HC Deb 26 July 1872 vol 212 cc1885-6

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention or that of the Irish Executive has been called to the statement made in certain of the Irish newspapers to the following effect: that Lord Masserene, now in command, as Major, of the Antrim Artillery, granted permission to some 300 members of that Regiment to attend an Orange celebration held in his Lordship's park on the 12th of July; that on the evening of that day his Lordship harangued the men of his Regiment from the officers' quarters of the barrack in which they are stationed; that he ordered the band of the Regiment to play up the party air "Protestant Boys;" that four of the Catholic bandsmen laid down their instruments and refused to comply with his Lordship's command, but that the tune was performed nevertheless; whether it is not the fact that one-third of the Regiment in question consists of Roman Catholics; and whether the Irish Executive has instituted inquiries to ascertain if these statements are well founded, and, if so, what course the Government propose to take in the matter?


Sir, the general officer commanding in Ireland has inquired into the circumstances of this case, with the following result:—About 200 men of the Antrim Artillery received leave of absence for the 12th and two following days. All, although there was an Orange celebration in Lord Massereene's park at the time, were cautioned not to attend Orange meetings, and no report had reached Lord Sandhurst of misconduct on the part of any of them during their absence. The leave was given without inquiry as to religion, and it appeared that some who obtained leave were Roman Catholics. This leave was not given by Lord Massereene, but by the next senior officer, Lord Massereene having only arrived from London on the evening of the 11th. Lord Massereene did not harangue the men of his regiment from the officers' quarters or from any other place. He did address a purely civilian party, who on their return from a party-meeting, stopped opposite the mess-room windows. He recommended them to disperse quietly, which they did. In the mess-room a party tune, called "Protestant Boys," was commenced at the request of some of the guests, with the sanction of Lord Massereene, but was stopped after a few bars had been played on the representation of the bandmaster that it was distasteful to some of some of the band. The latest return that I have of the numbers of the regiment shows 146 Roman Catholics out of a total number of 495.

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