HC Deb 06 September 1887 vol 320 cc1511-4

Postponed Resolution [2nd September] again read; (1.) "That a sum, not exceeding £38,508, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland, including certain Allowances under the Act 15 and 16 Vic. c. 83.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


This Resolution has been postponed to the present time to allow us to bring forward matters of urgency in regard to administration in Ireland. I object to proceeding at this hour unless the right hon. Gentleman will promise that he will not immediately step in and stop discussion. If he should desire a further postponement I should be well pleased.


We desire that the Resolution should be taken this evening. [cries of "Morning ! "] I do not understand there is any desire for a lengthy discussion. A reasonable discussion we do not object to.


I wish, in the first place, to get some information as to the action intended to be taken in regard to facts that have been elicited arising out of the Portrush disturbances, and I have to complain that the Government have exerted themselves to cast imputations on a body of my constituents, and to screen a body of men who were guilty of an organized and violent attack upon unoffending persons. The facts have come out one by one, not by the help of the Government, but in spite of them, that in former years the excursionists were attacked by an organized body of roughs as in the present year, and, further, that notice was given to the police of the intention to have the excursion, and the police took no adequate measures in consequence.


On a point of Order, Sir. I think this discussion is one for the Police Vote, rather than for the Law Charges Vote.


I think not, because it has become a matter of criminal proceedings before a Crimes Act Court in County Antrim, and I desire to know what further proceedings the Government intend to take. I have said that the disturbances were the result of au organized attack on the excursionists, and my main point is this, to ask the Government whether, after the proceedings in Court, they will hold an inquiry into the manner in which an attempt was made to defeat the law, and into the evidence, in which it is evident there was a considerable amount of perjury? I maintain that the riot which led to this criminal prosecution was the result of an organized attack; that a body of men were sent from Coleraine to Portrush and their fare paid for this purpose, and the police constable, whose evidence established the fact, was insulted by a mob in Coleraine, and was the next day, by order from Dublin Castle, removed to Derry.


I am sorry to interrupt again, but I must ask whether this is a discussion for the Police Vote —whether it is a subject relevant to this Vote?


The hon. Member appears to be dealing with two points, one of which is out of Order; the other is relevant to this Resolution.


What I desire to press is, that the Government will establish an inquiry, as they have the power to do so under the Crimes Act, into the allegations that these disturbances arose out of an organized attack. I ask for a reply on that point. Next I ask the Government what they are going to do in reference to the conduct of Major Lidwell, a magistrate in the Templemore district of County Tipperary. The only reply I have hitherto been able to get is the not material circumstance that the bridge blown up was not a bridge of stone. I said that Major Lidwell had blown up a bridge, and I say it is a serious thing to allow a magistrate to indulge in violent conduct of this kind, and that a magistrate should be made amenable to the law, and taught that he cannot indulge in such violence with impunity. The information I have is from Mr. Ryan, a solicitor of Thurles, and is to the effect that about 11 o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 22nd ultimo, Major Lidwell, accompanied by other persons, went to the bridge that connects the farm of one of his tenants with the road, and which bridge Major Lidwell had sought to prevent the tenant, Patrick Stapleton from using, and there and then applied a charge of dynamite and blew up the bridge, hurling the débris into the yard, killing several fowls, and injuring a woman named Kennedy. Patrick Stapleton was not at home, but Mrs. Stapleton and her children were there at the time. Major Lidwell then retreated, and the bridge was repaired as far as possible. But Major Lidwell returned about 9 in the evening, and exploding another charge completed the work of demolition. His language was then most violent, and going to the house where Mrs. Stapleton was with her children threatened to blow them and the house into the elements, demanded the names of the neighbours who had assembled, and left after giving utterance to more threats. Mrs. Stapleton reported what had occurred to the police, and has since been informed that the police were waiting for instructions from the authorities. This is more than a fortnight since, and the matter is still left in doubt. I have put a Question in the House, and can get no answer. Meanwhile, this magistrate who goes about on Sunday exploding dynamite, endangering the lives of women and children, is still sitting on the Bench when he should be dismissed with ignominy from the Commission of the Peace. I ask has any decision been come to; and, I only add, that common regard for the administration of the law and the credit of the Executive should induce the Government, without loss of time, to make this man amenable for his shameful and cowardly outrage.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

I would just like to draw attention to the fact that Members from Ireland who sit on this side have asked that there should be an inquiry into the disturbances at Portrush. There is the greatest possible indignation in Antrim at what has happened, and we are most anxious that the fullest possible inquiry should take place.


That point is out of Order. We are now engaged with another matter; but I am bound to say I do not see how it is applicable to the Vote. I do not see how the conduct of Major Lidwell is connected with the Vote.


Perhaps the Attorney General for Ireland will be allowed to say if an inquiry has taken place, and will a prosecution be obviated?


I can only say that in the materials at present before me I find no ground for a prosecution.


Is a magistrate to go about acting the dynamiter on a Sunday morning—


Order, order ! I have ruled the subject out of Order, as having no relation to the Vote. I permitted the Attorney General for Ireland to answer a question put to him; but I must say I think there is no connection between the remarks of the hon. Member and the particular Vote with which the House is asked to agree.


. If you will allow me, Sir, [Cries of "Order ! "] I will not attempt to argue the matter, and respectfully submit to the Chair. But may I be permitted to say that the answer given by the Attorney General for Ireland—[Cries of "Order "]—shows me, as a Member of the House, that this is the view he takes of his duty as a conservator of the law, and how he earns his salary, and what is the class of men who are allowed to go without fear of prosecution in Ireland.


The remarks of the hon. Member are not pertinent.

Question put.

The House divided;—Ayes 114; Noes 15: Majority 99.—(Div. List No. 462.)

Resolution agreed to.