§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what are the results of the inquiries made by him in consequence of the information given him by the hon. and gallant Member for East Down with reference to two Protestant boys, William James Welsh and Samuel Welsh, who are at present detained, against the wishes of their father, in a Roman Catholic institution; and is he now prepared to have the boys restored to their father.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I have ascertained that each of these boys was immediately after birth baptised in the religion then professed by their father William Welsh, namely, that of Roman Catholic. At a later date each of the boys appears to have been baptised according to the rites of the Protestant Church. Upon hearing from the hon. Member for East Down that the father was residing at Ballydonnell, I directed that inquiries should be made from the man himself as regards the application which purported to have been made on his behalf. In the meantime Welsh had left Ballydonnell. I have since received from William Welsh's mother a letter, dated Belfast, 28th July, stating that her son, the father of the boys, was staying with her, and that he did not wish the boys to be removed from the industrial school, as he had changed his mind, and further that he had written to that effect to the hon. Member who puts the present Question and also to the solicitor who made the application for the boys' discharge. Welsh appears to be of somewhat uncertain mind as regards his religious belief, 969 and I do not propose to do anything in the matter until I have succeeded in having inquiries made from him personally.