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Irish Regiments (Disbandment)

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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7, 8 and 9.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that the report of the disbandment of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, consequent on the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has caused great resentment not only among the people of Ulster, of which nearly every family has given members to this regiment during the past 230 years, but also among the 30,000 ex-soldiers of the regiment living in Ulster, and that they regard the substance of this report as a breach of faith in respect to Army Order No. 78, of 11th March, 1922, which, in enumerating the Irish regiments to be disbanded, clearly indicated that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the oldest and only original Ulster Regiment, was to be retained intact; whether, in view of this, the subject can be reconsidered;

(2) whether he is aware that the recruiting area of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, an Ulster and Protestant regiment since 1689, comprises three counties, namely, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry, with a combined population of about 360,000, and that the recruiting area of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, a regiment originally raised in the South of Ireland, mainly Roman Catholic, consists of only one county, namely, Armagh, with a population of about 120,000; whether, seeing that as a consequence of this it is easier to recruit two battalions of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers rather than one of each regiment, the disbandment of the second battalion of the former regiment can be reconsidered;

(3) whether he is aware that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have recruited in their present area for the past 230 years; whether the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers by the sacrifice of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers will interfere with the old privilege of an Ulster man to confine his attestation solely to service in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and not committing himself to service in the Royal Irish Fusiliers or any other regiment; and whether, if the two regiments are to be retained, he will arrange for separate regimental depots as at present?

I am acquainted with the circumstances of these two distinguished regiments, and with the conditions governing their recruiting and maintenance. The future of these regiments is now receiving my personal attention, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that, in coming to a decision, full consideration will be given to the claims of the regiments concerned, and to such considerations as those which he adduces.

Seeing that it is quite easy to recruit six battalions in Ulster, would it not be preferable to retain the second battalions of both the Irish Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, and to disband the English and Scottish battalions, which, it is well known, cannot recruit territorially?

Then I should get exactly similar questions on behalf of the English battalions concerned.

I am referring to the battalions that cannot recruit territorially, which is well known in many cases.