HC Deb 15 June 1888 vol 327 cc238-40
MR. CAREW (Kildare, N.)

(for Mr. T. M. HEALY) (Longford, N.) asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Does Mr. Hamilton, R.M., deny that any investigations in furtherance of the secret inquiry he was holding at Falcarragh, County Donegal, in respect of the alleged conspiracy against Mr. Olpherts, a local landlord, were conducted in Mr. Olpherts' house by Detective Reeves, who accompanies and assists Mr. Hamilton R.M.; were Thomas Carr, Alexander Wilson, and James Lindsay examined in Mr. Olpherts' library by Detective Reeves in presence of Mr. Olpherts and his son, or were they questioned at all by Reeves; and, if so, by whose authority and under what legal process; was Thomas Carr asked why Mr. Olpherts found it impossible to have his pigs conveyed last month to Derry Market, and James Lindsay whether he was told that Mr. Hugh Boyle, grocer, Falcarragh, refused to fetch a little box to Derry for Mr. Olpherts; was Brian M'Callin, a labourer in Mr. Olpherts' employment, taken from his work to the library, and by Reeves asked his name, his residence, whether Hugh Boyle, grocer, Falcarragh, refused in his presence to carry to Derry for Mr. Olpherts a certain box, and whether he had any information to give; whether, as this examination had not the desired result, M'Callin was told to go, Reeves remarking to Mr. Olpherts that there was no use in bringing that man up; and, whether Mr. Hugh Boyle, the grocer who was alleged by Reeves to have refused to carry for Mr. Olpherts, was then summoned before Mr. Hamilton, R.M., at the secret inquiry, and sent to gaol for refusing to answer?


The Resident Magistrate does deny the allegation contained in the first paragraph of the Question. District Inspector Reeves reports that the inquiries he made of Mr. Olpherts' three servants named, related entirely to the Boycotting of that gentleman, which was not embraced in the Resident Magistrate's inquiry. He did see these servants in Mr. Olpherts' house. Mr. Olpherts and his son were not present. The District Inspector acted in the discharge of his duty. Hugh Boyle is a public carrier, also a grocer, in the neighbourhood; and it was in regard to alleged refusals on his part to carry goods for Mr. Olpherts that District Inspector Reeves made inquiries of Carr and Lindsay. He likewise questioned M'Callin. He did not, however, say there was no use in bringing him up. Hugh Boyle was examined as a witness before the Resident Magistrate touching the Plan of Campaign; and refusing to answer questions he could have answered in regard to that conspiracy, was committed to prison.


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it was by direction, and with the knowledge of the magistrates, that Mr. Reeves held the inquiry; and I wish to know if the Government have a right to hold a private and unsworn inquiry in a private house, preliminary to the statutory inquiry at the Petty Sessions Court-house before the Magistrates?


It is certainly in the power, and it is the duty, of a police officer to make inquiries when a crime has been committed. This is not a preliminary inquiry under Section 1 of the Crimes Act, as the hon. Gentleman seems to think. It is quite clear that the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) entirely confused two different inquiries which were going on at the same time, or nearly at the same time.


Were the witnesses who were examined by Reeves at Mr. Olpherts' house afterwards summoned to the sworn inquiry, and questioned on the same affairs?


He was not questioned on the same affairs. Boyle was alleged to be guilty of two separate offences—one was Boycotting Mr. Olpherts. The other subject on which he was supposed to be able to give evidence was the Plan of Campaign. He was examined on one point by the police officer, and on the other by the magistrate.

MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman state under what authority, either in this country or in Ireland, have police officers a right to hold such an inquiry?


I understand it was the universal practice both in this country and in Ireland.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

inquired on what authority the right hon. Gentleman said Boyle could answer questions about the Plan of Campaign?


I have no doubt he could have done so.