Australian echoes of imperial tensions: government surveillance of Irish-Australians

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Irish-Australians were under official surveillance from November 1917 following security awareness of local attempts to support anti-British activity in Ireland. The subsequent arrest and internment of seven Irish-Australians with links to the radical Irish Republican Brotherhood intensified authority and community concern. Surviving archival evidence reveals numbers of ordinary Irish-Australians made interstate contacts and exchanged material and ideas judged as subversive, sometimes outwitting authorities. The wartime atmosphere heightened suspicion, and some strongly pro-British individuals and organisations quickly judged all Irish-Australians—especially in the light of perceived inflammatory statements from Melbourne’s Archbishop Mannix—as disloyal and verging on traitorous. While an active Irish-Australian ‘underground’ existed—with greater potential for radical action than was realised—it was largely aimed at resisting Australia’s government-fuelled pro-British and anti-Irish atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralians and the First World War
Subtitle of host publicationLocal-Global Connections and Contexts
EditorsKate Ariotti, James E. Bennett
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319515205
ISBN (Print)9783319515199
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


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