§ Moved, That the House be now put into a Committee on the said Bill.—(The Lord Steward.)
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, that he did not desire to offer any opposition to the measure, but at the same time he thought it required some justification, for in effect it handed over the county to the police and the stipendiary magistrates. He wished to call the attention of the Government to an outrage which had recently occurred at Annaghmore in the north of Ireland. It appeared from the report in The Times that the Roman Catholics in a district of the north of Ireland were accustomed to celebrate Midsummer's Eve by bonfires. On the occasion in question they had reason to apprehend these festivities would be interrupted by the Orangemen, and 922 accordingly some of the Roman Catholic party provided themselves with firearms. During the festivities on the night of the 23rd of June last the Roman Catholic party were informed that an Orange rabble was coming towards them. The armed Roman Catholics at once proceeded in the direction indicated and discharged their firearms among their opponents, wounding seven people, and one of them so severely that he had consequently died. Such an occurrence would make it appear doubtful whether Ireland possessed any Government or any police, for it did not seem that any steps were taken by the police to prevent an infraction of the peace, although it was well known that this celebration was to take place, and that encounters between the Roman Catholics and the Orangemen had occurred on these occasions in former years. In spite of Parliament being called upon to give its attention to Peace Preservation Acts, and in spite of the lesson which the Belfast riots should have conveyed, there appeared a great negligence somewhere with reference to these matters. He believed that they were ruining the constabulary of Ireland, as fat-as constabulary purposes were concerned, by drill, parade, and constant attention to other military duties. It was important that these matters should receive consideration, because anniversaries of a similar kind were approaching. He should be glad to know what had occurred with reference to this outrage, and whether any communication had been had with the magistrates, either local or stipendiary, upon the subject.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that he had received from the police a report of what had occurred in the county of Armagh on the 23rd instant, and he had no doubt that by this time a further report had been forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, who would of course take proper measures. He could not agree with the noble Marquess in his attacks upon the Irish constabulary; and, considering that there were five counties in which these lamentable affrays bad occurred, that they contained 1,250,000 inhabitants, and an area of between 4,000 and 5,000 square miles, it did not appear to him very wonderful that the belligerents should occasionally meet. He thought that it would be much more satisfactory if the noble Marquess should move for a Committee to inquire into the matter, instead of making these violent attacks. So far as the anniversaries which it was usual to 923 celebrate in the north of Ireland in the month of July were concerned, he believed it had always been the practice of the Lord Lieutenant to consult with the magistrates and police authorities as to the best steps to be taken to prevent the occurrence of riots in those cases, and he had not the slightest doubt that the necessary measures with that object would be adopted this year.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
said, that when he brought the question before the House on a former occasion, the noble Earl made precisely the same suggestions as to his moving for a Committee or a Commission; but when he came down to the House the next day to move for an inquiry, expecting the assent of the Government, he was surprised to find that the noble Earl would not assent to the Motion.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee (according to Order).
§ THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE moved a new clause providing that whenever the Lord Lieutenant exercised the power of proclamation provided in the Bill, a copy of the proclamation should be laid before Parliament within fourteen days.
§ THE EARL OF ST. GERMANS
regretted that the state of Ireland was not such as to render it expedient to dispense with this Act; but the fact was that every Lord Lieutenant since 1847 had thought that the Act should be continued. It was quite true that apparent quietness existed in many places which were proclaimed; but this was more the consequence of the proclamation than a fact which showed the prudence of dispensing with it. It was necessary that the power of proclamation should be exercised to prevent the spread of those illegal societies which set themselves up against the law and inspired the loyal subjects of Her Majesty with continual dread. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with the advice of the Law Officers, was desirous of withdrawing some of the proclamations, and he thought that the matter should be left in the hands of the Executive. He deemed the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl to be superfluous.
§ Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill. The Report of the Amendment to be received To-morrow.