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Insubordination Inquiry against Limerick District-Inspector W.J.J. Byrne Shakes County Cork Police Force – Limerick Gazette

Insubordination Inquiry against Limerick District-Inspector W.J.J. Byrne Shakes County Cork Police Force

A constabulary court inquiry was held yesterday at the Union Quay Police Barracks in Cork, to investigate charges of insubordination against District-Inspector W.J.J. Byrne, Mitchelstown, who had recently served in Skibbereen, County Cork. The Inspector-General had preferred the charges against Mr Byrne, and due to his position, the proceedings attracted considerable interest. The Court consisted of County-Inspector Thomas Hayes of Limerick as president, County-Inspector H.L. Cornwall Rogers of Ballinasloe, and District-Inspector J.P. Byrne, the depot adjutant. County-Inspector Gamble of Cork and District-Inspector Jones of Killarney acted as prosecutors. Mr James Chambers, Barrister-at-Law, instructed by Mr Cannon, a solicitor from Dublin, represented Mr Byrne. County-Inspector Hamilton of West Riding Cork, where the accused officer had served, was also present.

The President stated that the Court’s task was to investigate the charge of insubordinate conduct on the part of District-Inspector Byrne. He had allegedly made comments that were highly prejudicial to discipline and subverted authority concerning the actions of his superior officers, Colonel J.F.F. Chamberlain, Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and County-Inspector S.B. Hamilton. The comments were in written statements sent from Skibbereen on May 23rd and 31st, and 3rd and 7th June last year, and from on the 26th June, 1901. Upon asking Mr Byrne whether he was guilty or not guilty, Mr Byrne pleaded not guilty.

However, Mr Chambers objected to the constitution of the Court and requested an adjournment. Mr Gamble informed the Court that District-Inspector Byrne had sent a written statement outlining his objections to the Court’s constitution and other matters which had already been reviewed by the government and overruled. The Court also overruled the objection and decided to continue with the inquiry.

Mr Chambers then requested to be excused from being present, stating that Mr Byrne was unprepared for his defense and had no witnesses, rendering the proceedings a “travesty of justice and farce.” The President considered the remarks inappropriate, leading Mr Chambers to withdraw from the proceedings, followed by Mr Shannon.

Mr Byrne objected to the Inspector-General serving as his accuser and argued that the Court members who served under him could not be above suspicion of bias or partiality. Head-Constable Price testified regarding Mr Byrne’s handwriting in certain correspondence between Mr Byrne and the Inspector-General. In the correspondence, Mr Byrne objected to having been transferred four times within seven years and claimed that any friction that arose was due to the unjustifiable actions of the county inspector. He alleged that the county inspector’s hostility led him to intentionally clash with Mr Gamble instead of allowing injustice to be done to those in his command. In appealing to the government against his transfer, Mr Byrne accused County-Inspector Gamble of misleading the Inspector-General.

With Mr Byrne refusing to present a defense, the inquiry, which has caused a sensation in County Cork, came to a close.

Belfast News-Letter – Tuesday 10 September 1901