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Kidnapped British Officers

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 23 May 1922

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30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the precise terms of the representations which have been.made to the Provisional Government for Southern Ireland with regard to the three British officers and private who were kidnapped last month; and what action has so far been taken by the Provisional Government to ascertain the fate of these four British citizens in the pay of the Crown?

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is as yet any news of the three officers and one private kidnapped at Macroom; if not, what steps are being taken by the Provisional Government to ascertain their fate; whether the Government have reason to think that they are still alive; and can their names now be given?

I will answer this question and No. 34 together. I regret that I am still without information in regard to the fate of these men, but it is obviously undesirable, and could serve no useful purpose, for me to disclose the precise terms of the representation made to the Provisional Government, or the exact steps taken by the Provisional Government in pursuance of their investigations. I must ask the House to accept my assurance that everything possible is being done by His Majesty's Government in the matter. The names of those kidnapped are as follow:—

  • Lieutenant R. A. Hendy, Royal Warwickshire Regiment;
  • Lieutenant G. R. A. Dove, 2nd Hampshire Regiment;
  • Lieutenant K. R. Henderson, M.C., 2nd The Green Howards; and
  • Private J. Brooks, Royal Army Service Corps.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the third part of the question—whether the Government have reason to think that these officers and one man are still alive?

I am afraid that those British authorities in Ireland to whom we handed the matter and who have been endeavouring to trace these officers, have maintained a growing depression of hope of that.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman give the House some information as to what has happened to the motor-car these officers were in, or what was the last news the Government officials had with regard to these officers? Great anxiety is felt in the matter.

Every effort is being made by His Majesty's Government to have the matter unravelled, and every effort will continue to be made.

Having regard to the grave danger incurred by soldiers returning to Ireland to their homes, will the right hon. Gentleman postpone the disbandment of the Irish regiments?

If, unhappily, it proves that these unfortunate officers and this man, have been murdered, will compensation be paid to their relatives; and, if so, who will find the money—the British taxpayer or the Provisional Government?

I have received a letter from the Provisional Government in regard to the expenses which are to be disbursed on behalf of refugees from Ireland now in this country, in which the Provisional Government express appreciation of the fact that the British Government has undertaken this task in the first instance, and complete readiness to defray the expenses on their part. I am. certain, if no serious turn takes place in the general relations between the two Governments, that matters of this kind must be dealt with and will be dealt with, if not by one Government, certainly by the other.

Has the right hon. Gentleman received a strong opinion from a source not likely to be misinformed, that there officers were murdered immediately after they were taken?

What has the Provisional Government done in regard to these officers? Have they taken any really effective steps to find out what happened to them?

They have done everything in their power, as far as I have been able to ascertain, but the part of the country in which these murders—if murders there have been—took place, is a part of the country which has been completely out of their control; they have not had the least control or authority there.

In that connection, will the right hon. Gentleman consider my suggestion as to not disbanding these men at present?

These are not disbanded men; they are officers who were on active service.

I know that, but is it not the fact that the Irish regiments are to be disbanded very shortly; and should this matter not be considered?