§ *MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that an Orange party fired upon a Roman Catholic band near Coalisland on the night of the 1st March; whether the police, who were present on the occasion of the firing, took a loaded gun from one man and an iron poker from another; and whether steps will be taken to maintain the peace of the neighbourhood and to prevent a recurrence of such proceedings.
§ MR. ATKINSON (for Mr. G. W. BALFOUR)
It appears that late on the night of the 1st inst. some shots were fired in the direction of a Nationalist drumming party near Coalisland. No person, I am happy to say, was injured. The police who accompanied the party at once went in pursuit of the persons by whom it was believed the shots were fired, but failed to capture them. One man, however, was found with a piece of iron about a foot in length in his possession, which was taken from him. A rifle, which was unloaded and which did not appear to have been used on the occasion, was subsequently found lying beside a ditch. The following morning a pistol was found on the road which had been traversed by the drumming party. The weapon had evidently been dropped by one of this party. With reference to the last paragraph, it is the paramount duty of the police to preserve the peace in this as in every other district. But there are occasions when it is very difficult to succeed in that object. In the present instance, a drumming party went out suddenly in the darkness of night for the ostensible purpose of making a counter demonstration to the celebration by loyalists in the locality of the relief of Ladysmith. It is obvious that the police, though they may do their utmost to preserve the peace, cannot altogether prevent a collision between the opposing parties.
§ *MR. DOOGAN
Arising out of that answer, I would ask the right hon. Gen- 399 tleman, is he aware that the Nationalist parade was held, in pursuance of a local custom, to celebrate annually the 1st of March?
§ MR. ATKINSON
I have no knowledge of that fact. If such a custom exist, it apparently only occurred to them for the first time on this occasion.