§ 58. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that an election for Petty Sessions clerk in Foynes, county Limerick, was recently held, at which there were two candidates for the position, and that Mr. P. J. Ryan was elected by a majority of five votes to three, and that the election was declared void; whether, further, at a second election Mr. Ryan was elected by six votes to two, and this election has also been declared void, although Mr. Ryan is in every way qualified for the position; will he say why and at whose request was a new rule made on the 15th May, 1915, extending the age limit in favour of an ex-clerk of Petty Sessions of one year's standing; and, if not necessary, will he take steps to expunge this new rule and postpone the election to the vacant office at Foynes until the said new rule has been expunged?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
An election of a Petty Sessions clerk for Foynes, county Limerick, was held on 2nd June at which five magistrates voted for Mr. P. J. Ryan and two for Mr. John Little, and Mr. Ryan was declared elected. As three of the votes given for Mr. Ryan were invalid, a fresh election was ordered. At the second election, on 30th June, invalid votes were again given for Mr. Ryan, and accordingly a third election has become necessary. A rule was made on 15th May last by the Lord Lieutenant, pursuant to Section 29 of the Clerk of Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1858, putting ex-Petty Sessions clerks on the same footing, as regards the limits of age for election, as persons who have assisted Petty Sessions clerks, solicitors' clerks, and ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. This rule was not made at anybody's request, but on being suggested by one of the magistrates its reasonableness, especially in war time, recommended it to the Lord Lieutenant. It does not 1188 interfere with the discretion of the magistrates to elect any qualified person they choose, and I see no reason for expunging it.