‘Can you say whether your bank has an account in the name of a man called Michael Collins?’ - Alan Bell, official bank inquiry.
In 1919, the revolutionary Irish government launched an audacious plan to finance a counter-state in open defiance of British rule in Ireland. Half the money was to be raised in Ireland and half in America. This start-up government was determined not only to replace the British administration in Ireland but also to implement its own industrial and financial policies, including establishing a national bank.
It was imperative that the domestic funding campaign succeed. Without funds, the counter-state government would be doomed to failure. A financial ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’ was established; couriers secretly began distributing three million promotional leaflets throughout the country and carrying subscriptions to Dublin. The money was laundered into bank accounts and converted into gold using a ‘gold exchange network’.
This is the untold history of the fight for the revolutionary government’s funds, the bank inquiry that shook the financial establishment and the first battle in the intelligence war.