HC Deb 09 July 1888 vol 328 cc719-21
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the attack made by 150 men of the 5th Battalion Royal South Down Rifles on a Catholic juvenile band at Downpatrick on its return from an excursion to Newcastle on Friday evening week; whether he has received any Report from Colonel Waring, who is in charge of the regiment, as to the conduct of his men on the evening in question; whether any inquiry has been made to find out the guilty parties; and, if so, with what result; and, what steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence of these periodical attacks by the Militia on the Catholics of Downpatrick?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, will he allow me to ask whether it is not the fact that the attack made on the Catholic band at Downpatrick arose from the bandsmen shouting—"To hell with the Queen and the South Down Rifles?"

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

I have received Colonel Waring's Report, from which it appears that some men in the Militia, provoked by seditious and offensive language used by a Nationalist band—my information is that they did use the precise words mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh—made a rush upon it, and drove it into the railway station. It further appears that the uproar was the affair of a minute; that it was immediately suppressed; and that no serious damage was done, not even a drum being injured.


asked, how it happened that this attack on a band of 12 boys by 150 Militiamen could be said to have been provoked by the use of seditious language by the band, when, as a matter of fact, the 150 Militiamen had been waiting for the train a long time before it arrived?


said, he had no information that the band was composed of boys. [Cries of "Yes"] It was not so stated in the Report he had received. The cause for the incident was that language of a very gross character was used against the Militia.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had missed the point of his Question—namely, whether these Militiamen, who were said to have been provoked to attack the band of boys by the use of seditious language, had not been actually waiting for the band half-an-hour, or an hour, before the arrival of the train?


denied that the men had been waiting for the arrival of the band.


said, as he was assured that no such language as that attributed to the band had been used, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to grant an independent inquiry into the matter.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

asked, as this was a matter of some importance, whether the Militiamen were entitled to take the law into their own hands in this manner?

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman—


Order, order!



asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with reference to the attack made by 150 of the men of the 5th Battalion Royal South Down Rifles on a Catholic juvenile band at Downpatrick on Friday week, Whether the police have made any inquiry as to the names of the Militiamen who led the attack on the band boys; whether any summonses have been issued against the ringleaders of the attacking party; whether he is aware that one of the band boys was seriously injured; what steps were taken to protect the band on its return to the town; and, whether arrangements will be made in future to prevent such excursionists from being attacked by the Militia at Downpatrick?


The County Inspector of Constabulary reports that the police have been unable to identify any of the Militiamen concerned, and that there did not appear to be any ringleaders; the attack, which lasted about a minute, apparently having been a spontaneous one, provoked by the use of party expressions by the bandsmen. One of the bandsmen, I understand, received a cut on the nose about a quarter of an inch long. The police had no reason to anticipate that the band would require any special protection on its return to Downpatrick. But the local police, who attended the arrival of the train, at once afforded all the protection they could. In the case of any future excursion of this nature there will be assembled a sufficient force to prevent any possible disturbance.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman had any means of ascertaining whether the cut on the nose was measured?


Order, order!