§ 10. Mr. HUNT
asked the Chief Secretary whether Mr. John MacNeill, now receiving £700 a year as Professor of Irish in the National University, is intimately connected with the paper called the "Irish Volunteer," an anti-British paper; whether a Civil servant is allowed to help a paper which urges Irishmen not to enlist; and, if not, what steps he proposes to take as to Mr. John MacNeill?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Mr. John MacNeill, who is Professor of early Irish History in University College, Dublin, and receives a salary of £600 from the National University of Ireland, is not a Civil servant. The attention of the University authorities is being called to his connection with the "Irish Volunteer," and to other action he has taken to impede recruitment in Ireland.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I dealt with this yesterday in my reply to the question of the right hon. Member for the Strand Division. The matter has engaged the serious attention of the Irish Government, but it is not in the public interest to announce what action it is proposed to take.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have no reason whatever to believe that these papers have poisoned anybody's mind except the minds of the people who have written the articles.
§ 97. Mr. EVELYN CECIL
asked the Solicitor-General whether His Majesty's Government is now prepared to suppress the publications called the "Irish Volunteer," "Irish Freedom," "Sinn Fein," and the "Irish Worker" on the ground of their being seditious; and whether he has made any inquiry as to whether they are receiving German money to discourage recruiting, and to propagate in Ireland hatred for England and friendship for Germany?
§ 98 Mr. HUNT
asked the Solicitor-General (1) whether he has received a copy of the "Gaelic American," of the 7th November; whether he is aware that thousands of copies of this paper are distributed every week in Ireland for the purpose of poisoning the minds of Nationalists in Ireland against the British 1291 Government; whether the Press Censor can stop the circulation of this paper in Ireland; (2) whether he has received a copy of the "Irish Volunteer" of the 21st November, in which Irishmen are urged not to enlist in the Army and in which it is also stated that most of the Irish Volunteers know well that their only foreign enemy is England; whether the censor will stop the publication of this paper; and (3) whether he has yet received a copy of the "Irish Volunteer" newspaper of 7th November; and can he say what steps will be taken against this paper with regard to the statements contained in it?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stanley Buckmaster)
The copies of the papers referred to in these questions have been forwarded to me. I do not know the extent of their distribution, but their purpose is plainly what is stated in Question 98. With regard to stopping the circulation of the papers I must refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Chief Secretary for Ireland yesterday. As to the latter part of Question 97 I have no means at my disposal for making the inquiry referred to.
§ Sir S. BUCKMASTER
I cannot say; but the papers undoubtedly suggest that they are inspired by an enemy.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Would it not be possible for the Attorney-General, in his capacity of detector of wrong-doing in this country, to take action against these newspapers? Cannot he ascertain whether they are assisted by foreign money? Is there not some way by which these abominable practices may be put an end to?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir J. Simon)
The person who holds the office I occupy has no jurisdiction in Ireland. The matter has to be dealt with 1292 through the Irish Office or else through some Government Department such as the War Office, which has jurisdiction over the whole of the United Kingdom.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Is there the slightest difficulty in initiating a prosecution under the Defence of the Realm Act?
§ Sir J. SIMON
That, as the Noble Lord knows, is not done by the Law Officers of the Crown. It is a proceeding rather in the nature of a court-martial.