Belfast (Military Intervention).

Oral Answers to Questions — Industrial Unrest. – in the House of Commons on 18 February 1919.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Devlin Mr Joseph Devlin , Belfast Falls

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will state at whose request the military were brought into Belfast, whether the demand for military included machine guns, tanks, and other instruments of war; whether, in view of the absolute freedom of Belfast from disturbance, and the good order which prevailed for the last three weeks, he will explain why this wanton and provocative introduction of tanks and machine guns has taken place?

Captain GUEST:

Small detachments of troops were posted on the urgent representation of the Lord Mayor of Belfast as a Reserve for the Police in case riot should occur when work restarted, on the understanding that they were not to be used except to support the Police when and if the latter were unable to maintain order. There are no tanks in Belfast and no machine guns have been sent in connection with strike, but the ordinary garrison of Belfast includes six armoured cars, and the troops occupying the gas and electric works are in possession of their normal equipment. I may add that the General Officer Commanding wires: "Necessity for using troops has not yet arisen, and in my opinion the conduct of the people of Belfast, apart from the cutting-off of electric and gas supplies, has been exemplary."

Photo of Mr William Redmond Mr William Redmond , Waterford Borough

May I ask whether there are not plenty of machine guns and rifles available in the hands of the Ulster Volunteers of Belfast, and whether the authorities could not have seized these and made use of them instead of bringing in the military weapons?

Captain GUEST:

I hardly think that arises out of the question.