HC Deb 06 March 1922 vol 151 cc839-41
Viscount CURZON

(by Private Notice)asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is able to inform the House as to what occurred during the withdrawal of the police from Tipperary and also to what is at present the situation in Limerick?


My information with regard to the withdrawal of the police from Tipperary is as follows: We evacuated Tipperary Police Barracks on Thursday last. All but 13 police came up to Dublin by train bringing almost all the arms, etc. The Assistant District Inspector and 12 other ranks left the barracks at 5 p.m. in four cars, intending to travel by road. He was travelling by road in order to bring up the cars. On reaching the main street the party was fired at and they returned the fire. A large number of armed men then appeared on the scene and firing from both sides continued. Four of our men were wounded (one has since died), and four of the attackers are believed to have been wounded. The police then surrendered. The man in charge of the attackers took charge of our wounded and promised every attention. He conveyed our wounded men to Limerick Junction Railway Station and saw them off to Dublin. He took£160 from the District Inspector and also the cars, arms and ammunition. There were 20 rifles, some revolvers, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Since receiving the above, I have been informed that three members of the Royal Irish Constabulary suspected of complicity with the party who committed this outrage have been arrested in Dublin by British officers with great energy and promptitude, and handed over to the British military authorities for custody. They will be tried by court martial, and pending the investigation of the grave charges made against them, I cannot make any statement as to the circumstances which led to their arrest. I have no very recent information as to events in Limerick. On receiving notice of the Noble Lord's question, I telegraphed for further information. Since I came into the House I have received a telegram informing me that the newspaper reports about Limerick are correct, that considerable armed forces, numbering several hundred men, are in rebellion and, acting in defiance of the Provisional Government, have taken possession of the town. I understand that the Provisional Government have taken the necessary steps, and I do not desire to say anything more on this subject at the present time.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any other news about the peace in Ireland?


What is the nature of the action which the Provisional Government are taking? We are told that a British town, for the maintenance of order in which His Majesty's Government are responsible, is in the possession of armed, men. What steps are being taken to preserve the peace there?


I am sure that my hon. Friend will see that we ought not to compromise by discussion any action which the Provisional Government may take.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is the right hon. Gentleman not personally responsible for law and order there at the present time?


Yes, and I accept the responsibility on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and I am confident that we are best discharging that responsibility by leaving it to the Provisional Government to take the action that is necessary.