§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
On behalf of Mr. Field, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Government have in contemplation the supplying of new rifles to the Royal Irish Constabulary; and, if so, whether any special circumstances have caused such a policy to be desirable; whether he can state the precise difference between the rifle at present in use and that proposed to be substituted therefor; and in what respect is the new rifle supposed to be of more practical utility in Ireland than that at present in use; whether he can state how often during the past 10 years have the Royal Irish Constabulary been obliged to use their rifles in the discharge of their duty, and on what occasions; and what is the estimated cost of the new rifles, and from what fund is it proposed to be defrayed?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. GERALD W. BALFOUR, Leeds, Central)
It is proposed to supply Martini-Henry carbines to the constabulary in lieu of the Snider carbines with which the force is now armed. The Snider carbines have been in use for nearly 40 years, and many of these weapons have become unfitted for use owing to incrustations of rust and other defects, which render them a source of danger to the men. The Martini-Henry carbine is a modern weapon, and is much less liable to get out of order than the Snider carbine. During the past 10 years the constabulary have been obliged to use their rifles in the discharge of their duties on 14 occasions—namely, twice at evictions, when the police and sheriff's officers were fired at, seven times on the occasion of moonlighting outrages, three times during affrays between water bailiffs and poachers, once during a riot, and once when a land agent and his police escort were fired at. The new carbine will be supplied by the War Department free of charge.