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Northern Ireland (Conscription)

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 13 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can now inform the House of the nature of the representations made by Mr. de Valera with regard to the introduction of conscription in Northern Ireland; what were the grounds put forward by Mr. de Valera in support; and whether he is aware that the failure to introduce conscription in Northern Ireland as requested by the Ulster Government is largely responsible for the unemployment now existing in Ulster?

As regards the first two parts of the Question, the substance of the representations made on behalf of the Eire Government on this subject in 1941 is contained in a lengthy statement made by Mr. de Valera in the Dail on 26th May, 1941. I am placing the full text of this statement in the Library of the House. As regards the last part of the Question, I am not aware of the grounds for this suggestion, but the matter is, of course, one for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

In view of the great services rendered by Ulster to Great Britain and the Allies, as stated by the Prime Minister in his recent letter to Mr. Andrews, why is the request of the Ulster Government turned down to meet the demands of Mr. de Valera, whose action in refusing the British and American Navies access to Southern Irish ports has cost hundreds of British and American lives?

Is it not a fact that the twice repeated unanimous recommendation of the Government of Northern Ireland is entitled to more weight than the representations of a neutral country?

Is there anything to prevent people in Northern Ireland enlisting, and is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is no unemployment in Eire and there are a great number of Irish people in the Forces in this country?

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that they have already enlisted in their thousands?