On February 16th, 1932 Ireland went to the polls in what was the most hotly contested election since The War of Independence. Cumann na nGaedheal (now Fine Gael) had ruled the country since their victory in the Civil War of 1922-23. However by the early 30s they faced a staunch challenge from the defeated republican side which had reformed itself into Fianna Fáil. Supported by the defeated anti-treaty I.R.A. they were a formidable force.
In the midst of the election, bitterness from The Civil War saw political tensions break into open violence on St. Valentines Day, 1932.
Two days before election day, Cumann na nGaedheal held a rally on College Green in Dublin city centre. Reports put the attendance anywhere between 20,0000 and 100,000 people. The rally descended into chaos when Fianna Fáil supporters arrived to jeer the speakers.
Violence broke out between opposing supporters before the police got involved. The result was something of a riot. Luckily a camera man was on hand to catch the footage. The riot begins at 40 seconds.
Meanwhile on the same day another T.D. was shot dead, after canvassing the wrong house in Co. Leitrim. Patrick Reynolds, a member of Cumann na nGaedheal, had knocked on the door house of a former member of the R.I.C. (Royal Irish constabulary). After an altercation Mr Reynolds and an accompanying detective were shot and killed by the former police man, a certain Mr Leddy.
Incidentally Fianna Fail won the election held two days later.