The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 stripped the power to appoint normal Justices of the Peace from those municipal corporations that had it. This was replaced by a system whereby the Lord Chancellor nominated candidates with local advice, for appointment by the Crown and in Ireland it was the established practice for the lieutenant of the county to forward the name to the Lord Chancellor. Until the introduction of elected county councils in the 19th century, Justices of the Peace, in quarter sessions, also administered the county at a local level. They fixed wages, regulated food supplies, built and controlled roads and bridges, and undertook to provide and supervise locally those services mandated by the Crown and Parliament for the welfare of the county. In some historical and British circumstances, a Justice of the Peace could be the highest governmental representative, so 'gubernatorial', in a colonial entity.
Women were not allowed to become Justices of the Peace until 1919. Justices of the Peace actively existed in Ireland prior to 1922, sitting in a bench under the supervision of Resident Magistrates at petty sessions to try minor offences summarily, and with a County Court Judge (in his capacity of chairman of quarter sessions) and jury to try more serious offences at quarter sessions.
In the Irish Free State the position of Justice of the Peace was effectively abolished by the District Justices (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923 and permanently abolished by the Courts of Justice Act 1924. Their judicial powers were replaced by full-time, legally qualified Justices of the District Court (now called Judges of the District Court) and their quasi-judicial powers by lay Peace Commissioners or Feadhmannaigh Shíochána. That 1924 Act at Section 88(1)(3) provides: “A Peace Commissioner shall have all the powers and authorities which immediately before the 6th day of December, 1922, were vested in a Justice of the Peace in respect of the several matters [listed]”.
Peace Commissioners are still appointed under warrant by the Minister for Justice and Equality pursuant to Section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924; the Minister keeping a roll of Peace Commissioners for each county. The function of Peace Commissioners includes administering oaths and taking declarations, affirmations, informations, bonds and recognizances, signing certificates and issuing warrants to An Garda Síochána where a Judge of the District Court is unavailable.
Acknowledgement Note: Historical British information above, in part, taken from ‘The History of Justices of the Peace’ by Lowestoft Civic Society
Origin and History of the Office of Peace Commissioner
The part played by lay magistrates in the judicial system of the British Empire and now common law countries can be traced to the year 1195, when Richard I ‘the Lionheart’ of England commissioned certain knights to preserve the peace in the realm. They were responsible to the King for ensuring that the law was upheld and preserving the ‘King's peace’. Therefore, they were known as ‘keepers of the peace’. Later an Act of 1327 referred to ‘good and lawful men’ to be appointed in every county in the land to ‘guard the peace’; such individuals were first referred to as 'Conservators of the Peace', or 'Wardens of the Peace'. The title Justice of the Peace derives from 1361, in the reign of King Edward III ‘the Plantagenet’. The ‘peace’ to be guarded is the sovereign's, the maintenance of which is the duty of the Crown under the royal prerogative. Justices of the Peace used the power conferred on them in 1361 to bind over unruly persons "to be of good behaviour". The bind over was not a punishment, but a preventive measure, intended to ensure that people thought likely to offend will not do so.
In the centuries from the Tudor period until the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the Justices of the Peace constituted a major element of the English (later British) governmental system, which had been termed sometimes as a squirearchy (i.e., dominance of the land-owning gentry). During this period the office of Justice of the Peace was an unpaid office, undertaken voluntarily and sometimes more for the sake of renown or to confirm the Justice's standing within the community, the Justice was typically a member of the gentry. A lesser known fact being under an Act of 1389 the early Justices of the Peace received a 'subsistence allowance' of four shillings a day. This appears to have lapsed, presumably because for centuries most Justices of the Peace were well-to-do landowners who would not bother about 'expense accounts'. The Justices of the Peace conducted arraignments in all criminal cases, and tried misdemeanours and infractions of local ordinances and bylaws. As so many of these first Justices of the Peace were landowners, it is not surprising that as early as 1389 the first ‘Game Law’ was passed. The Justices of the Peace from that time had the reputation of being tough on poachers; who were usually well known to those before whom they appeared. In 1576, Justices of the Peace were required to build 'houses of correction' in which rogues and vagabonds could be detained. These rogues and vagabonds were apprehended by 'village constables', being unpaid parishioners conscripted for service annually. At least 50 editions of works for the guidance of Justices of the Peace had been published by 1600, and so effective had their rule become, that Sir Edward Coke described it as "such a form of subordinate government for security and quiet of the realm as no part of the Christian world hath the like".
