Papers relating to Donaghmore Riot, with Report of Commissioners to inquire into Conduct of Justices of Peace at Court of Petty Sessions at Dungannon, October 1866

Back to Search Bibliographic Data Print
Instructions for the Guidance of Magistrates in Suppressing Party Processions, 

referred to in the Commissioners' Report. 

The Act of Parliament, 18th Victoria, cap. 
2, points out in distinct terms the Offences that fall within the provisions of that Statute. 
These Offences arei— That any body of persons meeting and parading together, or joining in procession, and who shall hear, wear, or have amongst them, any fire-arms, or other offensive weapons, or any banner, emblem, or flag, or symbol, the display whereof may be calculated, or tend to provoke animosity between different classes of Her Majesty's subjects; or who shall be accompanied by any music of alike nature or tendency, shall be deemed to be an unlawful assembly, and every person present thereat shall be deemed to be guilty of a misdemeanor. 
To come within the foregoing provisions, parties must "meet and parade, or join in procession." 
The parading need not be, however, in military array. 
Any meeting and 'placing of persons jso met in ranks, or in any order of march, or procession, would be within the Act. 
They (or some of the party) must either have arms or offensive weapons, or wear party colours -or emblems, or have with them party flags or banners, &c.; 
or they must be accompanied "by music 

" of a like nature and tendency," that is, playing party tunes or singing party songs. 
An assembly of persons meeting and parading, or joining in procession under any one of the fore¬ going circumstances, falls within the meaning of the Act. 
By Section Two of the Act, any Justice of the Peace apprized of the assembly, is bound to take proper assistance, and command such unlawful assembly of persons or procession to disperse, using the Form of Proclamation contained in the Act. 
By the Third Section, persons refusing to disperse within one quarter of an hour from their being thus commanded so to do, may be apprehended, and punished by summary conviction before two Magistrates; and all such parties, whether so commanded to disperse or not, and even though they should disperse on being commanded to do so, may be indicted for the misdemeanor, under the First Section of the Act, and brought to trial for said offence, at the Sessions or Assizes. 
With respect to arches, flags, or banners erected on or over the public highway, and the display whereof may be calculated to provoke animosity between Her Majesty's subjects of different religious persuasions, they may bo removed by the Magistrates and Constabulary under their control. 
Sometimes the bases of these arches are erected on the Premises of Individuals, and. 
not on the public highway, though the arches are afterwards made to cross the highway ; but wherever such arches are extended over the highway, they partake of the character of nuisances, and the Magistrates have a right to remove the same, and, if it be necessary, to go upon the grounds of individuals for that purpose ; and the Constabulary, acting under the direction of a Magistrate, may do so, taking care to do as little damage as possible, and to use no more force than is necessary for the purpose; and the same observation applies to the practice of extending lines of flags, or other party emblems, from one house to another, across the street, so as to make a species of arch or line under which the people must pass. 
The exhibition of flags and party emblems in or from public-houses is effectually provided against by the Gth and 7th William IV., 
38, Sections 8 and 9, and should be carefully suppressed accord¬ ingly. 
By the former of these Sections, every person licensed to sell Spirits by retail, who shall hang out or display, or suffer to be hung out or displayed from or out of his house, or place of busi¬ ness, any sign, flag, symbol, colour, decoration, or emblem whatsoever, except the known and usual and accustomed sign of such house or place of sale, is liable to a Penalty of Two Pounds, and his Licence may not be renewed, or may be forfeited altogether; and by the latter Section, any Magistrate or Chief Constable, or any Constable authorized by a Magistrate or Chief Constable, may enter such house, and remove and destroy all such flags, &c. 
The Justices of the Peace should understand that it is their bounden duty, within their respective jurisdictions, to act upon the powers thus vested in them by law, for the suppression of these illegal proceedings, against which the above Statutes are directed, and that they will be held, collectively and individually, responsible for any violation of this law which may occur in their district, of which it shall be found that they have had notice, and where it shall appear that they have not made use of their authority and the means at their disposal to suppress such proceedings, and bring those concerned in them to justice. 
In every case when the Magistrates hear of a Procession being formed in defiance of the Act, or when they have reasonable grounds to apprehend that such a Procession may take place, they should be prepared with sufficient assistance to proceed to the spot, and should use the most prompt exertions to disperse the Assemblage, and apprehend the principal parties engaged in it, and proceed against them in the manner provided by the Statute. 
In the case of small Parties, not exceeding twenty, and not having any Arms, it may be suflicient to proceed in the course pointed out by the Statute, to read the Proclamation to disperse, which should be done in the following words, viz.:— 

" Our Sovereign Lady the Queen chargeth and commandeth all persons being here assembled, 

"immediately to disperse, and peaceably to depart, upon pain of Fine and Imprisonment 

" according to the Statute passed in the 13th year of the Reign of Queen Victoria, to restrain 

" party processions in Ireland."