HC Deb 15 August 1887 vol 319 cc476-8

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he has received further information as to the parties implicated in the use of missiles and fire-arms by the excursionists returning from Portrush to Belfast on the 7th; whether it is true that at Ballymoney there were any attacks, or signs of hostility, against the excursionists displayed by the people gathered at the station, or along the railroad line; whether a man named Crawford, a spectator, was struck with a bullet fired from the excursion train, and was saved from great injury by its coming in contact with a copper coin in his pocket; whether there was one Head Constable, two acting sergeants, and six constables (the whole force in barracks at the time excepting one) stationed along the railway on either side of the station; and, whether at Portrush there was any firing reported by the police as having come from any party but the excursionists?


The police report that at Ballymoney there were no attacks made by the people on the excursionists. The people were inclined to stone the train, but were prevented by the police. The excursionists fired several shots, apparently without any provocation, and Crawford was hit on the thigh, but not injured. I am not aware to what his escape from injury was due. There were 11 policemen posted at the station. The excursionists alone used fire-arms at Portrush. They fired there about six shots in all; but no one was injured.

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that a telegram was sent to the Constabulary in Belfast from Ballymoney, or Ballymena, stating that this armed outrage had occurred; and whether there had been any search made of the excursionists on their arrival in Belfast?

MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether it was a fact that the excursionists were first attacked at Portrush; whether on their way to Portrush they took off their sashes lest they might give offence; whether it was a fact that before they came to Ballymena stones were placed across the line for the purpose of throwing the second train, which contained a large number of excursionists, off the line, and that when they came to Belfast they were attacked there; and whether he was aware that one person was arrested, and sentenced to two months' imprisonment for attacking them?


said, he would require Notice of the hon. Member's (Mr. Johnston's) Question, as he did not know what occurred as regards the police in Belfast. As regards the Question put by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. M'Cartan), it was true, apparently, that some provocation had been given at Portrush to the excursionists; but there was no provocation offered which would be sufficient to justify them in firing shots, which was the method by which the excursionists apparently replied. There was an attempt made to upset the second train; but the attempt was frustrated by the vigilance of the police. The attempt was not made until the mob became excited, not unnaturally, by the unprovoked firing from the train upon them at places where they had not given any provocation whatever to the excursionists.


asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether he had any objection in this case to grant an inquiry into the origin of the attacks, and all the circumstances connected with them; and whether he was aware that the Catholics of Belfast desired that the fullest investigation should be held into the whole matter?


said, the Orange Party were also most anxious that the fullest inquiry should be held.


said, that, so far as he knew, there were no matters connected with these occurrences which, remained in doubt; and therefore he did not know whether anything could be gained by an inquiry. There were, obviously, faults on both sides; but he was bound to say that the excursionists were far more in fault than the others.