Belfast Telegraph

Casement pistol decision criticised

A police museum has been criticised for refusing to lend out a pistol belonging to British knight turned Irish rebel Roger Casement for exhibition ahead of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The gun owed by Casement, who was executed for treason in the wake of the failed uprising in Dublin almost 100 years ago, is held by the Police Service of Northern Ireland's museum in Belfast.

The former British diplomat who joined the fight for Irish independence was arrested in Co Kerry in April 1916 after disembarking a German U-boat following an ill-fated gun running mission.

He was found guilty of treason and stripped of his knighthood before he was ultimately hanged in London's Pentonville prison in August 1916.

Sinn Fein Assembly member and Casement enthusiast Oliver McMullan had asked the PSNI museum to lend out the pistol so it could be incorporated into displays in Dublin marking the significant anniversary in 18 months.

But the museum authorities have told Mr McMullan that it cannot leave.

In a letter, the museum cited rules that "prohibits artefacts being transferred outside of the UK".

It added: "The weapon has also not been deactivated and is held on the museum's firearms licence and therefore has to remain in police custody."

Mr McMullan suggested that deactivating the artefact would not be difficult.

He continued: "Art museums around the world exchange valuable collections and the PSNI is telling us they can't lend a weapon down to Dublin?"

Mr McMullan said his grandfather Daniel, a tailor in Cushendall, Co Antrim, was a great friend of Casement.

The East Antrim MLA said the pistol would be a "pivotal exhibit" in any collection marking the rising.

"Roger Casement played a key role in the events surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising and that role will be commemorated during the upcoming centenary," he said.

Mr McMullan added: "I am calling on the PSNI museum to review this decision and allow this important piece of our history to be included in the 1916 centenary celebrations."

A PSNI spokesman said: "The Police Historical Society is unable to accede to this request as the pistol is not deactivated and is therefore held on a firearms certificate."


From Belfast Telegraph