HC Deb 08 July 1889 vol 337 cc1685-7

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he has seen the statements, reported in the Cork and Dublin papers, made by the two railway officials in regard to the firing by the police at Charleville Railway Station on Sunday last. Timothy O'Sullivan says— I did not hear, and, so far as I am aware, none of the persons on the platform heard of the arrest of Mr. O'Brien, or that he was in the train. … On opening the door I saw the officer sitting, and all the constables standing. They were holding their rifles, and seemed to be very excited. They made repeated thrusts at me when I opened the door. I tried to explain to the officer I wanted the tickets, but he would not listen, and he continued to shove me off the footboard. A small crowd then gathered outside the door, and I turned to keep them back. Seeing that there was no use in remonstrating with the District Inspector I signalled to the guard to start, and the train at once moved on. Just as it began to move a shot was fired from the carriage, and the bullet hit me on the face and knocked me down, and I don't remember anything more O'Sullivan's face shows the marks of where the bullet grazed his face. Jeremiah Crowley, railway porter, also made the following statement— I saw the head porter, Sullivan, engaged in checking the first-class compartment that the officer was in. The next thing I saw was the head porter getting out and giving a signal to the guard to blow his whistle. … The next thing I saw was the officer with his revolver-pointed through the window. I saw him distinctly. I heard a shot and saw the head porter fall off the step. Immediately afterwards I heard two other shots fired. The train was in motion at the time, and I think it was the officer fired the three shots. I heard no more than three shots. 'There might have been about three seconds between each shot. I did not notice Nolan, who was shot, until after the train had cleared away from the platform. He bared his leg and showed me his thigh wounded. There was no provocation whatever given by the people. … The people came up to the station to welcome some townspeople who were returning from the meeting in Cork, and they appeared to have no knowledge, as far as I could judge, that Mr. O'Brien was in the train until it arrived at the platform. There was no such thing as an attack on the carriage. Two windows were broken when the train arrived—the side windows of the compartment Mr. O'Brien was in. I saw no stones thrown.. There were no police on the platform when the train arrived. They are not usually there for the night mail; and, in view of the grave allegations, contained in the statements, will he order a sworn inquiry into the conduct of the police on this occasion?


I have already given the House the substance of the information I have received on the subject, and I see no ground in consequence, of the newspaper report to which the hon. Member draws my attention to alter the opinion I have expressed. If any person thinks that he has just cause of complaint against the police the proper course will be to bring the matter before a Court of Law.

MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork, N.E.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House the terms of the police Report of the transaction?


I have already given the substance of that Report. I have not brought down the Report with me, nor do I know, if I had, that I should give it verbatim to the House, as that would not be the usual course.


I shall ask the right hon. Gentleman to send for the Report, as I shall call attention to it presently.


Does the right hon. gentleman lay down the proposition that no duty lies upon the Government to investigate public charges of grave misconduct against the police, and that the only remedy is to proceed by action in the Courts of Law?


I lay down no general proposition of the kind. What I say is that the information brought to my notice satisfies me that there was no cause for complaint against the police, and I see no ground for altering that view in consequence of a newspaper report. If the police are alleged to have acted illegally, the proper course would be to proceed in a Court of Law.