BELFAST, JULY 24
Mr. W. J. Pirrie, High Sheriff of county Antrim, and ex-Lord Mayor of the city, entertained at Ormiston on Thursday the Judges of Assize, Lord Chief Baron Palles and Lord Justice FitzGibbon. The occasion was taken advantage of by the Belfast Corporation to present Mr. Pirrie with the honorary freedom of the city, an honour which the corporation at its meeting in January of this year unanimously resolved to pay to that gentleman as a mark of the public appreciation of his services to the community during his two years of mayoralty. The Lord Mayor made the presentation in the name of the corporation, and Mr. Pirrie, in accepting the honour of becoming the first honorary burgess of the city, gave an interesting outline of the municipal history of the city and the progress which had attended it in recent years.
Lord Chief Baron Palles, responding afterwards to the toast of "The Judges of Assize," said the proud boast of the Irish judiciary was that they were thought well of in Belfast. He believed that the judiciary had the confidence of the public, and that the public believed they did their duty to the best of their ability. There was no country in the world in which the judiciary occupied the same position as it did in England and Ireland. The absolute independence guaranteed to them by statute rendered it of no importance to them what might be the view of any individual, no matter how high in rank and office he might be; and they might congratulate themselves on the fact that the Judges were not chosen by a clique, as in France and the greater number of Continental countries. Every one in this country had a right to freely criticize every action of a Judge, and every act of his must be done in open day and before the public. They could not have in this country a State prosecution such as in the recent case of M. Zola in France, because a nation trodden to the ground under a certain class dared to suggest that justice was not properly administered. They had in this country the Judges secured in absolute independence; they had them chosen from one of the first professions in the country; and they had them free to be criticized by every person who might feel aggrieved. Those were the elements that made the Irish judiciary what they were. The members of that body were not entitled to be proud of their own ability, but they were entitled to be proud of, and he ventured to say they were as an institution proud of its integrity, as it now exists as an integral part of the Constitution.