HC Deb 19 August 1887 vol 319 cc1094-7
MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, after the firing at Ballymena Station, on Sunday the 7th August, by the National Foresters' Excursion Party, the police in Belfast were informed by telegraph of the occurrence; and, whether, after this, the police in Belfast made any attempt to disarm those in possession of revolvers; and, if not, who is responsible for this, and the consequent retention of fire-arms by the National Foresters?

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

also asked, whether, previous to the passage of the first excursion train, containing the Irish National Foresters, through Ballymena on 7th August, the station was, with the exception of a few policeman, entirely cleared; whether shots, beginning at the third carriage from the locomotive and proceeding from all the other carriages, were fired at a number of people who were on their way to church, on the road at the railway bridge, resulting in the injuries which have been reported; whether, thereupon, remonstrances were immediately made at the railway station, in reply to which assurances were given that telegraphic instructions would at once be sent to Belfast, to have those who fired from the train made amenable; and, if so, by whom were these assurances given; and, if by the police, were they carried out at once; whether a strong body of police were drawn up at the railway station at Belfast; whether Town Inspector Cameron had charge of the police arrangements there; and, if not, who had; whether he, or any other Constabulary official in Belfast, received intimation of the occurrences at Ballymoney and Ballymena; and, what action, if any, was taken in consequence?

THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY (Colonel KING-HARMAN) (Kent, Isle of Thanet) (who replied)

said: I am informed that when the first train arrived at Ballymena there was only one policeman on the platform. A few stones had been thrown at the train before it reached Ballymena, where shots were fired from the train, as stated, at a number of people, some of whom were returning from church. No remonstrances were made at the station immediately afterwards; but the stationmaster telegraphed to Belfast, and this telegram Head Constable Murdoch heard of when on his way to, and about a quarter of a mile from, the station at Belfast. He at once sent word to his officers -who were in charge of the police arrangements at various points in the town, and just as he himself arrived at the station the train came in. There was no force of police at the station; and it would have been impossible to have collected such a force in time to search the train with 500 excursionists. The police appear to have done all in their power. The day was Sunday. The telegraph office at Ballymena was closed, and a message which the police succeeded in getting transmitted by the railway wire was not delivered to the Belfast police until long after the train had arrived.


asked the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, whether he would consider the expediency of proclaiming this Association as a dangerous Association under the Criminal Law Amendment Act?


said, he was afraid not.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

wished to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, whether the disturbances, the details of which he had just quoted, occurred subsequent to a wanton attack made on the excursionists by a mob of men from a distance; whether the excursionists had given previous notice of their excursion to the police; and, whether the Government would consider the propriety of holding an inquiry into all the facts of the case?


, said, there seemed to be a certain amount of rough conduct on both sides at Portrush. A certain number of police had been guarding a tramway at Portrush for the purpose of preserving order. He concluded from the fact of the police having been in such force at Portrush that notice of the excursion had been received by the police and duly acted on. Her Majesty's Government did not see any reason for granting an investigation into the matter.


wished to get a frank and clear answer from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on this point. Did this disturbance originate, or did it not, in an attack made upon the excursionists by a mob of men who went to Portrush from Coleraine for the purpose?


desired to ask, whether or not it was a fact that the only persons charged with riotous conduct at Ballymena before the magistrates belonged to the excursion party?


said, he had no information as to the persons who were charged; but there was no firing until after they left Careysford Station. It appeared that the excursionists took in a large quantity of liquor at Portrush; and probably it was beginning to tell after they left Careysford Station.


said, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had not touched his question. The question he asked was this—Whether this body of excursionists, having given notice to the police of their excursion to Portrush, on their arrival at Portrush were attacked by a mob of men who came many miles from another town for the purpose?

[No reply.]

Cries of "Answer" from the Irish Benches.


He has no answer.


Order, order!