HC Deb 10 March 1887 vol 311 cc1727-8
MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)

asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether the Jury Panel of the County Monaghan for this year was increased 50 per cent over that of last year; whether this increase was made by order of any Law Officer of the Crown, or by the Sheriff on his own responsibility; why was the Panel so increased; whether it is true that an Orangeman named Girvan was placed upon trial on Monday last, at the Monaghan Assizes, charged with the murder of a Catholic named Murphy; whether, when empanelling a Jury to try this man, the counsel for the Crown ordered every Catholic juror called to stand aside, and had 12 Protestants, many of whom are Orangemen, sworn to try the case; and, whether the jury so empanelled promptly acquitted Girvan?


The Jury Panel consisted of 150 names at the last Monaghan Assizes, as compared with 100 in the summer. The increase was not directed by any Law Officer; but I understand at the Summer Assizes there were complaints on the part of the Crown—there represented by the late Solicitor General—as to the attendance of jurors being insuffi- cient, and this may have suggested to the Sheriff to enlarge the Panel. George Girvan, a Protestant, was charged with the manslaughter of a Catholic named Murphy and acquitted. The Crown Solicitor did not know the religion either of the jurors empanelled or of those directed to "stand by," nor whether any of them were Orangemen. He directed five jurors in all to "stand by," on the sole grounds that they were residents in the town were the alleged crime occurred, and might, therefore, be affected by local prejudice. Of these, he has since ascertained that two were Catholics and three Protestants. I may add that, having read the informations, I am not surprised at the verdict; nor does it, in my opinion, suggest that the jury acted in any way improperly. The prosecuting counsel were the ordinary Crown counsel upon Circuit, Mr. Kisbey, Q.C., and Mr. Shaw.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

I would like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as he is not surprised at the acquittal, who directed the prosecution?


said, the prosecution was directed by his Predecessor; but he might add if the depositions had come before him he should have directed it also. The hon. and learned Member must be under very strange ideas as regards directing prosecutions, if he supposed the Attorney General confined himself to directing prosecutions in cases where he believed that a conviction would follow.


asked whether it was not the fact that the Grand Jury were largely composed of Orangemen?


said, the bill was found by the Grand Jury long before he became Attorney General for Ireland, and he knew nothing whatever of the circumstances. With regard to directing jurors to "stand by," he was informed by the Crown Solicitor of his intention to direct any jurors resident in Monaghan to "stand by;" and, so far as his means and his knowledge enabled him to do so, he carried that out.