THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Details of recent rioting at Rathfriland given in House of Commons by Chief Secretary of Ireland

From the News Letter, July 28, 1880

By Darryl Armitage
Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 6:00 am
Orangmen marching through Rathfriland in July 2019
Orangmen marching through Rathfriland in July 2019

The Chief Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, William Edward Forster, was called upon by an Irish MP to give details to the House of Commons about riots which had broken out in Rathfriland in Co Down in recent days in 1880.

Mr Forster said: “It appears [the riots occurred], as far as I can see in the papers received last night, in connection with an Orange procession probably connected with the election.”

He continued: “It is stated that the first disturbances was begun [sic] by the opposing party, who, I suppose, I must call the Roman Catholic part; but undoubtedly the other side were not content with merely beating off their assailants, but appeared to have done what they certainly ought not to have done – namely, to have sacked a good many houses and broken a good many windows. I am glad, however, to say that there were no serious injuries to any individuals.”

Replying to a call to protect Roman Catholics in the district Mr Forster said: “A large force of police has been sent down to places where processions were expected in July in order that measures might be taken for protecting both the Catholic and Protestant population. I am glad to say that this year’s procession of the 12th July passed off more quietly throughout Ireland than has been the case for several years.”