Irish White Cross to Discuss Further Aid for Belfast

Freeman’s Journal, 5 September 1921

In August 1921, the Irish White Cross voted to provide a £3,000 loan to repair 32 of the houses which had been destroyed in the July riots in Belfast. It also gave a further £2,000 to provide essential bedding and furniture. In September, several newspapers reported that the organisation was considering an £18,000 loan to build fifty new cottages for the homeless.


Over 160 Houses to be Rehabilitated

A meeting of the Irish White Cross Reconstruction Commission will be held in Dublin on September 13 to consider the advancement of a loan of £18,000, to a group of responsible business men in Belfast, to be used to reconstruct dwelling houses destroyed in that city on July 10 last, when fifty-eight cottages occupied by poor working people in Belfast were set on fire by a mob.

Twelve of them were totally destroyed and the interiors of the others were gutted by the flames. In addition to these 58, 103 other dwellings were wrecked, the furniture within them being smashed up and articles of value looted by the rioters. A loan of £18,000 would be sufficient to repair only a fraction of the damage inflicted to these 161 homes.

The suffering resulting from this pogrom is described in the following words by Mr. C. J France, representing the American Committee for Relief in Ireland (the Committee co-operating with the Irish White Cross in providing relief funds) :—


“The scene of destruction which one witnesses is beyond power of description.

“Once could not believe it possible that one hundred and sixty-one houses were entirely gutted either by fire or entirely breaking every bit of furniture where fires were not actually started. 

“But I actually saw with my own eyes in Cupar street, Belfast, forty-one houses which had either been completely gutted or partially wrecked. In David street four houses had been destroyed; in Norfolk street thirty-six; nine in Lower Urney street; in Argyle street, seventeen houses in lower division; in Panpark street, nine houses; in Conway street, sixteen houses; and in Antrim Street, thirteen houses…


“The destruction in Belfast struck a blow at one hundred and sixty-one families. As these families average a husband and wife and six children, nearly a thousand persons were made homeless in this district in a single day. When one see, as I saw, that the people in this district are actually as poor as almost any people to be found in any city of the world, and when one realises that the great majority of them were driven from their dwellings, many without clothes to their back, in the early hours of the morning, their suffering and distress makes a deep appeal. While these people possess little of worldly goods, their furniture, sacred emblems, pictures and other precious accumulations of a lifetime were all destroyed…