§ 17. Mr. DUNNICO
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that the Government of the Irish Free State released Mr. de Valera and Mr. Austin Slack from Arbour Hill barracks yesterday, His Majesty's Government will sympathetically consider the immediate release of Mr. Art O'Brien and other Irish political prisoners now confined in the gaols of this country?
After further consideration of all the circumstances the Government derided that Mr. Art O'Brien and Mr. Sean McGrath, who have been in custody since the 11th of March, 1923, might without detriment to the public interest be now released as an act of clemency. They were set at liberty yesterday.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Will this amnesty apply to the three men stated by him to be guilty of the cold-blooded murder of British subjects last year?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Last week the right hon. Gentleman said that there were three Irishmen confined in this country who were proved guilty of cold-blooded murder. Does this amnesty apply to those three men?
§ Colonel GRETTON (by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Mr. Art O'Brien and Sean McGrath, who were sentenced a year ago to two years' imprisonment for seditious conspiracy, have been released, and, if so, for what reason, and why he stated in an answer to the hon. Member for the Burton Division (Colonel Gretton) on 3rd July that it was not intended to release them?
I have already answered the first two points in the question. As to the last point, I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that when that answer was given it was not the intention of the Government to proceed to an act of clemency. The decision so to proceed was taken by the Government at the last meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday.
§ Colonel GRETTON
What made them reconsider their previous decision? For what reason have these men been released? Is it owing to any pressure from the Government of the Free State or from any party or persons in the Free State?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it has not been under pressure from the Government of the Free State, but with a general desire to try to promote and maintain good relations between, this country and Ireland.
§ Viscount WOLMER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the invariable experience of letting men of this sort out of prison has been further trouble in Ireland?
§ Mr. FERGUSON
Is it not a case of the unjust judge and the importunate widow with the Socialist Government?