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Limerick City Petitions

31/07/1822

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Petitions Relating to the Local Taxation of the City of Limerick page 1
 
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Limerick City Petitions

Date of Article: 31/07/1822
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- ., - ON PETITIONS RELATING TO LIMERICK TAXATION. 93 ing as to prevent your giving evidence if you are so required by lawful authority ?— I look upon it, that the oath, so far as it goes to secrecy, is not binding; because it appears to me, and I have that conviction upon my mind, that it was originally in- tended for the purpose of covering delinquencies of one kind and another. Do you conceive an oath so taken, can interpose any obstacle to your examination before any co^ rt of justice?— I should suppose not. You have stated, that you were arrested for a debt due by you as sheriff, can you inform the Committee the time and circumstances of that arrest?— I believe it was some time about the 18th day of the election; I am not exactly sure when the execu- tion came down from Dublin; I have every reason to believe the execution was a fabrication of the then corporation of Limerick, and I was arrested upon that execution. By whom were you arrested ?— By Mr. Brereton. What office did he fill at that time ?— Sheriff of Limerick. Was he the returning officer presiding at that election ?— He was. At the time the returning officer, the sheriff of Limerick made that arrest, were you actively engaged in election pursuits?— Very actively. And those pursuits were adverse to the interest of the corporation ?— Yes. Had any application ever been made to you before for this sum of money for which you were arrested ?— I do not recollect that I ever was applied to, but it remained in terror em; we knew we were liable, having passed our accounts, and I was endeavouring to prevail on my colleague, who was the aggressor, to pay off the King's silver, and other money that was due, and to extricate me from it. How many years had it been due?— I was sheriff, the last time, in the year 1807. And when did the arrest take place ?— In the year 1817. And this debt had accrued during your shrievalty in 1807 ?— Yes. You say you have not read this oath till lately ?— No, I have not. You have read it lately ?— Yes. When you came to give evidence to day, you perfectly remembered this clause of secrecy?— I did. Did you not know, that you might at any moment be arrested for the debt that you had incurred ?— I had in many instances before that, I will not say many, but in some instances before that, I had been arrested by a tipstaff from Dublin ; and it is a well known fact, that you may get rid of him by paying the fees. You mean to state then, you had been arrested before for the sum, and got off by paying the tipstaff's fees ?— Nine years before that I was arrested. Were you then arrested for this sum ?— No ; it was in consequence of not passing my accounts, and then the accounts were passed by my colleague ; but I was never arrested till then for that sum. How often have you been arrested by the tipstaff on subjects connected with your office?— Never but once for not passing the accounts; this last time I was arrested by the sheriff. Is it not the general rule to direct arrests to the sheriff?— Writs of assistance come down to the sheriff, but this was a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum. Sent out of the exchequer ?— Yes. It was a ca. sa. as it is called ?— Yes. You now state, that you do not consider this oath, which you took as a burgess, as binding ?— Not that portion of it which imposes secrecy. How long is it since you have formed that impression?— Since I began to consider the nature of the oath, and saw the variance which is to be found in it; in one part, you are bound to protect the rights of the inhabitants of the city of Limerick; and in another part, you are bound to secrecy, whereby it gives to the party taking it, an opening by which he is enabled to violate those rights. How long is it since you came to that conclusion ?— Possibly within a year, or a year and a half. Is this the first time you have ever given evidence as to the secrets of the council since you came to that determination ?— Certainly. It is the first time?— It is the first time. Were you ever called upon to give evidence before upon that subject?— No. Do you not conceive, as a legal man, in case of any proceeding by quo ' warranto, or by mandamus, relating to the corporation, if a burgess were called before a court of justice to give evidence, they would disregard that clause of secrecy, and compel him to disclose all he knew ?— It is difficult for me to determine; but I rather think he would not be bound by the oath. 617. A a Mr. B. M'Maho*. ( 5 July.)
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