§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that three men, admittedly innocent, one of whom died, were tried, convicted, and sentenced to lengthened terms of imprisonment by the evidence of Sergeant Sheridan, Royal Irish Constabulary, who, with the aid of three perjured accomplices in the force, of whom one is Constable Anderson, brought home to them crimes of which he and his accomplices were the perpetrators, and received thereby promotion and pecuniary rewards, while a 383 fourth man, also innocent of any crime, pleaded guilty to the charges of Sheridan and his accomplices and was sentenced to a lengthened term of imprisonment; whether he is aware that Sergeant Sheridan was dismissed from the force and allowed to leave the country without trial, while two of his accomplices were allowed to retire from the force, receiving gratuities of some hundreds of pounds sterling, paid to them as compassionate allowances, whilst Constable Anderson has been retained in the force; whether the Irish Government still intend to retain Constable Anderson in the police force in discharge of the duties and receipt of pay; for what reason has this man been retained in the force; why can he not be called on to resign, as in the cases of his two confederates, with a compassionate allowance; and whether, having regard to the circumstances, the Government will take any, and, if so, what, steps to rid the Irish constabulary force of Anderson.
I understand that the facts are substantially as stated in the hon. Member's Question. I fear that I am not in a position to add much to the reply which I gave him on the 7th instant.† As I then stated, this matter was repeatedly debated in this House while the late Government were in office. I find that on July 23rd, 1902, the right hon. Member for Dover stated that he had to choose between two calamities— keeping people in the force who ought not to be there, and breaking an undertaking which had been given by the Government; and, for the reasons he then stated, he decided upon the former course. The three constables who were Sheridan's accomplices were given the opportunity of resigning with the means of starting afresh as honest men. Two out of the three resigned and were given what has been described as compassionate allowances, amounting to £200 and £50, respectively. The third, Anderson, protested his innocence and refused to resign; and he has since been retained at the depot under the circumstances already described. The only question which His Majesty's Government have now to decide is whether they are to observe the undertaking given by the late Government, and my Answer must be† See (4) Debates,cliii.,458–9.384 in the affirmative. It is to be remembered that Constable Anderson performs no public duty, but is retained on "fatigue" duty at the depot, without any authority over recruits or other members of the force.
MR. SWIFT MAC NEILL
Is not this man kept as a centre of pollution throughout the whole force? Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the honour of the Government is bound by a corrupt bargain entered into by its predecessors? May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Duke of Bedford, as Lord-Lieutenant, refused to be bound by a corrupt bargain made by his predecessors with reference to the Act of Union? If the right hon. Gentleman is bound, what is the use of changing one Chief Secretary for another?
§ [No Answer was returned.]