Dublin Metropolitan Police

Dublin Metropolitan Police

The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.



19th century

Organised rural policing in Ireland began when Robert Peel, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, created the Peace Preservation Force in 1814.[1] This rudimentary paramilitary police force was designed to provide policing in rural Ireland, replacing the 18th century system of watchmen, baronial constables, revenue officers and British military forces. Peel went on to found the London Metropolitan Police.

In 1822, a new Act created four improved "County" Constabularies, whose organisation was based around the traditional provinces of Ireland.[1]

1836: reform

In 1836, the county constabularies were merged into a new centralised Constabulary of Ireland, and the Peace Preservation Force ceased to exist.[1] At the same time separate non-paramilitary forces were set up in the larger towns: Dublin, Belfast, and Derry. A perceived lack of impartiality following rioting in the municipal police forces of Belfast and Derry saw both forces absorbed by the national force in 1865 and 1870 respectrively, and only Dublin maintained its separate force.[1] The DMP was established under the Dublin Police Act 1836[2] and was a more efficient organisation than the untrained constables and night watchmen it replaced.[3]

The 1836 Act authorised the "chief governor of Ireland" to establish a police office in Dublin, supported by two salaried justices, to administer the police force which would be under the direction of the Chief Secretary for Ireland.[3] It also provided for the recruitment and appointment of policemen and the regulation of their conduct.[3] It also created powers of arrest and made arrangements for the financial affairs of the new force, including new taxation.[3]

The DMP was modelled closely on London's Metropolitan Police. Not only were the uniforms of the two forces almost indistinguishable, especially after the helmet and Bath Star were adopted, but the two forces also had a similar organisational structure; rather than a Chief Constable, they were commanded by a Commissioner, who was not a police officer, but a magistrate holding a Commission of the Peace. This was descended from the 18th century system of controlling parish constables, and was a sop to the public's fears about the danger of a standing police force under government control.

1880s: Land Wars

The force came under considerable pressure in the 1880s during the Land Wars, in which 500 policemen were injured. A series of protest meetings were held and strikes were threatened in 1882.[3]

20th century

During the Lock-out, the police break up a union rally on Dublin's Sackville Street, August 1913

1913-14: Dublin Lock-out

Two men died and several hundred people were injured over the course of the 5-month Dublin Lock-out, including two hundred policemen. Although the police were involved in "frequent collisions" with union members and used tactics such as baton charges against them, a vice-regal commission cleared them of wrong-doing after the events - though their reputation had suffered considerably.[3]

1916 onwards

As they were unarmed, the Dublin Metropolitan Police were confined to barracks and did not take the side of the British in the War of Independence as actively as did the RIC, and as such did not suffer the casualty rate of that force, although three men were killed and seven injured.[3] The political "G" Division did not come off so lightly, and selected "G men" were first warned by the Irish Republican Army in April 1919, and the first was shot in July. Many DMP officers actively assisted the IRA, most famously Edward Broy, who passed valuable intelligence to Michael Collins throughout the conflict. Another DMP "G" Division spy for Collins was David Neligan. Five of the "G" Division were killed by the IRA.

In the 1996 film Michael Collins, Broy is discovered and subsequently tortured and killed by the British. In reality he was not caught and went on to become the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána in the 1930s.

After the creation of the Irish Free State, the DMP became known as "Políní Átha Cliath" (English: Police of Dublin) from 1922–1925, after which the force ceased to exist as a separate entity, and was absorbed into the Garda Síochána (English: Guardians of the Peace).[3] Its last Commissioner was W.R.E. Murphy. "Dublin Metropolitan" is today a geographic region of the Garda Síochána's command structure.

Unlike the RIC but in common with police forces on the island of Great Britain, the DMP was an unarmed force. In this, it provided the inspiration for the first Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, who declared that the new force should also be unarmed.


  1. ^ a b c d Tobias, J.J. (1975). "Police and the Public in the United Kingdom" in "Police Forces in History". Sage Publications. ISBN 0803999283. 
  2. ^ 6 & 7 Will.4 c.29
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Statute Law Repeals: Consultation Paper - City of Dublin Repeal Proposals". Law Commission. http://www.justice.gov.uk/lawcommission/docs/slr_city_of_dublin.pdf. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 

External links

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