HC Deb 29 November 1920 vol 135 cc915-7

I gave the Chief Secretary notice on Saturday that I should ask him to-day what are the number of killings of servants of the Crown and of civilians during the weekend; that I should repeat the question which I asked on a previous day with regard to the cases of Frank Flynn, Edmund Carmody and Thomas Lyons; that I should ask for any information in the possession of the Chief Secretary with regard to the killing of a young farmer at Tuam, near Galway, who was shot dead as he was being taken from the police station to the camp of the 16th Lancers, and also with regard to a tailor named Denis O'Donnell, of Kildorrery, County Cork, who was shot dead, and an aged ex-soldier named Lyons, residing at Tinnymuck, Moate, who was also shot dead; and that I should also ask him whether the Most Reverend Dr. O'Dea, Bishop of Galway, who has been especi- ally pronounced in his denunciations against crime, has received a letter containing these words— If any members of His Majesty's forces are interfered with in Galway, you will meet with Father Griffin's fate. Beware"; and whether Father Meehan and Father Cunnane, both curates in the diocese of Dr. O'Dea, have also received threatening letters?


The only casualty during the week-end—that is to say, Saturday and Sunday—of which I have received an official report, is one policeman killed. No other deaths of servants of the Crown or civilians have been reported. If Friday's casualties are included, the figures were one policeman, two soldiers (at Kildorrery), and two civilians (Mortimer Duggan in Broadford, Co. Limerick, and Denis Carey, Nenagh). With regard to the case of Patrick Flynn, who was a farmer's son, it is most difficult to secure information from the people in the neighbourhood, but, as far as I have been able to ascertain, this man was taken from a neighbour's house at midnight on the 23rd inst, and his dead body was subsequently found near the house. I am informed with regard to Thomas Lyons, that, at about 3.30 p.m. on the 21st November, a cycle patrol of military was proceeding along the Westport-Leenane Road. When about five miles from Westport, the patrol observed a man in the fields, whom they called upon to halt. He refused to halt, and was shot. The matter has been reported to the competent military authority, with a view to having an inquiry held. Denis O'Donnell was found shot dead at Leasdown, Kildorrery, at 7.30 a.m. on the 24th instant. I am informed that Martin Lyons, who was an ex-soldier, was shot dead on the 24th instant by armed men at Tinnymuck, Moate. Further reports have been called for in both these cases. With reference to the Rev. Dr. O'Dea, Bishop of Galway, I am informed that he and the Rev. Father O Meehan and the Rev. Father Cunnane have received threatening letters as stated. The police have assured the Bishop that they will give every possible protection, and have asked for his assistance and cooperation in tracing the guilty parties in the many crimes which have recently been committed in his diocese. I will read to the House the text of the letter addressed by the Divisional Commissioner to the Bishop— Dear Dr. O'Dea,—I have been confined to my room, as perhaps you may have heard. I write at once to say I am very sorry indeed to learn from your published letter that threatening letters have been received by you and some of your clergy. I have asked the County Inspector to call on you in the matter. I must say I think it most unfair to attribute every wrong act such as these, and also the shooting of poor father Griffin to the Crown Forces. I have striven hard to control the feelings of my men, and unjust charges, added to their constant expectation of assassination, make the position very difficult. I would welcome your assistance in tracing the perpetrators of the terrible murder (as we fear) of Joyce "— this was the Nationalist school teacher who was kidnapped three or four weeks ago— and also of Father Griffin. Need I assure you that no one longs more ardently than I do for the end of the reign of the 'gunmen.' If you have any suggestion to make, either as to steps for your protection or for the protection of any of your clergy, I shall, of course, do anything I can. This Divisional Commissioner is one of the most able officers in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and is a devout Roman Catholic.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Members of this House are getting threatening letters from "Black and Tans" for doing their duty?