§ MR. D. SULLIVAN (Westmeath, S.)
On behalf of the hon. Member for -North Louth, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he will inquire whether, in the County Down Royal Irish Constabulary, Catholics secure their fair share of promotion; is it the case that the County Inspector and three out of the four District Inspectors are Freemasons, and that of the 14 acting sergeants 10 are Freemasons; and whether this exercises any effect on the advancement of Catholics in the Force?
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY, New-castle-upon-Tyne)
I am informed by the Inspector General that religion is not, and never has been, an element for consideration in the matter of qualification for promotion in the Constabulary. The principles which are laid down for the guidance of County Inspectors in making their selections for promotion are—(1) efficiency in the performance of duty, (2) steadiness of conduct, (3) ability to write Reports, (4) physical fitness, (5) aptitude for command, and (6) length of service. Of the eight promotions made to the rank of acting sergeant during the past 12 months in the County Down, five men were Protestants and three were Catholics, and of the 14 men of that rank now serving in the county, nine are Protestants and five Catholics. The Inspector General has no official knowledge as to whether the officers and men now serving do or do not belong to the Society of Freemasons, and in this connection I may remind my hon. Friend that the oath provided by Section 17 of the 6 Will. IV., c. 13, to be taken by all persons entering the Constabulary specifically exempts that Society from the prohibition placed upon members of 14 the Force. The Inspector General is assured that the fact that a man may be a Freemason exercises no effect whatever on his advancement.
§ MR. KENNEDY (Kildare, N.)
How is it that every sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary is a Protestant?
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
May I ask whether the Society of Freemasons in Ireland is a secret society; and, if so, whether it is the only secret society of which a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary can be a member?
MR. J. MORLEY
I suppose that in Ireland as elsewhere it is a secret society; but I really do not know anything more about it.