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Military Precautions In Ireland

Volume 203: debated on Monday 18 July 1870

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said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland a Question, not as it had been mutilated by the printer, but as he gave Notice of it. It was to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether he is aware that the local magistrates of Cookstown, county Tyrone, were consulted as to the necessity of sending troops to that district for the 12th July; whether in spite of the local magistrates having declared it to be quite unnecessary, and that there was not the slightest probability of any disturbance, a force consisting of thirty-four Dragoons from Dundalk, a company of infantry from Armagh, forty-seven constables, and two stipendiary magistrates from the South of Ireland were sent there; and, in addition, the Surgeon of the Scots Greys from Dublin, whose services could not be required, there being some of the best medical men in Ireland in that neighbourhood; and, what expense was entailed on the county by the movement of so large a force?

said, in reply, that his information did not enable him to say whether the local magistrates were consulted upon this matter; but he had no reason to suppose that any expression of opinion such as was referred to in the Question of the hon. and gallant Member was given by them as a body, whatever one or two individuals might have said. The preservation of peace on certain anniversaries in the North of Ireland was sometimes a difficult and responsible duty on the part of; the Irish Government, and on the occasion in question they were fully aware that meetings of one party were announced to take place in the district, Such meetings always involved danger of a collision with another party; but collisions were often prevented by the presence of a sufficient force in the neighbourhood. Of course, if they did not take place it was easy to say that the dispatch of a force was useless; but if, on the other hand, disturbances occurred, the Government would be blamed for not having taken proper precautions. Therefore, they only did their duty by following the course referred to by the hon. and gallant Member. As to the surgeon of the Scots Greys, he knew nothing of him. With respect to the expense of these movements, he was sorry to say that no expense would fall upon the district, but on the country at large; he was afraid the expense would be considerable.