§ MR. FLYNN
I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he is aware that, at Ballinspittle, County Cork, on the 8th instant, an evicted tenant, named Michael Coughlan, was charged before Messrs. Irwin and Cronan, Resident Magistrates (under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act), with re-taking possession of the home from which he had been evicted, and was sentenced to two months' imprisonment with hard labour, and at the expiration of that period to find bail to keep the peace for twelve months or go to gaol for a further term of two months; under what section of the Act was the prosecution brought; what sections of the Act are at present in force in that district of Cork; and, being brought under the said Act, why was it that the prosecution was conducted by the solicitor for the agent, Mr. J. H. Carroll, Cork, and not by the Crown prosecutor for the district? Also, is he aware that Mr. Humphreys, clerk to Mr. J. H. Carroll, the agent of the landlord, admitted in cross-examination that he caught Coughlan by the collar, and ordered him to "clear out;" what steps were taken by the policemen present, who witnessed this alleged assault; and why was not the case tried under the ordinary law?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
It is a fact that Michael Coughlan was prosecuted under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act for taking forcible possession, with the result stated in the question. The prosecution was brought under Section 2 Sub-section 3 (b) of the Act. The portions of the Act at present in force in the district in question are Sections 1, 3, and 4, and Sub-section 3 of Section 2. The prosecution was conducted in the manner stated because it was a private prosecution at the suit of the landlord, and not at the suit of the Crown. I am informed that the act referred to was done by Mr. Humphreys, on behalf of the landlord, in assertion of his legal right to remove Coughlan from the premises of which he was holding forcible possession. There was no occasion for the police to 880 interfere. The agent for the landlord, at whose suit the case was brought, elected to proceed under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act, as he was entitled to do.
§ MR. MADDEN
Neither in England or in Ireland can the police interfere when a person in the assertion of a legal right has to remove another person from his house, using no more force than is necessary for the purpose. Of course, if there should be excessive force used, the person against whom it is used may have his legal remedy; but it is not usual for the police to interfere.
§ MR. FLYNN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if a prosecution can be brought by a private person under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act instead of proceeding by the ordinary law?