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Easter Rising attacks planned for Belfast aborted due to 'poor numbers'

Fr Louis O'Kane with Belfast republicans Seamus Dobbyn and Eddie Boyle after interviewing them in 1963
John Monaghan

DEPLETED numbers in the ranks of the Irish Volunteers in Belfast meant attacks planned for the same day as the Easter Rising were called off.

Belfast republican Seamus Dobbyn, a chief organiser in the Ulster IRB, described his involvement in preparations in the north for the Easter Rising, even attending confession in a sign that he feared he may not return.

Mr Dobbyn said: "We were told we were going on manoeuvres on Easter Saturday, the arms had already been sent to Coalisland. We had about 100 rifles. We were then to go on via Enniskillen, Omagh, and then on to the Shannon.

"On this occasion I speak of, I went for a general confession, to Clonard, before I went on manoeuvre."

However, bad organisation and poor numbers contributed to the postponement of attacks in Belfast.

Mr Dobbyn said: "That was early in the week preceding Easter Sunday. There were about 20 of us mobilised for that. We found out that ... we in Belfast would start the same as was in Dublin and I suppose they too were counting on hundreds of men."

He continued: "Information was so bad and the organisation so slack that they did not know how depleted our company was. About the time Connolly came, if he had the information of how small our number were, he would not instructed us on house fighting."

The Belfast republican added: "After the meeting was over he must have been informed that we had not the numbers for house fighting in Belfast because later on the order came to get our ammunition ready. Connolly indicated that the rising was coming off sooner than we thought."

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