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Outrages

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that General Doran, an ex-member of His Majesty's forces, was on 22nd May arrested at Rosslare by the forces of the Provisional Government, assaulted, beaten, detained for some time without any charge being preferred, and only released by the action of the local demobilised soldiers; whether his attention has also been drawn to the fact that General Higginson was on 24th May severely wounded by revolver shots at Tipperary, and that on 22nd May, Patrick Gilligan, an ex-soldier, was murdered at Newport, County Tipperary; will he state how many officers, ex-officers, soldiers and ex-soldiers of His Majesty's army have been murdered in Ireland since the signing of the Treaty with the Sinn Fein representatives, and in how many cases criminals have been brought to justice; and whether His Majesty's Government will offer facilities to enable ex-members of His Majesty's army to emigrate from Southern Ireland to the Colonies?

My attention has been drawn to the outrages referred to in the first part of the question. I have no authentic information in regard to the arrest of General Doran except that it was not committed by the forces of the Provisional Government as stated by the hon. and gallant Member. I am informed that every effort is being made to trace and punish the perpetrators of the attempted murder of General Higginson and the murderers of Patrick Gilligan, but that no arrests have yet been made in either case. The number of officers murdered in Ireland since the Treaty is four, of ex-officers six, of soldiers three, and of ex-soldiers three. Whilst His Majesty's Government note that these dastardly murders and attempts upon the lives of British soldiers are denounced on behalf of the Provisional Government and others, the melancholy fact remains that no persons have been brought to justice for these crimes. Whether some such action as that suggested in the final part of this question will become necessary depends upon the course that events take.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give some indication of the source of information that enables him to contradict this statement? Does it come from the Provisional Government or from the military authorities in Ireland?

Was not General Doran arrested by the police under the Provisional Government with assistance, and did not Mr. Michael Collins undertake to have an inquiry made? Has that inquiry been carried out?

The information which I have been able to obtain is that no inquiry has yet been held.

Will the right hon. Gentleman as far as possible see that ex-soldiers are given facilities to leave Ireland? Is he aware that in many cases they are subject to assaults, if not actually in danger of being murdered?

I think that in my statement to-morrow I shall be able to put the House in possession of the general situation in relation to these men.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are several thousands of ex-soldiers already dumped clown in Ireland, and when he makes his statement will he say whether the Government cannot do something to enable them to reside out of Ireland, at any rate for the time being?

I am not aware that the ex-soldiers are in any special danger in Ireland any more than the other persons who have been associated in one form or another with the Government service, or with the Unionist party in Ireland. No doubt they are all in some danger at the present time, but I do not think that the soldiers about to be disbanded in the Irish regiments will be in any more danger than other ex-soldiers and many scores of others in Ireland and various other classes and they stand in a different position from the Royal Trish Constabulary who have been serving for many years with definite duties as police and police control in all parts of Ireland. Consequently, they have an entirely different character of service to their record as compared with the soldiers who have been sent on overseas service. There is a great distinction between the two and it would be impossible for me to deal with all ex-soldiers in Ireland, or those who may subsequently return to Ireland, upon the basis arranged with the Royal Irish Constabulary.