HC Deb 09 February 1922 vol 150 cc457-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Colonel Leslie Wilson.]


I desire to ask the Colonial Secretary whether he has any further information to give to the House concerning the recent disturbances in Ireland, and whether he can inform the House if those persons who were kidnapped have been released?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)

A variety of messages have been received during the day by telephone and telegraph from Ireland, and the general impression that I have obtained from studying them is that nothing further has taken place of a serious character in Ireland during the day. The Provisional Government of Southern Ireland inform us that they are taking vigorous measures to secure the release of the persons who were illegally captured in the raid that took place during yesterday, and they express the greatest confidence that the lives of those persons will not be in any way in danger. The Northern Government are mobilising a considerable force of special constables to secure peace and order on their frontier. Strong representations have been made to the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland as to the ex- treme importance of preventing a repetition of these scandalous and, in some respects, ridiculous raids and outrages, and we have every reason to believe that that Government to the best of their ability will endeavour to secure their prevention. Some allowance must be made for Ministers who have only just assumed the responsibilities of office, who are not in full possession of lawful and duly constituted power, and who have only a partial control of the forces which are necessary for the maintenance of law and order. We have every reason to believe that they are doing their hest in the very difficult circumstances in which they find themselves, and we for our part are endeavouring to assist them in every way in our power. We are also giving the greatest assurances to the Government of Northern Ireland that they can count upon the fullest support of the Forces of the Crown in the maintenance of law and order, and for the protection of the lives and property of all persons in the area of the Northern Government, irrespective of creed or class.


Supposing that these persons are not in fact released within the next two or three days, may the forces in Northern Ireland enter Southern Ireland and forcibly release them?


I think that is one of the questions we had better try to answer when we actually come to the situation. Perhaps I may add something more to-morrow at the end of the sitting. Mr. Griffiths is remaining in London, instead of going back to Dublin, in order to receive full communications from the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland, and I think that very probably I shall be able to make a further statement before we separate for the week-end.