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Kidnapping, Pettigo

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1922

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(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to statements in the English and Irish Press to the effect that four loyalists were carried away by the forces which retreated from the British troops at Pettigo. If so, can he say whether such statements are true, and, if so, whether these prisoners have yet been released or are in safety?

I am making inquiry into this matter. I have had information as to the names of some men mho have been carried off. I will make further inquiries.

Am I to understand from that reply that the right hon. Gentleman thinks there is substance in the statement? If so, may I ask him whether the retreating troops in question were or were not Free State troops?

I am making inquiries. A certain number of special constables have been captured or kidnapped or taken away, and I am making inquiries to get a list of names. Four names have been given.

They were probably taken away by Free State troops in this particular case; but that would not exhaust the question; because they would be men who had been special constables in the area, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State.

In the course of his inquiries will the right hon. Gentleman find out, and inform the House, how many citizens of Belfast and other parts of the six counties have been taken, captured or kidnapped by someone's orders, and never brought to trial, and who do not know why they have been taken, captured or kidnapped?

I am afraid it would be no use trying to deal with these topics at question time. Of course, a great many persons have suffered illegal and improper injuries to life and property, both in Northern and Southern Ireland.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what opportunity we may have, and when, to discuss the appalling condition of affairs in the six counties, where life and property is not safe, and innocent citizens are arrested and not brought to trial?

We had a discussion on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Whitsuntide Recess only a fort- night ago. For any further opportunities, my hon. Friend must ask the Leader of the House.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these wholesale arrests, captures, kidnappings, or whatever they may be called, have all taken place since the House rose?

This is a long way from the original question. The question of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Pennefather) dealt with a particular case, and asked whether 12 persons had been carried off into Free State territory.

Does it make any difference if there were nearly 500 arrested, captured or kidnapped?

It makes a difference in regard to allowing a special question to he put. There must be something immediately arising to justify a question not on the Paper?

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any reason to believe that these men are in safety or that anything has happened to them?

Four names have been given to me of persons who have been carried off, arrested, or taken away. I know nothing else. I am making inquiries.