HL Deb 19 July 1869 vol 198 cc123-4

said, he had received a letter from the coroner, Mr. Magee, with reference to a Question he recently put as to the ad- journment of the inquest on the man killed by the police in the riot in Portadown. Mr. Magee stated that Mr. Atkinson, not himself, was the coroner for the district of Lurgan, and that he conducted the inquiry in the absence and in behalf of that gentleman; that he conducted the inquiry over three days—the inquiry being rendered extremely protracted by the manner in which the attorneys on both sides conducted the case; that at the close of the third day, when the question of adjournment arose, various difficulties arose on the part of the jury, who severally raised objections to the various days named; and that he himself, coroner for Armagh and Sessional Crown Solicitor for the county of Down, was obliged to attend the Assizes at those places, where several of the jurors also had business to attend to; and that Mr. Rea, an attorney, who attended to represent the friends of the deceased, stated that the inquest should be adjourned until after the Belfast Assizes. Mr. Magee accordingly left the question of the adjournment entirely to the jury, who, after consulting among themselves, fixed Tuesday the 3rd of August next as the day on which the inquest should be resumed. He (the Duke of Manchester) did not think this letter afforded a satisfactory ground for so long an adjournment; and he regretted that the Government, not being able to oblige the coroner to resume the inquiry at an earlier period, had not taken some other means for the exculpation of their servant, the sub-inspector of constabulary. According to the general opinion of the district, he fired without any necessity, and the evidence hitherto produced tended to that conclusion. It would have been a great advantage, both to the officer and to the authorities, if the inquiry could have been concluded in a much shorter space of time; but, for his own part, he felt he had now performed his duty in the matter.


said, he could only repeat that the Government had no power to interfere with the coroner's discretion, however much they regretted the adjournment. He did not at present think it advisable, when the inquiry had been so unfortunately interrupted, to enter into the particulars of the case; but the Government would be able in due time to judge whether the police were justified or not in firing.