HL Deb 23 May 1865 vol 179 cc723-6

asked the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Westmeath), to postpone his notice relative to the case of Catherine Gaughan.


, who had given Notice To call the Attention of the House to the Papers laid upon the Table respecting the Case of Catherine Gaughan; and to inquire why the Decision of the Inspector General of Constabulary of the 28th of February last for the Removal of Sub-Inspector Burke, Constable Cassidy, and Sub-Constables M'Cormack, Sweeny, and Kelly has not been carried out, said, this Motion had been upon the paper of their Lordships' House for a consider able time; a week ago a similar appeal was made to him by the noble Earl, to which he (the Marquess of Westmeath) had readily consented; and he should have been glad to accede to his noble Friend's request now, as he wished to show the same courtesy to the leader of the Government as the noble Earl had always shown to every one: but this case showed such an indifference to justice on the part of the officials in Ireland that he could not consent to postpone the statement any further. Indeed, many might be of the opinion that there was no Government in Ireland. There was the name but not the reality, and the whole concern might be supposed to go on of itself. The Lord Lieutenant received his salary, and the tide ebbed and flowed in Dublin Bay, but there was no Government. The present Government had evinced a very fair spirit in their distribution of patronage. There had been a copious distribution of places among Roman Catholics; and, perhaps, the Government was justified by the manner in which their appointments had been conferred. But the Protestant population had also a right to expect that their feelings would be attended to and respected, and thus when they appealed to the courts for justice, and had judgment in their favour, the decisions would be carried out honestly and fairly. The case which he was about to mention was that of a female of about twenty years of age, who, born of Irish parents in Scot land, returned to the native place of her parents who were dead. She met with in human treatment from her remaining relatives because she had dared to change her religion and desired to read the Bible. A priest was brought to her and did his utmost to influence her, but he failed to change her determination. Her relatives collected a mob about her who dragged her along the stones by the hair; but after a time she took refuge in a house. A gentleman of the name of Simpson appealed to the police to prevent further outrage, but the only answer which he and others who interfered got was that it was a family affair, and therefore they would not interfere. The girl continued in the house, where they wanted to keep her, and was only released by a warrant from a magistrate, obtained by a Protestant minister; and this being so, their Lordships could judge of the character of the excuse that was offered by the police for not interfering. The true reason was that all the police but one were Roman Catholics, and they were determined that they would give her no protection. The matter was investigated by a court composed of four magistrates, two Protestant and two Roman Catholic. The investigation took place during four days, and the magistrates unanimously convicted the parties who were involved in this atrocity. The charge against the police was that of gross neglect of duty, and the Court said that sub-Inspector Burke was the person principally responsible; but he being a Government officer, they left the matter in the hands of the Government to deal with him as they thought fit. They had also fined him £2, and two others were fined a few shillings each. The matter having been brought under the attention of the Inspector General, he expressed his surprise at the want of zeal of the officers, and directed the removal of the sub-Inspector to Longford at his own expense. The constables were, no doubt, equally responsible, and the excuse which they gave, that it was a family quarrel, the Inspector General said was absurd. These constables had clearly forsworn themselves, for their oath was, under all circumstances, to support the law, and pre serve the peace; and yet in the broad day light they left this poor Protestant girl to be nearly murdered because she had changed her religion. The Inspector General also, like a "great swell"—to use a vulgar expression—denounced the conduct of the officers, and then removed the principal offender into a better situation by way of punishment. The Lord Lieutanant had also sworn to uphold the laws, and he could not but know of this matter. He had hoped that the Lord Lieutenancy would have been before this abolished, for there was no reason for the office being continued. In truth, the Lord Lieutenant received £20,000 for doing nothing except keeping up a pinchbeck Court which no body respected. It was extremely painful to the Irish that a second-class placeman should stand between them and their Sovereign; and he would ask whether they were to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water" until the end of time? Were they not to receive the same consideration as the English, Welsh and Scotch? He knew he was excited when speaking of these matters, for he had warm-hearted feelings as an Irishman. There was no part of the trans action to which he bad referred which was not a disgrace to everybody concerned; and though the noble Earl had been informed, and no doubt believed, that there had not been sufficient time for inquiry, he (the Marquess of Westmeath) could not concur with that view, for the transaction took place on the 26th of January so that there had been plenty of time for inquiry.


thought the noble Marquess had made out a primâ facie case affecting the liberty of the subject, and, therefore, if the noble Earl could give any information he trusted that it would not be withheld.


said, he had re quested the noble Marquess to postpone his Motion until information could be re- ceived from Ireland. He could only repeat that he was not in a position to give an answer then. An inquiry into the circum stances referred to had been ordered, but the result had not yet been communicated to him.