HC Deb 24 May 1921 vol 142 cc20-3
40. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is now aware that John O'Connor, of Gloundaeagh, Farranfore, County Kerry, was arrested on 15th December last whilst on his way to church and driven away in a motor lorry; that he was beaten while in the lorry, thrown from the lorry into the road, fired on, and wounded; that civilians then carried him into the house of Thomas Brosnan, Threegneves, Currow, Farranfore, where he was tended by the Rev. J. J. O'Sullivan, of Killentierna, Farranfore; that four officers returned from Farranfore, to which place the lorry had proceeded, in a motor-car, and on ascertaining from the Rev. J. J. O'Sullivan where O'Connor lay wounded, entered Brosnan's house and murdered O'Connor by firing three revolver bullets into his head; whether he is aware that the Rev. J. J. O'Sullivan, Mr. Brosnan, and other eye-witnesses are prepared to testify to the foregoing facts on oath; whether an inquiry has been held; whether these witnesses were called; what was the finding; what action, if any, has been taken; and whether any compensation is to be paid to the widow and seven children of the murdered man?

The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Colonel Sir Hamar Greenwood)

I am informed by the Commander-in-Chief that the Court of Inquiry in lieu of inquest in the case of John O'Connor has completed its proceedings, and steps are now being taken to identify Crown forces implicated. It is not possible at this stage to say whether any arrest will be made, as this depends entirely on the result of the identification, but should any person or persons be identified by these witnesses they will be put under arrest and charged with murder or being accessories thereto. I will communicate the result of the identification to the hon. and gallant Member as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Has the right hon. Gentleman still a letter which I sent to him giving the name of the officer who, I was informed, was responsible for the murder?


I am not sure that I have that letter, but I will make inquiries to-day.

42. Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER - SHEE

asked the Chief Secretary whether he can give the House any further information as to the murders of John Hodnett, of Courtmacsherry, County Cork, who was murdered on his way to mass on Sunday, the 8th May; of William Bransfield, of Carrighwohill, County Cork, who was murdered on Sunday, 8th May, outside his house; of Head-constable Storey, when leaving mass on Sunday, 8th May, at Castleisland, County Kerry; of Martin Scanlon and John M'Gawley, who were murdered on Sunday, 8th May, at Kilrooskey, County Roscommon; of William Simpson, an old-age pensioner, murdered at Enniskillen on 8th May; and of Constable Thon Hopkins, murdered at Dromore, County Tyrone, on Sunday, 8th May; and whether he is aware that, in the case of the attempted murder of Sergeant Butler, Royal Irish Constabulary, at Castleisland, his life was saved by the heroic action of Mrs. Butler?


As the answer to this question is very long, perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will allow me to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE

In view of the great increase in the numbers of murders of unarmed men, and even women in Ireland, has not the time come to increase the strength of the auxiliary police so as to deal with the assassins?


The auxiliary police are being increased every week.

The following is the answer promised:

The facts of these cases as reported by the police are as follows: John Hodnett, a farmer of Lislee, Courtmacsherry, County Cork, was shot by a party of Crown forces owing to his failure to halt when challenged, and he died the same day from the effects of his wounds. William Brantsfield, a railway employé, residing at Carrigtwohill, and a brother-in-law of an ex-soldier who was shot in the same village three weeks ago, was taken from his house and shot dead in the road in the early morning. The only other occupant of the house at the time of this outrage was the murdered man's mother, who is deaf and mentally feeble, and the police have so far been unable to obtain any reliable information which would lead to the detection of the murderers. Head Constable Storey, of Castleisland, was shot dead on leaving Mass, and Sergeant Butler, a sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who was with him, was shot in the back and severely wounded. Both men were accompanied by their wives. The per- petrators of these cowardly crimes effected their escape by mingling with the congregation coming out of church and up to the present they have not been traced. Martin Scanlon, an R.I.C. pensioner, and John McCawley, sub-postmaster, both of Kilrooskey, were dragged from their beds by masked and armed civilians shortly after midnight. The bodies of both men were subsequently found riddled with bullets fired at close range and each bearing a label "Convicted Spy. Tried by Irish Republican Army." Scanlon leaves a wife and large family. Search for the murderers has so far been unavailing. William Simpson, aged 71, was shot dead in bed at his house near Enniskillen. In this case a man living in the same house has been arrested on a charge of murder. Constable Thomas Hopkins, Royal Irish Constabulary, of the Dromore, County Tyrone, Force, while on leave at his father's house at Levasse, County Mayo, was shot dead by a party of about six masked men, when returning with his brother from a neighbour's house late at night. The murderers first asked if he was a Royal Irish Constabulary man and then took him about 500 yards from his brother, whom they had previously blindfolded and bound, and shot him with cold-blooded deliberation. The police are vigorously pursuing their inquiries, but no arrest has yet been reported.

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