HC Deb 07 December 1920 vol 135 cc1886-8

(by Private Notice) asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether it is a fact that while the Dublin City Council was sitting on Monday, 5th December, the Lord Mayor presiding, auxiliary police raided the council chamber, suspended the proceedings, and arrested six members: whether this was done as a preliminary to the special meeting of the Dublin Corporation which has been called for to-day to discuss the truce resolution; who was responsible for the raid and arrests; and whether this is a deliberate attempt on the part of the authorities to make peace in Ireland impossible?

The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Colonel Sir Hamar Greenwood)

A party of police visited the Dublin City Hall yesterday and arrested six members of the City Council. One of the persons arrested has since been released. The suggestions contained in the latter part of the hon. Member's question are, entirely unfounded. The House will no doubt wish to know the records of these men—

Alderman Michael Staines (T.D.) (M.P.), Captain in 1st Dublin Battalion, Irish Republican Army; so-called "Minister for Trade and Commerce" to "Dail Eirean," previously a tailor. He has been continuously on the run since last February and slept the night previous to his arrest in a hay-shed. Hidden ammunition found in his last permanent address. Known to be a member of the inner circle of the Irish Republican Army headquarters.

Alderman Joseph Clarke, courier to the I.R.A. Carries letters for Michael Collins, head of the I.R.A. By trade caretaker to 6. Harcourt Street, the Sinn Fein headquarters. Tried to pass himself off as Farrell when arrested in the Council Chamber.

Councillor Michael Lynch, Captain, I.R.A., attached to General Staff, Dublin Brigade, I.R.A. Was clerk in employ of Gaelic League. A shot gun was found in his office there. Has been on the run. Member of Extremist group.

Councillor J. Vincent Lawless, Captain, I.R.A., by trade cycle repairer. Hunger striker, released Wormwood Scrubs 20th March. Got 10 years' penal servitude for share of Easter week rebellion. Documents relating to purchase of arms found when his house was raided. Has been long on the run.

Councillor James Michael Brennan, Captain and Adjutant, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, I.R.A. Was in rebellion 1916. Alleged to have fired at and wounded sergeant of R.I.C. at Tullamore. Fruiterer and tobacconist by trade.


Who was the man arrested who was released? For what was he arrested?


The member who was arrested and subsequently released was Alderman Lawler.


Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that, on the eve of the discussion by Dublin Corporation of a truce to end all these horrors, it really tends to the creation of a spirit of peace to arrest these men?


On that point I am convinced there can be no truce, or successful advocacy of a truce, in Ireland, until the extremist leaders of the Irish Republican Army either surrender or deliver their arms, or are arrested by the forces of the Crown.


Do I understand that that is a declaration of war to the finish against Ireland? Because if you want war, you will get it from more than the Sinn Feiners.


I have never said there is any question of war against Ireland, but against this extremist group His Majesty's Government is compelled to make every effort, in order to enable the people of Ireland to secure peace.


May I ask the Leader of the House whether the views just expressed by the Chief Secretary are his views and also the views of the Prime Minister?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

I should have thought it would have been the view of everyone that to arrest men suspected of murder is not a bar to peace.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that any Sinn Feiner has been guilty of any greater offence than threatening to hang the Prime Minister on a lamp-post?


There would be a much greater offence than that, and that would be the hanging of him.