HC Deb 01 June 1921 vol 142 cc1042-5
43. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Chief Secretary if he is aware that the creameries of Glenmore, Glen-pipe, and Mullinvat, and consequently four auxiliary creameries, were closed by order of the military on 25th May last; that all these creameries are situated in South Kilkenny, within easy reach of Waterford and in a district in which no ambushes have occurred and no member of the Crown forces has been killed or even fired at; and that the closing of these co-operative creameries will mean a loss of some 10 tons of butter a day, great hardship to the farmers in the district, and a raising of the price of butter to the English consumer; and what was the reason for this action?

54. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to an order of the Military Governor, issued 24th May, closing down two creameries at Bansha; and whether the policy of closing down creameries as a reprisal for attacks on the forces of the Crown is a part of the policy of His Majesty's Government?


I explained fully the circumstances in which certain creameries have been closed in the martial-law area in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) on the 30th May. In some cases prior to the closing of the creamery, murderous attacks have taken place on members of the Crown forces. At Bansha, for instance, four constables while leaving the Roman Catholic Church were fired at by armed men hidden behind the wall of the Protestant Rectory. One constable was murdered, and the remaining three were wounded. I have no doubt that in the other cases quoted the military authorities had adequate grounds for the action taken.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

With reference to my question, which I object to being answered with the other, as it is entirely different, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has been no attack of any sort on the Crown forces in this area at all; and, further, how can the farmers, who are not allowed to have arms, prevent the Irish Republican Army from trenching the roads? How in human nature can they prevent them from doing it?


That would really require an argument.

53. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Chief Secretary whether he will make inquiries into the circumstances under which Michael Ryan, of Ballybrack, was shot dead, while crossing one of his father's fields, by armed forces of the Crown on 12th May last?


The Court of Inquiry in this case found that deceased was shot by members of the Crown forces in the execution of their duty, he having failed to half when called upon to do so, and that no blame attached to any member of the Crown forces. According to the evidence, Ryan was on the road when challenged by the patrol, but he jumped a hedge and endeavoured to get away. He was called upon to halt three times before he was fired upon.

Major M. WOOD

How far was this man away when he was called upon to halt?


How many men, can the right hon. Gentleman say, have been shot in Ireland for this kind of thing?


I think notice should be given of that question.

55. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Chief Secretary whether he has received any report of the inquiry into the circumstances under which Patrick Goffan, aged seven years, of Ballinagree, was fatally wounded by a shot fired by a soldier on the 21st April last?


This occurred in the martial-law area, and I am informed by the Commander-in-Chief that this very sad case was the result of a tragic mistake. Troops were patrolling rough ground in a mountainous district where a flying column of rebels was reported to be operating, and this boy was shot and wounded. The wounds were quite superficial, and at first he progressed favourably, but toxæmia supervened after four days and proved fatal. The Court of Inquiry found that no blame attached to any member of the Crown forces in the matter.

Captain BENN

Will any compensation be paid to the relatives of this infant shot by the agents of the right hon. Gentleman? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw! Withdraw!"]


The hon. and gallant Gentleman ought not to make allegations of that kind in a supplementary question, which would not be allowed, according to the rules of the House, to be put on the Paper.


Withdraw! Withdraw!


If the House would allow me to deal with this matter, it would be better.


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker—




In view of the most serious accusation that has been made against the Crown forces, and not substantiated, I desire to ask you whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Captain Benn) ought not to withdraw his accusation, or substantiate it?


I have sufficiently indicated, I think, that in my view a supplementary question ought not to be put in a form in which it would not be allowed on the Order Paper.

56. Major-General SEELY

asked the Chief Secretary what Report he has received with reference to the destruction of Tincurry House, county Tipperary, on 14th May; and what action he is taking in the matter?


My right hon. and gallant Friend is aware that on receipt of the further particulars in regard to this case, I at once asked the Commander-in-Chief to make the fullest inquiry into the allegations contained therein. I regret to state that owing to the great difficulty of communication in the martial law area the Commander-in-Chief has not yet been able to let me have that Report. If my right hon. and gallant Friend will be good enough to repeat his question one day early next week, I hope that I shall be in a position to give him the desired information.

Major-General SEELY

I understand there is no doubt—[HON. MEMBERS "Order!"]—I wish to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend whether he cannot now issue an order that no house shall be burnt down in Ireland except on purely military grounds, such, for instance, as a house being used for an ambush, or if it is known to be occupied by people reasonably supposed to be participants in outrages—cannot he issue such an order?


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has been a soldier himself, and is an ex-Secretary of State for War. He knows that when martial law is proclaimed in a given area in Ireland or elsewhere, the Commander-in-Chief is responsible. What I shall do is to send the question of the right hon. Gentleman to the Commander-in-Chief, and ask him to send me back an answer clearly defining the ground on which any reprisal takes place in any area.


Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Commander-in-Chief what object there is in competing with arson in Ireland?

Captain LOSEBY

Would it not be a better course to have implicit confidence in the competent military authorities?