HC Deb 22 March 1888 vol 324 cc32-4
MR. HAYDEN (Leitrim, S.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Messrs. Ferguson and Finlay, who were prosecuted at the late Petty Sessions at Ballinamore Bridge, under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, for speaking at a meeting held at New-bridge, and the latter gentleman convicted on the evidence of constables who took no notes at the meeting; whether a car driver who refused to carry police, not having been employed for the purpose, was prevented for some time from going home by Mr. Purcell, R.M., and his horse and car forcibly seized; under what statute Mr. Purcell acted in having him detained; whether, in the disturbance which took place in consequence of the action of the police, several parties were arrested; whether the prisoners were assaulted by the police on their way to and while in the barrack in custody; whether Mr. Purcell refused substantial bail for the appearance of the prisoners, both on that occasion and after two subsequent remands; and, whether the prisoners will have been detained a month in custody before the date of the monthly Petty Sessions?


(who replied) said: The prosecutions referred to were for speeches urging the people to enter into an unlawful conspiracy. Finlay was convicted on the evidence of the police, who had noted the proceedings immediately after the meeting at which he spoke. As regards the car driver, he had been employed by Mr. Beckett, one of the Resident Magistrates, to convey him between Ballinasloe and Ballinamore; but he refused to drive him back to Ballinasloe, as the Resident Magistrate wished to have a constable accompanying him. Mr. Beckett was, therefore, obliged to proceed by another car, along with the Sessional Crown Solicitor, who had conducted the prosecution. The demeanour of the car driver in question was offensive and defiant; and Mr. Purcell did not consider it advisable to allow him to follow immediately after the two gentlemen named, as his doing so would have led to a hostile demonstration and a breach of the peace, as at the time a great many people were about. Mr. Purcell accordingly detained him for about 15 minutes. He did so by virtue of his office as a magistrate, and to prevent a breach of the peace. A policeman who got upon the car was savagely attacked by a number of men with sticks and severely injured. Other members of the constabulary were struck with stones, and otherwise assaulted. For these assaults four men were arrested and remanded for a week to Galway Prison. There does not appear to be any ground for the allegation of an assault by the police. The attack upon the police was wanton and unprovoked. The Resident Magistrate did refuse bail. The prisoner's solicitor, in making application for a consent to bail on the expiration of the first remand, stated in his letter that if the bail were refused the Queen's Bench would interfere; but he does not appear to have brought the matter before that Court. The prisoners will have been detained a month in custody, if not discharged before next Petty Sessions at Ballinamore.


Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman deny that the prisoners were assaulted after arrest by the police in the barrack?


I have no information to the effect that they were. I know that the police were violently assaulted before.