24. Captain CRAIG
asked the Chief Secretary whether he has received any report with reference to the cattle-drive 1356 which took place on the night of the 24th April, in the Donore district of county Westmeath, when a body of 700 persons collected on the lands at Donore and forcibly drove off twenty-two head of cattle, brutally ill-treating them by forcing them over a wall four feet in height; whether, as a result, traces of blood and hair were left on the stones of the wall; what number of policemen attempted to prevent the raid, and whether one constable was badly wounded in the head; what steps are being taken to bring to justice the perpetrators of this outrage; and whether he proposes to proceed against the cattle-drivers for cruelty to animals?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have received a report in reference to this case, from which it appears that a crowd of seventy persons overpowered a police patrol and drove off twenty-two head of cattle as stated in the question. Fifteen persons have been arrested, and fourteen of them have been returned for trial for riot and unlawful assembly—informations being refused in one case. A charge is also pending against one of the accused for assault on a constable. No charge will be preferred against the accused for cruelty to animals.
Is it not usual, when such cruelty is meted out to animals, to charge the persons with cruelty?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
In this matter I have exercised no discretion, but I am sure that those who have have taken the best course to put down those abominable outrages.