HC Deb 14 February 1917 vol 90 cc627-8
69. Mr. BYRNE

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether he is aware that certain persons previously interned as of hostile association for their participation in the Irish rising are now serving compulsorily in the Army under the provision of the Military Service Act because of previous residence in England; whether it is the policy of the Government to coerce persons who have taken up arms against the system of government which existed in Ireland; whether the persons, one and all, refused to submit to military orders of any kind and have in consequence been court-martialled and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment; whether such persons have been court-martialled a second time upon their first sentence expiring and sentenced to further terms of imprisonment; if the methods of repression countenanced by the late Government are to be sanctioned by the present Government in connection with the second sentences, and in particular if his attention has been called to the continued punishment of the brothers King and the brothers Nunan who, though originally interned as Irish rebels, have all been court-martialled twice for refusing to obey military orders and have been undergoing punishment in the Army ever since they were released from internment; whether, seeing that the severest punishment must continue to be utterly unavailing to break the spirit of these men, he will now cause them to be released from further punishment and discharged from the Army; and if he is aware that their release would go far to remove the bitterness caused in Ireland by their persecution?


The position of men who were concerned in the Irish rebellion and who are at present serving in the British Army has been under consideration, and it has been decided that men who have been imprisoned or interned in consequence of having been concerned in the Irish rebellion are not to be enlisted in the British Army, and that men who have been imprisoned or interned and are at present serving in the Army are to be discharged from the Service if they are unwilling to serve and did not join the Army voluntarily.