, in rising to put a question to the head of the Government upon this subject, said, it was matter for considerable regret that Belfast had again become the scene of riot and disorder. The present disturbances in that town had, it appeared, their origin at a funeral of a member of the Roman Catholic persuasion who had been president of a political society, by a large number of the members of which his remains had been followed to a cemetery in the neighbourhood of Belfast. The persons attending the 1592 funeral, it seemed, bore in their hands green boughs, which were always recognized as party symbols; and on leaving the cemetery some females who were among the number thrust those boughs in the face of some members of the Protestant persuasion whom they met—a circumstance which caused much irritation and eventually led to a riot. The occurrence took place on a Sunday, and the riot was in the course of the evening suppressed. It, however, recommenced on the following day, and was again put down. But on the Wednesday it once more broke out with great violence, and the consequence was that great damage was done to property, although he was happy to say the personal injuries inflicted were only partial. The magistrates had done their utmost to quell the disturbance, and one of them—Mr. Lyons—received a severe blow from a stone, by which be was nearly thrown from his horse—in his endeavour to effect that object. Several houses were injured, all of which he believed belonged to Protestants with a single exception, which was the property of a Roman Catholic who it appeared had married a Protestant. Two persons who were not mixed up in the riot, but who happened to be passing were, he regretted to say, seriously injured, and, what was also much to be lamented, the police, although assembled in considerable numbers, were found insufficient for the dischage of the duty which they were called upon to perform. He had, however, observed with satisfaction that the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Lord Naas) had, in answer to a question which had been put to him in the other House of Parliament, declared it to be the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a measure placing upon a more efficient footing the police in the large towns throughout Ireland, and he could from his own experience bear testimony to the fact that some such measure was needed; for if the police had done their duty in the first instance much of the mischief that had ensued would have been averted. He should not trespass further on their Lordships' time, but should conclude by asking the noble Earl at the head of the Government whether he had received any information relative to the circumstances which had given rise to the recent riots in Belfast.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, Her Majesty's Government had received from the Lord Lieutenant and the authorities in Ireland, such information with respect to 1593 the causes of the late disgraceful riots in Belfast as they had been able to afford. The only cause, in truth, for those occurrences which could be assigned was, that religious rancour and animosity which existed between the members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic persuasions in that locality, which was with equal justice to be attributed to the lower classes of both, and which had rendered Belfast notorious for the turbulence and violence of the proceedings by which from time to time it had been disgraced. A species of minor civil war, in fact, prevailed between the lower classes connected with the two religious parties, and the result of that state of feeling was, that the slightest insult or offence offered to a member of one party was at once taken up by the partisans of his side. Now, he could not help saying that it did not reflect much credit either upon the inhabitants or upon the local authorities of one of the largest, the wealthiest, and the most thriving towns in Ireland that such disturbances should take place unchecked by the local authorities, and should require the intervention of the police and the military from other districts to aid in putting them down. The town of Belfast had, in consequence of those disturbances been for several nights in a state of great confusion. The Lord Lieutenant had, however, taken every precaution in his power to prevent their recurrence. Fortunately, owing to the step which had been taken in connection with previous proceedings of a similar character, the greater number of the inhabitants were unarmed, and their weapons of offence were consequently confined to paving-stones and missiles of that description. It had, nevertheless, been found necessary to collect a very large force of police and military, with cavalry and infantry, which was now stationed in the town, which was divided into four distinct districts, each of which was placed under the superintendence of a resident magistrate. The town, he might add, was regularly patrolled by night; and he was happy to learn from the accounts which he had received, about an hour or two before he had entered the House, from the Lord Lieutenant, that at the latest date to which the information related tranquillity for the time had been restored. Taking into consideration, however, what had occurred last year in Belfast, and the causes which had led to the disturbances in question, the Lord Lieutenant had decided to keep up a very considerable force 1594 in that quarter, at all events until after the 12th of next month. Belfast itself, of course, must to a considerable extent, bear the pecuniary consequences of the injuries which had been done, as well as of the additional number of constabulary which had been collected there owing to those disturbances. His noble Friend in the course of his observations had adverted to the inefficiency of the police at Belfast, and he feared there was much truth in the expressions which had fallen from him on that subject. He would, however, assure their Lordships that it was the intention of his noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland to introduce at the earliest opportunity in the other House of Parliament a Bill, the provisions of which had, he believed, met with general approval in Ireland, and the object of which was to improve the character and condition of the police in the large towns by incorporating them with the police of the country at large, than which there could not be a finer or more effective force, In conclusion, he had simply to say, that nothing would be omitted upon the part of Her Majesty's Government to put down the riots in question; but he must at the same time state it to be his opinion that, however the Government might from time to time succeed in quelling similar disturbances, it was extremely expedient that the inhabitants of Belfast as well as the municipal authorities should exert themselves to prevent their recurrence.
