Could a mysterious affidavit finally shed light on who really killed Michael Collins?
A mystery surrounds the location or continued existence of the affidavit written by the driver of the armored car that accompanied Michael Collins to the Béal na Bláth ambush and which was to be made public 100 years after the engagement that led to the death of the Free State leader.
According to sources who spoke with Capthe affidavit was written while McPeake, a British Army World War I veteran serving as a machine gunner during the Battle of the Somme, was in a shelter in the Kilcorney area.
It was then delivered to a Cork-based law firm which this newspaper said was merged with another law firm.
It was when this happened that the affidavit allegedly disappeared.
An affidavit from a figure as central as Glasgow-born McPeake to the ambush could open a Pandora’s box into the assassination of Michael Collins.
McPeake himself is often singled out as one of the prime suspects given his background in the British Army and, three months after the Béal na Bláth ambush, he defected from the Free State forces to the irregulars, taking with him from Bandon Barracks the armored car Sliabh na mBan. , armed with a Vickers machine gun.
This vehicle was later implicated in an IRA attack on Free State forces in the Múscraí Gaeltacht village of Baile Mhúirne. The IRA freed a local man who was being held for possession of a weapon, a capital crime at the time, from the clutches of the national army.
While some historians have blamed an IRA man, Sonny O’Neill, for the murder of Michael Collins, others have pointed the finger at Emmet Dalton who accompanied Collins in his open-top touring car.
The motive attributed to Dalton is that he too was a veteran of the British Army, who was decorated for bravery at the Somme, and the suspicion was that he was either a British agent or was acting in the names of Collins’ colleagues in the Irish government. who feared provoking a civil war with the northern Unionists in an effort to get rid of the frontier.
The mystery around the missing affidavit comes as events marking the murder of Michael Collins unfold across West Cork in the build-up to Sunday’s commemoration at Béál na Bláth, which is to be addressed at the times by An Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin and the leader of Fine Gael. and Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar.
Organizing committee chairman Garret Kelleher said the joint invitation to the two leaders is an effort to continue the event’s tradition of trying to heal the nation’s historic wounds. For the first time, the event will be broadcast live on RTÉ News Now.