§ Mr. O'Hara,
in presenting two Petitions, one from the Justices of the Peace of the County of Galway, and the other from the Roman Catholic Clergy of the Warden-ship of Galway, praying that Roman Catholics might be admitted to the privileges of the Corporation of the Town of Galway, observed, that the petitioners stated, that formerly Catholics were admitted to all the privileges of the Corporation. Their rights were recognised by the Charter of Charles 2nd, and by the Irish House of Commons in 1715. The Act of 4lh Geo. 1st was intended only to give Protestants a more ready, and secure, and cheap mode of acquiring their freedom. By the late Act of admitting Roman Catholics to the civil offices of the State, they were certainly entitled also to enter the Corporation of the town of Galway; but that was contrary to the words of the Act of George 1st. The petitioners therefore prayed, and he warmly concurred in their prayer, that Parliament would adopt some means of removing all doubt on the subject, and of giving Roman Catholics an equal right with Protestants to share all the privileges of the Corporation of Galway.
Mr. S. Rice
rose, pursuant to the notice he had given, to move for leave to bring in a bill to repeal so much of the Act of the 4th of George 1st as limits the franchise of this corporation to Protestants only. The hon. Member observed, that it was not his intention to go into any argument on the subject at present, particularly in the absence of those hon. Gentlemen who took a part in the discussion when he presented the Petition. Other opportunities would occur for going more fully into it, should it be necessary. He would confine himself, therefore, at present, to merely stating the grounds on which he asked for leave to bring it in. The Protestant merchants and traders could, by the Act of Geo. 1st. claim their freedom as a matter of right, after a residence in the town, but the claim was confined to them exclusively. The privileges of the corporation were limited to Protestants. It seemed 76 to be the general opinion, that after having passed the bill of the last Session, for the relief of the Roman Catholics, it would be inconsistent with its principle to allow such a distinction to remain on the Statute-book. The only question was, how the inequality should be removed. One mode was by giving the franchise to Catholics as well as Protestants, and the other by taking it from the Protestants; but of the latter mode he could not think for a moment, and it was but justice to the Roman Catholics of that town to repeat what had been said of them by the hon. Member for Clare, that they would never accept any concession at the expense of their Protestant brethren. The hon. Member then moved for leave to bring in the bill.
§ Mr. Trant
did not rise to oppose the Motion, but he wished to guard himself against its being supposed, should he remain silent, that he approved of the measure. What steps he might afterwards take to oppose the bill he did not then know, but he looked with extreme jealousy upon any measures interfering with corporate rights.
§ Leave given, and Bill ordered to be brought in.