HC Deb 03 June 1897 vol 50 cc179-80

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether his attention, has been directed to a case tried at Grace's Old Castle (Kilkenny) Petty Sessions, before Mr. Considine, R.M., on the 22nd ult., in which it was proved that a water bailiff, named Bannon, had forcibly seized, assaulted with a cane sword, and searched the pockets of a boy named Patrick Comerford, and took from him some minnow alleging that they were salmon fry; whether water bailiffs are legally empowered to arrest and search the pockets of persons whom they know and could identify and prosecute if necessary; and whether the Crown can and will interfere either to prosecute Bannon or order a re-hearing of the charges?


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to a case tried in Kilkenny Petty Sessions on the 22nd ultimo, in which it was proved that a water bailiff named Joseph Bannon, in the employ of the Irish Fishery Conservators, forcibly took from a boy named Patrick Comerford, whom he found fishing, some minnow which Bannon alleged was salmon fry; whether he is aware that it was sworn by Bannon that the Conservators only decided a few days before this trial that minnow is not salmon fry; and whether the Irish Fishery Conservators intend to retain Bannon in their employment?


In answer to this and the next Question on the Paper, I beg to say that my attention has been called to the case mentioned, in which there was a direct conflict of testimony between the parties as to the circumstances and nature of the assaults alleged to have been committed by each of the parties on the other. The magistrates dismissed both cases, holding that in point of law the Statute 54 and 55 Vic., s. 20, sec. 6 did not authorise the water bailiff to search the person of Comerford, who is a man of 24 years of age. It is open to both parties to appeal from these decisions, when the magistrates ruling can be revised. It also appears from the report furnished to me that Comerford threatens to take civil proceedings against Bannon for the assault. Under these circumstances it would not be proper for me to give an opinion on the legal point involved. The Crown have no power to order a rehearing of the charges made on both sides, and it does not appear to be a fit case in which to institute a criminal prosecution at the suit of the Crown.