HC Deb 20 March 1843 vol 67 cc1126-7
Mr. F. French

wished to be informed whether the report was correct, that 4000 armed men had entered Waterford, from a neighbouring barony, and had taken possession of the city, stating their determination to resist the collection of poor-rates, under the recent law? He regretted also to have to put another question to the noble Lord, founded upon a statement he had seen to-day in the newspapers, that a collector of poor-rates had been found with his brains beaten out by stones, but the amount of poor-rates he had collected untouched in his pocket?

Lord Eliot

would read to the House two reports, one from the mayor of Water-ford, and the other from the inspector of the constabulary to the Secretary for Ireland? The first stated— Waterford, March 13, 1843. Sir—I think it my duty to state, for the information of his Excellency the Lord-lieutenant, that a large number of persons (computed at about 1,000 men), armed with sticks, marched in this borough this day, at about two o'clock in the afternoon, apparently making a display of resistance to the payment of the poor-rates. I felt myself called upon, in consequence, to require the aid of the military force, under the command of Major Reid, of the 70th regiment, who promptly attended to my directions. No attempts at riot or disturbance, however, took place, and at this hour, half-past four P.M; I think they have all left the borough, and gone towards their respective districts.—I have, &c. (Signed) "THOS. MEAGHER, Mayor of Waterford. E. Lucas, Esq., Castle. The second document was from the Inspector of police, and was to the following effect:— Waterford, March 13th, 1843. I have to report that about the hour of two P.M., this day, a number of persons, amounting to nearly 1,000, who I am informed attended at a meeting in the barony of Gaultier, in the county of Waterford, from the barony of Middlethird in the same county, and from the county of Kilkenny, marched into this city, with a view of intimidating the authorities, no doubt, and all others favourable to the payment of the poor-rate. They were armed with large sticks and spade-handles, and kept up shouting as they moved through part of the town. This visit took all by surprise. The mayor (Thomas Meagher, Esq.) called out the military, and along with the high sheriff, Sir Benjamin Morris, J.P., and Simon Newport, Esq., J.P. together with the city constabulary, paraded the streets, but the intruders had disappeared before this manifestation could be made. There was no violence committed; a party of the city force is ordered by the magistrates to remain at the poor-house this night for its safety, and I shall keep up strong armed patroles during the night. (Signed) GEORGE WRIGHT, 2d Sub-Inspector. As soon as the Irish Government received this information, it despatched Mr. Fitzgerald, an experienced stipendiary magistrate, in order that he might put himself in communication with the magistrates. That gentleman had no doubt that he should be able to enforce obedience to the law, and he entertained a confident expectation that there would be no further resistance to the poor-law in that district. Another stipendiary magisstrate, upon whom the Irish Government also placed much reliance, had made a similar report, and his Lordship entertained little doubt that the accounts, to which the hon. Member had referred, were much exaggerated. As to the second question, he (Lord Eliot) had great satisfaction in stating, that there was no ground for believing that the report was true. He would not undertake to contradict it, but he would mention that no such distressing account had reached Government, although it had received reports from the immediate neighbourhood.