HC Deb 14 April 1896 vol 39 cc887-8
MR. EDWARD M'HUGH (Armagh, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—(1) if he is aware that Mr. E. S. Finnigan, Coronor for Belfast, recently complained about the practice in Ireland under which prisoners charged with offences connected with the deaths of persons upon whom inquests were to be held are not allowed to be present at such inquests, except by the issue of writ of Habeas Corpus; and (2) whether, seeing that it is a rule of the Home Office that prisoners in England, detained in similar circumstances, must receive notification of the dates of the holding of inquests by which their liberties are affected, and may attend thereat and give evidence should they desire to do so, he will state whether there is any reason why the law in both countries should not be alike; and, if not, will he endeavour to have extended to Ireland the practice in these cases which is followed in England?


I am aware of the fact referred to in the first paragraph. A prisoner cannot be produced in Ireland at a Coroner's inquisition without a writ of Habeas Corpus, obtained by him or by the Crown. In England the law is different, as, under the 16 Vic, Cap. 30, sec. 9, which does not extend to Ireland, a prisoner may be brought up on the Warrant of the Secretary of State. I have never heard of a complaint being made by, or on behalf of, a prisoner, that an opportunity was not afforded to him of giving evidence at a Coroner's inquest in Ireland as to an offence for which he was in custody, and in the absence of evidence that the existing practice is detrimental to the interests of prisoners, I see no reason for an alteration of the law as suggested.