HC Deb 15 June 1882 vol 270 cc1231-2

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true, as stated in the "Times" correspondence from Ireland on Monday, that by a singular omission of the authorities the three dragoons appointed to protect the late Mr. Bourke were unprovided with horses, except at the expense of the person protected, the result having been that Mr. Bourke, bringing but one guard with him, and having him upon the same vehicle as himself, lost the advantage which a separate and double guard would have afforded him; whether it is true that in consequence of the regulation that no trooper is to carry his carbine loaded, unless at full cock, the practice is not to load until the occasion arises; and, if so, whether any alteration of the regulations in both matters is contemplated?


asked the Secretary of State for War, with reference to the recent assassination of Mr. Bourke and his escort, Whether it was consistent with the orders given about escorts that only one man should be on that duty; whether Cavalry soldiers employed on escort duty should be mounted or dismounted; what order as to arms of escorts being loaded has been given; and, whether, if Corporal Wallace, of the Royal Dragoons, was married, any special allowance will be made to his widow or family; and, if so, whether such sum will be paid out of the Consolidated Fund or charged on the district in which the murder took place?


Sir, it was no omission on the part of the authorities that the three men appointed to protect Mr. Bourke were unprovided with horses. Neither the Constabulary nor the soldiers employed on protection duty are mounted, as, in point of fact, they could not use their arms so well as when on foot or in cars. There is no intention whatever to make any change in this respect. Mr. Bourke's being escorted by only one man was a distinct violation of orders; and, although this appears to have been done at his own urgent request, it should not have been allowed by the officer in charge. Arrangements are being made by the Irish Government for the escorts being always on a separate vehicle from the person guarded. As to the arms being loaded, the instruction of the Commander of the Forces was that the rifles were not to be carried loaded except when immediate danger was apprehended. Sir Thomas Steele has now issued an order that the men's rifles are to be loaded. With reference to the last part of my hon. and gallant Friend's Question, I am sorry to say that I only this morning have heard that the widow of Corporal Wallace was not on the married establishment, he having married without leave. I will look further into the matter; but I fear that I cannot now say what ought to be done about her.