Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland (Armed Raids from Eire)

– in the House of Commons on 11th September 1942.

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Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

asked the Secretary of State for War, whether his attention has been called to the official police report, according to which a lorry preceded by a motor-car, each full of armed men, coming from Eire, entered Northern Ireland at Culloville, County Armagh, on 2nd September, and opened fire from tommy-guns and automatics on a sergeant and constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, wounding the sergeant and seizing the constable; and whether he is satisfied that adequate steps have been taken by the military authorities for the protection of Northern Ireland against any further armed incursion from Eire?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

I have seen the report referred to. The maintenance of public order in Northern Ireland, on the border as elsewhere, is first of all a matter for the civil authorities. It is, however, a military responsibility to go to the aid of the civil power if necessary, and my hon. Friend can rest assured that the military authorities have taken such steps as are proper to provide such assistance if called upon to do so.

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

Can the hon. and learned Gentleman inform the House how these tommy-guns and automatics, reported to be of British manufacture, were found in the hands of these invaders from Eire?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

I have no information on that matter.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is it not the case that the hon. Member's party opposed the nationalisation of the arms industry and that that is why it is?

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

asked the Secre-of State for Dominion Affairs, whether his attention has been called to the fact that on 2nd September, at 2.15 p.m., a lorry preceded by a motor-car, each full of armed men, entered Northern Ireland from Eire at Culloville, County Armagh and fired, with tommy-guns and automatics, on a sergeant and constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, wounding the sergeant; whether he has made a protest to Mr. de Valera against the use of Eire territory as a base for an armed raid on Northern Ireland; and whether he has demanded that compensation be paid to the wounded sergeant?

Photo of Mr Paul Emrys-Evans Mr Paul Emrys-Evans , Derbyshire Southern

I have read reports of the incident to which the hon. Member refers. We have not made representations in the matter to the Eire Government who clearly have their own difficulties.

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

How many more of these raids have to take place from Eire into Northern Ireland before any protest is made to the Government of Eire, who are responsible, and presumably are masters, in their own house?

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that at 4 a.m. on Friday, 4th September, the police barracks of the Royal Ulster Constabulary at Belleek, County Fermanagh, on the border of Eire, was attacked by rifle fire and bombs, and that at 11.15 p.m. on Saturday, 5th September, a police patrol of the Royal Ulster Constabulary was ambushed at Clady, County. Tyrone, 300 yards from the border of Eire; that two constables were mortally wounded and another constable seriously injured; and what steps he proposes to take for the defence of the frontier of Northern Ireland against these attacks?

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

The maintenance of public order in Northern Ireland near the Border, as elsewhere, is a matter primarily for the civil authority, and I understand that the Government of Northern Ireland are satisfied that the situation is well in hand.

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

May I ask the hon. Gentleman to express, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, sympathy with the widows and children of these constables, noble Ulstermen, foully done to death by cowardly assassins, who fled over the Border as soon as they had done their dastardly deed?