A notable incident unfolded in Ennis, where John Mclnerney, J.P. and chairman of Limerick Guardians, was charged with being drunk and disorderly. Mclnerney, a prominent member of the Clare County Council and well-known for his connections with the Irish Unity Movement, found himself in hot water after an altercation during the departure of the Clare Artillery from Ennis for Plymouth.
According to a police constable, Mclnerney, who was allegedly inebriated, shouted “Don’t shoot the Boers” and called for “cheers for Kruger,” likely referring to Paul Kruger, a historical figure who fought against British rule in South Africa. These comments seemed to stir up the crowd, which subsequently became disorderly. District-Inspector Rice ordered the constable and another officer to arrest the defendant, but a friend of Mclnerney intervened and escorted him to the railway station.
Once at the station, Mclnerney is said to have repeated his call for “cheers for Kruger.” The case was presented in court, but an interesting legal point arose when Mclnerney’s solicitor argued that the railway station’s entrance was not a public highway but rather belonged to the railway company. It seems this technicality placed the occurrence outside the jurisdiction of the public disorder charges. Consequently, the case was adjourned.
This episode demonstrates how local political figures can sometimes find themselves embroiled in controversy due to their personal beliefs and actions, especially when they are publicly vocal about contentious issues. Nonetheless, the legal framework in place provides an opportunity for the facts to be examined and justice to be served.
Nottingham Evening Post – Saturday 24 February 1900