HC Deb 17 February 1881 vol 258 cc1089-90

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If the Government are aware that in the county of Donegal 129 magistrates and deputy lieutenants are Protestants, and that only three magistrates are Catholics; that the inhabitants of the county are divided into 178,000 Catholics, and about 30,000 Protestants; whether it is through the Lord Lieutenant that recommendations for the magistracy must come; if the Government, to create a greater confidence amongst the people in the administration of justice, will cause a few Catholics to be appointed to the commission of the peace; and, whether any representations have already been made to the Irish Executive calling their attention to the paucity of Catholic magistrates in Donegal?


Sir, I am not aware of the proportion of magistrates on the Bench in Donegal of the two religious persuasions referred to in the Question. The hon. Member speaks of the number of Catholics and Protestants in the county; but I rather doubt his figures. I think that if accurately stated they would appear thus—165,000 Roman Catholics to 52,000 Protestants of the several denominations. The recommendations for the appointment of magistrates do not come from the Lord Lieutenant. The appointments are made by the Lord Chancellor, on the recommendation of the lord lieutenants of counties. The Lord Chancellor informs me that he has recently appointed a Roman Catholic to the commission of the peace in Donegal. The Lord Chancellor has no power to remove magistrates without reasonable cause. No representations have been made as to the paucity of the Catholic magistrates in Donegal. It is only fair to state that not only the present Lord Chancellor, but his Predecessor, have been as anxious as possible to appoint suitable persons, no matter of what denomination, to the commission of the peace in Ireland.