THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Chief Secretary forced to defend cabinet’s Irish policy

From the News Letter, March 7, 1921

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 6:00 am
Westminster Bridge pictured here in 1928, it extends from the Houses of Parliament on the North side of the River to St. Thomas's Hospital on the Surrey side, and was built in 1869 at an approximate cost of £1,000,000. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

The Chief Secretary of Ireland, Sir Hamar Greenwood, had defended the Cabinet’s Irish policy in the House of Commons, reported the News Letter on this day in 1921.

He was speaking during a debate on whether or not to increase the number of officers available to the Royal Irish Constabulary.

During the debate he said that he had no plans to disband the auxiliary division that had been operating on the island.

He said: “The position in Ireland today is a serious one. In certain counties in the south-west there is a state of rebellion. Where there is a peaceful county it is part of the campaign of the Republican Army to send to that county organised bands to stir up trouble.”

Personally, he said that since he had gone to Ireland he had done his best to bring about a settlement without the use of force.

He explained how searches and arrests had ceased, deportees had been released and hunger strikers had been let out but this had failed to satisfy the republicans.

Indeed, he remarked that the republicans had been “endeavouring” to organise propaganda worldwide which blamed the British Government for state of rebellion in Ireland.

He added the republicans had been endeavouring to organise propaganda worldwide blaming the British Government for state of rebellion in Ireland.

But despite the ongoing “orgy of outrage” the Chief Secretary did see hopeful signs in Ireland and told the House how a number of bishops and priests “at great risks” did their best to keep parishes and dioceses free from trouble.