§ 13. Mr. HUNT
asked the Chief Secretary whether he has any knowledge as to the efficiency of the force known as the Ulster Volunteers; whether it is organised with its ancillary services, such as signalling, hospital, ambulance, dispatch riding, transport, etc.; and what number of armed and trained men the Ulster Volunteers can put in the field?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have knowledge of the matters referred to by the hon. Member, but I am not prepared to share that knowledge with him.
§ 20. Mr. HORNER
asked the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that when the Ulster Volunteer camp, at Knockbally-more, near Clones, county Monaghan, was breaking up on last Saturday, a force of constabulary, under District Inspector Egan, was posted outside the camp gate, and that by direction of the district inspector a car, the property of Mr. William Nixon, Tattymore, was stopped and searched and a bag taken from it, opened, and searched; that the district inspector was strongly remonstrated with and asked to produce a search warrant or other authority to justify his action, and was unable to do so; and whether, having regard to the fact that such zeal on the part of the constabulary in the present state of feeling in Ulster is directly calculated to provoke disturbance, he will give special instructions to the constabulary to act within the strict limits of their powers and duty in the matter of search?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am informed that the district inspector, who had two members of the police force with him, was told by the owner of the bag referred to that it contained wooden guns, and, on his asking if he might see them, the owner said certainly. This being so, I do not think the incident deserves further notice, or that there is any necessity to issue such instructions as those referred to in the last paragraph of he question.
§ Mr. HORNER
Is it the policy of the Irish Executive to encourage such highhanded and illegal acts by the Royal Irish Constabulary in regard to search, as is mentioned in the question, in the hope that they may provoke resistance and retaliation by Unionists?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I can assure the hon. Member that there is no such intention on anybody's part. Here the inspector would not have examined the bag unless the man to whom it belonged had expressed his perfect willingness that it should be opened.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. and learned Gentleman who wishes to restrain the zeal of the constabulary is himself an Ulster covenanter and a Crown Prosecutor for the constabulary?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I deprecate the introduction of this personal matter. The hon. Member who introduced it really ought to know better than to have put this question. These personal matters really do not affect the general question, and they are only raised for the purpose of irritation.