In February 1912 a unionist MP asked in the House of Commons, whether the ‘War Office’ would suppress a new organisation known as the ‘Irish National Boy Scouts’.
The boy scouts he referred to were, of course, also known as Na Fianna Eireann, and had been in existence since 1909 so it is interesting that concerns were raised at this particular time. The timing of these parliamentary questions can probably be explained by the fact that unionists and members of the Orange Order were forming local militias in Ulster around the same time, in early 1912.
The unionists were probably sensing the potential of these ‘boy scouts’. No doubt they feared that the Fianna could possibly act as a counter-balance to their own intentions. Thankfully, and rather naively, Chief Secretary Birrell laughed off Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke’s fears and claimed he had nothing to worry about with this ‘trivial’ organisation.
The Fianna were at this stage, already secretly preparing for future military action and were drilling and engaging in target practice and other military training. Most of the senior Fianna officers were, at this time, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and were not long after this, training other members of the IRB in military procedures in preparation of the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913.
I think the Fianna had the last laugh!!!!