asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now state the result of the inquiries he has made in regard to the kidnapping from Pettigo of certain loyalists by Free State forces; whether these persons have been released un- injured; if not, where they now are; and who is responsible for their safety?
I am in communication with the Provisional Government with regard to these men, but am not yet in a position to make any statement.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that nearly two weeks have elapsed since these men were kidnapped, and does he not think that in this space of time the Government ought to have obtained information as to their safety or otherwise?
I am holding for the time being 14 prisoners taken at Pettigo. They are in Ireland.
Will my right hon. Friend insist, when these men are released, that the Provisional Government pay full compensation for their injuries, because they have been captured by the Provisional Government's forces?
I do not think I can answer that question at the present time.
Will my right hon. Friend answer it if I put it down at 48 hours' notice? It is a very important point.
I am not prepared to say, until I am better informed of all the circumstances, as to what demand could be made for compensation.
If, as stated in my right hon. Friend's answer, he holds the Provisional Government responsible for the capture of these men, surely the Provisional Government ought to pay compensation.
Will my right hon. Friend say why the Provisional Government cannot give an answer as to the illegal action of their troops in less time than a fortnight?
I think this matter might much better be allowed to be adjusted in the course of a few days. I expect these men will be delivered over to us, and then we shall find out what were the circumstances in which they were taken away, and whether there are any grounds for the charges of misconduct against them. I have heard certain charges which are made, and we have to look into all these matters before you can say straight off whether a demand for compensation can be made. I am not prepared now to go any further than to say that I am provisionally holding the men taken at the capture of Pettigo, although it is by no means clear that charges can be formulated against them.
Are we to understand from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that he is satisfied these men are alive and in safety?
I have never said anything which indicated that. The names have been given to me of four men who were carried off, but I am not clear in each case whether they have been carried off from territory inside the Free State, in which they were domiciled, or whether they were carried off from just over the border. I have no further information.