Skip to main content

Special Constabulary (Ulster)

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

( by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to, the acts of the Special Constabulary holding up the motor car in which His Eminence Cardinal Logue and His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin were travelling to Armagh after administering confirmation last Thursday; whether the car was pulled up by the Specials who demanded the chauffeur's licence, which he immediately produced, informing them that the passengers he was driving were Cardinal Logue and the Archbishop O'Donnell; whether the leader of the Specials ordered the Cardinal and the Archbishop to get, out on the roadside and be searched, which they did, after which they were-searched, their bags also searched; whether the pockets of the car were-searched, the cushions lifted and the bonnet of the engine scrutinised and the chauffeur ordered to take off the spare wheel. Whether this is the third occasion in three months that Cardinal Logue and his coadjutor Archbishop have been submitted to similar indignities; and whether in view of the repeated declarations made on behalf of the Northern Government that these insults were committed against their explicit instructions and in opposition to their orders, steps would be taken to have the Special Constabulary suspended, and what action he proposed to take to put an end to these constant and recurring outrages against distinguished ecclesiastics in the pursuit of their religious duties?

The incident referred to by the hon. Member, came to my knowledge on the 16th instant, and I immediately asked the Secretary to the Government of Northern Ireland for a report on the subject. His reply, received yesterday, was in the following terms:

"I received your wire about Cardinal Logue's car, but as the Constabulary Authorities were making inquiries, news came in of five Unionists murdered in that district this morning, and all of the former inquiries are necessarily postponed. In any case the matter does not seem of outstanding importance. Both the Prime Minister's car and the cars of the highest Protestant ecclesiastical and judicial dignitaries have been searched without protest. We ore trying to stamp out murder, and no citizen need object to a little inconvenience caused by measures to this end."
I have for the moment no further information to add to this reply.

Does the right hon. Gentleman, as paymaster of these Special constables, really think that is a serious answer to give to the House? Has he not himself stated at the Treasury Box repeatedly that he resents and regrets these indignities put upon ecclesiastics? Is it suggested by implication that these ecclesiastics were in any way responsible, directly or indirectly, for the things he quotes in his answer?

I gave an answer on this subject which is correctly described by the hon. Gentleman, in which I expressed regret at this kind of events happening, but I should have thought that the last possible occasion on which to draw attention to an inconvenience of this kind would be in connection with five or six most horrible murders in Ireland which had convulsed the whole district and which had naturally led to the police being active and vigilant.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in denouncing these horrors, but similar horrors had occurred three or four days before, and these were, I understand, reprisals. My main point is that these distinguished dignitaries were attacked on two separate occasions before there were any murders, and Cardinal Logue, a venerated ecclesiastic, 83 years of age, was stopped and a pistol held at his head—

On a point of Order. Is an hon. Member, under the guise of a question, entitled to make a most provocative speech?

With all respect, the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question at all. What I want to know is what he proposes to do to stop these indignities being put upon these ecclesiastics in the pursuit of their duty. He pays these Special constables, and has the right to determine what is to be done.

I do not think that it would be opportune for me to make any further representation to the Government of Northern Ireland. I have stated, on behalf of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, his regret that anything in the nature of inconvenience or discourtesy should have been experienced by the Cardinal and the Archbishop, but they are travelling about now in districts which are convulsed by excitement—

and they cannot be sure that they may not be subjected to the same sort of interrogatories and examination of their papers as are all other persons there. I think it is inopportune to press a matter like that, in view of the fact that this very district was the scene of these murders.