Royal Irish Constabulary

The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, Irish: Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police, patrolled the capital, while the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police forces, later had special divisions within the RIC.[1] For most of its history, the ethnic and religious makeup of the RIC broadly matched that of the Irish population, although Anglo-Irish Protestants were over-represented among its senior officers.

Royal Irish Constabulary
AbbreviationRIC
Agency overview
Formed1822
DissolvedAugust 1922
Superseding agencyGarda Síochána
Royal Ulster Constabulary
Legal personalityPolice force
Jurisdictional structure
National agencyUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Operations jurisdictionUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Map of Royal Irish Constabulary's jurisdiction
Size84,421 km2 (32,595 sq mi)
Population8,175,124 (1840)
4,390,219 (1911)
General nature

The RIC was under the authority of the British administration in Ireland. It was a quasi-military police force. Unlike police elsewhere in the United Kingdom, RIC constables were routinely armed (including with carbines) and billeted in barracks, and the force had a militaristic structure. It policed Ireland during a period of agrarian unrest and Irish nationalist agitation. It was used to quell civil unrest during the Tithe War, the Young Irelander Rebellion, the Fenian Rising, the Land War, and the Irish revolutionary period. During the Irish War of Independence, the RIC faced mass public boycotts and attacks by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). It was reinforced with recruits from Britain—the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries—who became notorious for police brutality and attacks on civilians. The Ulster Special Constabulary was formed to reinforce the RIC in the northern province of Ulster.

In consequence of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and partition of Ireland, the RIC was disbanded in 1922 and was replaced by the Garda Síochána in the Irish Free State and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

The RIC's system of policing influenced the armed Canadian North-West Mounted Police (predecessor of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the armed Victoria Police force in Australia, and the armed Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in Newfoundland.[2]