Dáil Éireann - Volume 90 - 26 May, 1943

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Death of Longford Soldier.

General MacEoin asked the Minister for Defence if he is aware that Private James Crosby, A/69344, Lower Water Street, Longford, served in the National Army and died on active service on the 17th October, 1941; that on the morning when he reported ill he got M.D. treatment, and again having made a further sick report he was given the same treatment, but that he returned to his billet in great pain, and was later found dying by his comrades; that Private Crosby's death is believed to be due to hardships of service which he underwent on the previous day; and whether he will state the amount of widow's pension and family allowances for four children paid to Mrs. Crosby from Army funds, and the date on which payment was made.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Moylan): I am aware that Private James Crosby died on the 18th October, 1941, while on service with the Defence Forces. On the morning when he reported ill he was examined by two Army medical officers but, since no evidence of any definite disability was discovered, he returned to his billet where, shortly afterwards, he got a sudden seizure and died before medical aid could reach him.

I am advised that a post-mortem which was carried out showed that death was due to a clot of blood in the main artery of the lungs. I understand that such disability is practically impossible to discover from an ordinary clinical examination and that it is a frequent cause of sudden death.

I regret that, until the recent amendment was passed, I was precluded from considering the question of [559] compensation under the Army Pensions Acts. Mrs. Crosby will, however, be afforded an opportunity of having her claim considered under the Army Pensions Act, 1943.

General MacEoin: Does the Parliamentary Secretary consider that that is fair treatment for the widow and orphans of that soldier, who was serving his country at that particular time? I asked the Minister if he was not satisfied that this man's death was due to the hardships imposed upon him the previous day, and I want an answer on that point. There is no question about it that the soldier suffered these hardships the previous day and his death was due to these hardships. This man has served from 1920.

Mr. Moylan: I have no information which would lead me to believe that Crosby's death was due to any undue activity on the day before his death. I have indicated the nature of the medical evidence. The whole case can come before the Pensions Board under the 1943 Act and receive sympathetic consideration.

General MacEoin: What will the widow and her children do in the meantime?

Mr. Moylan: If there are no means of dealing with the matter, how can it be dealt with?

General MacEoin: All right, let them starve.

Mr. MacEntee: That is the legislation the Deputy opposed—he voted against the Bill.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy opposed it.

General MacEoin: I observe that the Taoiseach has intervened in this matter. I suggest that where a soldier dies, arising out of his service, where his death is attributable to hardship he underwent the previous day, his widow and family should not be left starving. I say that the Government should not leave them starving.

[560] Mr. Lemass: Did not the Deputy and his whole Party vote against the Bill?

General MacEoin: I did vote against it, and I am going to defend my attitude now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Not now, because it does not arise.

General MacEoin: At the elections, then.

Mr. Davin: There is an Appropriation Bill to be considered.

General Mulcahy: There was no consideration given to widows at all, and that is why the Bill was opposed.