I recently stumbled upon this highly engaging fast reading book by John Turi (a retired US naval officer and historian) entitled England's Greatest Spy: Eamon de Valera - which makes the bold suggestion that De Valera was a cowardly, incompetent, mentally unstable officer who deserted his troops during the 1916 Rebellion. Then following capture by the British Army, offered himself up to the Crown Forces as 'their man' in the future Irish Republic. De Valera performed this act of treachery in order to save himself from the firing squad.
Using what is essentially a psychoanalytical profiling of the founder of the Irish Republic, Turi detailed investigation into Dev's early childhood is a fascinating read by itself. Rejected by his peers and social circle in New York. De Valera illegitimacy - born in Brooklyn and perhaps sired by a Hungarian merchant father - resulted in his family in Ireland treating him without affection. He was also rejected by a Catholic seminary when he sought to become a priest.
What makes the book so very interesting and the story itself highly plausible, is Turi (a military officer himself) portrays De Valera as an incompetent coward who behaved emotionally unstable when he led the rebel force at Boland's Mill in central Dublin during the Easter Week insurgency. His actions may have even cost the military failure of the Uprising, as nearby a small group of snipers had pinned down the British Army advance at Mount Street Bridge inflicting hundreds of causalities. De Valera failed to take the initiative and attack the British assault which was there for the taking, having run out of both ammunition and morale as rebels marksmen took them out one by one.
Turi claims De Valera became disorientated and issued confused, sometimes counter-productive, orders. Most of the rebel force inside the mills considered him to be going insane as he constantly trembled with fear while giving bizarre orders. When the surrender news reached him, de Valera then abandoned the men under his command and slipped out of the Mill at noon, taking with him a British prisoner as a hostage (this shows a cunning, manipulative aspect to his personality). . .his insurance against being shot before he could surrender. De Valera, according to Turi, was an incompetent coward and this made him an ideal 'mole' for the British intelligence. His lack of devotion to his comrades, along with his absolute need for self-preservation was spotted right away by his interrogators. This theory also goes a long way to possibly explaining why De Valera was the only one of four Dublin commanders not to be put up against the wall and shot and also the ease of which he was allowed to create an Irish Republic with little or no hostility from Britain. The "American Citizen" excuse being a back-story mythology which became official history in Irish history books.
A riveting, and I say highly plausible read. Very enjoyable style of writing too.