§ MR. SEXTON
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention has been drawn to certain proceedings in the Enniskillen Petty Sessions Court on Monday last, reported in The Freeman's Journal of the following day; whether Mr. Charles Irvine, a solicitor practising in the Court, addressing the magistrates present, among whom was the Rev. J. B. Frith, the plaintiff in the recent libel action against Mr. William Trimble, referred to the evidence on that trial of Captain M'Ternan, R.M., a resident magistrate acting in that Court, and present at the moment, as "a foul aspersion" upon the character of others of the magistrates present, and proceeded to read an address, signed by himself and five other solicitors, also practising in that Court, which described the evidence of Captain M'Ternan on the trial in questionas "an extraordinary and unfounded charge of partiality and corruption against his brother magistrates," as "a wanton slander," and as "a gross attack," and condemned Captain M'Ternan for having made a groundless statement; whether Captain M'Ternan and Colonel Boulley, the other resident magistrate present, left the Court when Mr. Irvine described the evidence of the former as "a foul aspersion on the character of other magistrates; "whether, of the six solicitors who signed the address, one is the private solicitor of the Rev. J. B. Frith himself, two others appeared for the accused Orangemen on the 28th of January last, when the Rev. Mr. Frith and his colleagues made the decisions 1783 which provoked the strictures of The Fermanagh Reporter, and two others have only been admitted to the profession within the last few months, while the sixth lives in another county; whether he is aware that several of the solicitors and most of the magistrates concerned. in this affair are members of the Joint Stock Company which owns The Fermanagh Times, the local paper opposed in politics to that edited by Mr. William Trimble, the defendant in the libel action brought by the Rev. Mr. Frith; and, what steps will be taken to mark the sense of the Government in regard to what has occurred, and to protect Captain M'Tornan in the discharge of his duty?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, I have watched this case with great interest from its commencement. Although this Question touches upon more than one matter as to which the Government cannot be expected to have any official information, I may say that I believe the facts to be, for the most part, as stated. The last paragraph only calls for a more definite reply from me. As to that, Captain M'Ternan informs me that he is quite confident that the law is sufficient to enable him to protect himself in the discharge of his duty. With regard to the circumstances connected with the reception of the address, the proceeding appears to have been indiscreet; and at a future time, when the case is disposed of, should any further disposition of the kind be manifested, the Government will be prepared to state what stops they will take with regard to it.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he would also ask the right hon. Gentleman, If his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Earl of Erne, Lieutenant of the county of Fermanagh, has summoned a meeting of the magistrates of that county, to be held in the Courthouse, Enniskillen, on Thursday next, for the purpose of considering the evidence of Captain M'Ternan, resident magistrate, at the Londonderry Assizes, in the case of Frith v. Trimble; whether the case of Frith v. Trimble is still sub judice, the judge who tried the case having respited execution of the verdict obtained by the defendant until the first day of next sittings, to enable the plaintiff to carry out his declared intention to move for a new trial; whether, considering the 1784 feeling provoked in county Fermanagh by the circumstances of the case of Frith v. Trimble, the Irish Government regard the meeting convened by Lord Erne as coming within the category contemplated by section ten of the Crimes Prevention Act; and, whether, if the meeting be permitted, the Irish Government will send official note-takers to be present and to record the proceedings, and will take into consideration the propriety of prosecuting all such persons as may identity themselves with those proceedings, under section seven of the Crimes Prevention Act, for endeavouring to intimidate a witness in consequence of evidence given in a Court of Justice, and in a case, moreover, at present pending?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I am glad, Sir, to be able to inform the hon. Member that the meeting is not going to be hold.