HC Deb 12 May 1915 vol 71 cc1651-2

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland whether any command has at any time since the formation of the Ulster Volunteers been issued to Irishmen in the Civil Service, under pain of dismissal, to withdraw forthwith from that force if already in it, and to undertake not to hold any future intercourse, directly or indirectly, with that organisation; under what authority such a command has been issued to Irishmen in the Civil Service with reference to the Irish Volunteers; seeing that the Ulster Volunteers, organised expressly to resist a certain law if enacted, were allowed to drill, arm, and equip themselves, and that the Irish Volunteers, organised for the purpose of defending the rights and liberties of all the Irish people, have been thwarted and prevented from arming themselves, whether he will account for the different treatment of the two organisations and of Civil servants in relation to them, respectively; on what grounds the Ulster Volunteers, described by the Lord Chancellor as an illegal force, has been adopted as one of the forces of the Crown; and on what grounds the Irish Executive strives to destroy the Irish Volunteers, a force never accused of illegality and never proclaimed as illegal?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Membership of the Irish Volunteers, who, under the guidance of their Committee, have endeavoured to obstruct recruiting in Ireland and to foment disloyalty, is regarded by the Government as incompatible with the position of a Civil servant of the Crown, and it is on this ground that certain members of the Civil Service in Ireland have been called upon, under pain of dismissal, to sever their connection with this section of the volunteers in Ireland. These considerations do not apply either to the Ulster Volunteers or to the National Volunteers, whose loyalty to the Crown in the present emergency has not been questioned and who have furnished a large number of recruits to all branches of His Majesty's Forces.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say when, by whom, and where the action against recruiting was taken, and why the persons taking it have not been brought to trial?


No. I think, on the whole, that the best thing which we can do is to require persons who are connected with a body of this kind and also with the Civil Service to make their choice.