HC Deb 10 August 1883 vol 283 cc56-8

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he has caused inquiry to be made into the conduct of the police and magistrates with regard to an outrage committed on Sunday, the 8th ultimo, at Drumcliffe, in the county Sligo, where five young men, members of the Orange Lodge of Sligo, having first indulged in liquor at the house of a publican named Adams, marched along the highway, wearing Orange sashes, shouted abuse of "Papists" in front of the Catholic Chapel, cursed the Pope, and pursued and fired at a young man named Denis Tighe, a Catholic; why the police allowed, or have not sought to punish, the breach of the Sunday Closing Act which led to this disorder and violence; why Constable Craig, the Constable in charge of the locality, omitted to report the facts to his superiors until after they had been published in the "Sligo Champion" of the 14th instant, six days after the occurrence, when it was no longer possible to conceal them; why Constable Craig, in the summons, charged the act of firing off a revolver at a person as merely a Road Nuisance Offence; why, instead of summoning the five offenders as defendants he summoned two of them as witnesses; why he summoned the man fired at as a defendant, not as a witness; and, why he refrained from summoning several eye-witnesses who could have given conclusive evidence; what notice will be taken of the conduct of Constable Craig; whether the three magistrates who heard the case at Sligo, on the 20th ultimo, dismissed it without prejudice, although several witnesses directly identified the defendants, though the only evidence for the defence was that of two men who had been themselves abettors of the disorderly proceedings, and though the Chairman characterised the "whole affair" as "disgraceful;" and, whether, considering the nature of the evidence, as well as the manner in which the case was managed and presented by Constable Craig, the Government will now order the arrest of all the offenders, and the renewal of proceedings against them?


I am informed that a party of young men returning from an Orange meeting at Drumcliffe entered a public-house and had some refreshment. There was no breach of the Licensing Laws, as they were bonâ fide travellers. They subsequently met on the road another party, and a row ensued. Two shots were fired, the Orange party allege from behind a hedge, while the Roman Catholic party allege that they were fired by the Orangemen. The constable followed the usual course of reporting the matter to the district Resident Magistrate and taking his directions. All the parties were summoned, and the evidence was so contradictory that the magistrates could come to no decision, and dismissed both sides without prejudice. [Laughter from the Irish Members.] I assure the hon. Members that both sides swore extremely determined. I will not say there was hard swearing, as it would imply that one side have sworn truly and the other side untruly. Every effort is being made to obtain further evidence, and if the charge of firing shots or carrying firearms can be brought home to anyone, they will be made amenable.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say why the men were not arrested and searched to see whether they had firearms in their possession?


I wish to ask whether the houses of these parties were searched for firearms?


said, the houses of the Orange party had been searched, but no firearms found.