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Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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Truce (Breaches)


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland how many breaches of the truce have occurred since the unsigned terms were agreed upon; how many persons have been kidnapped; and how many persons have been punished for breaches of the truce?

The truce breaches reported by Royal Irish Constabulary total 528, and by Dublin Metropolitan Police 67. This includes 206 kidnappings, in 144 of which the persons kidnapped are known to have been released, and release is believed although not definitely known in a number of other cases; 150 of the other breaches relate to drilling, etc., not involving interference with individuals. Breaches of the truce are dealt with when ascertained, and a number of men are at present in custody for trial for various offences in this connection.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question whether in these very serious offences of kidnapping anyone has been punished?

Sinn Fein Courts


asked the Chief Secretary how many Sinn Fein so-called courts have been constituted and are now sitting in Southern Ireland; and what steps have been taken, or are proposed to be taken, to suppress these courts?

I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to similar questions on this subject on the 27th ultimo. I have nothing to add to the statements then made.

Do members of the Irish Bar, King's Counsel, Serjeants-at-Law, and the junior Bar practise in these illegal courts?

No such cases have come to my knowledge. I should think it very improbable.


asked the Chief Secretary whether ratepayers in Ireland are being summoned by solicitors before republican courts for non-payment of rates; and what steps the Government are taking in the matter?

The Irish Government have received a number of such complaints since the truce, and instructions have been issued to the police directing them to disperse, if necessary by force, any pretended courts which attempt to interfere in any way with the legal rights or personal liberty of any individual or to inflict or enforce penalties of any kind.

Has any action been taken against these people who call people to these illegal courts?

Definite instructions have been given to the police to disperse any such courts they know of.

That was not my question. The question was whether any action has been or will be taken against these people who illegally summon citizens to these courts?

How many courts have been dispersed in consequence of the orders given to the police?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Dublin Corporation regularly summon people to these courts?


asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to a report in the Irish Press of 29th October of a description of a public sitting of the Waterford district republican court, in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Waterford, in which the so-called adjudicating magistrates were stated to be the Reverend Father Kelleher, presiding, the mayor, Alderman J. White, T.D., Councillor Kenny, and Mr. Luke Larkin; and whether he can state if any steps have been taken against those persons for their illegal action?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the second part in the negative. Instructions have since been issued, however, directing the police to take such steps as may be necessary to prevent the holding of any similar court.

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said in reply to another question, that the law was being vindicated, can he say what steps are being taken against these men for illegal action in forming themselves into an illegal court? Are they not going to be summoned, at any rate, for their illegal action?

Patrick Kennelly (Release)


asked the Chief Secretary if he is aware that Patrick Kennelly, of Snierla Bridge, Duagh, County Kerry, awaiting trial on the charge of being one of the ringleaders in two raids on Kilmorna, in the second of which, on the 14th April, 1921, Sir Arthur Vicars was murdered, was released from Tralee Hospital on the ground of ill-health on the 7th October last; and if he can state why this man has been so released in view of the grave charges against him?

This man was arrested on the 27th May, 1921, on suspicion of being implicated in the murder of Sir Arthur Vicars, but no evidence was obtainable against him, and the police, after careful investigation, finally reported that they were satisfied that he was not concerned in the murder. He was therefore released on the ground that there was no justification for his further detention.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that not only is evidence obtainable against this man, but people have sent in to the police that they are willing to give evidence and that this man was known to have been present in the first raid? Is he aware that I hold in my hand a letter from the late Sir Arthur Vicars saying that he recognised this particular man, and this man, who is a very dangerous man indeed, has been allowed to go out again, although the last time he escaped, within a fortnight Sir Arthur Vicars was murdered, and this man boasted of it all round the place. Why has the Government allowed this man once more to be at large?

My information is quite to the contrary. The police have made every effort to get evidence and can find no evidence to implicate this man in the murder of Sir Arthur Vicars.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have this morning seen the brother of the late Sir Arthur Vicars who was prepared to come forward with the evidence in question?

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is tendering information. He had better give it to the proper source.



asked the Prime Minister whether Mr. John M'Hugh, chairman of the Fermanagh county council, who was kidnapped by Sinn Feiners, has been released; and whether any representations have been made to the Sinn Fein delegates with reference to this breach of the truce?

Mr. M'Hugh was, captured by some persons at 9 p.m. on 31st October, and was released at 10 p.m. on 1st November. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. Mr. M'Hugh has been interviewed by a police officer to whom he stated that he did not know any of the persons by whom he was kidnapped, or whether they were Sinn Feiners or not.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this man was kidnapped by Ulster volunteers? Will the hon. Gentleman send a copy of this question and answer to the "Morning Post"?