HC Deb 22 February 1884 vol 284 cc1719-20

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he has observed that certain deputy lieutenants and magistrates of the county Rosscommon have joined in a public declaration condemning the removal of Lord Rossmore from the Commission of the Peace, and that they say— We cannot recognise the justice of the dictum that it is the duty of magistrates to abstain from being present on occasions when breaches of the peace are likely to take place; whether the dictum of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland as to the duty of magistrates when parties organise a counter-meeting, and bring their forces into close proximity with a meeting not prohibited, was in the following terms:— A magistrate assigned to preserve the peace ought not to take any part in such a proceeding. His duty is either to be absent altogether, or only to be present as an impartial person to aid the constituted authorities in preserving the peace; and, whether the deputy' lieutenants and magistrates in question will be informed that they have misrepresented the dictum of the Lord Chancellor, and whether they will be obliged, as a matter of duty, to conform to it?


There is some obsecurity about that part of the Resolution which is quoted. It is undoubtedly the duty of a magistrate to aid in suppressing breaches of the peace, and he is there to act impartially; but if the Resolution is to be taken as referring to the dictum laid down in the Lord Chancellor's letter to Sir John Leslie on the duty of magistrates, I am in a position to state, on the authority of the Lord Chancellor, that if any magistrates were to act contrary to the view of the law as therein stated, they would not be considered by the Lord Chancellor as fit persons to hold any longer Her Majessy's Commission of the Peace.