HC Deb 30 July 1908 vol 193 cc1707-9

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieu- tenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, after the business of the Caledon petty sessions was over on the 10th instant, Mr. Townsend, the resident magistrate, ordered the public to leave the Court, cautioned two reporters who remained not to take any notice of his remarks, and then, with the concurrence of Dr. Patterson and Mr. Mercer, the only other magistrates present, rebuked the police for not using their batons and dispersing a Nationalist band which paraded the streets of Caledon on the 7th instant, notwithstanding the fact that this band played both Nationalist and Orange airs alternately and had a large number of Protestant followers; whether any of the magistrates present on the bench were Catholics; how many Catholics are on the bench in the district; and whether Mr. Townsend was exceeding his duty in making the remarks referred to, and, if so, whether any official notice will be taken of the incident.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The police have reported that on the 6th instant, from 7 p.m. until a late hour on the following day, a band, followed by a large crowd, paraded the streets of Caledon. The band played Orange and Nationalist airs alternately, and the crowd shouted and yelled. The occasion was the expected eviction of a publican on the following day; but a settlement was come to at the last moment and the eviction did not take place. The small local force was not sufficient to prevent the disorder during the night, but reinforcements were summoned and arrived next morning. Mr. Townsend, the resident magistrate, informs me that at Caledon petty sessions on the 10th instant his brother magistrates complained of the matter, whereupon he asked the police why they had allowed such an intolerable state of things to continue for twenty-four hours to the annoyance of the inhabitants. He said he thought they should have stopped it, but said nothing about batoning. Mr. Townsend's remarks appear to have been made in the interests of the peace and good order of his district, and do not call for official notice. The reason for the inaction of the police has already been stated. The fact that in this instance Orangemen and Nationalists were united in a common purpose does not afford any justification for disturbing the quiet inhabitants of the town for a whole night.