I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the case of the King v. Patrick M'Dermot was not proceeded with at the Assizes, which commenced in Sligo on the 7th July, by the direction of the Law Officers of the Crown; whether the Crown refused to prosecute because Patrick M'Dermot was following the course of action which was recommended to him and other graziers by the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant in using firearms to prevent cattle-driving; and whether it is the intention of the Government to allow the use of firearms in future for this purpose without interference by the authorities.
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHEERY,) Liverpool, Exchange
My right hon. friend has asked me to reply to this Question. The case to which the hon. and gallant Member refers was not a Crown prosecution at all. It was commenced by a private prosecutor, and the case was returned for trial at the instance of the private prosecutor alone. He afterwards discontinued the prosecution on his own responsibility. I cannot undertake in answer to a Question to define in what circumstances any person is or is not justified in using firearms in defence of his person or property. The Government have no power to make any regulations on the subject, but must leave each particular case which arises to be determined according to law.
§ MR. O'DOWD (Sligo, S.)
Is it not the fact that there was no question of a cattle-drive in this particular case?
Were not the Crown asked to take up this case and refused because of the advice given by the right hon. Gentleman himself as to the course to he pursued in these matters?
§ MR. CHERRY
I cannot add to my Answer. I will inquire as to the point raised by the hon. Member for South Sligo.