HC Deb 12 July 1888 vol 328 cc1085-7

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, in the cases of 11 men tried at Miltown Malbay on the 22nd ultimo, and eight men tried there on the 23rd ultimo, on a charge of unlawful assembly, before Mr. Cecil Roche, R.M., and Captain Keogh, R.M., sitting as a Court under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, the Justices sentenced all the men to a month with hard labour, and refused, on application, to state a case for a Superior Court; whether, on the 25th ultimo, a motion by counsel for prisoners in the Exchequer Division, before the Chief Baron, Mr. Baron Dowse, and Mr. Justice Andrews, was put off by counsel for the Crown upon the technical point that the motion had been made on an affidavit made by the prisoners' solicitor, there not having been time to get affidavits from the men themselves, who were confined in Limerick Prison, and access to whom was denied; whether, on the 27th ultimo, the motion being renewed on affidavits of the prisoners (access to whom by their solicitor had for a time been prevented), the Lord Chief Baron held that the questions raised for the prisoners were "of substance and importance," and gave judgment for the motion; but, owing to the dissent of Mr. Baron Dowse on the question of jurisdiction of the Court of Exchequer, and the absence of Mr. Justice Andrews, the motion for the prisoners came to nothing; whether on the next day, the 28th ultimo, the same magistrates tried another man, Thomas M'Mahon, at Miltown Malbay, on the same charge dealt with on the 22nd and 23rd, heard the same evidence, imposed the same sentence, and again refused to state a case, although their attention was called to the declaration of the Lord Chief Baron on the previous day (in cases which they admitted to be "precisely similar") that the questions raised by the application to state a case were of "substance and importance;" whether, an affidavit having been made by Thomas M'Mahon on his way to prison, after conviction, his counsel applied to the Queen's Bench on the 29th ultimo for a conditional order to the Justices to state a case, and on the 30th ultimo was opposed by counsel for the Crown, but obtained an absolute order from the Lord Chief Justice, Mr. Justice O'Brien, Mr. Justice Johnson, and Mr. Justice Gibson; whether, on the 9th instant, an absolute order to the Justices to state a case in all the other 19 cases was granted; Crown counsel again opposing the motion; whether, on the 4th instant, and on previous days, the solicitor to the prisoners was denied access to them for the purpose of procuring the affidavits essential to proceedings on their behalf, and an appeal telegraphed to the Under Secretary and Irish Prisons Board was disregarded; whether, after the Judgment of the Lord Chief Baron, declaring the questions raised for the defence to be "of substance and importance," the Under Secretary refused to give any assistance, and after the absolute order of the Queen's Bench to state a case in one of the 20 cases, the Under Secretary refused to apply this order to the other cases, and the Attorney General continued to oppose all motions on their behalf by counsel; and, whether, considering that six Judges of the Superior Courts have declared that cases should have been stated, and in view of the delays caused by official action, and the going out of the Circuits on the 2nd instant, the 20 men will be released pending judicial decisions upon the cases stated?


, in reply, said, that the Notice had not been sufficiently long to obtain the information which would enable him to reply to the Question; but he was informed that all the prisoners referred to were out on bail.


said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman—1, whether the Court had systematically refused to state a case; whether the refusal in this case was by Mr. Cecil Roche and Captain Keogh, though the Chief Baron said there were points raised of such importance that the Government should instruct the Resident Magistrates as to their duty in these cases; 2, whether solicitors representing persons being tried under the Crimes Act were to be allowed free access for the purpose of subsequent legal proceedings on their behalf; and 3, whether the right hon. Gentleman would give an assurance that the Government would abstain from instructing counsel on mere technical grounds?


said, he would be much obliged if the right hon. Gentleman would give Notice of the Question.