Raids and Levies.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 7th March 1922.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that wholesale raids and enforced levies have recently been made by the Irish Republican Army in County Tipperary; whether large numbers of motor cars and other property have been seized; and what action the British Government have taken to secure the safety of the property of individuals in this and other counties in Southern Ireland, seeing that the British Government are still responsible for law and order in Southern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Yes, Sir. The condition of affairs in parts of County Tipperary has been a source of anxiety to His Majesty's Government, and representations have been made on the subject to the Provisional Government, who I am assured, are giving the matter their earnest attention.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware he has stated day after day that these matters are a cause of anxiety to the Government, yet meanwhile British subjects are being plundered? Does he not think it desirable to take some action to protect them?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I might easily take action which would be unwise, and do more harm than good.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the Provisional Government is in a position to do anything in the County of Tipperary at the present moment?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I hope they will be soon; I am supplying them with the means of asserting their authority, and that is their intention.

Photo of Sir John Butcher Sir John Butcher , City of York

Has His Majesty's Government any troops or police in this district who can aid in restoring order and protecting innocent people?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

No; I think all the troops and police have been withdrawn.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is it not a monstrous thing that the troops and police should have been withdrawn before order was restored?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies as to the number of rifles, machine guns, rounds of ammunition, revolvers, motors, etc., belonging to the British Government which have been illegally taken by the Irish Republican Army from the Clonmel Police Barracks; whether the property has now been recovered; and what punishment has been inflicted on the members of the Irish Republican Army concerned in the theft of British property?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

In the raid on the Clonmel Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks the following property was taken:—11 motor cars, 293 rifles and bayonets, 273 revolvers and pistols, three Lewis guns, 45 shot guns, 324,000 rounds of ammunition, 4,247 cartridges, and sundry small stores. Up to the present none of the property has been recovered and none of the raiders have yet been arrested. The matter is receiving the close attention of the Provisional Government.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House some further assurance that in a case like this, where an enormous amount of Government property has been stolen, action will be taken?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I have to answer a question on that point later.

Photo of Sir John Butcher Sir John Butcher , City of York

Who can get back these stores except members of the Irish Republican Army, who, apparently have stolen them?

Photo of Mr Gershom Stewart Mr Gershom Stewart , Wirral

Would it not be better to destroy the arms and ammunition in these cases?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The policy of concentrating the forces of the Royal Irish Constabulary holding small positions in central barracks is now practically completed. In the case of Clonmel, it was delayed by a certain pause in the negotiations, but it is now practically finished, and I am assured that there is no danger of similar misfortunes occurring in other parts.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Yesterday, in answering a similar question, the right hon. Gentleman said police had been arrested in Dublin on a grave charge. Is there any ground for suggesting that in Clonmel similar suspicion attaches to members of the Royal Irish Constabulary?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I should like notice of that question. Obviously it is vital to the Provisional Government not to allow themselves to be defied in public by lawless persons, and it is my duty to see that they have the means of dealing with such acts of defiance against Trish authority, and to provide them with such means. Then it will be up to them to take effective action, but until they have such resources I am bound to speak with circumspection.