HC Deb 28 July 1887 vol 318 cc348-50

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it is true, as stated in The Irish Times of the 25th instant, that at Wexford on Saturday night last a mob of some 3,000 persons assembled to meet two prisoners being brought under escort to gaol, for having taken a violent part at the recent evictions at Coolgreany; whether they stoned the escort during their passage to the gaol; whether one constable was killed, leaving a widow and a number of children; and, whether he has any information as to the cause of this unfortunate incident?

MR. J. E. REDMOND (Wexford,N.)

Before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman answers that Question, I beg to put a supplemental Question, which is this—Whether subsequent inquiries have not proved that the death of the policeman was purely accidental, and whether he has read the report of the evidence given by the prison doctor at the Coroner's inquest? [The hon. Gentleman then quoted the evidence in question.] He would also ask, whether the jury did not return a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony, which was that death was duo to disease of the heart and congestion of the brain; and whether Judge Harrison, in opening the Assizes on Tuesday last in Wexford, said— It was at first reported that a constable met his death on that occasion; but that, I am happy to say, was an erroneous report?


Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is now making a counter statement to establish a different state of facts; but he has not yet heard the answer of the Minister to the original Question.


I will then ask that an answer to the first Question be given.


(who replied) said, he thought his answer might obviate any further Questions on this subject. He had not read the whole of the documents to which the hon. Member referred; but he had read sufficient to enable him to give an answer to this Question. The Constabulary authorities represented that it was a fact that a large number of persons assembled on the night mentioned to meet the prisoners who were being brought from Coolgreany. It was reported that some shouting and rowdyism and stone throwing occurred. A constable named James Riley, who was standing in front of the gaol, fell down, and he was picked up dead. There was no evidence that he was struck by a stone, and there was no mark of violence except a mark on the head caused by the fall. The medical evidence showed that death was caused by heart disease and congestion of the brain. The constable was a married man; but he (Colonel King-Harman) was unable to say how many children he had left.


I would like to supplement the answer given by asking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether it is not a fact that a year and a half ago this man had an attack of heart disease; and whether, on this day, he was not on duty from 7 o'clock in the morning till 10 at night; and whether the authorities will take into consideration the desirability of granting some allowance to the family?


said, he had no information as to whether the constable had a previous attack of heart disease. He might add that the family of the constable would be looked after, as suggested by the hon. Member.