HC Deb 12 March 1908 vol 185 cc1711-2
MR. LUNDON (Limerick, E.)

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that Mrs. Bridget Murphy, of Lower Sunville, Ardpatrick, County Limerick, on a Friday about the middle of December last, was arrested without a warrant on the open field by the head constable of the Kilfinane police station, was lodged during that night in the police station, and on the following day, although the ordinary petty sessions court, with four magistrates in attendance, was held in the courthouse, Captain Fitzpatrick, R.M., tried Mrs. Bridget Murphy in camera in the police station, and had her sent on to Cork Gaol on the following day; will be say by whose orders the arrest and trial were carried out; was there any informality in the committal or warrant; why was Bridget Murphy in the gaol obliged to put on the dress of a convict; why, after a few days, was she again given back her own clothes; why, before a week, was she liberated, although her sentence was for a month's imprisonment; and can he say whether Mrs. Bridget Murphy and the other tenants, who up to twenty years ago lived on the untenanted lands of Lower Sunville, will be restored to those untenanted lands, now that the owner, Colonel Lowe, is selling to his tenants.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) I am informed that the facts are substantially as stated in the Question. Mrs. Murphy was arrested in a field by the police for cattle driving late on the evening of 13th December last. She was taken before the resident magistrate on the following morning, and was by him ordered to find sureties to keep the peace or to be imprisoned for one month. She failed to give the necessary bail and was committed to prison. On 20th December the Lord Lieutenant, in the exercise of his prerogative, ordered the woman's release. It would be contrary to practice to state the reasons which influence His Excellency's action in such cases. The question whether the warrant of committal was informal is one of law, and I must decline to express any opinion in the matter. It is the fact that Mrs. Murphy was required to wear prison clothes upon being lodged in gaol, but, when the facts came to the knowledge of the General Prisons Board two days later, they at once directed that her ordinary clothes should be given to her. The Estates Commissioners inform me that no application for reinstatement has been received from Mrs. Murphy. The Commissioners approached Colonel Lowe as to the sale of his property, and he replied that he was himself negotiating with his tenants with a view to selling to them direct.