HC Deb 17 March 1885 vol 295 cc1432-4

asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whether, on the trial of the Orangemen, Mitchell Beatty and M'Williams, at Armagh Assizes, charged with having caused the death of Francis Hughes, a Catholic, the petty jury consisted of eleven Protestants and one Catholic, who from his name was believed by the Crown officials to be a Protestant; whether the jury found the accused guilty of "common assault;" whether Mr. Kilkelly, the Crown Solicitor, on the calling of the jury directed Mr. John O'Hare, of Catherine Street, Newry, an extensive building contractor, and by religion a Catholic, to stand aside; whether as Mr. O'Hare resides at a considerable distance from the scene of the occurrence, and as he had no connection with any of the parties, there was any exception to him except his religion; and, whether the Crown Solicitor of county Armagh has received instructions to exclude all Catholics from juries, or whether in doing so he is acting on his own responsibility; and, if the latter, is his conduct approved?


The Crown Solicitor informs me that he does not know, and made no inquiries about the religious persuasion of any of the jurors in the case referred to in the Question. The jury found two of the accused guilty of a common assault. Mr. Kilkelly did direct Mr. O'Hare to stand aside, not on account of his religion, of which he had no knowledge, but because he was a licensed vintner. The Crown Solicitor has no such instructions as are referred to in the last paragraph. I may add he is himself a Roman Catholic.


asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been drawn to the observations of Mr. Justice Johnson at Armagh Assizes on the 11th March, on the trial of Thomas Mitchell, Robert Beatty, and Henry M'Williams, charged with an assault on Francis Hughes which caused the death of said Francis Hughes, wherein the judge said that— If the grand jury had the evidence before them which had been given in that Court, it was a proper case for them to find a bill for manslaughter, which observations are reported in The Belfast News Letter of the 12th March; whether the grand jury found a bill for assault only; and, whether the grand jury had before them all the evidence for the prosecution given on the trial; and, if not, why was not the evidence produced?


Mr. Justice Johnson made the observation referred to in the Question in answer to an argument of the prisoner's counsel. The grand jury found bills for grievous and common assault against the three accused. They had before them all the witnesses who were examined for the prosecution at the trial.