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Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 27 June 1922

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now prepared to make his promised statement in regard to the fate of the four Loyalists kidnapped from the Pettigo district by the Free State forces nearly three weeks ago?

There are many more persons kidnapped, and I am addressing the Provisional Government on the whole matter. Meanwhile, we are holding the persons taken at Pettigo by the British forces.

Are we to understand that something like 20 persons were kidnapped by the Free State forces during the recent events at Pettigo?

My hon. Friend would be quite wrong in understanding that. Some were taken in the raid at Belcoo and others were taken in different forays on the frontier. We have proof that some of them are being held at present at Athlone, and that only four were actually removed from Pettigo.

My question related to the four loyalists who were kidnapped in Pettigo by the Free State forces nearly three weeks ago.

My answer related not only to those four but to others also, who were just as important.

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that they are held at Athlone, and, if so, what steps exactly are the British Government taking in order to recover them?

I have said that I am addressing the Provisional Government on the whole matter, and meanwhile we are holding the 15 other persons who are in our possession.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, as nearly three weeks have elapsed since he first addressed inquiries to the Provisional Government, the Provisional Government are treating his inquiries with such scant respect that it almost amounts to contempt?

No, I do not think so at all. I think they are very anxious to get back their own fifteen men of the Free State forces whom we are at present holding, and whom we have been holding for exactly the same period.