asked the Minister for Defence if he will state why the application of Tuam Brigade Old I.R.A. for the loan of rifles and blank ammunition for their commemoration parade to Kilbannon on Easter Sunday was refused in view of the fact that similar applications were granted in other places the same day.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Rifles for Commemoration Parade.
An application for the loan of rifles and ammunition on Easter Sunday last was not received from the Tuam Brigade Old I.R.A. An application made by the Deputy to the Officer Commanding, An Fórsa Cosanta Aitiúil, Tuam, was transmitted to the officer commanding the command who has discretion in granting such loans. From the investigations which this officer was able to make in the time available he formed the opinion that the loan did not come within the terms of Defence Force Regulations and, accordingly, he refused the application.
Can the Minister say that the application was not made on behalf of the Old I.R.A.?
I did not catch the first part of the question.
Was the application made on behalf of the Tuam Old I.R.A.?
The application was made by the Deputy and it did not even assert that it was made on behalf of the Tuam Old I.R.A. The application was dated 4-4-49, and was as follows:—
I hereby apply for the use of eight rifles and 24 rounds of blank ammunition for a firing party at the grave-side of an Old I.R.A. man on Easter Sunday. Oblige,
Mark Killilea, T.D."
As a matter of fact, I did not see the communication that was sent. It was sent in my name by the secretary of the Tuam Old I.R.A. Association, but I would like to ask the Minister could it not be taken from the communication that was sent that this was definitely intended for a firing party for the purpose of the Easter Week commemoration? Is he not further aware that a similar application was made on Easter Sunday, 1948, and that rifles were given for a similar purpose?
I want to assure the Deputy that there is no particular objection to granting it to him or to any other Deputy, but the regulation in question is framed in such a way that it places full responsibility on the Officer Commanding and leaves the question then to his absolute discretion. The Officer Commanding is bound under the regulation to make sure that the application is made on behalf of certain-named bodies. It was unfortunate that, in that short letter, whoever wrote it on behalf of the Deputy did not make the application on behalf of the Old I.R.A. and, as the answer implies, in the time available the investigations had not concluded.
I would like to ask the Minister if he has the reply there that was sent to that application, which clearly indicates that the authorities knew very well the purpose for which the arms were required. If he has the answer there from Command Headquarters I would ask him to read it.
I have not the reply, but I have the report. The appropriate regulation specifies that even when the officer is satisfied he cannot grant permission until after it has been referred to the Guards and after he gets a certain type of report from the Guards. In the time available the investigations had not concluded and, as the Deputy can see, this unfortunately brief application did not even allege to be made in the name of the I.R.A.
The reply clearly stated that it was on behalf of the I.R.A. That is the funny thing about it.
The Deputy did not even sign it.