rose to call the attention of the House to the case of John and Charles Hannigan, lately prisoners in the Gaol of Lifford; and to move for a Copy of their Petition to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, dated 28th of November, 1864, and of his Excellency's Reply thereto. It was always a very disagreeable thing to have to bring under the notice of their Lordships any question of individual grievance, and it was more especially disagreeable when the grievance was connected with Ireland; but the fact was there was no other resource, and therefore he hoped for the forbearance of their Lordships while he explained this case, and showed them a remarkable illustration of the old maxim, Summum jus, summa injuria. The Hannigans had not long come into possession of a certain field, when they were called upon to pay a poor rate which was due from the preceding occupier. That rate 557 they paid, and then about a month afterwards they were called upon to pay a sum due for county cess, which had also been left unpaid by the last occupier. There was some demur about paying the amount, upon which the collector seized a horse in the field. This was rather more than the patience of these Irishmen could bear. One held the horse while the other ran to the house for the money. In the meantime the one who held the horse, supposing it would be taken away, struck the collector, who did not, however, appear to be injured, as he afterwards walked away with the horse. The case was brought before him (Viscount Lifford) as a magistrate, and he felt bound to commit the men for assault. The case went to trial. They were afterwards prosecuted at Quarter Sessions, and convicted, and to his great surprise were sentenced to eight months' imprisonment—for holding a horse by the head for a few minutes. And for what sum did their Lordships suppose these unfortunate men had been punished? Why, the entire sum which caused all this mischief was 3s. 6d. These men were taken to prison, leaving an aged father entirely destitute. He thought this a very hard case, and when the prisoners applied to the Lord Lieutenant for a remission of the sentence, he backed the petition in every way that he possibly could. He applied personally to the Castle in their favour. Lord Wodehouse had not then been appointed, but after his appointment he received a letter to the effect that, after a full consideration of all the circumstances of the case, his Excellency had decided that the law must take its course. The Chairman of Quarter Sessions was applied to, and he stated that the county of Donegal, where the assault had taken place, was in a very disturbed state, and it was necessary to inflict the full sentence. Now, he believed that the information on which the Chairman of Quarter Sessions acted had been entirely erroneous. It was true that the county of Donegal was one in which secret societies were rife, but in that part of the county in which the Hannigans resided it was particularly quiet. In that district he had seen 600 Roman Catholics sign a pledge to do all in their power to put down secret societies. He admitted that nothing could be more unfortunate than that either House of Parliament should revise the decisions of a court of law; but the system of centralization in Ireland was peculiarly ex- 558 emplified in this case. In Ireland country gentlemen were not treated with the same consideration as country gentlemen were in this country. In England the magistrates of a county elected their own chairman; in Ireland he was a paid official, sent down from Dublin four times a year, and knew very little about the county. That was the case in the present instance. The Chairman knew nothing of the real circumstances, and the reforemade a report to the Lord Lieutenant which entirely misled his Excellency. He did not bring this case forward to make any attack on the Chairman, who was since dead, but he thought it a case which strongly showed how injurious to the ends of justice the system of centralization was. The noble Viscount concluded by moving, as a matter of form, an Address to Her Majesty for—Copy of the Petition of John and Charles Hannigan, lately Prisoners in the Gaol of Lifford, to The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, dated 28th November 1864, and of his Excellency's Reply thereto.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
thought their Lordships would agree with him that no case had been made out against the Irish Government. It appeared that great difficulty had existed in the county of Donegal in collecting the county cess in that part of the county where this assault took place. ["No, no!"] The noble Viscount's own statement showed that it was so, for he said that the person last in possession had not paid the sum which was due from him. The collector was struck two or three times, and at the time of the trial he appeared to have been very much injured by the attack which was made upon him. It was considered that, under all the circumstances, the law ought to be vindicated. When, therefore, application was made to the Lord Lieutenant to remit part of the sentence, the Lord Lieutenant stated that if he had had to judge of the case himself, he should have thought it was a very bad one; but he was guided by the opinion of the Chairman of Quarter Sessions who tried the case, and that opinion was, that the sentence should not be mitigated. On this report the Lord Lieutenant declined to interfere. The Chairman of Quarter Sessions, who had since died, had been a most valuable public servant; and, although the noble Viscount complained of centralization, four local justices sat with the Chairman when 559 the case was tried, and they unanimously agreed as to the amount of punishment that should be inflicted.
§ Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.