The British Parliament has honoured the late Sir Henry Wilson MP with a plaque in the House of Commons chamber to mark the centenary of his murder 100 years ago.
Born in Longford in 1864, Sir Henry grew up in a privileged Anglo-Irish home and attained the rank of Field Marshal for his service during the First World War.
He was elected as the Unionist MP for North Down in 1922 and was an outspoken hardliner on the Irish question - denouncing the Anglo-Irish Treaty as a sell out to the IRA.
On 22nd June 1922 he had unveiled a memorial in central London to railway workers who died in the Great War and was returning to his stately home in Belgravia when a member of the IRA shot him twice.
100 years ago today the Ulster Unionist MP Sir Henry Wilson unveiled this WWI memorial at Liverpool St Station in London. He’d been elected in the North Down by-election of February 1922 and was also acting as “security advisor” to the devolved Government of Northern Ireland 1/4 pic.twitter.com/iw08QhPIwr
— David Torrance (@davidtorrance) June 22, 2022
Sir Henry’s killers were two former British soldiers, Reggie Dunne and Joe O'Sullivan; both were born in England but had Irish families.
There has been some debate as to who ordered Sir Henry’s killing and certain historians have concluded that it might have been Michael Collins himself.
“He [Collins] was hoping to remove what he saw as a dangerous foe of Irish nationalism,” Wilson’s biographer Ronan McGreevy believes.
“And someone whom he blamed for the behaviour of security forces in the north.”
Collins was himself killed only a few short weeks later and McGreevy thinks there is an inherent connection between the two events:
“If Wilson hadn’t been shot, Collins wouldn’t have been shot,” McGreevy added.
'A legend, a gallant soldier and a committed parliamentarian'
The DUP’s Ian Paisley has long campaigned for Sir Henry to be honoured with a plaque in the Commons chamber and said it was high time his life was recognised.
“[He was] a person who was a legend, a gallant soldier and a committed parliamentarian,” Mr Paisley said.
“For him to be murdered in the callous way that he was, of course, a disgrace and it’s only right and proper that his family have come here today to see this beautiful shield erected in the chamber for him.”
This morning a plaque commemorating former North Down MP Sir Henry Wilson was unveiled in Parliament. Ian Paisley was in the Commons chamber as it was unveiled, 100 years after Sir Henry's murder in London. pic.twitter.com/CegBUpIl3z
— DUP (@duponline) June 22, 2022
The ceremony was presided over by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Minister Jacob Rees Mogg was also in attendance.
Main image: Sir Henry Wilson.