§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether his attention has been directed to a number of pictures drawn from photographs which are published in the Irish Weekly Independent of the 23rd instant, and which represent a large armed force of Royal Irish Constabulary conducting pigs through the streets of 505 Waterford to the place of slaughter; what number of police have been so engaged since the strike in the bacon trade in Waterford began, and what is the cost of the men so engaged; (2) whether he intends to allow the police to be continued at this duty; and, (3) if so, whether the bacon merchants whom the police are serving will be charged with the cost, or any portion of it?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The hon. Member has been good enough to send me a copy of the newspaper referred to. The duty of the police in this matter is not that of conducting pigs through the streets, but of protecting the drovers from apprehended acts of violence, and of preserving the public peace. Owing to the short notice that has been given of the question, I am not in a position at the present moment to reply definitely to the second paragraph. About 150 police, however, have been drafted into Waterford in connection with the bacon trade dispute there, and their cost approximately would be about £28 per diem. It is not the desire of the Government to take sides in an industrial dispute, but it cannot stand by and permit the coercion by intimidation and other illegal means of persons engaged in the pursuit of their lawful business. The police will be employed on this duty so long as the necessity for their employment continues. There is no power to charge to any particular section of the inhabitants of Waterford the cost of the police so employed.
MR. PATRICK O'BRTEN
said that arising out of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the Government did not wish to take sides, he desired to ask him whether he was aware that Inspector Whelan, who had charge of the police, was in the habit of dining with Messrs. Denny and Richardson and then coming into the streets and ordering baton charges—[Nationalist cries of "Hear, hear"] whether the right hon. Gentleman did not think that that that was taking sides; and whether he would see that this inspector was removed and an officer placed in charge of the police who would have the decency to act impartially? [Nationalist cheers.]