HC Deb 17 November 1884 vol 293 cc1825-6

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has been drawn to certain proceedings of Justices at Bailieborough (county Cavan) Petty Sessions on the 16th September and the 21st October last; whether, on the former date, two Justices, Robert Gibson and Thomas Chambers, both Protestants, heard a case in which a Protestant named James Jones charged four Catholics named Caffrey, Finegan, Halfpenny, and Ward with waylaying and beating him; and, although it was proved by a witness for the prosecution that Jones had first challenged Caffrey, struck him, and knocked him down, and that a fight had ensued between Caffrey and Jones, the others merely looking on, the Justices sentenced Caffrey to a month's imprisonment with hard labour, and the three spectators to a fortnight each; whether, on the same occasion, the Justices fined the Catholics brought before them for drunkenness ten shillings each, and the Protestants only half-a-crown, even in a case where it was proved the defendant had kicked the police; whether, on the 21st ultimo, Messrs. Chambers and Gibson, Justices, both Protestants, a young man named Keating, a Catholic, charged five men—one of them, James Hunter, a Protestant—with beating him; and, after the complainant had testified against the five men, Mr. Gibson, J.P. suggested to the accused man, Hunter, that he might have held Keating "only to save him," and this suggestion being adopted by Hunter, the evidence of the complainant was rejected, and, on the evidence of Hunter, one of the other men named Gogarty was committed and sent to prison for a month; and, whether the Lord Chancellor will cause inquiry to be had into these proceedings, and will examine the condition of the magistracy in the county Cavan, and particularly in the petty sessions districts of Bailieborough, Shercock, Kingscourt, Mullagh, and Virginia, in which there is not one Catholic Justice of the Peace?


I have received from the police authorities a full account of the proceedings at Bailieborough Petty Sessions on the occasion of the hearing of the cases re ferred to. I am unwilling to trespass upon the time of the House by entering into details of the cases; but I can assure the hon. Member that the result shows no ground for imputing sectarian partiality to the Bench, or for any reference to the Lord Chancellor as to the conduct of the magistrates. As to the composition of the Magistracy of the county of Cavan, it is engaging the attention of the Lord Chancellor; and I may mention that of nine magistrates appointed by his Lordship five are Roman Catholic gentlemen.