The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. TUESDAY, JANUARY 6, 1880.
Regarding the Boxing Day scenes at Tiraaru and Christchurch, it was broadly asserted that the plans of botli attacks had been arranged in hotels—the Timaru one in O’Driscoll’s, and the Christchurch one in Barrett’s. In fact, the Catholic mob on the one hand, who attacked the Christchurch procession, trooped out of Barrett’s yard to make their pick-stall onslaught ; while on the other, a certain damaging letter found or one of the Timaru rioters was sufficient evidence that O’Driscoll was a moving spirit himself in the Timaru riot. The Magistrates at Christchurch failed to obtain evidence strong enough to connect Barrett, the landlord of the Borough Hotel, with the origin of the Christchurch row, and consequently he was dismissed, but the Timaru Bench have committed O’Driscoll for trial. During the excitement that followed both rows, the hotels in question were closed, and in Christchurch the populace felt so strongly in regard to the dastardliness of the attack on the Protestant Friendly Alliance procession that they smashed in the windows of Barrett’s Hotel, under a deep-seated impression that the landlord was concerned in the row. Those hotels have again been opened. We are rather surprised at this, as we , have known public-houses lose their licenses for less heinous offences than harboring mobs of men bent on disturbing the peace, and causing a riot in the public street ; still less, certainly, than for being occupied by a landlord who makes himself conspicuous in organising an attacking party whose movements necessitate the reading of the Riot Act, the swearing in ‘ of 350 special constables, thecosttothecountry of moving 50 members of the Armed Constabulary from Wellington to Timaru, and the calling out of two companies of volunteers to prevent anticipated disturbances. But possibly, the Magistrates arc willing to believe that the aggressors have got such a scare as is likely to prevent them from again indulging in an outburst of mistaken patriotism, and their faith in the potency of this scare is perhaps such that they can afford to bo forgiving, and allow the publicans mixed up with the affairs to escape with a gentle admonition to be more careful. If this is so, it is a mistaken leniency. Of all men, a hotelkeeper should be a loyal, peace-loving subject ; in fact, the conditions under which be obtains his license demand that he shall be conservative of the public peace as far as in him lies, and should a run of ill-luck follow him, and a few fights occur round his bar, or in his house, the police will very soon make out a case against him that will weigh with the Incensing Bench when renewal time comes. Such a case would be fatal to the licensee's chance of renewal. But with the damning evidence before them of O’Driscoll’s complicity in the Timaru riot, nay, more, of his being the chief instigator of it, and an energetic recruiting sergeant of the Green forces who made the attack, we find the Timaru authorities again authorising O’Driscoll to open his riotous rendezvous, and thus they run the risk of a repetition at any moment of the _ Boxing Day row. “ Where the carrion is, there will be the eagles gathered together ” is a proverb with much truth in it, and as those Irishmen who attacked the Christchurch procession had evidently made Barrett’s Hotel their rendezvous. It stands to reason that when the projected attack was known even to some of the Orangemen, the Irishmen’s intentions could not have been unknown to Mr. Barrett. Both these hotel-keepers were just as much worthy to lose their licenses cnce for all for such responsibility as rested upon thorn in connection with these riots, as is any publican who is found guilty of now and again allowing drunken and disorderly persons to congregate around his bar : for the
offence is greater. We know that a drunken row can be quelled by simply carting off to gaol the chief actors in it; but no one can measure the extent of the strength of either the Orange or the Green faction, and whether the hotel-keeper be of the one color or the other, if he allows his house, knowingly, to be made use of for meetings against the public peace, as has been the cause undoubtedly, at least in Timaru, then we should say, without doubt his license has been forfeited.