HC Deb 14 July 1884 vol 290 cc913-4

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If the election of a Poor Law guardian for Shillelagh Union was declared void, as the result of an inquiry held in June 1883; whether, on that occasion, the Local Government Board considered that the returning officer did not take sufficient trouble to inform himself, and "cautioned him that he must discharge his duties with more care in future;" whether it is the fact that the same returning officer in the elections this year received a greater number of votes in favour of the Conservative candidates for Tinahely and Ballinglen than he should have done; whether he is aware that, at the counting of votes for the new elections rendered necessary by the conduct of the returning officer, that officer refused to allow professional assistance to Mr. E. J. Byrne, the popular candidate, and when Mr. Byrne's solicitor appeared adjourned the proceedings, although he handed in a written protest against the adjournment, offering to withdraw from the Board room if the business was proceeded with; and, what course he, as Chairman of the Local Government Board, will take in the matter?


So far as this Question relates to the election of 1883, and to the original election in the present year, I have already more than once answered it, and explained that although there was some error on the part of the Returning Officer, there was no reason to doubt that he acted in good faith. With regard to the adjournment of the casting up of the votes at the recent supplemental election, the facts are that a solicitor attended on behalf of the candidate on one side, and the opposing candidate applied for an adjournment to afford him time to procure legal assistance also. The Returning Officer complied with this application, because he considered that professional representation on one side only would be calculated to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duty. In adopting this course the Returning Officer exercised a discretion which is vested in him by the rules governing such elections, and the Local Government Board see no reason to think that he exercised it unfairly.