HC Deb 17 March 1919 vol 113 cc1728-9
80. Mr. W. COOTE

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that the Irish Transport Union, a Sinn Fein organisation, recently started a branch of their union in Caledon, county Tyrone, recruiting to their ranks the majority of the workers of the Caledon Woollen Mills, Limited, who are of the same political faith; that they then proceeded to call out the workers unless every employé in the mill joined their union; and that, having taken out the majority of the workers, they commenced to beat with hurleys and sticks and otherwise abuse the fifty-three workers who remained; that a force of police under the command of District-Inspector Bane were sent to maintain order, but that this officer made no attempt to interfere when women workers were beaten; that the local shopkeepers were threatened if they should supply food to these fifty-three workers and that the situation was so much out of hand that District Inspector Bane had to be superseded by another inspector before order could be restored; and will he have this inspector's conduct investigated?


A branch of the Irish Transport Union has been recently formed at Caledon, and was joined by a majority of the workers in the woollen mills there. On the 21st February two of the workmen employed in the mills, who were active in the interests of the union were dismissed, and an organiser of the union arrived in the town that evening and called out the workers. About 200 out of 250 obeyed the call. It is not a fact that the workers who remained were beaten with hurleys and sticks. The local shopkeepers were approached with a view to getting them not to supply goods to the non-strikers—they were not threatened, and the movement failed. My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in thinking that District Inspector Bane was superseded. He was very unwell, and was granted leave on medical certificate, his place being taken by another officer.


Is it not a fact that this matter was entirely a social one, and not political?


I have given a very full answer.