HC Deb 15 February 1881 vol 258 cc884-6

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it is a fact that on the 16th of August 1380 Margaret Cashin, aged fourteen years, and Mary Cashin, aged nineteen years, both of Shanbough, co. Kilkenny, were taken by the police, without summons or warrant, and convoyed to New Ross, where they wore privately examined by Mr. George Bolton, Crown Solicitor, in reference to the murder of Mr. Charles Daniel Boyd; whether they were kept in a hotel in New Boss for four days, and then conveyed in charge of the police to Kilkenny, where on the 21st of August they swore informations before the magistrates, and were duly bound over to appear and give evidence at the assizes on the trial of the persons charged with the said murder; whether they asked at Kilkenny to be allowed to return to their homos, but were refused; whether they were kept in Kilkenny for a fortnight and then removed, still in charge of the police, to Dublin; whether they were detained in Dublin, although their father, through his solicitor, had formally demanded their release, until on the 16th of September the constable who had charge of them was served with a conditional order for a writ of habeas corpus; whether they were then released and sent home on the 17th of September, having been for thirty-two days detained in the custody of the police; and, whether, if these statements are true, he will inform the House upon what grounds those proceedings were permitted or sanctioned? MR. W. E. FORSTER: Sir, the hon. Member really asks me, not one, but seven Questions; and, consequently, I must be pardoned if my answer is somewhat long. I have received a Report from the authorities of the district on the subject. It states that they had reason to suppose that a number of residents in the neighbourhood of where the murder was committed could give material evidence with reference to the occurrence; and amongst others were two young women, Margaret and Mary Cashin. Their evidence was taken down by the Crown Solicitor; and he, finding it to be important, and believing that considerable excitement was prevalent in the neighbourhood, and that much hostility was felt against witnesses in the case, he thought it necessary, in the interests of justice, that they should be protected from intimidation or the risk of being tampered with; and he accordingly expressed a wish that they should be conveyed to a respectable hotel in New Boss, until they, with the others, were conveyed to Kilkenny, where the magisterial investigation was held, when they swore depositions and were bound over to prosecute. It is not a fact that these young women asked, when at Kilkenny, that they should be permitted to return home and were refused. I do not know how long they remained at Kilkenny; but the committal of the prisoners for trial having considerably increased the excitement with respect to the witnesses rendered it still more necessary that they should be protected, and an order was issued that they should be sent in charge of the Constabulary to Dublin, to remain there until the trial; and this was done as soon as arrangements could be made. They remained in Dublin, voluntarily, with a married sub-constable and his wife till September 13, when their father called and asked that they should be allowed to return homo. The matter was referred to the sub-inspector in charge of the district, who, on the following day, wrote an order to the effect that the girls should at once leave with their father if be should call for them again. The sub-inspector added—"It is to be clearly understood that these people are not to be detained against their will." However, the father did not call again; and as they afterwards expressed a wish themselves to go home, arrangements were made, and they were sent to their father on the 17th September. The necessity for protecting witnesses in this case is shown by the fact that both at Kilkenny and Now Ross witnesses were assaulted in a violent manner for giving evidence, and, but for the protection afforded them by the Constabulary, would have been seriously injured.


asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he can state if these girls were taken into custody before it was known they could give any evidence at all; whether it is a fact that they were detained in custody after it had been found that their evidence was quite immaterial; and, whether they are ready to state on affidavit that they were detained against their will?


I think after the hon. Gentleman has put seven Questions to me, he ought not to put further ones.