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!! Connaught Journal; Mar 29, 1824 "Processions"

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  • Cathy Joynt Labath
    THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL Galway, Monday, March 29, 1824 ANTRIM ASSIZES Procession of Ribbonmen On Saturday morning some letters were laid before the Hon. Baron
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2003
      Galway, Monday, March 29, 1824

      Procession of Ribbonmen
      On Saturday morning some letters were laid before the Hon. Baron
      M'Clelland, b some gentlemen of the Grand Jury, respecting procession of
      Ribbonmen, at Toome & Cushendall, on Patrick's day. In consequence of this, the
      Learned Judge addressed the Grand Jury, and portrayed, in very impressive
      language, the evils resulting from party spirit and party processions. In the
      course of his observations he remarked that on this subject he did not speak
      theoretically, but from long experience in his judicial capacity. The mischiefs
      resulting from these processions, as evinced in other counties where he had gone
      circuit, are recorded (said the Baron) in characters of blood. It is your
      duty-it is your interest, Gentlemen, to put a stop to all such assemblages of
      people, in this county, whether of the Protestant or Roman Catholic communion,
      as promptly and as efficaciously as possible. It is doubly imperative on you to
      effect this, both as principal landed proprietors; and as Magistrates whose
      office it is to preserve public tranquility. As you value the prosperity, the
      peace, the and the vital interests of your country, I earnestly call upon you
      toe exert yourselves to the uttermost to sepress the party spirit displayed in
      such odious colours, on all these occasions. Let it not be tampered with, lest
      it may become too strong and too general to be qualified by the ordinary power
      of the law. Irritating procession of one religious party naturally produce
      irritating processions of their opponents, and thus a spirit of animosity is
      kept in continued action. Some time ago a procession of Ribbonmen had taken
      place at Middletown, in the County of Armagh, and some of the parties having
      been prosecuted, one of the witnesses for the prosecution who appeared with an
      Orange ribbon in his waistcoat, was asked whether any attack had been made upon
      his party. No, said he, pointing to the symbol on his bosom-they dared on assail
      us- we were too strong for them. After the trial had closed, I exhorted (said
      the Baron) the Magistrates to prevent the recurrence of a similar assemblage of
      any party, in future, and cautioned the people through them, to refrain from
      such meetings in future. Accordingly, the practice was discontinued in that
      district; but a procession of an opposite nature having been suffered in a
      neighbouring place, it was there resumed. This fact his Lordship urged in proof
      of his position, that one illegal and irritating procession produces another
      equally illegal and irritating, but of an opposite nature, and hence he inferred
      that it was their duty to put an instant stop to all such processions, whether
      of Orangemen or Ribbonmen. Magistrates, whether convened in Special Sessions or
      acting individually in their local situations, were fully competent to effect
      this object. For if, in any particular instance, any credible person were to
      make affidavit on good grounds, before any of them, that he had just and
      sufficient reasons to believe or apprehend that such a procession would lead to
      a breach of public peace, the Magistrate would not only have power to prevent
      the procession, but it would be his bounden duty to do so, as promptly as
      possible, because the preservation of public order is committed to his care. If
      (added his Lordship) in our private capacity, any of us hold different opinions
      from others, either on political or religious subjects, these ought never to
      interfere with, or bias our judicial or Magesterial acts, nor prevent us from
      impartially correcting offences by whomsoever pepetrated - and we should
      remember, that the processions on either side are equally illegal since they
      equally tend to a breach of the peace.
      As to the opposing parties engaged in these processions, they altogether
      mistake the mild nature of the religion which they respectively profess, and
      whose benevolent precepts the clergy of every communion are anxious to
      extricate. When they seek to make religion a cause of hatred to their
      neighbours, they outrage the kind and benevolent spirit of christianity in all
      its forms. Our pure religion would, in its natural operation, diffuse peace on
      earth, and good will to man, and would, of course ,dissuade from every act that
      ends to excite a spirit of resentment or revenge. A claim to exclusive loyalty
      is not Protestantism, and they who wish to arouse painful emotions in the minds
      of their fellow christians are not Protestants but a disgrace to the name of
      Protestants, which they assume. On these subjects his Lordship expatriated at
      considerable length, and then apologized to the Gentlemen of the Jury for having
      so long occupied their attention in their discussion; but it was, he said, of
      prime importance to the community that the processions which he had alluded
      should be finally stopped, and he again entreated them, most earnestly, to act
      with vigour and promptness in effecting so desirable an object.
      The Hon. Baron's address was delivered after the business of the Crown
      Court was closed.

      Cathy Joynt Labath
      Ireland Old News
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