Michael Collins was as passionate for Irish independence as Patrick Pearse and the rest, but he had the vision to see that the goal might be reached in stages, and the courage to act accordingly. When commanding the army of the Irish Free State he was shot down on 22 August 1922, aged 31, by former comrades who rejected the treaty he had signed.
It is arguable that the leaders of the Easter Rising, gallant though they were, actually made partition inevitable, at any rate in the short term, by seeking German help during the First World War. It was a tragedy for Ireland that Collins, with his remarkable gifts of leadership, organisational ability, and capacity for friendship even with an adversary, was deprived of the chance to show himself as great a statesman as he was a fighting man.
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