ARMAGH ASSIZES ADDRESS
The Right Honourable Chief Baron Brady entered the Court this morning at ten o'clock. The Commission having been made, and the Grand Jury re-sworn,
His LORDSHIP then addressed them as follows:-- Mr. Foreman, and Gentlemen of the Grand Jury, after what I have heard about report, and there are otherwise, of the business of this Court, at the late Assizes, I feel very happy in being able to congratulate you that in your calendar there is nothing likely, in the slightest degree, to alarm your apprehension for the peace of your country. There are a few cases, with circumstances of aggravation connected with them, but nothing to alarm you with regard to the public peace.
There is, indeed, one case of an outrage in the town of Lurgan; and I do not know in what way the Crown means to send it before you. I am sorry to say that, from the informations, there appears something of combination in trades, or of a Whiteboy character in the case, and which, if allowed to spread, would be likely to excite trouble; and I hope that the parties accused, if guilty, will be brought to justice.
Gentlemen, there is little more I can add, of which you are not perfectly well aware. There are three or four prisoners returned for trial at the Sessions. This must have arisen from misapprehension in the magistrates; for they ought to know that all cases should be returned to the nearest and earliest tribunal, so that the prisoners would not be kept in jail, at the expense of your county, till the Sessions.
Gentlemen, I do not know whether it is necessary for me to appraise you that the Judges have determined, in future, to alter the order of the circuit, and to restore this city and County to the position they formerly held. The last subject to which I would call your attention is one of vast importance. It is relevant to the state of your jail. From what was said to you at the last Assizes, you most properly took the subject under your consideration; and, at the earnest solicitation of the presiding Judge, you have done all that lay in your power. I have visited your jail, and have found all has been done which the diligence and care of its officers could effect; but it is quite manifest that it is utterly inadequate to any purposes of classification or instruction, and sending prisoners there is but sending them to school where they must come out worse than before, and where four, or five, and six persons, are all night confined together, and where the worse will corrupt those who have not long been engaged in the ways of iniquity. I do not like to make use of harsh expressions; but I must say I think your jail is very discreditable to the county.
Gentlemen, you did your duty; but the Presentment Sessions refused to present. I have concurred with the Local Inspector, and have pressed on the Board of Superintendence to give their diligent attention to the subject; for there are a compulsory powers, given by the Grand Jury Act, to enable you or the Court, the next Assizes, to compel what is necessary to be done. I have spoken to Dr. Kidd to make to take measures about it; and, if the Presentment Sessions make any presentments, it will be your duty to pass them, and that of the Court to fiat them. Gentlemen, I will not delay you longer, but will be happy that any of you that may think right will remain with me while I fiat the presentments.
After delivering the charge to the Grand Jury, his LORDSHIP proceeded to fiat the county presentments.
Armagh, Wednesday, 8 March 1843