Michael John ("Mick") Collins (Irish: Mícheál Seán Ó Coileáin) (16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Having conducted a brilliant and innovative campaign of what would be later called "urban guerrilla", Collins understood that he had to accept a compromise with the British Empire which had just won the titanic struggle against Germany. While the Irish had succeeded in overturning the centuries-old status quo of complete British rule in their island, they had to accept an agreement falling far short of the original Irish Republican demands. Northern Ireland - where the pro-British Protestants were the majority - remained part of the United Kingdom. Moreover, the new "Irish Free State" in the southern part of the island fell short of being a completely independent Republic, being forced to retain the British King as its formal Head of State to whom all office holders had to swear allegiance - a very bitter pill which many Irish Nationalists refused to swallow. Subsequently, as both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army, Collins had the bitter duty of conducting the Irish Civil War and fighting against many of his former comrades-at-arms. In the course of that war he was shot and killed in August 1922, under circumstances which remain controversial up to the present.
Michael Collins was commander of the Irish Republican Army. During the Great War, with support from the Central Powers, Collins led a guerrilla war which expelled the British from most of Ireland. After the war, he commanded a conventional army which crushed a British-backed rebellion of malcontents in Belfast in the northeastern part of the island. Collins had seen the British Empire defeated and considerably weakened in the recent war, though not completely crushed, and he had the full backing of the Great War's victors, the United States and Germany - with the US providing not only diplomatic backing but also the direct military involvement of U.S. Navy vessels in the Belfast fighting. Under these circumstances, Collins was able to pursue successfully the goal of an entirely free and independent Republic of Ireland with no connections to Britain, and jurisdiction over the entire island.