HC Deb 19 April 1883 vol 278 cc624-5

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the papers and documents, the property of Mr. Matthew Harris, seized by sub-inspector Joyce and a party of police constables at Ballinasloe, seventeen days since, have been yet restored to Mr. Harris; and, if not, why they have been detained so long, and when they will be restored; why the search and seizure in question were undertaken and conducted by sub-inspector Joyce, of Ballinaslce, without the knowledge and sanction of his superior officer County Inspector Byrne, who is quartered in the same town; whether, as the search of Mr. Harris's papers was carried on at the same moment in different parts of his house, by a number of constables of police, and as the papers were removed, before they were fully examined, from under the control of Mr. Harris, the sub-inspector refusing to allow him to take any precaution by which he might afterwards identify them, the Irish Government will undertake, for the due protection of persons whose papers may be searched, that the search is so carried on as to allow the owner of the papers to observe the entire proceeding, that the owner may be allowed to put some distinguishing mark on any papers removed from his custody, and that time maybe allowed him, before the search begins, to summon a legal or other friend to his assistance; and, whether the letter referred to by the Eight honourable Gentleman as "bearing upon the charge of murder," was the same letter read by Mr. Henderson, Crown Solicitor, at an investigation in Galway Gaol on the 10th instant; and whether, if so, he adheres to his former description of a letter applying for a grant of money in aid of the defence of certain newspaper reporters accused of not leaving the scene of a prohibited public meeting when ordered by a magistrate to do so?


The papers have not been returned to Mr. Harris. The fullest inquiries have been proceeding since they were seized, and it is now considered probable that none of them will be returned. Search-warrants are addressed to execute them without previously informing their county Inspectors. Instructions have been given to the police to prevent, as far as possible, any inconvenience being on the occasion of searches or the removal of papers further than is necessary; but I cannot give any undertaking such as is sought for in the third paragraph of the Question. With regard to the documents seized on this occasion, I must respectfully decline at present, in the interests of justice, to enter into any specific details with regard to any of them.