Disturbances In Lurgan.
The Urban Council And The Police
The Belfast News-Letter,
Thursday, October 18,
At the weekly meeting of the Lurgan Urban Council on the evening of the 16th inst., presided over by Mr. John Gilchrist, J.P. (chairman), Councillor John Mahaffy said he desired to ask whether the council had any control in the matter of drafting extra police into the town. The question had been put to him by a number of respectable ratepayers, and he wished to know the extent of their power or whether they had any power on the subject at all. The question was one of importance, as recent events had shown that the importation of strange police into Lurgan tended to cause disturbance rather than the preservation of the peace.
Dr. Moore – Batoning the inhabitants.
Mr. Mahaffy went on to say that damage had been done for which the ratepayers would have to pay, and he did not know of any other town in Ireland into which constabulary could be drafted as they were into Lurgan from time to time. The thirty local police were well able to preserve public order, and if the council had any power to prevent the drafting down of special forces on every possible opportunity, it ought to be employed.
The Chairman said he did not know that the council had any power over the drafting in of extra police.
The Clerk (Mr. F. W. Pollock) stated that the matter should be taken up at a special meeting of the council, at which all available information might be adduced.
Dr. Moore said he agreed with the clerk as to the necessity for a special meeting, for this way but the opening of the ball. His opinion was that strange police had been drafted into Lurgan in a way that was unnecessary, and he knew that people in Belfast told him that they were watching the papers to see what was to happen in Lurgan when such forces were brought down.
Mr. Joshua McNeice said the police were not brought down to make peace. Their object was to make war on the people so as to bring in more money in fines to Dublin Castle.
The Chairman – If we have no power in the matter why hold a special meeting ?
The Clerk – You can proceed by a memorial, as you did in the case of the Post office.
Mr. William White observed that the council had no power to interfere with the doings of the constabulary authorities, but this fact notwithstanding, there ought to be some expression on the subject. For years past the town had been frequently inundated with strange policemen, who were brought down for the keeping of the peace in a way which, according to their (the council’s) view, was not necessary, and he felt very strongly on what occurred a few days ago. It might be the law, but it was strange that any private individual could, by swearing on information or other means, have an extra police force drafted into Lurgan at any time, while the representatives of the ratepayers were never consulted. The ratepayers were totally disregarded, but the ratepayers had to pay the piper. All anyone had to do was to represent that there was something going to be wrong, and 50, 60, or 100 police could be brought down as an extra force for a town that was over policed already, and the local police of which were quite equal to the preservation of order.
Mr. Edward Lunn asked whether they should not have an indignation meeting of the inhabitants convened in order that the opinion of the people might be taken.
Councillor White – We are the representatives of the people.
Councillor Lunn – I know that, but I feel that a public town meeting should be called all the same, for I have seen men bludgeoned in the streets of Lurgan without cause in a way that made my blood boil. We have heard a police officer incite those under him by shouting, “Men of Galway, are you going to be cowards?” We have seen what took place, and if this sort of thing is permitted to go on it will end seriously for the people.
The Chairman said there was no need for the police on the 16th. (Hear, hear,) Acting upon advice, the police had been withdrawn into the barrack on that night, whereas it was stated that they were driven into the barrack like sheep. One officer had, moreover, expressed his regret like a gentleman.
Dr. Moore said there was a good deal of cowardly work done by the police that night, and the people were batoned indiscriminately. He (Dr. Moore) was batoned, and knew what it felt like to be batoned, although he was assisting to keep the peace, and he saw the daughter of their worthy member (Colonel Saunderson) going to be batoned only for two gentlemen who went to her protection.
Councillor Lunn said the behaviour of the strange police was such that the local men were ashamed of them.
Dr. Moore said the chief harm was done by the men from Galway. He was glad to see their old friend, District-Inspector Gray, present later on, and if he has been present on the night in question the riot would not have taken place.
The Chairman – Our own officers did all they could to prevent the disturbance.
A requisition for a special meeting to deal with the subject was then drafted and signed.
This Newspaper Article has been reproduced by the kind permission of the British Newspaper Archive Limited, (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).