- KILDARE LABOUR DISPUTE.

To ask the Minister for Defence whether he is aware that farmers' haggards in the Athy area of South Kildare, where a dispute exists between agricultural labourers and farmers, have been burned, and whether he is also aware that a steward in the employment of a Mr. Melrose in that area was shot at and wounded by masked men, following the receipt of a letter from the Secretary of a Local Labour Organisation, threatening drastic action against him; and further, if he is aware that this particular letter was handed over to the Local Free State Military Authority more than two weeks ago, and no action was taken to deal with the writer of this letter or to trace the perpetrators of the attack, and in view of these burnings to ask why the military were removed from Athy to Carlow Barracks, and further, what protection he is prepared to give, so that farmers' lives and property may be safeguarded in areas where labour disputes arise?

The Minister for Defence has asked me to answer these questions. The Minister for Defence is aware of the circumstances mentioned, and all possible steps to provide the protection desired are being taken. The military were removed from Athy to Carlow Barracks in accordance with the scheme of organisation, and prior to the commencement of the burnings referred to.

The President has not referred to the custody of this particular letter, and the instructions given to the Free State authorities.

I take it that particulars in connection with that must be the subject of investigation. Otherwise I think it would be included in the answer.