HC Deb 25 May 1916 vol 82 cc2259-63
52. Mr. CREAN

asked the Prime Minister whether the house of Mr. Mark Wickham, Merchant's Quay, Cork, was entered by the military and police authorities on the 8th instant in search of arms; if the only arms found was a small toy air-gun, the plaything of his little son, which was purchased at a toy shop for 2s. 6d.; whether Mr. Wickham was arrested for having this toy in his possession without a licence; whether he will state the justification for this action; and if he will see that an end will be put to such interference with innocent people, who cannot be charged with any criminal act?


The facts as stated by my honourable Friend seem to warrant the release of Mr. Wickham. I was assured a day or two ago that inquiry was being made, and, if the facts are as stated by my hon. Friend, I think there can be little doubt that Mr. Wickham will be released forthwith.


Thank you.


This is a triumph!


asked the Prime Minister whether an official list of the names and addresses of persons arrested in error in connection with the recent rebellion in Ireland, and since released on ascertaining that they had no connection therewith, will be published; and whether, in addition, a notice expressing regret for their inadvertent arrest will be forwarded to each of them with a view to enabling them to make their position clear to their friends and business connections?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

I will arrange for the list asked for in the first part of the question and will consider the suggestion contained in the last part of the question.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether Mr. O'Leary Curtis, of Dublin, is still in prison without charge or trial; if so, where and to what treatment he is subject; and whether this citizen will, without further delay, be either released or given an opportunity of meeting in a Civil Court any charge that can be brought against him?


I understand that Mr. O'Leary Curtis is in prison. I have received some information in connection with this case which I have forwarded to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in Ireland. If he had no connection whatever with the rebellion or with the movement which fomented it, he will no doubt shortly be released.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this gentleman's health is in a critical condition?


No, I am not aware of that. My informant, who went to see him yesterday, did not report that.

The following question stood upon the Paper in the name of Mr. HEALY: 73. To ask the Under-Secretary for War whether at 4.40 a.m. on Thursday week twenty armed police broke into the house of Mr. Darrell Figgis, in the Island of Achill, where he was residing with his wife, and, although he assured them when they knocked that no resistance would be offered, they broke the front door with a large stone and smashed the back door with a plank; whether his papers, historical manuscripts, and money were seized, and himself taken to Castlebar Gaol; whether he was imprisoned there from Thursday to Monday, denied letters or visitors, and then removed to Richmond Barracks, where he now is a prisoner, without any charge being made against him; and whether, seeing that since the split in the Volunteers eighteen months ago Mr. Figgis has taken no part in the movement and severed himself at the time by a public declaration from either side, that no Volunteers of any kind were formed in Achill, and that no rising occurred in Mayo, to which county the island belongs, he will state what was the necessity for the manner in which the arrest was carried out, and how long will the military be occupied in obtaining evidence to justify it or, if they have evidence to warrant the same, why is Mr. Figgis not brought to trial?


I have been asked to postpone this question, but I desire to state that simply because I put it down they deported this absolutely innocent man to England, although he had made a formal declaration months ago that he had nothing to do with the Volunteers.

The following questions stood upon the Paper in the name of Mr. FLAVIN: 84. To ask the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that Joseph O'Leary, of 11, Tremadoc Road, Clapham, London, who is spending his holidays in Ireland, was arrested on Tuesday, 16th May, in Dublin, and detained since in the Bridewell; whether he will say why Joseph O'Leary was arrested and detained; what charge, if any, has been made against him; whether his release will be ordered immediately; and 85. To ask the Under-Secretary on what grounds James M'Elligott, clerk in the Local Government Board, Dublin, has been arrested and deported to England; whether he is aware that this young man has an unimpeachable character; whether he is aware that James M'Elligott's mother's health is in a precarious condition as a result of her son's arrest and deportation, and that she cannot get any information about her son; and whether his release will be ordered at once?


I have been requested to postpone these questions, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, in connection with the latter, whether he is aware that it has now been postponed for the ninth time at his request, that the man is now five weeks in gaol, that he is absolutely innocent, no charge is preferred against him, he has had no trial and his friends are denied the right to see him, and is it not time for the military authorities and the right hon. Gentleman himself to move in the matter?


I was not aware that the question had been postponed so often. I deeply regret it. I am communicating with the General Officer Commanding in Ireland, and will take care the case is brought to his notice. I may inform the hon. Member that we are getting through 150 cases a day. Yesterday fifty were released.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this young boy's mother is in a very delicate state of health?


How many men are there in gaol, and how long will it take at the rate of 150 a day to get through them?


I should think another ten days.


asked the Under-Secretary, for War whether he is aware of the fact that fifteen natives of Cliffoney, county Sligo, were arrested and taken from their homes by the military without warrant and have now been lodged in a detention prison at Wandsworth; whether any and, if so, what charge has been made against them; whether they are to be put on trial forthwith or else liberated; whether he is aware that these men bear the character of being all of them respectable and law-abiding citizens, and that it is well known to the police and military that they were in no way connected with the recent disturbances in Dublin or anywhere else; and, seeing that such action as the imprisonment and deportation of those men is calculated to exasperate the feelings of the people in the district and bring the law and the Government into contempt, will he say what action he proposes to take?


The procedure announced in the communiqué which has appeared in the Press covers, I think, the points raised by this question. The military authorities are most anxious that persons inadvertently arrested, who have had no connection whatever with the rebellion or with the movement which fomented it should be released forthwith, and printed forms on which release may be claimed and which are framed to facilitate rapid investigation, have been issued to commandants of places of detention. When these forms have been filled in the release of persons concerned will, if the facts justify it, be immediately ordered, and they will be sent back to the place where they were arrested. I think my hon. Friend should advise the fifteen men referred to in the question, to follow the procedure I have indicated.

The following question stood upon the Paper in the name of Mr. T. M. HEALY: 89. To ask the Under-Secretary for War if, out of thirty-five young men arrested in Mitchelstown by the military on 8th May, five are detained, namely, W. Casey, J. Hannigan, D. Roche, and the brothers O'Sullivan; have these men been removed to Cork and then to Dublin in custody, although all arms were surrendered and no incriminating documents or matter were found upon them; are their relatives left without any knowledge of their whereabouts and denied the opportunity of procuring their defence; have any of them been deported to England; if not, are they to be tried, on what charge, and where; and is any opportunity to be afforded them of consulting a solicitor or making a defence?


The right hon. Gentleman has asked me, for the fourth time, to postpone this question. It seems to me it is no use putting questions. It only makes the prisoner a marked man. I will not put the question again.

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