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A police force had been established in Ireland as early as 1814, under the name of “The Peace Preservation Force." By an Act passed a few years later, this force assumed a regular form, under four provincial inspectors. The men who composed the force were excellent; on their efficiency as a constabulary, however, there were several drawbacks. The force was unpopular, because the men were all Protestants. Being under four heads, it wanted vigour and unity of action. The men had no prospects of promotion to spur them to zeal and activity; the grades in the service were few, and all the higher posts were in the patronage of the LordLieutenant. Moreover, such as the force was, it had never been properly handled, or its capabilities properly tested. This was, perhaps, the principal cause of its inefficiency. In the hands of Mr Drummond it became almost at once equal to the performance of duties formerly considered to be altogether beyond its powers.
In the division of labour in Dublin Castle, the control of the constabulary was left to the Under Secretary, even when the Chief Secretary was in Ireland.* In this field, then, Drummond appears as a principal. “He found the constabulary in a very inefficient state," says General Larcom. By his power of organisation and administrative skill, he converted it into the most efficient police in Europe. It became under his hands an almost perfect machine, which, like a delicate musical instrument, responded at once from the remotest part of Ireland to his touch in Dublin Castle.”+
* See 12,171 “Report of the Roden Committee."
+ The Irish constabulary evoked the admiration of Sir Charles Napier, of Scinde, during a visit which he paid to Ireland. General Larcom remembers that, launching forth in admiration of the constabulary and of Drummond's powers of administration, he declared him “just the sort of man that was wanted to govern India!”
Before he was a month in the country, the state of the police force in Dublin made plain to Drummond the necessity of its being remodelled. He thus describes that force
“ The condition of the Dublin police in 1835 was most wretched. It consisted of a small number of day police, having an establishment of peace officers somewhat similar to the old establishment of the metropolitan police offices, and a considerable number of watchmen—decrepit, worn-out old men. For the purpose of a day police the watchmen were absolutely inefficient; in fact, it was impossible to produce them. In the month of August 1835, there was a large public meeting to be held in the Coburg Gardens, and it became my duty to consult with Alderman Dailey as to the means of preserving the peace. He mentioned the small body of day police he had as being totally inadequate to the occasion. I suggested that he should bring out his watchmen. He said, Oh, it will not do to call out the watchmen; they will excite so much the ridicule of the people, that there would be a risk of their very appearance creating a disturbance. It will not do to show them in daylight.' [Immediate action was taken to remedy this state of matters. A bill was introduced in the Session of 1835; it passed the Commons, but did not pass the Lords. It was reintroduced in 1836, and passed; but considerable difficulties arose in providing sufficient funds, and before these could be removed and the necessary preparations made, a considerable time elapsed, and an amendment to the Act became necessary, so that it was not until January 1 38 that the [Dublin) police was in operation. The effect of the change was to give 1000 able and effective men for Dublin and a certain district round it. The former force numbered between 400 and 500 men, underpaid, miserably clothed, old, and inefficient. It is impossible to have a more efficient police than there is now (1839] in Dublin ; and that, I believe, is the opinion of the people. I refer to a report to show the state of the Dublin police previously to the change. One passage which I should like to read shows the former state of the town in regard to combinations. It is one of the annual reports of the Magistrates before the establishinent of the new force. Combination assaults had become so frequent at that time that they took place in the broad daylight, and, in some instances, in the crowded streets of the town There is one circumstance which characterises the year 1837 which deserves particular notice, and that is the sudden growth and extension of the offence, indicated by the increase during that year of the number of persons charged with combination outrages, from fortyfour in 1836 to ninety-seven in the latter year. The impenetrable secrecy with which a combination transaction is carried on, from the first inception of a hostile design against an individual to the execution of the dreadful sentence of slating [i.e., knocking a man down with bludgeons and beating him]; the inhuman severity of that infliction ; the address with which the assailants congregate at the spot of mischief without exciting alarm, or even attracting attention; the suddenness with which, by a well-concerted simultaneous attack, the slating is performed; the easy escape of the criminals while the victim is prostrate, and perhaps insensible, and the attention of passengers, if any there happen to be, engrossed by his perilous situation; the difficulty of discovering, arresting, bringing to trial, and convicting the guilty persons, will, we trust, excuse us to his Excellency, if we suggest the necessity of legislative enactments in aid of the law as it now stands.' In the first half year after the introduction of the new police, there were only two combination assaults, and nine out of twelve of those engaged in them were apprehended. In a year the number of these assaults was reduced from ninety-seven to eight. The new police finally put an end completely to these outrages."
