HC Deb 04 March 1886 vol 302 cc1892-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the conduct of Mr. Joseph D. Grier, clerk of the Cavan Poor Law Board, in connection with the coming election of Poor Law Guardians for that Union; whether it is the fact that the Nationalist ratepayers of the Union, having lodged a large number of claims to vote, Mr. Grier, acting as returning officer, has issued an advertisement in local papers (Anglo-Celt of the 20th instant) requiring "documentary evidence in support of all claims to vote" lodged since the last election; what powers a returning officer has to require "documentary" evidence in support of claims to vote, such claims being in many cases, from their nature, incapable of being so supported; whether he is aware that the medium of advertisement selected as a substitute for direct communication is one which is exceedingly unlikely to come under the notice of a large proportion of the claimants; whether it is the fact that a large number of the claimants live at considerable distances, in some cases as much as ten miles, from the board room where Mr. Grier proposes to hold his court, and would be put to great inconvenience by being compelled needlessly to attend there; whether it is the fact that Mr. Grier's action is entirely without precedent; whether the proceeding in question is taken under the 6 and 7 Vic. c. 92, s. 26; and, if so, whether that enactment, being limited to particular cases in which a returning officer "has reasonable cause to doubt the correctness of any claim to vote," the Local Government Board will direct Mr. Grier to abandon his proposed general court of inquiry, and to issue voting papers to all claimants except in particular cases in which doubt has been thrown on the correctness of any claim, and the claimant, after notice directly given, has failed to satisfy him; whether he is aware that a returning officer at Poor Law elections exercises in many cases judicial functions involving the impartial determination of difficult questions both of law and fact; whether he is aware that Mr. Grier is a member of the Orange Association, and is in the habit of appearing in the regalia of that body at public party demonstrations; is also a land agent, the assistant secretary of the Cavan Defence Union, and member of a Local Landlord Anti-Nationalist Association; and, whether, if so, the Local Government Board intend to continue him in the position of returning officer?


in reply, said that Mr. Grier published the notice referred to; and he did so in consequence of the large number of claims lodged since last year by both political Parties. The Local Government Board have pointed out that ho was wrong in taking that course. The Local Government Board consider that Mr. Grier committed an error of judgment in the matter. Nothing appears against him in the records of the Department during the 15 years he had acted as Clerk and Returning Officer, and they had no ground for supposing that he was unfit for the latter office.


Is it a fact that he acted in a similar manner last year?

[No reply.]