HC Deb 28 October 1920 vol 133 cc1953-4W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that at the funeral of Michael Fitzgerald in Cork, on the 19th instant, soldiers fully armed entered the church immediately after the conclusion of Mass and handed to the officiating canon a document regarding the funeral arrangements; that, outside, soldiers were drawn up with rules at the ready and an officer announced through a megaphone that he had orders to fire on the people if more than 100 persons followed the remains: and for what reason was this done?


The facts of this case are as follows:—An officer with a military party entered the Church with a message for the priest to the effect that the military had decided to enforce in this case the Regulation restricting the number of persons attending funerals. Funerals have, in the past, been used for parades of Irish Republican Army, and such are prohibited in order to avoid breaches of the peace. The reason for delivering this message was to avoid any possibility of bloodshed. The demeanour of the officer and military party was highly respectful, decorous and reverential throughout, and they removed their helmets when entering Church. The officer appealed to the priest to assist in seeing that the Regulation was observed, and the priest made an appeal to this effect. It will be recalled that Royal Irish Constabulary Sergeant Malhern was murdered in the porch of the church while going to Mass at Bandon on 25th July last. Many other policemen have been murdered going to or from Mass at or near the church door. Also that threats of murder in retaliation for death of hunger-strikers have been freely circulated for several weeks past, even the prison doctors bring threatened.