HC Deb 02 July 1953 vol 517 cc582-4
39. Mr. Healy

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that the new athletic ground in Belfast has been named after Roger Casement; and what action he proposes to take on the demand of a recent public meeting in Belfast, attended by 20,000 people, asking for the return to Ireland of the remains of this Irish patriot who was interned in Pentonville Prison.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

My right hon. and learned Friend has seen a newspaper report of the matters to which the hon. Member draws attention. He does not propose to take any action in the matter.

Mr. Healy

Can the hon. Gentleman not at least be as generous as the United States Government, who handed over the bodies of the Rosenbergs to their relatives? If he has not already recognised the Irish Republic for which Casement died, does his present attitude not indicate that he has sympathy with the Home Office of that period, which proceeded to issue to the Press slanders on Casement after they had murdered him?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I cannot accept the hon. Member's statement, and I cannot imagine that any action of the kind suggested would help to improve relations between this country and Ireland. Indeed, by re-awakening the memory of old differences it might do the reverse.

Lieut.-Colonel Hyde

In the interests of accuracy is my hon. Friend aware that at the public meeting in question there was no public demand voiced for the return of Roger Casement's remains, but that merely a pious hope was expressed by one of the speakers at that meeting? Is my hon. Friend further aware that every loyal citizen in Belfast and, indeed, throughout Northern Ireland regards Roger Casement not as a patriot but as a traitor who paid the just penalty for his high treason to this country?

Mr. Healy

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this was one of the largest meetings in Belfast for a very considerable time, and that 75 per cent. of the Irish people regard him as a patriot and want Casement's remains brought back to the place of his birth?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the fact that the cause for which Sir Roger Casement gave his life has been so largely successful, and as this view is also shared by a large number of Irishmen in America, will not the Home Office do the generous thing and accede to this request?

Sir H. Lucas - Tooth

Successive Governments have taken the view that the removal of the remains would not tend to improve relations between the two countries. That is still the view of this Government.