HC Deb 16 August 1889 vol 339 cc1471-2

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the proceedings at a Court which was held at Kings-court, County Cavan, on the 7th instant, presided over by Messrs. A. M. Harpur and H. Turner, Resident Magistrates, where Margaret Fitzsimons, of Tullybrick, was prosecuted for having taken forcible possession of the house from which her husband was evicted on 11th April last, and Sergeant Robert Backhouse, Royal Irish Constabulary, Kings-court, deposed that on the day following the eviction he, on behalf of Samuel Eatkins, who had taken the farm, offered Mrs. Fitzsimons £15, if she would leave the premises; whether it is part of the duty of the police to act as agent for persons like Eatkins, and to facilitate their getting possession of evicted farms; and, whether he is aware that Mrs. Fitzsimons had Samuel Eatkins summoned for assaulting and threatening to shoot her, but that these summonses, having been postponed five times at Petty Sessions on the intervention of the police, pending the prosecution of Mrs. Fitzsimons, were finally dismissed by Mr. A. M. Harpur, Resident Magistrate, on the ground that Mrs. Fitzsimons was a trespasser, and that therefore Eatkins was entitled to take the law in his own hands and to assault and threaten to shoot her?


The Constabulary Authorities report that it is not the case that Sergeant Backhouse acted on behalf of Eatkins in the matter. Eatkins when reporting to the police that the farm had been retaken forcible possession of mentioned that he would gladly give Mrs. Fitzsimons £10 or £15 to leave quietly. The sergeant when on patrol duty at the farm stated during a friendly conversation with Mrs. Fitzsimons that it would be better for her if she left quietly getting at the same time this sum of money than to have to leave eventually without it. Mrs. Fitzsimons summoned Eatkins for an alleged assault. The case was postponed five times, at first on the application of Eatkins' solicitor on the ground that the Crown were considering a case of forcible possession against Mrs. Fitzsimons, and that it would be almost impossible to separate the two cases, and at the end of July Mrs. Fitzsimons further charged Eatkins with threatening to shoot her. All these cases were heard before Mr. Harper at Petty Sessions on 7th August. He decided that there was no evidence of the alleged assault or attempted shooting, and that Mrs. Fitzsimons was a trespasser. He did not say that Eatkins was entitled to take the law into his hands.