HC Deb 05 April 1889 vol 334 cc1704-6

asked the Solicitor General for Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the following paragraph which appeared in the Dublin Daily Express of March 28th:— Letterkenny, Wednesday.—In view of the Olphert estate evictions, there reached here today an iron-hooped, spiked battering ram, fifteen feet long, on a four-wheeled ram-carriage. The ram, suspended by chains from four iron uprights, will ram horizontally, while the rammers are protected by a wall of sheet iron. The accompanying appliances consist of boat hooks, chains, ropes, shod poles, crowbars, picks, sledges, scaling ladders, admitting four abreast, making three cartloads. They were all addressed to County Inspector Lennon, and are stored in the police barracks here. And whether it is true, as alleged, that the battering ram and the other appliances mentioned were addressed to County Inspector Lennon, and ordered by him; and, if so, under what authority the police are entitled to provide for landlords in Ireland appliances for breaking into and battering down their tenants' houses, and out of what fund will come the cost of such articles?

MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

also asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that a battering ram, two ladders, seven step-ladders, two boathooks, four pickaxes, three sledge hammers, six shields, and other eviction apparatus, were recently ordered in the city of Derry by District Inspector Law; that they were sent to evictions in the southern part of the county of Donegal, sent back to Derry, transferred from the Northern Railway Station to the Lough Swilly Railway Station under the superintendence and charge of the police, and forwarded to Letterkenny, consigned to District Inspector Law and other police officers; by whose instructions and at whose expense District Inspector Law has acted in this matter; and whether it is intended that in future the police, instead of the Sheriff, shall provide the battering rams and other apparatus for evictions?


The Constabulary authorities report that it is the case that a battering ram and other appliances were addressed to County Inspector Lennon, and placed in the county store at Letterkenny. The fund from which the cost will come has not yet been decided. These appliances have not been provided for landlords, but for the protection of the Constabulary forces when engaged in the discharge of their duty. It was found that the lives of the officers and men of the Royal Irish Constabulary had been seriously endangered in endeavouring to force an entrance into barricaded houses, in order to arrest rioters who were engaged in open and violent resistance to the law.

In reply to Mr. FLYNN (Cork, N.),

*MR. MADDEN said

These appliances are for the protection of the Constabulary, and to enable them to discharge their duty effectively.


By whom have they been ordered?


By the Constabulary authorities.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

Am I to understand that the Government have come to the conclusion that it is not the landlords of Ireland, but the Constabulary, who are to carry out evictions?


The hon. Member must understand nothing of the kind, but it must be understood that it is the duty of the authorities to protect the Constabulary in the discharge of their duties.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

Out of what fund will the cost of this battering ram be defrayed, and will it be taken to all evictions as a matter of course, Or only sent for in cases of necessity, when the police find a place barricaded?


I cannot now say exactly the fund out of which the cost will be defrayed. The Constabulary authorities will exercise their discretion as to its use.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

By whose authority has this battering ram been procured? Have the Inspector General and the authorities at the Castle been consulted?


In the answer I gave I referred to the local Constabulary authorities, but I have no reason to suppose that the action of the local authorities has not the sanction of the Inspector General. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had better put the question on the Paper.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

By whose authority, and when, have battering rams been constructed on the model of the 13th century?


I cannot say.

MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S)

How has it occurred that battering rams have to be used, when only the other day the Chief Secretary told me that the police and military were only present for the protection of the emergency men and not to act as emergency men themselves?


The hon. Member must give notice of that question.