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Murders

Volume 154: debated on Wednesday 31 May 1922

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23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to the report of the proceedings of the Probate Court in Ireland on 16th May, when, as proof of the death of Constable Michael Dennehy, a record was produced from the depart-merit of defence of Dad Eireann stating that Constable Dennehy, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, had been executed by order of that department, after an alleged trial on a charge of espionage whether the department of defence is still in existence; if Mr. Mulcahy, a member of the Irish Provisional Government, is at present the controller; and what steps he intends to take to prevent the department of defence of Dail Eireann from executing more of the servants of the Crown?

The question has reference to one of the numerous deplorable tragedies which occurred before the Truce of last July, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by re-opening the discussion of those events at the present moment.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there have been murders, called executions, and that the last part of the question refers to communications to the Provisional Government? Have any such communications been made?

I am quite certain that, according to all the information in my possession, no reprisals or murders have been conducted.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman heard of the three officers and men who were executed in Macroom as a reprisal, and after being tried as so-called spies?

I also know that every effort was made by the Provisional Government to find out the guilty parties.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what was the result of their inquiries?

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that Gunner James Rolfe, an unarmed British soldier, was murdered on 12th May in Bachelor's Walk, Dublin; that at the inquest the coroner addressed the jury to bring in a verdict of wilful murder; and that the jury refused to bring in such a verdict; and what steps he intends to take to ensure that the assassination of British subjects in Ireland will be treated as murder and the perpetrators dealt with according to law?

The answer to the first and second part of the question is in the affirmative. In reply to the third part, while I fully share the hon. and gallant Member's feelings with regard to the verdict of this Coroner's jury which can only he described as a wilful perversion of justice, there are no steps which either His Majesty's Government or the Provisional Government can or ought to take to compel a jury to return a particular verdict.

Is not the simple and obvious course to withdraw the troops from Dublin, where they are not allowed to defend themselves?

I am not at all sure that, if I followed the advice of my hon. and gallant Friend I should be adopting the course best calculated to secure the interests of this country.

Is the right bon. Gentleman aware that these malicious murders are causing such intense feeling among the troops that it is only on account of the loyalty of the men and the appeals made to them by their officers that they are prevented making serious reprisals?

I am fully aware of the great strain on the troops both in Cork and in Dublin through these events. It is very remarkable that the officers should have been able as, to their honour, they hitherto have been to restrain their men from vindicating their outraged feelings.

Hon. and right hon. Members continually suggest that no steps are being taken. It is not right to say so. I am shortly to make a general statement to the House, and hon. Members Rill then be able to judge as to what is being done.

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any information has been received as to the fate of Henry Horn-brook, J.P., of Valley Groman House, Ovens, near Cork, who with his son Samuel and his nephew, Herbert Woods, were kidnapped on the morning of 24th April, when one of the raiders, Michael O'Neil, was killed; whether there is reason to believe that the kidnapped men were murdered; and, if so, whether inquiries will be made as to the disposal of their bodies?

I have no information as to the fate of these men, but, having regard to the time which has elapsed since they were kidnapped, and to the fact that the murder of a number of other Protestants in County Cork took place about that time, I fear it must be presumed that they are dead. It is obvious, however, that until some definite information as to their murder, and as to the persons by whom it was committed is forthcoming, the inquiries suggested in the last part of the question cannot be made.