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The Limerick Soviet was established on 6th April 1919, a few months after the Dail (the newly elected Irish national assembly) proclaimed independence from Britain in January. In fact Ireland was occupied by British soldiers. In an incident, nationalist Robert Byrne was shot dead by occupying troops. His death was heavily mourned throughout the city as 20,000 people attended his funeral in protest. The British Government reacted angrily by imposing martial law on the city with the use of troops and tanks. The townsfolk responded by setting up the Limerick Soviet.