HC Deb 25 March 1907 vol 171 cc1460-1
MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that in Edenderry, as in many other Irish towns, it was the custom for the local Royal Irish constables to serve all summonses given to them by the town clerk for that purpose under the Towns Improvement (Ireland) Act of 1854 and the Acts incorporated therewith; whether, in spite of a decision in the King's Bench to the effect that the service of such summonses by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary was illegal, the Dublin Castle authorities subsequently authorised the continuance of such service on representations made to them by the Chairman of the Commissioners, Mr M. P. O'Brien; that this authorisation by the Inspector General of Constabulary was confirmed in March, 1906, by an Order made by the magistrate of the Edenderry Petty Sessions Court and Town Court, and will he say why it was withdrawn last January; and whether steps will be taken to prevent the resources of the township being taxed for the employment of a special summons server when the Town and Sessions Courts are held at the same time, and the local police are quite willing to continue the duty they performed for so long a period.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) In January, 1906, the King's Bench Division quashed the conviction in a particular case on the ground that service of the summons by the police was not legal in that case. By a further decision of the King's Bench Division in November 1906, it was held that the police are debarred from serving summonses in any prosecutions taken by town commissioners under the Towns Improvement Act. Having regard to this authoritative interpretation of the statute the police cannot be authorised to serve such summonses.