HC Deb 28 March 1889 vol 334 cc1011-3

asked the Solicitor General for Ireland whether his attention had been directed to the circumstances attending the trial of Constable M'Aneany, who was indicted at the Derry Assizes for presenting a revolver at one Patrick O'Donnell at Ardmore, in the County of Donegal; did the Special Jury, under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, which acquitted the prisoner, consist entirely of Protestants; why was a constable for an offence alleged to be committed in Donegal tried in Derry, while peasants for offences committed in the same county were tried in Fermanagh; did the same counsel prosecute in the County of Fermanagh peasants for resisting evictions, and in Derry a policeman for an alleged assault arising out of these evictions; were the juries which tried the peasants in Fermanagh composed exclusively of Protestants; and, can he state why the Crown exercised the right of challenge in Fermanagh and not in Derry?


My attention has been called to this matter by the question of the hon. Gentleman. I have no means of: ascertaining the religion of the jurors who tried any of the cases referred to, and can give no information as to the grounds on which the right of challenge was exercised by those who appeared on behalf of the Crown. As regards the change of venue in one case to Fermanagh and in another to Derry, I am informed that Derry was selected, not only because it was a suitable venue, but because when the order changing the venue was obtained, there would not have been sufficient time to have the case tried at Enniskillen, where the Assizes are held for the county of Fermanagh before they are held at Londonderry, a subsequent town on the same circuit. Mr. M'Laughlin, Q.C., the leader of the circuit, prosecuted in both cases. Mr. Ross was associated with him in Fermanagh, and Mr. Richardson, Q.C., and Mr. Harte in Derry.

MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)

asked if the attention of the Government had been called to the connection between this matter and the fact that, when it became known that the venue was to be changed, the Orangemen of the district called a meeting, in which some Magistrates took part, and at which they pointedly referred to these trials taking place in Fermanagh, and reminded the people in most significant terms that it was their business practically to convict the Donegal people?


No, Sir; I have not the slightest reason to suppose any such thing.


repeated the last sentence in his question, and asked if all these matters did not arise out of the same transaction?


said no doubt these transactions were connected with the same case. He had answered the last question. He could give no information as to the ground of the challenges, except that they were in accordance with the printed rule on the subject.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would make inquiries?


I must ask for notice of the question.