Munitions and Stores.

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 16th February 1922.

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Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to a supplementary question which he addressed to me on the 14th instant. The Provisional Government must have at its disposal, like any other responsible Government, an armed, trained and disciplined force for the maintenance of order, and I am fully prepared to assume that the personnel of this force, as well as the headquarter staff engaged in equipping and training it, will be drawn to some, and possibly to a considerable extent from those who, during the period of conflict, constituted what was known as the Irish Republican Army. It would be manifestly impossible for His Majesty's Government and their agents to refuse to have dealings with those persons on the grounds of their previous connection with an unlawful organisation, but all such dealings will be with those persons in their individual capacity as accredited agents of the Provisional Government, established in virtue of the Articles of Agreement approved by Parliament. I have no information regarding the uniform, terms of engagement or other details of the equipment or constitution of the forces of the Provisional Government, nor regarding Captain Fitzgerald, otherwise than that he is one of the agents to whom I have already referred. As regards the numbers of the force I am not in a position to make any statement. If the hon. Member, in the last part of his question, is repeating the suggestion already made that the arms and equipment handed over to the Provisional Government have been or are being used for attacks on Ulster, I would refer him to the categorical reply which I gave on the 13th instant, to the hon. Member for Woodvale, and I would, at the same time, deprecate these insinuations against the good faith of the Provisional Government, which the British Government has no reason to doubt.