Page images
PDF
EPUB

“I am speaking with reference to a Catholic population. If it was a Protestant population in similar circumstances, I should come to the same conclusion with regard to a relation of a Protestant Bishop.

“Then it is because the force happens to be connected with a Catholic population, that you think it an advantage ? “ Yes.

Then, in a Catholic population, you would prefer having a Catholic police to a Protestant?

“Yes. But if only a partially Catholic population, I should not.

“ Where the greater preponderance of the population was on the side of the Roman Catholic religion, you would in general appoint Roman Catholic policemen ?

“I would leave the service completely open to applicants of either creed; but I think it would be desirable that a large proportion, both of officers and men, should be Roman Catholics. The proportion of Roman Catholics among the officers is at present decidedly much smaller than of Protestants.

“ You think it would be better to correct that?
I think it would be advisable to correct that.

Supposing these principles carried out, do you think that persons of property would have the same reliance on the police that they have now, they being generally Protestants ?

"I feel persuaded that in the course of six months, from the manner in which the police would do their duty, they would have that confidence. A prejudice would have to be overcome; but the more considerate, seeing how the police discharged their duty, would be soon satisfied."*

After the new Act and regulations came into force, Mr Drummond continued to retain the active management and superintendence of the constabulary. In dealing with the factions his policy was to accumulate the police in such strength, at the point of expected conflict, as to put resistance out of the question. The

* Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee.

1

result was that they usually dispersed the factions, and arrested the ring-leaders without opposition. The stipendiary magistrates introduced by the Act greatly faciliated the effective employment of the force. The efforts of the constabulary were also aided by a clause inserted for the purpose, in the Spirit License Act of 1836, which gave the magistrates the power of clearing, at an early hour, the booths at fairs. In 1838 the Inspector-General of the force, dissatisfied by his subordinate relation to it, threw up his office. One of his complaints was that the stipendiaries, whose numbers under the Police Act were increased from twentynine to fifty-four, did not correspond with him, but with the Under Secretary, whereby the practical control and disposal of the force was taken out of his hands. On some occasions he was unaware of the movements of the police till he received reports of their having executed the orders of the Government.

The Orange processions were dealt with as vigorously as the faction fights. There was a difficulty, however, in dealing with them, due to the apathy or partiality of the magistrates, who for years had allowed them to take place with impunity. This was one of the chief reasons why Drummond longed (as appears from his correspondence) for the stipendiaries proposed to be appointed under the Police Bill. He saw that but little could be done against this species of disorder until he had at his disposal a body of magistrates acting as officers of the Government. There was another reason why he longed for the stipendiaries,—the mal-administration of justice in the Petty Sessions. The people had no confidence in their judges. When they came from a distance to attend the court, there were frequently no magistrates in attendance to form a court, and they had to travel home again. “Rumours of an alarming nature from the other side," writes Drummond to his mother in July 1836. “Lord John Russell and the Radicals have quarrelled about the English Church Bill. I think the Radicals are right. They are too often right, which is our fault. Here we go on prosperously, and I should anxiously desire to have another year, because, I think, in that time we should have reaped a part of our harvest, and that we should begin to feel the salutary influence of the stipendiary magistrates about to be appointed. Grossly have the local magistrates abused their power, in many, very many instances; but their wings are clipped, and I hope and believe there is some chance of justice being better administered soon, and ultimately of being well administered. The confidence of the people will be regained ; though given to the Government, it is still withheld from their local courts, and no wonder. The courts are now improving, however, and the new appointments will have a powerful effect."

As fruits of the activity of the Government against the Orangemen, there lay in jail in February 1836 a great number of persons awaiting trial for taking part in processions. The declarations then made by the Orange leaders of their intention to dissolve their lodges was made the occasion for an act of clemency. The assizes were sitting at the time, and the Crown solicitors were directed to forego all prosecutions for this offence, except where the parties were charged with violence or other criminal conduct. Many prisoners were accordingly admonished and dismissed. This clemency was, however, thrown away. Information having been received through the constabulary that meetings were apprehended in a variety of places on the 12th of July 1836, troops and parties of police were sent to these places, under the direction of stipendiary magistrates, who were moved for the occasion from other parts of the country. Twelve troops and a half of cavalry, thirty-four companies of infantry, and thirty-three stipendiary magistrates, were thus employed. Similar exhibitions of force on the part of the Government were required, though on a less scale, in 1837 and 1838. In the last year nine troops of cavalry, five companies of infantry, and sixteen magistrates sufficed. By these measures the processions were in many cases prevented; and great numbers of those who took part in them were arrested, brought to trial, and punished. In three years the processions were practically suppressed, though in some districts it was still necessary to watch, and be prepared for the movements of the Orangemen. Those who took part in these processions were mostly farmers and labourers; but they were countenanced by many in superior positions, and, in one instance, in Monaghan, in 1838, were headed by landed proprietors, near relatives of a local magistrate.

The Orange party considered the employment of the stipendiaries to be a slander on the local magistrates. But the facts seem to have fully justified their employment. The reasons usually assigned by the Government for the appointment of a stipendiary to any district were the prevalence therein of outrages, the frequency of faction fights or of party processions, or the want of resident magistrates. There was at least a studied desire to avoid the unpleasant truth in the grounds of these appointments. The truth, however, may be inferred from a single fact. In June 1837, Drummond directed a circular letter to all the local magistrates, requesting that they should use every means to prevent processions, and should transmit such information as they might receive of the intentions of the Orangemen to assemble in defiance of law. To this letter no answer was received in a single instance. The stipendiary magistrates had to be employed to obtain the necessary information. A phrase in the circular gave great offence to the Orangemen, and was afterwards referred to as the reason why it was not answered. Drummond designated those who might intend processions as “evil disposed persons,” by which he was said to have prejudged their case. He had to justify the phrase, before the Roden Committee, as rightly applied to those who meditated processions after the warnings and the clemency of the Government. The stipendiaries were either barristers, or experienced military or constabulary officers. Men were required who could administer justice, and men who could enforce order; and it was not easy to find the qualifications for the double duty in the same persons.

We have now seen the improvements effected in the police, and the good effects of the vigour of the Government. The police form, however, but one branch of the governmental machine for the repression of crime and disorder. They can only operate as a physical force to prevent disorder by direct anticipatory interference, or by the apprehension of those guilty of overt criminal acts. It is on the criminal courts, the machinery for the prosecution, conviction, and punishment of offenders, that the main reliance must be rested in spreading and maintaining respect for, and terror of the law. At the same time, then, that the efficiency of the constabulary was increased by tonic treatment and a new organisation, the whole of the prosecuting and magisterial agencies in Ireland were remodelled and invigorated.

« PreviousContinue »