HC Deb 18 May 1916 vol 82 cc1621-5
2. Mr. T. M. HEALY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the American Embassy has brought to his notice the arrest in Dublin of an American named James M. Sullivan, who until September last was United States Consul for San Domingo; whether Mr. Sullivan was kept eight days in custody in Kilmainham Gaol without any charge being made against him and was then discharged without trial or apology; will he ascertain what explanation is offered by General Maxwell for the rigorous treatment to which this gentleman was subjected; and can the Government take any steps to prevent the imprisonment of innocent men?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The other parts of the question do not relate to matters which come within the province of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but the case brought before us by the American Embassy is being inquired into, and when I know the facts I shall, of course, communicate them to the American Ambassador and be ready to answer another question on the subject.


asked whether Daniel Walsh, of Gaggin, Bandon, was on 8th May arrested by a military and police party without any charge stated, and has not since been heard of by his relatives; whether it is known to the local police that Daniel Walsh, who was the manager of the Cork and Kerry Creamery Company, was at no time a member of the Irish Volunteers and was a man of moderate and conciliatory politics; and whether orders will be given for his immediate release?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

I am informed that Daniel Walsh was arrested on the date mentioned, on the charge of having in his possession ammunition and explosives, which were found at his house by the military and police who searched it. The military authorities are at present making further inquiry into his case.


Is it not time to drop these mediaeval barbarisms, and does the right hon. Gentleman forget what the result of calling the Manchester martyrs murderers was?


asked the Prime Minister how many members of the Irish Volunteer organisation were in custody in Cork County Gaol up to 9th May, 1916; what were the orders given by the military authorities to the governor of the Cork County Gaol in regard to the treatment to be given to these prisoners; whether these prisoners were removed from Cork Gaol on Tuesday morning, 9th May, 1916; and, if so, where they were removed to and where they now are; how many of them have been tried; has notice been sent to the prisoners' relatives as to what has become of them; will he say why the Catholic prisoners were not allowed to attend Mass in the Cork County Gaol on Sunday, 7th May, and why was not the chaplain to the prison allowed to visit those prisoners while they were in gaol; what offence have they committed beyond being members of a Volunteer organisation which was not proclaimed illegal until the Dublin outbreak on the 24th April; were their relatives allowed to visit them; and how long were they in custody before they were allowed one hour's exercise per day?


I have ascertained from Dublin that inquiry is being made into this, matter.


asked the Prime Minister whether the prisoners imprisoned in Cork Gaol as being Sinn Feiners, and against whom no charge has so far been preferred, were, when first arrested, kept in solitary confinement, refused exercise, and denied the visits of their friends and even of the chaplain; and whether this state of things still continues?


Men in Cork Prison are allowed daily exercise as recommended by the medical authorities. Prisoners are; allowed to see their clergymen.


May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question whether, when they were first arrested, they were kept in solitary confinement, refused exercise, and denied the visits of their friends and the chaplain; and when the right hon. Gentleman says that they are allowed exercise, does that mean that there is a differentiation between them and other prisoners, who, as I understand, are allowed exercise under a rule quite irrespective of any doctors?


My information only goes so far as I have given it to the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot answer any further questions on that subject. I am informed that they are allowed exercise. Whether there is a differentiation between the ordinary exercise and the exercise ordered by the doctor I should have to inquire on the spot, which, of course, takes time.


asked the Prime Minister the circumstances under which a number of men were on the 2nd instant arrested in Cork, marched through the streets in the custody of armed police and soldiers, causing excitement in the city, and lodged in gaol, and afterwards on the same day discharged from custody without any charge being preferred against them; and who was responsible for this proceeding?


These men were arrested as a precautionary measure, which was carried out by the military authorities under the Defence of the Realm Act.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say what form of precaution involved the arrest of men at three o'clock and their release at seven o'clock the same evening?


I cannot explain it— no.


asked the Prime Minister whether it is intended to bring the prisoners recently arrested and imprisoned in Cork Gaol as Sinn Feiners to trial; if so, when and on what charge; and by what tribunal will they be charged?


I would refer the hon. Member to the written reply I gave to the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin yesterday.


asked the Prime Minister whether the prisoners recently arrested in Cork and the adjoining counties as being Sinn Feiners and imprisoned in Cork Gaol, or any of them, have been removed from Cork and imprisoned elsewhere; and, if so, will he say where?


The prisoners in question were removed to Dublin.


asked whether Messrs. Eoin MacNeill, Herbert Pim, Arthur Griffith, and Walter L. Cole, uncharged prisoners, are still denied a bed, required to lie on stone flags, denied the right of private consultation with friends or counsel, and denied the right of procuring comforts from their homes; when will a charge be formulated against them; and when, where, and by what sort of tribunal are they to be tried?


I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not allow his imagination to run away with him in drafting questions on these matters. Inquiries are now being made regarding the allegations in the first part of the question. The main point, however, which is raised is that contained in the last part, and on that, as I stated yesterday, I am not able at the moment to make a definite announcement. I must ask the hon. Member to recognise that the matter is one of gravity and that a properly considered decision is of more importance than a very early decision.


Since this question was put on the Paper, the newspapers have published certain information with reference to Mr. MacNeill. Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that information is, or is not, true—whether there is a trial going on or not?


I have informed the House that inquiries are now being made. Clearly I cannot give the information before the inquiries are complete.

91. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he can give any information as to the fate or the present whereabouts of Mr. Octavius Hardy, of 17, Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin, and his nephew, Mr. Joseph Vincent Hardy, of Mount Prospect, Ballinasloe, landowner, both being well-known Unionists and Protestants, who were arrested on Easter Tuesday at 17, Belgrave Road because some old fowling pieces were found on their house being searched, and who have not since been heard of by their relations; whether the authorities have since returned the old guns to 17, Belgrave Road as being of no use; and whether, nevertheless, the Messrs. Hardy are still kept in prison or have been subjected to some graver fate by the military executive?


I have received a message from Ireland that inquiries are now being made into the incidents mentioned in my right hon. Friend's question.


As nearly three weeks has elapsed, and the anxiety of the relatives is very great, and as the number involved is between 2,000 and 3,000, will the right hon. Gentleman kindly give particulars at an early date?


I have already explained to the House the great difficulties under which I labour in this matter, and I do not think I can say more.