HC Deb 10 June 1920 vol 130 cc569-72
11. Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, in view of the fact that some 35 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police have been killed and twice the number wounded since 1st January last, he will institute a medal or decoration to be granted to the officers and men of these two forces who have shown special gallantry in the execution of their duty under circumstances dangerous to life and limb; and, if so, whether, to avoid delay, power will be given to the official heads of these two forces to bestow this medal or decoration on their own initiative?


I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to a precisely similar question on Thursday last.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend said the matter was under very favourable consideration, and can I not now have an answer?


The Chief Secretary has returned to Ireland in the interval, and is still dealing with the matter.

Colonel ASHLEY

I give notice that I shall put the question down for this day week, and I hope I shall have an answer.


Cannot the police under the existing regulations be granted a decoration pending the decision?


I think so.

21. Colonel NEWMAN

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who left the force on small pensions and who are anxious to get employment in civil life are utterly unable to do so in the whole of Ireland outside Ulster owing to Republican domination and hostility; and will he press on the Government the necessity of making immediate increased provision for these men who are being made to suffer because of their previous calling?


Recent inquiries were made in every county in Ireland regarding the difficulty of Constabulary pensioners in obtaining employment, and the results of those inquiries showed that there were comparatively few cases. I am aware the number has since increased, and the Chief Secretary is doing all in his power to press the question of increased provision for these men.

Colonel NEWMAN

Will the right hon. Gentleman assist these ex-Constabulary men, who leave Ireland for employment in England, and their families, to come across?


If any case comes before the Government we shall be glad to consider it.


asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the great gallantry of the ten men of the Royal Irish Constabulary who defended the police barracks at Kilmallock for five hours against an overwhelming number of desperadoes armed with rifles and bombs; if he is aware that the police only evacuated the barracks when two of their number had been killed and several others wounded and when the building was in flames; and that, notwithstanding the casualties they had sustained, the survivors made a bayonet charge upon the attackers who were eventually scattered; and whether, under these circumstances, the Government will make a public acknowledgment of their services to the State and recommend the survivors for decoration by His Majesty?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)

The gallant conduct of all members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, in defending their barracks at Kilmallock, County Limerick, against a prolonged and determined attack by a large number of raiders, has been fully considered by the Constabulary Reward Board. Each of the members of the force concerned has been awarded the Constabulary medal, which is only granted in cases of pre-eminent valour and bravery. They have each been promoted to higher rank in the force, and have also been awarded favourable records and money grants from the Reward Board.


Are the Government taking steps to ensure that the lives of these men are not unnecessarily risked? They are undergoing great trouble in Ireland in defending these scattered places.


I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that we ought not merely to recognise their gallantry when they put up a defence of this kind, but that every step ought to be taken to protect them and make them more secure. I had a very prolonged discussion with the representative of the Irish Police three or four days ago as to the best method of securing the protection for them, and he assured me that such steps were being taken. At present, I do not think it right to indicate what are those steps.


Has the right hon. Gentleman ever looked at the miserable scale of pensions awarded to the widows and children of those police constables who are killed in the discharge of their duty?


Perhaps my right hon. Friend will put down a question on the subject. I know that matter has been discussed.


I have a question down for Monday.

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