To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the following statement, alleged to have been made by District Justice Little, at Bray, and reported in the Wicklow News-Letter of the 13th inst., as follows:—

"This was owing to the damnable ignorance of the farming class, who tolerated dirt in every shape and form, and was opposed to the law until it was brought home to them. They had no instinct for cleanliness. We want people, he added, to have Christian appreciation of their duties to their fellowman."

Whether he considers the Courts of Justice a suitable theatre for the propagation of insults to any particular class of citizens; whether the words attributed to this District Justice do not clearly indicate unfitness for the position he occupies.

The remarks quoted in the Deputy's question are certainly improper and objectionable. If I considered that they represented a settled mental attitude on the part of this Justice towards a large and important element in the country and in the area of his own administration, I would agree with the Deputy that an outlook of that kind would constitute a disqualification for the equal and impartial administration of justice. After conversation with Mr. Little on the subject, however, I am convinced that it was far from his intention to stigmatise the entire farming class. Stung by a particularly shocking case, he failed to qualify verbally a thought which he did in fact qualify very definitely in his mind, with the result that, instead of being a rebuke to particular members of a class who are guilty of certain forms of neglect, his words read as a general indictment of that entire class. Such an indictment would, of course, be absurd and untrue. Mr. Little has written to me expressing his sincere regret that he should have caused pain and given offence by his momentary indiscretion. In these circumstances I trust that the Deputy will agree with me that no further action is called for.