HC Deb 14 February 1922 vol 150 cc801-4
29. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that 200 rifles, with ammunition, and 50 motor cars or motor lorries recently used by the Royal Irish Constabulary have been handed to the Provisional Government in Ireland, and that a receipt was given for the same signed by Captain Fitzgerald, Irish Republican Army; whether any assurances have been given, or any precautions taken, to ensure that these arms and motors shall not be used against loyal subjects in Ireland or for the purposes of raids such as recently took place from Southern Ireland into Northern Ireland; and whether he has any information as to the persons who organised or took part in the recent raids into Northern Ireland?


As I have already informed the House, 200 rifles with ammunition and 21 (not 50) cars have been handed over to the Provisional Government; the receipt for these articles was signed by a Captain Fitzgerald on behalf of the Provisional Government, by whom he has been appointed to assist in the organisation of their forces. In reply to the second part, I would refer to the replies which I have already given on this subject. I regret that I have as yet no information as to the persons who organised or took part in these raids, but I am assured that the matter is being actively investigated by the Provisional Government.


Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why a receipt for these cars which were handed over was given by a person who signed himself as being a member of the Irish Republican Army, and will he give an undertaking that no stores of any sort, or kind shall in future be handed over to those belonging to the Irish Republican Army?


I have not seen the receipt, but if it was signed by art officer who added after his name the letters "I.R.A.," that would be irregular. It is not recognised by us, and it is opposed by the existing Provisional Government in Ireland. The proper designation of the officer should have been that he was a member of the forces of the Irish Provisional Government.


What is the actual connection between the Irish Republican Army and the Provisional Government?


The Provisional Government has been formed out of those members of the Irish Republican Army who have signed the Treaty and the declaration required of them in regard to the Treaty, and who are engaged, in conjunction with us, in carrying that Treaty into effect.

Captain Viscount CURZON

Were the cars handed over Crossley Tenders, or Fords, or what?


My hon. and gallant Friend knows a lot about motor cars. I cannot reply to questions of that kind.

Viscount CURZON

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a statement has been made that Crossley Tenders have been used in the invasion of Ulster, and can he say whether they were Government cars or not?


This particular consignment of rifles and motor cars is of great importance, because it was made over formally by the British Government to the Irish Provisional Government for the definite purpose of their creating an organised force. None of those cars or rifles have been used in those raids. There may be other cars in Ireland which, in other ways, have passed into the hands of unauthorised persons, and have been used, but the good faith of the Irish Provisional Government depends on the fact that none of those cars have been so used, and I am quite confident that is the fact.

Lieut.-Colonel CROFT

Had Captain Fitzgerald anything to do, or was he suspected of having anything to do, with the stealing of machine-guns and ammunition from the barracks of the Guards?


How can I answer a question like that?


When these former members of the Irish Republican Army are taken into the service of the Provisional Government for keeping order, are they required to take any oath of allegiance, or make any declaration of fidelity whatsoever?


I have explained very carefully that at the present time the situation is interim and anomalous. When the Irish Government has been fully clothed with lawful authority, as it can only be by the Bill before the House, and when an election has taken place for enforcing that Government after the decision of the Irish people, then will be the time to insist on the drawing of those distinctions which are in every respect proper.

31. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many rifles and revolvers, how many rounds of ball cartridge, and how many motor cars or motor tenders or motor lorries have been transferred by the Government to the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland; and on what terms and conditions?


I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to a similar question addressed to me by the hon. Member for Woodvale (Mr. Lynn).


asked the Prime Minister whether the military arms, Stores, and motors handed over to the Provisional Government in Ireland become the absolute property of that Government and pass from under the control of the British Government altogether; and whether such stores will automatically pass to any succeeding Government controlling the Free State, whatever that Government may be?


The arms, stores and motors handed over to the Provisional Government become their property subject to a valuation. The remainder of the hon. Member's question is hypothetical, and I regret that I cannot answer it.


In case the Provisional Government is defeated, will these stores pass automatically to the Republic?


I have already said that the remainder of my hon. Friend's question is hypothetical, and I regret that I cannot answer it.

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