HC Deb 09 March 1922 vol 151 cc1460-1
84. Captain FOXCROFT

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that republican Courts, presided over, in one case, by King's Counsel, are now openly sitting in the South and West of Ireland, and are purporting to exercise both criminal and civil jurisdiction, thereby ousting the jurisdiction of His Majesty's Courts; whether the holding of such Courts is in accordance, with the provisions of the Treaty; and whether it is intended to allow such Courts to continue to function?

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

I am aware that Courts other than those established by Statute are sitting simultaneously with statutory Courts in parts of Ireland, and that in some cases, particularly in areas where the authority of the Provisional Government is not definitely established, these Courts are still called Republican Courts as they were prior to the signature and ratification of the Treaty. It must be left to the Provisional Government to decide as to the action which can best be taken in the matter during the difficult transitional period pending the establishment of the Free State.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a Republican Court was sitting last month in Dublin, presided over by Mr. Meredith, K.C., and will he take steps to prevent K.C.'s from presiding over republican Courts?


I must ask for notice of that question.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman see the great impropriety of allowing an illegal Court to fine and, it may be, imprison or otherwise punish one of His Majesty's subjects?


Yes, I see the impropriety of it, but I think the remedy for it is the speedy passage through another place of the Irish Free State (Agreement) Bill, which will put these matters on a proper foundation.