HC Deb 25 February 1895 vol 30 cc1469-70

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether the attention of the Lord Chancellor has been drawn to the conduct in recent cases of Mr. M'Caughan, who has lately been appointed to the Justice-ship of the Peace for the County Antrim without the recommendation or approval of Her Majesty's Lieutenant for the county; whether he is aware that Mr. M'Caughan, in October last, sentenced a girl to three months' imprisonment for an offence under the Vagrancy Act, sleeping in an outhouse, the girl being at once released from prison on representation being made to Dublin Castle; that in the course of a trial at Bally-castle, of a man named M'Lean, for poaching in October last, the prisoner having been captured with blackened face and armed, by Mr. M'Gildowny, he remarked from the Bench that he thought Mr. M'Gildowny should be lenient, as the defendant had been so lenient in not shooting him; and that on the complainant's solicitor having expressed surprise at hearing such an opinion from a magistrate, he added, "Sure, he might have shot him on the mountain!" And, whether the Lord Chancellor intends to take any action in the matter.


The Chief Secretary has asked me to answer the questions which are to be put to him. I must ask hon. Gentlemen to be satisfied with the prepared answers, and not to press for supplementary information, which I am afraid I shall not be able to give. The Lord Chancellor's attention has been drawn to the two cases referred to in the question In the case of the girl sentenced to three months' imprisonment for vagrancy, the magistrates in petty sessions, including the magistrate named, considered that the punishment was excessive, and she was released by order of the Executive. With regard to the other case, it is a fact that a complaint was addressed to the Lord Chancellor that the magistrate had made use of the language imputed to him in the question. He was at once called upon for an explanation, and stated that the words used by him on the occasion had been misrepresented, and that he had used no language intended to convey the meaning attributed by the question. The Lord Chancellor accepted the explanation offered by the magistrate, coupled as it was with an expression of regret for what had occurred. It is not intended to take any further action in the matter.