Wednesday, 29 March 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Curran: I asked the Minister for Justice this afternoon to state why proceedings instituted against Richard Murphy, of County Kilkenny, for offences under the Electoral Act had  been withdrawn. His answer was that the local State Solicitor after investigation had reported that the charge could not be sustained. I was not satisfied with the answer and I want to put the facts briefly before the Minister and to say that no incident has happened for a long time in the administration of the law in that particular district which has so shocked the people as the particular incident to which I refer. A Richard Murphy was on the register as a local government elector. It was known to everybody that that man had died some eight or ten months previous to the election. A Richard Murphy applied for a ballot paper on the morning of the election about 9 o'clock. He was challenged and he refused to be sworn. He was brought into the polling booth about 10 o'clock by a supporter of the Fianna Fáil Party, who is a particular friend of mine, and I want to say to his credit in this House that he absolutely refused to allow the man to be sworn. In the afternoon, he was again brought in by a Mr. Hayes, who is a schoolmaster and who, I understand, induced him and actually insisted on his being sworn and voting. These are briefly the facts. I believe that the Gárda Síochána, who were well aware of the facts, instituted proceedings and issued summonses to witnesses. I can tell the Minister that there is plenty of proof to sustain the statement which I have made. Probably the case would not have such a bad aspect were it not for the fact that a teacher was responsible for the incident. Is that the sort of man, a man who so disregards the principles of Christianity as to induce a man to commit perjury, that any Deputy would like to have in charge of his children?
Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge): I think I gave the Deputy to-day all the information that it was possible for me to give him in connection with this case. He has stated now that no incident occurred in that district for a long time that aroused so much interest. I do not know why he has taken upon himself to interest himself in a constituency that is not his own, except that, perhaps, he gets up here to raise this matter as prospective  Minister for Justice for the Centre Party.
Mr. Holohan: May I say that although I represent the constituency, Deputy Curran lives within a few miles of the district where this incident took place? I live much further away from the district than Deputy Curran, but I can assure the Minister that what Deputy Curran has stated is correct, from the information which I got.
Mr. Ruttledge: I see. The Deputy admits he knows all about the case. One would have thought he would have looked after the interests of his constituency, and not leave it to some outside Deputy to do so.
Mr. Ruttledge: We shall not argue about the distance. The position is as I stated in reply to this question to-day. I thought that the Deputy when he was raising this matter on the adjournment would make some suggestion as to who is to blame or who is at fault with regard to this matter. The State has officials and police forces and the State has to rely on them. I have the police report before me and the State Solicitor's letter is before me. In that letter the State Solicitor has definitely and clearly stated that a prosecution cannot be sustained. It was an ordinary summons. What I want to be clear about is, is the Deputy suggesting in any  oblique way, that there was any inter ference by any State Department in stopping the prosecution? Is he trying to have it inferred in this House that any Deputy interfered with any Department of the Government with a view to having it stopped?
Mr. Ruttledge: There has been no interference of any kind. If the Deputy wants to go to the State Solicitor who was appointed by a Government long previous to the advent of this Government, a State Solicitor in whom they had confidence, he can get all the facts. This matter did not come under my notice until the question was put down. We know nothing about summonses that are  issued. The State Solicitors are put in that position because they have legal knowledge and they are believed to be competent to discharge the duty entrusted to them. The State Solicitor states in the opinion given to the Gárda, that quite definitely on the evidence a prosecution could not be sustained. Why should the State be put to expense? Why should people be put to trouble if the view of the State official in that area was that a prosecution could not be sustained? That is the position and that is the only answer I can give.
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