Clifden Protestant Orphan Age (Destruction).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 4th July 1922.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information with regard to the malicious destruction by fire of the Protestant orphanage at Clifden, County Galway, at the end of last week, whether the 60 boys and girls and the staff of the orphanage are now in a place of safety, who will be responsible for their housing and maintenance, and whether he has any information as to the perpetrators of this dastardly outrage.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Information was received late on the evening of the 30th June that one of the two orphanages at Clifden, County Galway, had been destroyed by fire, and that the inmates had taken refuge in the other orphanage. A destroyer was ordered to proceed from Queenstown to Clifden with instructions to investigate the facts on the spot, and to remove such of the staff and inmates of the orphanages as might appear to be in serious peril. Two wireless messages have been received from the officer commanding the destroyer, which I will read to the House:

  1. (1) (Received in London about 10 p.m. on 2nd July.)—"Boys' Home burnt by order of the Republican Headquarters as reprisal for inmates' loyalty. No immediate danger to lives."
  2. (2) (Received 2.56 p.m. on 3rd July.)—"Commanding Officer, Republican Forces, Clifden, ordered inmates to leave immediately. Train service not available. In view of probability of violence, am bringing master, one lady teacher and two children to Haulbowline."
Private messages received from Haulbowline this morning state that the destroyer eventually removed all the inmates (32 in number) of the burnt orphanage, and that the party has arrived safely at Haulbowline. The senior naval officer on that station had previously been instructed to arrange for the reception of the party, and for their subsequent- transit to this country. Active arrangements are in train for their accommodation and maintenance on arrival.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is it not a fact that it is only the boys who have been removed and that the girls are still left there because the Commander thought the boys were in most danger and took them away, but the girls are still left there with only a matron to lake care of them in this village?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am not aware of that, but I will make inquiries.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Do we understand that the nation is paying for these orphans, and not leaving it to private charity?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Clearly, while resident in this country they would come within the purview of the Commission at the head of which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) somewhat uneasily reposes. I understand the arrangements in the first instance are due to private munificence.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

Do we understand aright that the reason assigned for this outrage was as a reprisal for the loyalty of the inmates? Does that mean anything except that the children in this orphanage were Protestants?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Of course, the extreme Republican element in Ireland are in a state of frenzy at present, and we must expect a certain number of frenzied acts to be committed by them until the process of their repression by the national forces of the Irish Free State is complete.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

Was there any evidence of these people's loyalty except the fact of their religious faith.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I can only take the telegram as it was sent to me. There is no reason why they should not have been loyal as well as Protestant.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Will instructions be given to the Admiralty to remove the girls if the facts are as I have indicated, that they have not been removed, as they are obviously in danger?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I will have inquiries made.

Photo of Mr Walter Halls Mr Walter Halls , Heywood and Radcliffe

Is the state of frenzy referred to a similar state of mind to that of Members of this House and the other place in a previous decade, when sedition was being preached in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I do not think there is the slightest resemblance.