§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant 448 of Ireland, Whether, on the 19th November last, the constabulary at Ennistymon, county Clare, having arrested for drunkenness a man named Michael Cunningham, found upon him a loaded revolver, for which he had no licence; whether, after repeated adjournments, a prosecution instituted by the local Excise officer against Cunningham, for carrying the weapon without an Excise licence, was dismissed on the 24th ultimo, the presiding Justices, Mr. H. V. M'Namara and Mr. Thomas Lucas, explaining their decision by the statement that the case was peculiar, and that there was a point of Law involved as to which they could procure no direction from the authorities in Dublin; whether the same Justices have in several recent cases inflicted penalties upon poor farmers and herdsmen for having weapons required for the care of their farms and sheep, and did not in any such case apply for or await direction from Dublin Castle; what steps will be taken to apply the Law in the case of the bailiff Cunningham; and, whether the conduct of the Justices will be taken into consideration?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
, in reply, said, the facts were as stated in the first two paragraphs of the Question, except Cunningham had a licence under the Peace Preservation Act. The point of law occurred at the first hearing of the case, and was raised by the Resident Magistrate. The matter was referred to Dublin; but, as there was no person there to give an opinion, the magistrates at last acted on their own view and dismissed the case. The Inland Revenue informed him that it was their intention to appeal in the case to the Quarter Sessions; but, owing to some irregularity, the appeal had to be withdrawn. Since then four persons had been fined at the same Petty Sessions for breaches of the Gun Licences Act; but the Bench on those occasions was not constituted as in the case referred to in the Question.