HC Deb 03 June 1881 vol 262 cc15-6

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is true that the "Goshawk," one of Her Majesty's gunboats, has been employed in the work of assisting the serving of ejectment processes on the tenants in the island of Arranmore; whether the inhabitants of this island are described in the evidence of the Rev. Bernard Walker, P.P., of Burtonport, before the Bessborough Commission, as suffering in recent years from the combined effects of failure of the kelp trade and of the potato crop; whether the inhabitants are, as a consequence, described by Father Walker as Poor in the extreme, miserably clad, and compelled, in the case of one family, to Bleep, without distinction of sex, in one bed for want of clothes; and, whether he will sanction the employment of gunboats and sailors for the purpose of assisting in the eviction of subjects of Her Majesty in circumstances of such abject misery?


Sir, with regard to the first part of the Question, the state of the case is as follows:—On the afternoon of the 31st of May, the Goshawk gunboat left Gweedore for the Island of Arranmore with a party of constabulary and a magistrate, who intended to go to the island for the purpose of enforcing process. She returned on the morning of the 1st of June. The Admiral at Queenstown telegraphed yesterday—and the information is rather more complete than I was able to state to the House yesterday—that there is no truth in the report that an affray had occurred between her and the islanders. Beyond that we do not know anything; but, undoubtedly, it is true that to the extent of carrying a party of police the Goshawk was employed, and, as far as I am able to judge, properly employed. But the rules of the Naval Service are very strict in regard to allowing the actual intervention of ships' companies in matters of these processes. That is never allowed except in cases of stringent necessity, and with careful precautions. As to the evidence taken before the Bessborough Commission, I respectfully hope the hon. Member will not insist upon making those contents the subject of Questions to me, because they are matters entirely within his own cognizance. In the same way, I hope he will not ask me any hypothetical questions in regard to employing gunboats and sailors. That is not in question, for there has been nothing of the kind for the purpose of assisting in evictions of subjects of Her Majesty.


asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether this gunboat Goshawk, which had been employed in carrying police for the purpose of assisting at evictions, was the same gunboat which, in the winter of 1879–80, was employed by the late Conservative Government in carrying food for the same people that the present Government was now attempting to evict?

[No reply was given to this Question.]