HC Deb 11 August 1881 vol 264 c1521

asked the Secretary of State for War, If he has inquired into the conduct of the rioters of the 28th Regiment at Birr on the 1st instant; and, whether it is intended to remove this regiment from Birr?


In reply to the hon. Member, I have to state that the disturbance at Birr on the 1st instant has been the subject of careful inquiry. I sent to the officer commanding there the hon. Member's letter, addressed to me, with its in closure, from which he had cut off the signature, and evidence was taken from all the sources indicated in that letter by a Court, consisting of the colonels of the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment, and a major of the 1st Battalion of the latter. It appears that a party of seven soldiers, who gave no provocation whatever, were attacked in the street by a mob of roughs, who shouted at them, "Down with the English bastards" (and another epithet which I will not repeat), and "We will fight for the Land League and kill the best man of the 28th," and commenced throwing stones at them. This appellation of "English bastards" appears to have been too much for the soldiers, all of whom were Irishmen; and one of them, named Patrick Donnelly—not sober at the time—threw a stone at the mob, which struck one, Patrick Chaffey, and knocked him down. For this Donnelly has been convicted, and is undergoing a sentence of two months' imprisonment. The conduct of the regiment has been, with this exception, uniformly good; and after the remarks the other day as to the good policy of keeping Irish soldiers in Ireland, I am not prepared to remove the regiment, even though some of the Irishmen in it may not appreciate the methods used by their countrymen.