§ 12. Mr. HORNER
asked (1) why over two weeks were allowed to elapse between the alleged riot at Moy, county Tyrone, on 28th September last, and the arrest of the eleven young men who were tried for taking part in the riot and acquitted at the recent Londonderry Assizes; why ten of them were arrested in the early hours of the morning, and all hastily charged before a resident magistrate brought from another county, no local justices being asked to adjudicate; whether an adjournment of the cases was refused by the resident magistrate when the prisoners applied for same to enable them to bring evidence for their defence; whether the prosecution was ordered by the Dublin Castle authorities against the advice of the local constabulary; whether the whole of the prisoners were Unionist and Protestant; why no endeavour was made to arrest any of the crowd of Nationalists who, according to the police evidence, started the disturbance; and (2) whether he will recommend the payment of the expenses of the eleven men who were tried and acquitted at the recent Londonderry Assizes on a charge of riot at Moy, county Tyrone, on 28th September last, having regard to the fact that the resident magistrate, who was brought specially to Moy from another county to alone make the preliminary investigation on the morning of their arrest, refused to adjourn the hearing to enable them to bring the witnesses for their defence, a matter which was severely commented upon by the judge at the Assizes and which put them and their friends to heavy costs, inconvenience, and loss of time in having to attend the Assize Court?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The police, before making any arrests, required some time to investigate these cases and to collect evidence. One of the police was so badly injured that he was unable to make any statement of his evidence for several days. The accused were arrested early in the morning in order to obviate the necessity of keeping them all night in custody, and to secure their arrest before they left their homes. The resident magistrate who dealt with the cases was not specially brought to Moy for the purpose. He was acting as locum tenens for the resident magistrate of the district, who was ill. I 501 am informed that no application for an adjournment to produce witnesses was made. The prosecution was not ordered against the advice of the police. All the accused were Unionists and Protestants. I am informed by the police that there was no retaliation on the part of the Nationalists who were attacked. I do not see any ground for recommending the repayment of the expenses incurred by the prisoners.
§ Mr. HORNER
Has the right hon. Gentleman read the evidence given before the resident magistrate, because it is entirely contradictory of the official reply he has just given to the House; and having regard to this fact will he reconsider the question of expenses of those eleven men who were kept in attendance for five days awaiting the trial and had to pay their fares back and bear all the expenses and had to pay the expenses of several witnesses which were not paid by the Crown?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
These questions with regard to expenses constantly arise in all parts of Ireland, and if I agreed to do what the hon. Member asks it would be very difficult for me to resist paying them on other occasions which I am not prepared to do. With regard to the evidence I have seen the only conflict of opinion between the newspapers and the statement made by Mr. Haldane Carson is with regard to the application to the magistrate for an adjournment, and I have from him the most positive statement that what was applied for was only an adjournment for half-an-hour to enable him to see his clients and it was at once acceded to. There was no request whatever made for an adjournment.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
Is it correctly stated in the question that the Nationalists started the disturbance and will the right hon. Gentleman answer that part of the question as to why no Nationalists were arrested?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
All I can say is that the police inform me there was no retaliation on the part of the Nationalists at all, and they were in no way responsible.
§ 23. Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that Mr. Justice Wright, in charging the jury at Londonderry on the 20th ultimo in the case of three and twenty men who were subsequently convicted of riot for the part they took on the occasion of the fracas at Castledawson, and were sentenced each to three months' imprisonment with hard labour, said that he was glad to know that the women and children were not struck by pikes; that he did not know whether newspapers headed their reports of this affair as an attack on women and children; and that it had been absolutely proved in this Court that no injuries were inflicted on any women or children; whether he is aware that, notwithstanding this exculpation by the learned judge of the prisoners, whom he called decent, respectable-looking men, of treating women and children with violence and inflicting serious injuries on them, these charges have been since the trial repeated and emphasised in certain quarters; and whether, having regard to the tendency of these statements to create resentment and prejudice against the prisoners and to injure them in their future careers, the Irish Executive will take any, and, if so, what steps to secure the refutation of these statements and the punishment of their inventors?
§ Sir J. D. REES
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in order to recite selected extracts from a judge's statement and found a question upon them, because questions less definite and containing less recital have in many cases been declined?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Quotations are not permitted in questions, and I understand that what is contained in the question is a summary.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have referred to the Report of Mr. Justice Wright's charge, and any words I may employ are his own language and not mine. Mr. Justice Wright, in his charge to the jury, said that he was glad to know that women and children had not been struck by pikes, and at any rate what had been absolutely proved in that Court was that no injuries had been inflicted on any woman or child, and he was glad to hear that proved. It detracted very much from the seriousness of the charge, and he was glad to think that nothing so 503 dastardly or unmanly had taken place. The idea that decent, respectable-looking men like the prisoners would attack a woman or a child was a horrible idea. The learned judge added, "I am glad that the lie has been given to that." After the publication of the facts disclosed at the trial repetition of the allegation is most discreditable.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It is the practice of Lord Aberdeen never in any case to do anything of that sort without referring to the judge.