Objects > Royal Irish Constabulary Christmas card 'The New RIC'


RIC Christmas card: 'The New RIC'

Date: 1920/21

Material: paper

Dimensions: 27 x 11 cm

Organisation: Royal Irish Constabulary

Source: Police Museum

This 'New RIC' Christmas card depicts the reinforced, War of Independence era Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The card features members of the 'regular RIC', the Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries and the Veteran Corps and was issued to RIC officers during Christmas 1920-21.

In 1919, a widespread boycott of the RIC, raids on barracks and attacks on policemen resulted in an increase in retirements, resignations and a decline in recruits to the force. The British government needed to increase the strength of the force, and in January 1920, launched a recruitment campaign in larger English cities for ex-servicemen to join the RIC. The initial recruits were young men who had served in World War I and had little experience of ordinary employment. The new men received six weeks induction (instead of the standard six month training period) before being posted to barracks in disturbed areas in the south and west of Ireland. Due to shortages, the new RIC men received a mixture of khaki Army service and dark-green RIC uniforms which lead to their nickname the Black and Tans. In July 1920, the RIC were furthered augmented by the Auxiliary Division; a group of ex-officers who provided mobile support to men on patrols. The Veterans Corps (similar to Corps of Commissionaires) consisted of older ex-servicemen and carried out security duties at government offices.

The Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans were initially welcomed by the RIC but their lack of training and discipline, excessive drinking and reckless behaviour soon alienated them from the ‘regular RIC’ and the local population. A number of reprisal attacks including shootings, burning of buildings, looting and the sacking of towns and cities such as Limerick and Cork have been attributed to the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans. One of the worst reprisals occurred on Bloody Sunday, November 1920 in Dublin, when Auxiliaries looking for IRA suspects fired indiscriminately into the crowd at Croke Park killing 14 and wounding 65. A truce was agreed in July 1921 and the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans began leaving in October of that year before being disbanded in February 1922. During the War of Independence, 7,122 men left the RIC and 14,183 men were recruited.