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Lord Carson of crime in Tipperary, in which the victim was a young married woman. After reading an affidavit of the man and his wife Lord Carson demanded to know how such a state of things was going to be stopped. What, he asked, did the Government do for the Loyalists, and what did they advise them to do? Lord Crawford, in reply, said that the Provisional Government had had the facts of the case communicated to them. They had reason to suspect a particular individual as being the ringleader of the band of ruffians, but he appeared to have left the neighbourhood of the outrage and an active search was being pursued. The district where the outrage took place was in the hands of people who were fighting the Provisional Government and where the power of the latter was at its lowest. It was a sinister and atrocious affair which had no excuse or pretext of politics. It involved collective discredit on the country as a whole, and if such crimes continued unchecked the foul disease would spread, and the consequences on the moral status of the nation would be incalculable. That particular horror, he said, was alien to the records of Irish crime, and on that account he was confident that the Government and the community as a whole would do their utmost to stamp it out.
Lord Salisbury said that the British Government had a responsibility in the matter which they could not be said to have discharged. History might be searched in vain for a parallel of the proceedings of the Government in handing over Ireland to anarchy. They had taken no precautions whatever to ascertain that there was settled government. There was no proper provision of courts of law, or of armed forces, or of police. They had withdrawn the protection of the Imperial Government, and left part of Ireland to welter in disorder. They ought to recognise the depth of their blunder and do the utmost in their power to see that the Provisional Government did justice in avenging the wrongs of loyal British
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Lord Long, who said that he had supported the action of the Government as the result of the Irish Conference, thought that we had reached a period in the history of Ireland which demanded some different treatment and fresh consideration. The great blunder made had nothing to do with the Treaty, but was to be found in the removal of the natural guardians of the people before there were men actually ready to enter the sentry boxes they had vacated. When the civil war that was now raging in parts of Ireland was over—as he hoped it would be very shortly—they had only reached the first stage of the journey towards the goal of good government in Ireland. He implored the Government to give advice to the Loyalists as to whether they should leave the country or remain. The reputation of the Government was at stake, and it was their bounden duty to consider the question without delay.
The fighting at the Four Courts in Dublin resulted in an almost complete destruction of the public records that were kept there. Not only did it become necessary to establish new courts, but also new records and a new system, amounting altogether to a new era in Irish jurisprudence. The burnt records included documents illustrative of Irish history from the earliest times, such, for instance, as a Papal grant of 916 creating the Chapter of Christ Church. The chief practical inconvenience resulting from the destruction of the records was that the orders and decrees of judges were no longer available for reference. Those lost from the Chancery office concerned the title of lands and money in cases, for example, where property was ordered to be sold and the money lodged in court. In the Land Registry all titles to Irish land purchased under the Land Acts perished. All original wills were lost, and in part-heard cases the judges' notes were destroyed. The fighting round this area caused casualties of about 50 killed and 200 wounded.
The civil war was carried on in other parts of Ireland. Strong positions were held by the Irregulars in County Donegal, and in that county large numbers of recruits rushed to join the Free State forces. In Sligo and Leitrim a state of disorganisation existed. South of Sligo a large body of National troops and Republicans were concentrated and frequently came into collision; large numbers of people left the district, and the telegraph and telephone instruments in Sligo were destroyed. The police barracks, recreation rooms, military barracks, and coastguard station were burned, and other buildings were also destroyed.
As soon as the chief revolt in Dublin had been crushed, the Provisional Government addressed itself to the task of restoring order throughout the country. It placed the volunteers on an active service basis, and on July 6 issued a proclamation to the people stating its intention of dealing drastically with the element of anarchy. This proclamation stated that the valour and patriotism of the National Army had broken the conspiracy to override the will of the nation and subject the people to despotism based on brigandage regardless of life, liberty, and security.
The call of the Government for volunteers met with a large response. All members of the volunteer service were urged to accept service for six months. At the same time recruits were enlisted from all other citizens who desired to join the National ranks. On July 6 the Lord Chancellor was able to state in the House of Lords, not only that the rebellious movement in Dublin had been crushed, but that the situation in Ireland was more hopeful than it had been at any time since the Treaty was signed. The operations of the Irish National troops were, indeed, attended with success. Rebels in the neighbourhood of Dublin were driven into Blessington by an encircling movement of the Irish National troops on July 8. In that town over a hundred prisoners were captured with most of their arms and ammunition; the others disappeared south-eastwards into the mountains. Successes were also reported in dispersing Irregulars in the provinces. In County Wexford, where formidable musters had taken place, there was an extensive drive on July 8. At one place thirty-one prisoners were captured, while at Wexford itself the entry of National troops was welcomed by a procession of townspeople with bands and lighted torches. The situation in County Donegal also began to clear up. One party of rebels surrendered near Londonderry after an attack lasting several hours, and Irregulars were expelled from many other places in the south and west of Ireland. Roving bands of outlaws still continued to infest many parts of the country, blowing up railway bridges and suspending social life. One of these bands, on July 10, seized Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal and conscripted a dozen young girls from the surrounding district to act as servants for them. These girls were all Roman Catholics.
The measures of the Provisional Government to restore order included nomination of a Supreme War Council, whereby Mr. Collins became Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Mulcahy Chief of Staff, and General O'Duffy took over the command of the South-Western division. Other appointments included a Director of Intelligence, a Director of Organisation, and an Assistant Adjutant-General.
