I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The purpose of this Bill is to provide statutory authority for the 20 per cent. increase in service pensions and disability pensions under the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Acts, 1936 to 1961, which is being paid since the 1st August, 1962, on foot of a Supplementary Estimate for pensions approved by this House on 18th July, 1962.
Committee on Finance. - Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Bill, 1962—Second Stage.
Again we welcome those increases in respect of those who will get them. However, I should like to tell the Minister that there is a great deal of satisfaction among claimants. I do not know exactly what steps the Minister has in mind, if any, to try to rectify what, in my opinion, is an error. People whose claims appear to have been well founded and who certainly suffered a great deal of hardship and injury, as a result of their actions in that particular episode, have not been dealt with and I should be glad if the Minister would give the matter his consideration.
I expressed my disappointment on this matter before and I do so again in respect of the handful of men who suffered and lost certain rights. There are very few of them now and they would have faced a firing squad at the time, were it not for the grace of God. It is a disgrace that some of them were allowed to die in workhouses throughout the country. It would not cost the State a lot to deal with these people. The Minister, being a Connacht man, should be big enough to extend proper recognition to these men. They deserve well of this country for the part they played in stimulating interest abroad in the Irish cause and I hope the Minister will have second thoughts on this matter while he is still in office.
When I spoke earlier, I thought we were dealing with all these Bills. I now take the opportunity of speaking on this Bill. The Connaught Rangers were members of the British armed forces who rebelled against authority because of the activities here of the Black and Tans. As a result, they suffered gravely, some of them being executed and some dying in India. The remains of some of those men are still in India and I hope the Government will assist in bringing them home. A similar group of men who were not on active service at the time—they were prisoners of war in Germany—also rebelled against authority. They were Casement's Brigade. They suffered considerably and their allowances were stopped.
The Deputy will appreciate that this Bill deals only with the Connaught Rangers.
Yes, but the people I am referring to were in a similar position and we cannot ignore them. All of them suffered because of action they took on behalf of this State.
There is not very much I can say by way of comment on what I have heard, except, perhaps, that if there are individual cases in which there appear to be injustices, I should like to get particulars of them. I shall consider any such representations made to me.
Thanks very much. That is useful.