§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether, immediately subsequent to the imprisonment of the blind boy John M'Cracken, by order of the Mayor of Drogheda, for reading the Bible in the street, his father was committed to prison, for fourteen 555 days, without the option of a fine, for expressing his dissatisfaction at the treatment his son received; whether this was done by order of the Mayor; whether the sentence was afterwards erased from the charge book; and, whether the elder M'Cracken has since been suffering from severe illness, and still remains in prison?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH,
in reply, said, when the boy M'Cracken was arrested under the circumstances he had stated the other evening, his father molested the police, assailed them with considerable abuse, and, it was said, took up a stone for the purpose of throwing at them. He was therefore charged before the Mayor, and committed to prison for 14 days. That sentence, he believed, was not afterwards erased from the charge-book; and, after inquiry made of the medical officer whether the prisoner was suffering from severe illness, he was informed that he was suffering from a slight ailment, for which light employment would be beneficial, and that appropriate medicine had been given to him. There was, he believed, a slight error in the conviction. The question had been referred to the Law Officers of the Crown in Dublin; and, of course, if it was found that there had been such an error in the conviction, the prisoner would be released. Neither the prisoner, nor anyone on his behalf, had memorialized the authorities.