§ THE EARL OF CARLISLE
said, he should be unwilling to say a word which would foment the religious discord existing already too extensively in Ireland; as, however, the subject had been mooted, he must be allowed to make one or two observations upon it. The recurrence of these unhappy and most disgraceful riots in Belfast, only served to strengthen his conviction that the Irish Government last year, acted in consonance both with their duty and with the strictest policy and prudence in taking the only step which it was in their power as a Government to take, to show their disapproval of exclusive religious societies and organization, by refusing any fresh appointment of Members of the Orange Society to the office of magistrate. That course was made the subject of censure and of some sharp attacks, though not, as far as he could remember, in either House of Parliament. It was, however, the identical course which had been previously adopted in 1836, and was 1595 then stamped with the approval of the other House of Parliament, and of His late Majesty King William IV. A subsequent abatement of religious animosities had led to the suspension of that prohibition; but the events which occurred last year made it plain that it ought to be immediately readopted, and the occurrences of this year to which their Lordships' attention had now been called made it plainer still. He was happy to think that the present Government had not, as far as his knowledge went, made any objectionable appointment to the office of magistrate, and he trusted that the scenes now being enacted at Belfast would serve to confirm them in this wise abstinence. He need not dilate on the mischievous and wanton character of these tumults. It was an undoubted fact that last summer, at the very moment when reinforcements were most urgently required for our army in India, the movement of regiments was interfered with and delayed, because one set of persons in the great town of Belfast were keeping it in a state of chronic alarm by shouting "To bell with the Pope!" and another set of persons by shouting "To hell with King William III!" Now, the utter childishness and folly of all this, and above all its entire anachronism, would be simply ridiculous if it did not lead to such serious results. The town of Belfast ought, in many respects, to be the most civilized and well-ordered place of residence in Ireland; whereas it certainly now might be considered the least so. He believed in all these tumultuous proceedings it would generally be found that the blame might be pretty equally divided between both parties. With respect to a remedy, he feared much that the complete allaying of these ebullitions of religious hatred (and what two words those were when coupled!) could not be achieved by any Government; but he was happy to think that a material though partial improvement might be effected by putting the town police of Belfast on a better footing. He was glad to learn from the Government that such a course was in contemplation. It was intended to be proposed to Parliament by the late Government, and he had no doubt it would be proposed in an equally satisfactory manner by the present; nor did he doubt that they would take every step in their power to soften and arrest those religious rivalries which were the main source and spring of all the mischief.
must protest 1596 against the noble Earl's statement that the Belfast riots had proved the wisdom of the course taken by the late Government in refusing to appoint to the magistracy any gentleman belonging to the Orange body. It remained to be seen yet that any gentleman connected with that body had anything to do with the Belfast disturbances; yet indirectly the noble Earl, though he said that both parties were pretty equally responsible, laid the whole blame one one. Now, as a proof of the feeling which animated them, he might state that the Grand Orange Lodge had issued a monition to the Orangemen, desiring them to refrain from display or party procession on the 12th of July, and to act strictly in accordance with the laws of the land. He could not think, under the circumstances, that the noble Earl's insinuation was either just or called for.
§ THE EARL OF CARLISLE
said, he could not quite understand the logic of the noble Viscount, who admitted that he had said that the blame was equally divided, and yet in the same breath accused him of throwing the whole blame on one party. If a Riband magistrate could be found, he (the Earl of Carlisle) should equally desire his removal.
THE EARL OF CLANCARTY
protested against the rule laid down by the late Government for the exclusion of members of the Orange Lodge from the magistracy.