To ask the Minister for Defence whether he has noted the following very serious report which appeared in Press (Independent), 6th instant, to the following effect, viz.:—

"Following the holding up of mail car near Midleton, Co. Cork, on Monday, armed raiders have commenced a campaign of wholesale looting and plundering in the district south of town. The following plunder and destruction is reported:—

(1) Licensed premises of Mr. McCarthy, Cloyne, robbed.

(2) Post Office, Shanagarry, raided and robbed.

(3) Licensed premises of Mr. Kennefick, raided and robbed.

(4) Residence of Mr. Engledow, Rostellan, raided and robbed.

(5) Residence of Mr. Shanahan, Ballymacoda, raided and robbed.

(6) Motor vans and contents of Messrs. Lenehan and Abernethy, Castlemartyr, wholly destroyed.

Whether the military are in sufficient strength and have sufficient transport and equipment to afford greater protection to the people of this area, and their property. Whether the military have apprehended any of these raiders engaged in above alleged loot and destruction; and whether, in the case of any of the above persons being seriously financially embarrassed, as a result of such raids on their premises and stock the Minister will, after having the necessary inquiries made by his department into each case of any such hardship, advise the Minister for Finance to advance sufficient moneys to such persons to enable them to carry on their business pending the hearing of their claim for compensation in the Law Courts.

I have noticed, amongst others, the report quoted, and am satisfied that there is reasonable strength of garrison and of transport and equipment at Midleton. I have not yet been able to ascertain whether any of the looters have been apprehended. This Department cannot undertake enquiry into the financial position of persons affected by robberies.

To ask the Minister for Defence whether he has received a complaint to the effect that Free State troops effected a forcible entrance into the Central Garage, Ballinasloe, at 4 a.m. on the morning of the 5th January, and, without producing any written authority, took possession of two Ford cars, the property of the proprietor, Mr. James Martin; whether such action is not a violation of the public notices issued by the military authorities to the effect that motor cars could only be commandeered or requisitioned on the production of a specially authorised form, and if he will state what action he has taken, or proposes to take in connection with the incident referred to.

On the morning of the 5th January information was received at Ballinasloe Military Barracks that a prisoner named Keogh, who had escaped from Athlone on the night of the 4th inst., was in the townland of Kilconnel. No Army transport being available, the O.C. sent two members of the National Forces to the Central Garage to inform the proprietor that he required two cars for the purpose of visiting Kilconnel to arrest the escaped prisoner. The urgent circumstances necessitated a breach of regulations.

The Garage was occupied by the foreman, who refused to open the Garage, and refused to give the cars as requested. The O.C. personally visited the Garage and requested the use of the cars, and explained the reason necessary for his request. His request was also refused.

The O.C. then forced the door of the Garage and took possession of two Ford cars, which were returned in good condition to the proprietor at noon on the 5th inst. The proprietor informed the O.C. that he regretted that he was not present when the cars were commandeered; that he was only too willing to assist the Army Authorities in every way, and promised that it would not be necessary for the Military to take such action in future, as far as his cars were concerned; we had the satisfaction of re-capturing an escaped prisoner.