HC Deb 14 July 1884 vol 290 cc896-7

gave Notice that to-morrow he would ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, What information he had respecting the Orange riots in Cumberland; whether there had been more than one death, and how many persons were dangerously wounded; whether a large number of men had assembled armed with pikes and other weapons; and, what steps had been taken to prevent a collision between the Orangemen and the Catholics?


With the permission of the House, I will answer the hon. Member's Question at once. I have received the following Report from the Chief Constable at Carlisle, dated the 13th of July:— Sir,—I have the honour to report that about 1,500 Orangemen assembled in a field at Wath Brow, near Cleator, at 11 A.M. yesterday, the 12th instant, to hold a meeting by previous arrangement. Speeches were made, and a great deal of excitement existed during the day. The Orange party was armed with pistols, swords, spears, &c. They were dressed in the Orange costume, with flags, banners, and bands of music. Large numbers of the Orangemen were taken to Cleator Moor from Workington and other towns by special train. The Orangemen on their way back to the railway station were hooted by a large crowd of the Roman Catholic party. One of the Orangemen thrust a flag in the faces of some of the crowd, whereupon the crowd, which consisted of about 6,000, rushed in upon the Orange party. Several blows were struck on both sides. The Orange party fired several shots, and struck with their swords and spears. One young man, named Henry Tummilty, aged 17 years, who till recently was a letter carrier at the Cleator Moor Post Office, was shot dead on the spot; six others were wounded seriously by pistol shots. Several others were cut by swords and spears. No further deaths have occurred. The Roman Catholic crowd became furious on hearing of the death of one of their party. They made several attacks on the Orangemen with sticks and stones; many were cut and wounded, but this was after the firing, and the death of Tummilty. The police succeeded in separating the two parties, and by forming lines across the streets the crowd attacking the Orange party were cut off from pursuing them. The Orangemen were at last got to the railway station without further fighting; but while at the station waiting for their train the attack was renewed by large numbers of men and women who had got there by circuitous routes. A body of police were moved on to the railway bridge, from which place the attack was being made. Several shots were fired by the Orange party from the railway station at the attacking party on the bridge, but no persons were wounded there. Two magistrates, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Ainsworth, and 45 officers and constables of police were on duty to do everything that could be done to preserve the peace; and it was entirely owing to their great exertions that a most serious loss of life and destruction of property was prevented. I had previously applied to the Petty Sessions of the district to arrange for a magistrate to be present to read the Riot Act if necessary. The Riot Act was not read, as the peace was restored without resorting to that extreme measure. I was present myself during the latter part of the disturbance, and took command of the police. I kept a large body of men on special duty during the night, as it was feared that the houses of some Orangemen who reside in the district of Cleator would be wrecked; but up to 8 P.M. this evening all is quiet and orderly. That is all the information I have at present.


I would say from the Report that adequate measures were not taken. It appears that only about 50 police were opposed to a large armed party of Orangemen. I beg to give Notice that I shall call attention to the inadequate steps which were taken by the authorities to prevent this collision and loss of life.


Arising out of this Question I beg to give Notice that I will repeat the Question which I have put to the Home Secretary on a former occasion—namely, Whether the Government will not consider the propriety of bringing in a Bill dealing with the possession of revolvers in this country as well as in Ireland?


I would remind the hon. Member that this is not the time for Questions. These are Notices of Motion.