Ulster descended into violence during the first half of 1922. Reprisal killings accompanied larger outrages, including an IRA attack on the Specials at the border town of Clones, Monaghan; civilian massacres at Weaver Street and Arnon Street, Belfast, and the murders of the McMahon Family, which attracted international outrage. In May, the IRA’s final push to break partition ended in defeat, while violence reached a crescendo with the murder of William Twaddell MP in Belfast in May, and further outrages at Altanevigh, outside Newry, and Cushendall, Co. Antrim, the following month.
In an attempt to curb violence, the new Northern Ireland government introduced the Special Powers Act in April 1922. This gave sweeping powers to the authorities, including internment, a ban on public meetings, the prohibition of ‘seditious literature’, and widespread curfews. With the outbreak of the Irish Civil War – between the forces of the provisional government in the south and those who opposed the Treaty – on 22 June 1922, a ‘type of peace’ descended over Northern Ireland.