Today in Irish History - 21st November, 1920
Meet The Cairo Gang. The Cairo Gang were a group of handpicked British Intelligence sent to Dublin to assassinate prominent members of the Irish Volunteers during the War of Independence. They were assassinated on the morning of 21st November 1920 in a planned series of simultaneous morning strikes organised by Michael Collins. In one day much of British Intelligence in Dublin was wiped out.
They were given the name the 'Cairo Gang' by the volunteers as the gang congregated at several well known Dublin pubs and restaurants, including the Cafe Cairo at 59 Grafton Street in Dublin. They were organised by British authorities in Westminster following a series of successful guerrilla operations under Michael Collins during the War of Independence. The British Army set up the special plainclothes unit of demobilized ex army officers and some active duty officers to organise a hit list of Irish Volunteers. The officers received training at a school of instruction in London, most likely under the supervision of Special Branch. Its members lived in boarding houses and hotels across Dublin.
Michael Collins was receiving information from numerous sources on their movements and whereabouts. After several weeks of surveillance the Dublin Brigade set the date for assassinations to be carried out; 21st November 1920 at 9.00AM.
The agents were located at 28 Pembroke Street, 117 Morehampton Road, 92 Lower Baggot Street, 38 Upper Mount Street, 28 Earlsfort Terrace, 22 Lower Mount Street, 119 Baggot Street, Gresham Hotel, Fitzwilliam Square and the Eastwood Hotel. 14 agents were killed by the Brigade that morning.
Collins was an unforgiving warrior who wrote of the killings: “By their destruction the very air is made sweeter. That should be the future’s judgment on this particular event. For myself, my conscience is clear. There is no crime in detecting and destroying, in war-time, the spy and the informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.”