (his father was a doctor in Warrenpoint). He was also a well-known champion of the poor and oppressed. He was a tee-totaller, a vegetarian, a champion of womens’ rights, a socialist and above all, a committed pacifist. James Joyce, the greatest Irish novelist of his time, complimented Skeffington as ‘the most intelligent person I met while studying at University College Dublin.’
On Tuesday evening April 25 1916 in the aftermath of Rising skirmishes, he went into the city to help the wounded of both sides and to dissuade people from looting. Despite this he was arrested by the British at Portabello Bridge and used as a human shield by a British Army raiding party. He witnessed the shooting dead of an unarmed youth by the raiding party commander Bowen-Colthurst.
Skeffington was held overnight and taken out the following morning, without trial or court-martial, and along with fellow journalists Thomas Dickons and Patrick McIntyre, shot dead against a wall. In an attempt to find some justification for what he had done, Bowen-Colthurst himself led a raid of Skeffington’s home in a vain search for incriminating evidence against him.
The case became a cause celebr