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Grand Juries (Ireland) Appoint Ment Of Officers

Volume 38: debated on Friday 13 March 1896

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I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—(1) if he is aware that, at the recent Spring Assizes for County Longford, George Campbell, a Protestant, was appointed County Cess Collector for the Barony of Ardagh at a poundage rate of 1s., whilst Patrick Baxter offered to collect the same rate at a poundage of 9d., and Patrick Hughes at a poundage of 6d., the two latter being Roman Catholics; (2) is he also aware that at the Leitrim County Assizes the same thing occurred, when the application of James Browne to collect the County Cess for the Barony of Mohill at a sum less by £90 than the sum agreed to be paid to the collector appointed was rejected, and a Protestant appointed; and, (3) will he introduce a Measure to so amend the Grand Jury laws as to give Roman Catholics, who form a large majority of the cesspayers of Ireland, a fair portion of the offices attached to the collection and expenditure of their own moneys?

The facts appear to be as stated in the first paragraph. Only one member of the Grand Jury voted in favour of the acceptance of the lowest tender, and the appointment of Campbell, who has held the position for some years, was supported by two Roman Catholic members of that body. As to the second paragraph, the appointment of Browne was supported by only two members of the Grand Jury, both of whom were Protestants, whilst of the majority who supported the successful candidate, four were Roman Catholics. With regard to the last paragraph, I have no knowledge as to the religious denominations of officers appointed by Grand Juries throughout Ireland, but I may point out that no religious disabilities attach to such appointments by reason of any provision of the law, and I do not think it would be possible so to amend the law as to create such disabilities.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Irish Government have any control over the Grand Juries in this matter?