(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information with regard to the atrocities committed on two disbanded members of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Ballyhaunis; whether these two men were both shot on arrival in Ballyhaunis, to arrange for the removal of themselves and families; whether both men were Roman Catholics of long service in the Royal Irish Constabulary; whether he can state what steps are being taken to protect other members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who will be disbanded in Southern Ireland, from similar atrocities; whether he can also give the House any information with reference to the fighting reported to have taken place in the Sperrin Mountains, and whether anything is being done by the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland to deal with the boycott of Northern Ireland.
I have been asked to answer this question. I am sure the House will agree that it is of vital importance, and makes necessary a rather lengthy answer. In reply to the first part of the question, I regret that I can give no further information regarding this atrocious crime than that which I gave yesterday in reply to a private notice question by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman), except that I am glad to be able to inform the House that the wounded constable has been brought to a hospital in Dublin, and I am informed there is a fair chance of his recovery. The reply to the second and third parts is in the affirmative. In reply to the fifth part of the question, I am happy to inform the House that there is no truth in the report that fighting has been taking place in the Sperrin Mountains. In reply to the sixth part of the question, I am making inquiry from the Provisional Government. In reply to the fourth part of the question, every policeman on disbandment is entitled to a free travelling warrant for himself, his wife, his children and dependants from Ireland to any place in the United Kingdom. In addition he receives pay up to the time of disbandment. This would be, approximately, from £16 to £20 for a constable and larger amounts for higher grades. A further cash payment, as an advance for reasonable travelling expenses which is subject to accounting, of one month's pay for single men, of two months' pay for married men with less than three children, and of three months' pay for married men with three or more children, is paid on disbandment. Every man also receives on application a sum of at least £10 further, as an advance on account of pension. As a still further precaution and for the protection of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary on disbandment my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary telegraphed yesterday to General Tudor that he should make plain to every man that he had only to ask for a warrant to this country for himself and his family, and that such a warrant would be at once given to him. Men were to be encouraged to come to this country rather than discouraged until conditions were more settled. General Tudor was further instructed to let us know at once if any difficulty arose in regard to the prompt issue of the warrants, and he was directed that men should only be disbanded in places whence they can, as a matter of fact, get out of Ireland in safety.
With regard to the constable who, as we are informed by the right hon. Gentleman, is wounded and in hospital in Dublin, in view of the fact that in a similar case quite recently murderers found their way into the hospital and murdered a wounded constable, is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps to give the wounded constable in this case special protection?
Has the Colonial Secretary made any representations to the Provisional Government in Ireland, with a view to their taking special precautions to guard these men, while they are making arrangements to bring their wives and families over here to England and winding up their affairs in Ireland? What is the use of giving them money if they are to be murdered?
Will any further allowance be made to married men, in the nature of a disturbance allowance, to enable them to bring their furniture over to England, because two months' pay is not sufficient to cover the cost of the removal of a man's furniture from Ireland over here?
Two months' pay for an ordinary constable would at least be approximately £32—for a married man with two children. I should have thought, that was sufficient. For a married man with three or more children it would similarly be approximately £48 at the minimum, and I should have thought that also was sufficient to remove a man's furniture. With reference to the question raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Fylde (Lieut.-Colonel Ashley) as to notifying the Provisional Government, this was done before the dispersal, both personally, at recent Conferences at the Colonial Office, and by letter, by myself, as well as by the Colonial Secretary, directly to Mr. Collins, Chairman of the Provisional Government. Every possible care has been taken to secure for these men the protection which we all agree, they well deserve.
Were the provisions which the right hon. Gentleman has announced were made for the protection of these two men notified to these two men before they were allowed to go for dispersal, and, if so, how came it that it was possible for them to get into such a position that they were easy targets for the first attack made on them?
I am informed that these men were warned of the risks they ran in going to the County Mayo. The fact of the matter is that members of the Royal Irish Constabulary are such outstanding brave and gallant men that they will run risks, although every opportunity, as I have said, has been given and is given to them to avoid the risk by leaving Ireland immediately on disbandment.
Are any steps being taken by the Government to see that something is done for these men on arrival in this country, or will they be thrown on the streets unemployed, and what is the Government going to do to house these families when they come?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps with the police authorities in Ireland to obviate the necessity for these men going back to their homes, and to make arrangements for their families to come over to this country without the husbands having to risk their lives in going to fetch them?
In answer to the last question, that has already been done. A man can have a warrant to his own home free, if he wishes it, in Ireland or he can have a warrant to any part of the United Kingdom. In addition to that, his wife, family, and dependents get warrants to move independently of him, if they so desire, from any place in Ireland to any other place in the United Kingdom or Ireland. In answer to the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Waterson), every police authority in Great Britain has already been warned that he may be applied to for guidance by ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. As to the question of housing, the Government cannot make any special arrangements for the housing of these men and women who may come to Great Britain. They will not, to my mind, add to the unemployment question, because all of them have pensions, as set out in the terms of disbandment, now in the Order Office for hon. Members.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us if the lives of any of these disbanded policemen in Ireland will be safe if they do not leave the country, or, at any rate, go to Ulster?