HC Deb 18 July 1889 vol 338 c718
MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's County, Ossory)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that at the Mary borough Summer Assizes, on Monday the 8tth instant, when two men named respectively Lawrence Hickey and Denis Connell were indicted for the wilful murder of Denis Daly, 27 special jurors, 24 of whom were Roman Catholics, were ordered by the Crown to stand by, and that several of the gentlemen so ordered entered a strong protest; whether the report is true that, after a jury had been sworn, consisting of eleven Protestants and one Catholic, one of the jury, Mr. Smellie, a Protestant, who had neither been challenged or ordered to stand by, said, in open Court, "I object to try a man for life on a packed jury;" and, whether he will take steps to secure that Roman Catholics shall be more adequately represented on juries in criminal cases in Ireland?


I understand that it is the case that, at the trial referred to, 27 special jurors were ordered by the Crown to stand aside and that 20 were challenged on behalf of the prisoners. I have no knowledge as to the religion of the jurors. I understand that some few men protested. The explanation of their conduct may perhaps be found in a circular addressed to all the special jurors of Queen's County, calling upon them to protest in such a manner as would, in the language of the circular, "most strike the public mind, not only in Ireland but in England." The member of the jury named seems to have made the observation attributed to him, though it is manifest that he subsequently, on hearing the evidence, had no doubt as to the guilt of the prisoner, seeing that he found a verdict-convicting him. No juror will be asked to "standby" by reason merely of his religious persuasion.