HC Deb 20 January 1902 vol 101 cc318-9
MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, whether he has been made aware of proceedings in Cork at the December Assizes, where in the case of a young woman named Bridgid Nealon, alias Bridgid Cremer, charged with infanticide, 64 jurors were ordered to stand by; and can he state on whose instructions this number of men on the jury list were put aside; and, whether the Law Officers of the Crown have information to the effect that the crime of infanticide prevails to any extent in the South of Ireland; and, if not, can he state why the Crown Counsel challenged so many jurors in this case.

At the same time may I ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, whether his attention has been called to the proceedings at the recent winter assizes in Cork; whether he is aware that in the case of Patrick Cusack, charged by the Postmaster General with the larceny of a letter, 59 jurors were ordered by the Law Officers of the Crown to stand by; and, can he state how many of these jurors were Roman Catholics, and was this course taken by Crown Counsel with the sanction of the Attorney General.


The duty and responsibility of setting aside jurors in these cases devolved upon the solicitors for the prosecution—in the first case upon the Crown Solicitor for Limerick, and in the second case upon the Solicitor for the Post Office. These officials acted in pursuance of the directions contained in the Circular dated February, 1894, issued by my predecessor in office, and set aside men who, in the words of the circular, "they had reason to believe were likely to be hindered from giving an impartial verdict, by favour towards the accused, fear of the consequences to their persons, property or trade, or other improper motive." I have never given any special directions upon this subject, as I consider the directions contained in the Circular precise and adequate. I have no information as to the religions of the jurors set aside, since that is not a question inquired into or considered. It appears from the recently published volume of Criminal Statistics that there were 20 cases of infanticide in Ireland in 1900; of these three occurred in Munster, nine in Leinster, three in Connaught and five in Ulster.


Does the Minute quoted by the right hon. Gentleman refer in any way to postal cases? And may I further ask if he is aware that in the first case although over 60 jurors were ordered to stand aside the judge directed that nine of them should be sworn?


Order, Order!


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first question?


The Minute applies to all cases.


I shall put further Questions on this, and on the Vote for the salary of the right hon. Gentleman I will call attention to this scandalous jury packing.