HC Deb 14 April 1921 vol 140 cc1314-5W

asked the Chief Secretary whether he has seen the letters, by Mrs. O'Callaghan published in the Press containing statements which, if true, destroy the validity of the verdict of the; military court of inquiry into the Limerick murders; and what action Le proposes to take in the matter?


I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for South Down on the 7th instant.


asked the Chief Secretary whether, notwithstanding repeated assurances in this House, the president of the military inquiry into the murder of Christopher Reynolds, of Rathfarnham, for the second time during the inquiry ordered the Press, the public, the relatives, and the legal advisers of the next-of-kin to leave the court so that the evidence might be taken in secrecy; whether counsel for the next-of-kin thereupon refused to take any further part in the inquiry; whether one of the witnesses produced by the Crown refused to give evidence lest it might incriminate him; whether definite charges of murder have been brought against the Crown forces; and on what public grounds it is being sought to shield the murderers or conceal; the facts?


As I have stated explicitly in reply to previous questions arising out of this case, it is within the discretion of the President of the Court of Inquiry to exclude members of the public and of the Press from the Court if he is of opinion that their admission might endanger the lives of witnesses. In the present case, the President came to the conclusion that the lives of certain members of the Crown forces who were called to give evidence might be exposed to danger if their evidence was given in public, and he therefore decided that no person other than members of the Court should be present while such evidence was given. In conveying this decision to the representatives of the next-of-kin ha stated that they would be red-admitted when the evidence of the Crown witnesses had been taken in private and that this evidence would be read over to them and they would be allowed to put in writing any additional questions they might desire to ask, whereupon the Court would again be closed in order that any proper questions handed in might be put to the witnesses. The representative of the next of kin protested against this decision of the President and withdrew from the Inquiry. One of the witnesses called in camera acting on the advice of his legal advisers declined to give evidence. The Inquiry is at present adjourned owing to the fact that several of the witnesses are also witnesses in another case which is now proceeding, but it will be re-opened at the earliest possible date. The suggestion contained in the latter part of the question is wholly unjustified.

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