At the same time that the Dublin Police Bill was introduced in the session of 1835, there was also proposed a general Irish Constabulary Bill, prepared on the basis of one that had been drawn up under the Chief Secretaryship of Mr Littleton. This bill passed
* Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee.
the Commons in that session, but was rejected by the Lords; whereby, says Drummond,“ the benefit which would have been derived from a more efficient and a more perfect force was postponed for a whole year.” The same bill was reintroduced in 1836, and passed with some alterations.
In the meantime Mr Drummond addressed himself with the force at his disposal to the work that fell to be done. He had almost suppressed the faction fights before the new police became available :
“ The first successful efforts to put down the faction fights were made at the end of 1835 and in 1836, previously to the passing of the Constabulary Act, and may be ascribed to the action of the Government on the constabulary. A remarkable instance of this occurred at A report, dated in 1835, from the chief constable of the district, states :
-On Wednesday, the 9th, the fair-day of the village of two hostile factions, the Curtins against Connorses, assembled to disturb the public peace. They were in number about 500 at each side, and remained on two hills convenient to the village up till five o'clock in the afternoon, at which hour and previously business was suspended, when the military and police were ordered to their quarters, all being peaceable. The Connorses paraded the village different times, after the authorities left the spot, to the number of about twenty, armed with blunderbusses, guns, and pistols; and several shots were fired convenient to the village by both parties.' Cases of this kind were of common occurrence previous to Lord Normanby's time, and the constable's report shows he did not consider it extraordinary. It was common to receive reports of the assembling of such factions, without at the same time hearing that the constabulary had made any efforts to prevent their taking place. A report from the same place, in May 1836, was as follows :- I beg leave to report to you that yesterday evening, the fair-day of the village of a large, riotous, and tumultuous party of men, the
Four-years-old,” numbering about 350, about forty of whom were armed with blunderbusses, guns, and pistols, paraded
through the village different times, firing shots, and crying out, “Here is · Four-years-old.'” They afterwards, late in the evening, went into a grove convenient to the village, where they took refreshments, liquor and bread, and again returned to the village, firing shots. There were from 70 to 100 shots fired. In consequence of the opposition faction (the “Three-yearsold") not appearing, there was no riot between them, but there were some persons beat; however, there was no person dangerously wounded. ... I should not omit stating, that previous to the fair-day, and up to the hour of six o'clock yesterday evening, there was not the most distant rumour of the intended outrage ; not one single hint could be got relative to the matter. I had some days previous been on the alert, but could not learn anything of the rioters intending to meet at the fair.””
The way in which the Government acted on the police may be seen from the minute made on the last report by Drummond, in the absence of the Lord Lieutenant :-“This occurrence is discreditable to the police. The constable will state-Why he was on the alert several days previously? What force he assembled at the fair? What force he might without difficulty have assembled at the fair ? How near is the nearest military station to the village ? And he will further state whether forty men armed with blunderbusses, guns, and pistols, could have entered the village unknown to the police if the police had been doing their duty. When did this riot begin? When did the party proceed to the grove? How long did they remain there? Was there time to have sent for a reinforcement of constabulary or military ? Was their intention of returning unknown to the police ? Were any steps taken with a view to identifying any of them? Have any since been taken? The police appear to have been utterly useless on this occasion.
* Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee.