HC Deb 25 March 1901 vol 91 c1110
MR. M'FADDEN (Donegal, E.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland if his attention has been drawn to the case of the King c Sarah Hagan and the King v. Mary Jane M'Laughlin and Mary A. Nelson, heard at the Londonderry Assizes on 18th March instant, and to the observations of Lord Justice Holmes commenting on the practice of magistrates sending such cases for trial at the assizes and putting the county to unnecessary expense, and stating that the Act under which the defendants were tried contemplated that such cases should be summarily dealt with and the county saved the expense of a trial at assizes; and if, in view of the observations of the Lord Justice in these and similar cases heard by him at the assizes for the north-west circuit, he will consider the advisability of issuing a circular to magistrates to refrain in future from returning such trivial cases for trial when they can be summarily dealt with at potty sessions, and also a circular to district inspectors of constabulary to cease asking magistrates to return trivial cases for trial, and thus save the ratepayers.


In the first case mentioned the coroner's jury had found a verdict of manslaughter against the accused, and it was upon that charge she was brought before the magistrates, so that they had no option in the matter. In the other cases the solicitor concerned for the accused applied to have the cases disposed of summarily and the police officer in charge offered no objection whatever to that course. The Government cannot dictate to the magistrates as to how they should decide the cases which may come before them, but instructions will be given to the police to call the attention of the justices in cases of this character to their power of disposing of them summarily.