§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (for Mr. SEXTON)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he has made inquiry as to a case in which £60 was awarded to a man named Reiley at the Spring Assizes at Trim, for burning of hay; whether his original claim for £90 was passed at Presentment Sessions, but, on hearing that the ratepayers were holding a meeting to arrange a traverse of the presentment, he went to the meeting and offered to lower the claims from £90 to £50, if they consented not to oppose it, but the ratepayers declined the offer, and instructed counsel to oppose the claim at the Assizes; whether the hay had been burned at mid-day, in a field beside the town of Navan, where a number of men were at work, and the ratepayers' counsel produced before the Grand Jury evidence that the hay had been accidentally set on fire by children, and that Reiley, when he saw it burning, had said—"To —— with it; I will be well paid for it;" whether the Grand Jury gave no heed to the evidence for the ratepayers, and awarded Reiley £60, being £10 more than he had offered to take; whether the ratepayers then arranged to traverse the presentment, and have the case heard, according to usage, before the Judge of Assize and a Jury; 133 brought up their witnesses from Navan to Trim, and made all due preparation for the hearing of the case, but the Judge, Chief Justice Morris, returning to the Bench from luncheon with the Grand Jury, asked them if they had heard the case, and, on receiving an affirmative reply, declined to listen to anything on behalf of the ratepayers, and immediately confirmed the award; whether the Judge was authorised by Law to take such a course; and, what means of redress are open to the ratepayers who contested the presentment?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, I am informed that Laurence Reiley gave notice of his intention to claim compensation, and his application for £90 was passed by the Presentment Sessions without any objection. Subsequently, at a meeting of the ratepayers it was decided to oppose the claim before the Grand Jury, unless it was reduced to £50. Reiley was present at the meeting, and it did not appear that he consented to accept the amount. The hay was burned at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and it was alleged that there was evidence that it had been set fire to by children. The Grand Jury, after hearing the evidence on both sides, reduced the award to £60. It was a fact that the ratepayers decided to traverse the presentment before the Assizes; but the Judge, after hearing all the circumstances, refused to allow the traverse. He was informed that the discretion of withholding or allowing permission to proceed with the traverse lay entirely with the Judge. The matter was now closed, and no further proceedings would be instituted.