HC Deb 30 October 1908 vol 195 cc632-3

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the fact that, although the authorities had given directions to the constabulary not to permit any arches to be put up on the road leading from Cole-brook and on the road leading from Brookeborough to the Roman Catholic Church on the occasion of an Orange demonstration at Brookeborough on the 12th August last, and had also given directions that 100 men of the Royal Irish Constabulary were to be drafted into Brookeborough to prevent the erection of these arches, the arches were erected without any effort on the part of the police to prevent their erection, and the orders given by the Government were countermanded by Mr. Maguire, the county inspector; whether he is aware that the Rev. Herbert MacManamey, who presided at the demonstration, in his speech stated that the arches had been put up by the Orangemen, and that he would like to see which of their Roman Catholic neighbours would pull them down, and on the same occasion repeated a conversation between Mr. Maguire, the county inspector, and himself in which he mentioned the fact of the order to the Royal Irish Constabulary for the prevention of the erection of these arches, and that the county inspector stated that the Chief Secretary had come upon a mare's nest when he touched the Orangemen; whether the county inspector has been asked to give any explanation of his conduct in permitting these arches, contrary to express orders, to be erected, and of his allusions to the Chief Secretary; and what steps, if any, the Executive intend to take with respect to the disobedience to the Executive Government of the county inspector in this matter, which might but fur the self-restraint of the Catholic inhabitants of the district have led to a serious breach of the peace.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The authorities are satisfied that County Inspector Maguire discharged his difficult duties on the occasion in question with honesty and discretion. His orders were not to allow arches to be put up at certain objectionable points, and these orders were fully carried out. The county inspector did not countermand any orders which had been given by the Government. An extra force of fifty men was, in the first instance, directed to be sent to Brookeborough upon the demand of the county inspector himself, but upon an undertaking having been given that no attempt would be made to erect arches at the prohibited points the order for extra force was countermanded. The county inspector denies that he had any conversation whatever with the Rev. Mr. MacManamey to the effect mentioned in the Question.