The oath of office for Justices of the Peace in 1808 Ireland reads:
“Ye shall swear that as justice of the peace in the county of xxxxx, in all articles in the king’s commission to you directed, you shall do equal right to the poor and to the rich, after your cunning, wit and power, and after the laws and customs of the realm, and statutes thereof made: And that ye shall not be of counsel of any quarrel hanging before you: And that ye hold your sessions after the form of the statutes thereof made: And the issues, fines, and amendments that shall happen to be made, and all forfeitures which shall fall before you, ye shall cause to he entered without any concealment (or embezzling) and truly send them to the king’s exchequer. Ye shall not let, for gift or other cause, but well and truly ye shall do your office of justice of the peace in that behalf. And that you take nothing for your office of justice of the peace to be done, but of the king, and fees accustomed, and cost limited by statute. And ye shall not direct, nor cause to be directed, any warrant (by you to be made) to the parties, but ye shall direct them to the bailiff of the said county, or the king’s officers or minister, or other indifferent persons, to do execution thereof. So help you God”
Mark Kane is Peace Commissioner for the County of Galway and all counties immediately adjoining that county in Ireland.
Should you wish to use Mark Kane as Peace Commissioner you should read the below notice carefully.
NOTICE 10th APRIL, 2014
Mark Kane was appointed Peace Commissioner for the County of Galway by the Minister for Justice and Equality under Section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924. It is an honorary position and a Peace Commissioner receives no remuneration or compensation from public funds. Peace Commissioners are not entitled to charge or receive for their own benefit any fee or compensation from members of the public.
Services of the Peace Commissioner are strictly by appointment.
If you wish to make an appointment for services of the Peace Commissioner please phone 091 442277 and leave a message for the attention of the Peace Commissioner. Alternatively you may email email@example.com to make an appointment.
Before you meet the Peace Commissioner please ensure:
Failure to comply with the above will result in the Peace Commissioner being unable to provide service. No exceptions will be made.
Thank you for your cooperation,
Peace Commissioner for County of Galway
FÓGRA 10 AIBREÁN 2014
Cheap an tAire Dlí agus Cirt Marcus Ó Catháin ina Choimisinéir Síochána do Chontae na Gaillimhe faoi Alt 88 d’Acht Cúirteanna Breithiúnais 1924. Is post oinigh é seo agus ní fhaigheann Coimisinéirí Síochána aon íocaíocht ná cúiteamh ó chistí poiblí. Níl Coimisinéirí Síochána i dteideal táille a bhaint amach ná cúiteamh a fháil dá leas féin ón bpobal.
Caithfear coinne a dhéanamh chun seirbhísí an Choimisinéara Síochána a úsáid.
Más mian leat coinne a dhéanamh chun seirbhísí an Choimisinéara Síochána a úsáid cuir glao ar 091 442277 agus fág teachtaireacht don Choimisinéir Síochána. Nó is féidir leat rphost a sheoladh chuig firstname.lastname@example.org chun coinne a dhéanamh.
Sula gcasann tú leis an gCoimisinéir Síochána cinntigh na nithe seo a leanas:
Mura gcomhlíonann tú na riachtanais thuas ní bheidh an Coimisinéir Síochána in ann seirbhís a chur ar fáil duit. Ní dhéanfar aon eisceacht.
Go raibh maith agat as do chomhoibriú,
Marcus Ó Catháin
Coimisinéir Síochána do Chontae na Gaillimhe
Translation acknowledged as the pro bono publico work of: An Oifig Aistriúcháin, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh.
Galway ++ 00 353 (0)91 44.22.77
Dublin ++ 00 353 (0)1 25.444.26
London ++ 00 44 (0)20 22.214.171.124