HC Deb 14 December 1900 vol 88 cc860-2

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that on the night of 26th October an Orange drumming party, numbering according to the police about 200, marched through Stewardstown, county Tyrone, and without provocation broke the windows in seventeen Roman Catholic houses, including that of the parish priest; that the mob also assaulted and stoned Roman Catholic inhabitants and the police; that one policeman has lodged a claim for £1,000 in consequence of the injuries he received from the Orangemen; and that the riot lasted from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., although fifteen extra police were drafted in in aid of the local force; can he say why no batons were drawn during the riot nor arrests made, and whether inquiry will be made into the conduct of the head constable who was in charge of the force as to why the rioters were allowed to remain undispersed; is he aware that at the subsequent hearing of the summonses against the accused parties the Crown Solicitor only asked for a rule of bail against them; and that the Crown Solicitor allowed the magistrate to adjudicate without protest, although the Orange Lodge is kept in his house, and a constable swore the rioters went there for torches; and did the resident magistrate who presided at the trial say the men were only out for a night's amusement; and will the Government take any steps to restore amongst Roman Catholics some confidence in the administration of the law.


The facts are substantially as stated in the first paragraph. Evidence, however, was also given to the effect that bottles were thrown at the Orange party, numbering some 400, from the house of one of the opposite party. The police on duty used every possible exertion to quell the disturbances. The head constable, in my opinion, acted with discretion in not ordering the police to use their batons. Owing to the darkness of the night it was impossible to detect the actual stone-throwers. Proceedings were taken against six persons who formed part of the riotous crowd, and they were bound to the peace. It is not proposed to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the head constable the Crown Solicitor asked the Bench to place the accused under a rule of bail. It is the fact that an Orange Lodge meets in an outhouse belonging to one of the magistrates who adjudicated. So far as I am aware there was nothing in the evidence to connect him in any way with the accused, and therefore the Crown Solicitor took no exception to his presence on the Bench. The Resident Magistrate, who presided, stated that— The persons in the crowd were out for amusement, and were within their rights so long as they conducted themselves, but as soon as stones were thrown they became members of an unlawful assembly.


How is it that for eight hours the riot was allowed to continue without a single arrest being made by the police?


I think the constables acted with great discretion. They were a relatively small force, and the numbers of the opposing party were very great.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give instructions that the same discretion shall be shown in the rest of Ireland whenever a riot goes on?

[No answer was returned.]