On Sunday the 4th of February 1923 delegates from all over the country attended a convention of the Old I.R.A at which an Irish peace Movement was inaugurated, the movement was known as the Neutral I.R.A., each delegate at the inaugural meeting represented 300 officers and men who had withdrawn from the I.R.A. since the Anglo-Irish Truce and had taken no part in the conflict. The meeting was held at Ls Scala Theatre, Princes Street, Dublin. The headquarters of the association were at 135 Thomas Street, Dublin. The following were elected on the Executive of the Association:
- Dublin: Donal O’Hannigan, M J Burke, J O’Connor, Frank Burke
- Mayo: Eamonn Gannon
- Roscommon: Gerald O’Connor
- Offaly: P Boland
- Cork: F O’Donoghue
- Waterford: George Lennon
- Donegal: Frank Carney
- Tipperary O’Dwyer: At the outbreak of the Civil War he was active with the Anti-Treaty side but with the formation of the Neutral I.R.A he became chairman of Neutral I.R.A Tipperary Branch. He had served as O.C. 3rd Tipperary Brigade.
Secretary M J Burke.
Former members of the 1st Battalion South Dublin Brigade:
Michael O’Tool and M York honorary treasures, W Duffy and T McCarthy secretaries, John Fox, J Hammond, W Kerns, T Browne, J Quigley.
Sligo: E Gannon Ex C.O. Chairman, M M Tolan ex-Staff Captain. G Delaney, M E Hannon Treasures, J Tolan Secretary.
Eamonn Gannon was a member of the Volunteers from its inception as well as serving with Na Fianna Éireann from 1914. He mobilised during the 1916 Easter Rising, was arrested in May 1916 and interned until the following August. From 1919 to the end of the War of Independence he served as a Brigade Vice Officer Commanding and a Brigade Officer Commanding with the North Mayo Brigade Irish Volunteers and IRA. As well as organisational and training work and the transportation of arms, he took part in a number of IRA operations and attacks in counties Mayo and Sligo, including the attack on Enniscrone Coastguard Station in August 1920 and attacks on RIC and British personnel in Ballina and Bonniconlon, and also organised attacks on Easkey and Dromore West RIC barracks. He was captured by British forces in June 1921 and interned until January 1922. He was arrested by National Army forces in Ballina during the early stages of the Civil War and shot at while a prisoner by National Army Commandant Bannon. He acted as Director of Elections for P. J. Ruttledge, Republican candidate for North Mayo constituency in the 1923 General Election.
The Freemans Journal reported on the 23rd of February 1923 that three persons were apprehended by the Neutral I.R.A. in connection with the shooting of a man named Finnelly at Ballycumber County Offaly, the three, aged between fifteen and twenty years old, were to be handed over to the proper authorities.
In early February 1923 the Neutral I.R.A put forward proposal to both sides in the Civil War for a cease fire for one month during which negations could take place. Members of the Neutral I.R.A were politically Pro and Anti-Treaty advocating that the fighting would achieve nothing and the battle over the Treaty should take place at the ballot box not the battle field. The proposed cease fire was rejected by both sides.
During the first few months of 1923 several efforts were made to bring an end to the Civil War. The government offered and amnesty to Anti-Treaty troops, on condition that they sign a declaration not to undertake any action against National Army troops and surrender any weapons no action would be taken against them. The amnesty was successful to a degree with several ‘Flying Columns’ taking up the offer as can be seen from the above article.