said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, taking into consideration the alleged conduct of sixteen men of the 12th Lancers, who, on the polling day of the late Election for Waterford, according to the sworn testimony of the officer in command, broke away from his control, and without orders charged along the Quay of Dungarvan, the result being that two persons were killed, one of whom, while standing near the door of his house, was stabbed by one of the soldiers with a lance, as appears by the reported evidence of the coroner's jury—taking this into consideration, Whether he coincides in the opinion expressed by Colonel Sawyer in his Report to the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, that the conduct of the troops at the late Waterford Election was admirable, and that if casualties among the people, however much to be regretted, did occur, they were unavoidable; and whether he considers it necessary there should be a searching investigation into the breach of military discipline resulting in so lamentable a catastrophe?
Sir, I can have no hesitation in saying that if the sixteen men of the 12th Lancers had broken away from the control of their commanding officer, and had charged along the quay of Dungarvan, I should not concur with the opinion that they behaved admirably, but I should consider that further inquiry was necessary. I think I stated before that Colonel Sawyer's official Report was borne out by those of all the officers who commanded detachments on that occasion; and I will read an extract from the official Report of the officer who commanded the detachment alluded to.
The hon. Member has had the good taste not to insert the name in the Question, and I trust he will allow me to adhere to the course he has adopted. The officer says—On crossing the bridge, just before reaching the Court House, the magistrate requested me to bring some men, and clear the corner of the bridge and a portion of the quay. I was in the act of doing so when a mob inside some iron railings hurled some tremendous big stones at the men, and the people on the quay did the same. At this period the conduct of the rioters, a great body of whom had rushed into the shipping, was so violent that my men were, in some cases, obliged, in self- 724 defence, to offer resistance, and if any casualties have occurred among the mob they were (while much to be regretted) entirely unavoidable, considering the circumstances of the case and the active attack made directly upon the troops. I must add that a cross-fire of stones and other missiles was hurled at the troops as they advanced along the quays. It is the firm opinion of myself and the officers under my command that the proceedings of the rioters were the result of a preconcerted organization.As to the evidence given at the inquest> application was made to the officer to know how he reconciled his Report with that evidence, and in his answer he says—Permit me to observe that I adhere to the official Report. I regret extremely that at the inquest, owing to the cross-examination being so entirely different from what I had expected, the exceedingly puzzling way in which questions were put, and my being always stopped when I was about to explain, I became confused, my presence of mind failed me, and I gave irrelevant answers. For instance, when asked 'Did not your troops break away from your control?' I said, 'They did on that occasion,' whereas, 'on that occasion' I was not with them, having left them on the quay to perform the duty the magistrates had ordered through me.The noble Lord commanding the troops in Ireland, Lord Strathnairn, is the best judge as to whether that answer is satisfactory, or if any further military inquiry is necessary. There is another view of the question which it was for the civil authorities to take into consideration.
said, he wished to say, in explanation, that he thought himself justified in putting the Question, because the officer in command of the 12th Lancers swore that the troops did break away from him on the occasion.