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British Troops

Volume 155: debated on Monday 26 June 1922

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asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the Report on the state of Ireland issued by the Presbyterian General Assembly which has just concluded its meeting in Belfast, in which serious complaint is made of the withdrawal of all Imperial forces from Southern Ireland and the desertion of law-abiding citizens, who have now no protection for life or property in that area, and also drawing attention to the fact that large numbers of Presbyterians and other Protestants had, owing to the prevailing terrorism and the aforesaid withdrawal of protection, been compelled to leave their homes and businesses in Southern Ireland; and, in view of this Report, will the policy of withdrawing the British troops to Cork and Dublin be reconsidered?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but the hon. Member must not assume that the matters to which the report in question alludes have been overlooked by His Majesty's Government and are now for the first time brought to their attention. The policy pursued by His Majesty's Government has only been adopted after very careful examination of all the relevant facts, and, much as they deplore the state of disorder at present existing in all parts of Ireland, they see no sufficient ground at present for varying that policy in the manner suggested by the hon. Member.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that someone must be responsible for the protection of these unfortunate people, and has he represented to the Free State that, if they are not in a position to protect these people, His Majesty's Government will have to do so?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should do something more than "touch' upon what is a matter of life and death?

Will the right hon. Gentleman touch upon the danger to life in other parts of Ireland?