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Sir Roger Casement (Remains)

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 15 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department his reasons for refusing permission for the remains of the late Sir Roger Casement to be transferred to Ireland.

Successive Governments have considered this matter and have found no reason for departing from the invariable practice of refusing permission for the removal of the remains of executed prisoners. My right hon. and learned Friend sees no reason to take any other view.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Foreign Secretary said recently in the House that it was not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to carry hatred beyond the grave; and does that not apply to Ireland? Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the late Sir Roger Casement is recognised as a great Irish patriot and that the Irish rebellion, is, from the Irish point of view, a great episode in the successful struggle for independence? Does he not think it is time that he should apply the same principle to Ireland that the Foreign Secretary enunciated with regard to Germany?

It is not thought by this Government, nor has it been thought by previous Governments, that the removal of Casement's remains would help to improve relations between this country and the Irish Republic. Indeed, by reawakening the memory of old differences, leading to demonstrations, and so on, it might do the reverse.

Would the hon. Gentleman care to explain how he reconciles that attitude with the quite opposite attitude, in parallel circumstances, of the Foreign Secretary in the other case? I believe it is quite impossible to reconcile the two.

As Eire has now separated herself from the Commonwealth how can it lead to any rising against British rule, which is what the hon. Gentleman suggests might happen if the remains of this Irish patriot were taken back to his native land for interment there? It is a simple human question.

I do not think I suggested that it would lead to a rising or anything of that kind. I said that it would reawaken memories of old differences.