HC Deb 28 June 1878 vol 241 cc448-9

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If in Ballinasloe the houses of Mr. Matthew Harris, and of Mr. Michael O'Sullivan, were visited by police at 3 a.m. on the 14th June, and a search made for arms; whether at the time of this search Mr. Harris had a licence to keep and to carry arms in an adjoining district; whether at the same time a search was made for documents in the above houses; and, if so, whether instructions were given that private documents and business letters should be examined by an ordinary constable; if the persons who supplied the information on which the search warrants were issued by the Lords Justices had made known to the Lords Justices the facts that Mr. Harris was secretary to a tenant's association, and had lately in that capacity been summoned to give evidence before a Committee of this House now sitting on the land question; if the Lords Justices were not so informed, can he state if any explanation has been assigned why these facts, notorious in the district, were not brought under their notice when their signatures were obtained; and, whether the police were instructed to inspect on the warrant granted any strictly legal communications addressed to Mr. Harris in his capacity as secretary or as a witness before a Committee of this House on the land question?


Sir, although the hon. and gallant Gentleman kindly gave me private Notice on Monday night of his intention to ask this Question yesterday, I am sorry to be unable as yet to give him an answer, and must ask him to be so good as to postpone it till a later day. As I was obliged to adopt a similar course with regard to a Question of a like kind put to me the other day by his hon. Colleague (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who appeared to be unaware of the necessity for what occurred, I wish to explain how matters stand with reference to such Questions. I forwarded the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Question to Dublin by Tuesday's post, and I yesterday received by return of post a reply, to the effect that it had been found necessary to call for a special Report from the local constabulary respecting some of the details inquired about; which, of course, involves a delay of a few days, but I hope I shall receive it on Monday. I mention these facts, because hon. Members may not always realize that such a course is unavoidable in cases where a reference is called for to distant places for information which can only be supplied upon the spot.