HC Deb 14 April 1864 vol 174 cc969-71

said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, By whose directions, and whether upon the recommendation of any Local Magistrate, and whether upon any representations of breaches of the peace committed or apprehended, 150 additional Police were recently ordered to proceed to the town of Lisburn, and there to remain? The right hon. and learned Gentleman read a communication which he had received, in which the writer stated that the inhabitants considered that a great insult had been given to this pre-eminently loyal and peaceful town, and that during the last week a large body of Police was observed patrolling the town as if it were in a state of siege, whereas it was more like one on an ordinary Sunday.


said, in reply, that disturbances were apprehended at Lisburn as the result of the petition against Mr. Verner. The facts were these: —Everybody who knew what the excitement at elections was knew that they sometimes threatened a good deal of disturbance. Well, on the 23rd of March, 1,000 persons, men, women, and children, marched through the town of Lisburn with drums, fifes, shouting, and even the firing of pistols. That, of course, even in a town like Lisburn, created some excitement, and a magistrate of the counties of Down and Antrim on the 30th of March made a solemn declaration that disturbances were to be apprehended. He said that he had just arrived from London, and found a great crowd of people assembled round his house, shouting, "Verner for ever!" "To hell with the petition!" and "To hell with Richardson!" Shots were also fired in the vicinity of that magistrate's house. In the belief that riots would take place, and the reports being that what was called the Vernerite party were very indignant, a request was made to the Government that some assistance should be given; and every sensible person in that part of Ireland thought the Government in granting it acted with prudence and discretion. Accordingly 107 (not 150) of the Police were sent to Lisburn, and they afforded protection to the timid inhabitants of that place. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was wrong in saying the police were retained there. They arrived, he (Sir Robert Peel) believed, on the 4th of April, and were removed on the 11th. Not only did that magistrate of the counties of Down and Antrim make that declaration as to the apprehension that the peace would be broken, but another magistrate in Petty Sessions at Lisburn expressed his belief that the Government exercised a wise discretion in anticipating any probable disturbances. If actual disturbances had taken place, he was sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have been the first to blame the Government for not having provided against their occurrence. He (Sir Robert Peel) was informed by several magistrates in the north of Ireland that they viewed with great satisfaction the course followed by the Government on that occasion.


said, the right hon. Baronet had not answered his question. Was it on the recommendation of any local magistrate that the police were sent to what, according to his knowledge of it, was a peaceful town? What was the name of the gentleman who arrived from London? And was there any breach of the peace in point of fact?


said, there was no breach of the peace in point of fact, because they prevented it. But there was an information sworn to, and a local magistrate did request assistance.


Was there any person "bonnetted?"