HC Deb 20 March 1882 vol 267 cc1272-3

asked the Secretary of State for War, If his attention has been called to a paragraph in the "Cork Examiner," headed "Outrage by Soldiers," complaining of the conduct of the soldiers of Buttevant Garrison, who, it is alleged, on Sunday, 19th February, scaled the walls of St. Mary's Abbey, rifled a tomb, and dragged a corpse above ground, being discovered in the act of tearing the gloves from the dead man's hand; whether it is true that the men gave false names when caught, but that the number of one was found (from his glove) to be 312; and, whether any investigation has been held, and with what result?


In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I have to say that my attention was called to the narrative of this disgraceful outrage, and I found the Commander of the Forces in Ireland had, without any delay, instituted an inquiry, which was followed by a further investigation at my request by the Resident Magistrate. Perhaps I had better read the Report of the latter, which contains all the facts we have been able to elicit— Colonel Swettenham held a thorough inquiry, and to-day he permitted me to examine the two soldiers who alone of the party were proved to have been in the cemetery; but there is nothing to disprove the story told by these men, that they were in the churchyard along with other soldiers and civilians, and were called over to the wall of the Abbey, and went inside it to see an open coffin, but did not touch it or see any outrage committed. These men were not asked for their names, but the gloves of one of them were found in the Abbey. Two other soldiers were asked to give their names to Canon Buckley, but I could not satisfy myself that they gave false names. The two men proved to have been in the cemetery were punished by Colonel Swettenham for the trespass only, but my investigation to-day left me without sufficient evidence to justify any criminal prosecution before the magistrates. The facts are, briefly, that some persons unknown, but suspected to be young soldiers, opened a vault, drew a coffin outside it, opened the lid, but were not guilty of any further desecration.