THE CONTROL OF JUDICIARY AND POLICE
BY THE RIGHT HON. J.H. CAMPBELL, K.C., M.P.
The various forecasts, inspired and uninspired, of the new Home Rule Bill which have been given to us, have shed little light upon the future of the Irish Judiciary and Police. The two previous Bills contemplated the handing over of the control of the whole administration of justice in Ireland to the Irish Executive after an interval, in the first case of two years, and in the later Bill, of six years. We may assume that, whatever period of grace may be allowed to us under the coming measure, it will propose to vest this control in the Irish Government within six years. The interposition of any interval at all will probably be regarded by Ministers as a concession to Unionist fears and as one of the “safeguards” in which the minority will be urged to place its trust. It must be realised at once that, so far from this interval making the transition from British justice to Irish intrigue easier and more safe, it may have precisely the contrary effect. Once the Irish police are convinced that they are about to be delivered into the hands of the secret organisations who have been the most successful and relentless enemies of public order in Ireland, a paralysis must fall upon the force. During the closing years of the transition, at all events, the Royal Irish Constabulary will be given nominal responsibility for the peace of the country without any opportunity effectually to preserve it. It would be fairer and better to cast upon puppet nominees of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood the responsibility and odium of controlling the passions that they have helped to raise. The present judges would of course continue to do their duty without fear or favour, but it is impossible that the sentence passed upon them and the system of law and government for which they stand could leave their authority unimpaired. We have recently seen in England how easy it may be to stir up popular clamour against judges who administer the law without regard to the prejudices of any political party. Directly the Irish Courts sought to translate the paper safeguards of the Home Rule Bill into practical effect, they would be faced by the violent hostility of an ignorant and excitable assembly stimulated by an irresponsible and inexperienced executive. The result would be recriminations and friction which must deplorably injure and lower the reputation and prestige of both the Executive and the Judiciary.