In the middle of July Lord Stuart of Wortley moved in the House of Lords that it was the duty of His Majesty's Government to advise Loyalists in the South and West of Ireland as to the course they should follow in order to protect themselves and their dependants against attacks on life, limb, and property, and to state what steps it was proposed to take to give protection and relief. The Lord Chancellor said that the Government had come to the conclusion that the course they had adopted in dealing with Ireland was the right course to adopt. Lord Carson declared that the cases were numberless of Loyalists who, since the Armistice or Treaty, had been dispossessed of every particle of property they had then owned. Lord Long urged that a time limit should be given to the Irish Government, and Lord Stuart's motion was then agreed to.
During the middle of July the National forces, under the direction of the new War Council, gradually got to grips with the rebel bands. In a communication to General Michael Collins, Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, the Government stated that their action in appointing a War Council was dictated by the determination that the splendid valour of the Army should be so directed as to yield full fruit. They declared that the Army was fighting for the right of the Irish people to be masters in their own country, while Irregulars, by sheer brigandage, were doing their best to ruin the country. It was also announced that Mr. de Valera, who had made good his escape during the fighting at Dublin, was with the director of operations at the headquarters of the Irregulars. On July 16 fighting began in Limerick City, which was mainly held by the National troops, and successful actions against Irregulars took place in other parts of Ireland. By July 18 Sligo was in the ħands of the National forces, and other districts were gradually cleared of Irregulars.
The fighting at Limerick soon developed into a battle. This town marked the left flank of the rebel front, the right flank of which was at Waterford where heavy fighting also took place. Free State forces advanced from Kilkenny and began a siege of Waterford with an artillery bombardment lasting twenty-four hours. This attack was successful, for on July 21 Waterford City was occupied by the Free State forces after a surprise night attack by companies ferried across the River Suir. Limerick was also captured on the same day by Irish National troops after an artillery attack. Severe fighting took place and many casualties were inflicted on the Irregulars. Much damage was done by shell fire and by the burning of buildings by the rebels when they retreated.
While these battles were in progress the Irish Government issued a fresh statement which announced a strong and uncompromising policy. It expressed the intention of the Government to suppress armed revolt, and to establish conditions which would enable Parliament to meet and to do the business of the country without danger or disturbance. It declared that the safety and future welfare of the nation depended upon the suppression of the Irregulars, and that a peace built upon any compromise with them would be too costly. At that time the National forces were supreme in all the twelve counties of Leinster, in Monaghan and Cavan, and in Roscommon, Leitrim and Clare. They were confronted with opposition in Donegal and Sligo, and on a larger scale in Galway, Limerick and Tipperary, while Waterford, Cork, Kerry and Mayo were in the hands of the Irregulars.
The battle at Limerick was not very severe if measured by the casualties incurred. An official statement regarding the losses of the National troops named 8 killed or died of wounds, and 20 wounded. The Irregulars were believed to have lost 4 men killed and about 50 wounded, while 200 were taken prisoners. The calamity suffered by the city itself was chiefly the heavy material loss in the destruction of many fine public buildings, the suspension of business, the requisitions and robberies suffered by private citizens, the loss of employment by the workers, and the burning of a number of business premises.
By the capture of Limerick and Waterford the main body of the rebels was driven into the South-Western portion of the country, and the task of the National troops was that of round
ing them up. On July 30 Tipperary town was captured by the National troops. The attack was carried out without artillery, and for some time little progress was made, as the defenders had fortified themselves very thoroughly and commanded the main roads with machine-guns. Eventually the positions of the Irregulars were turned; some sharp house-to-house fighting took place, and the town was won and 44 prisoners taken. . During July the murderers of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson were tried and convicted. They turned out to be two young men named Reginald Dunn and Joseph O'Sullivan. The trial only lasted three hours. The judge refused to allow Dunn to read a statement from the dock on the ground that it was not a defence but a political manifesto attempting to justify the right to kill. The prisoners were condemned to death and executed at Wandsworth Prison on August 10.
The endeavour of the Government to achieve economy in the public services was represented by the introduction during July of the Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. The second reading was moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on July 10. It contained several educational clauses, the chief one of which made it permissible to keep a child from school until the age of six. Other clauses dealt with the Board of Trade fees as provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act, admission fees at the British Museum, Registrars' fees, the consolidation of the Police Force, and other matters. During the debate Sir Donald Maclean expressed the wish that the Bill had provided for the abolition of the Ministry of Transport. After some discussion the closure was agreed to by a majority of 141, and the second reading was carried. The Bill was referred to a Standing Committee but made no further progress.
It will be remembered that on May 16 the Government had suffered a defeat during the second reading of the School Teachers (Superannuation) Bill (see p. 54). The question which then arose was whether any undertaking existed that the provisions of the Teachers Superannuation Act, 1918, should not be altered while those scales remained in force. After the defeat of the Government on this point a small Select Committee was appointed to ascertain and report upon the matter. The second reading of the Bill was in the meanwhile postponed. On July 3 it was resumed, and Mr. Acland said that the Select Committee were agreed that no undertaking had been given that the provisions of the Superannuation Act, 1918, should not be modified so long as the Burnham scale of salaries remained in force, but that they were not unanimous on the question whether such an undertaking had been implied. He suggested that the Bill should be amended. Mr. Fisher stated that the Government were willing to limit the operation of the Bill to two years, and it was then read a second time and referred to a Standing Committee.
During the report stage on July 19, the Chancellor of the