HC Deb 05 April 1805 vol 4 cc218-20

A petition of the lord mayor, sheriffs, commons, and citizens, of the city of Dublin, in common council assembled, was presented to the house, and read; setting forth, "that the petitioners have seen with the deepest regret a copy of a petition presented to the house by certain persons in, the name of the Roman catholics of Ireland, containing demands of political power, which, if yielded, would be ruinous to our happy constitution in Church and state; and that the good conduct of the Irish Roman catholics, as recognized by the Irish legislature in 1779, took place under the ope- ration of severe laws, which since 1779 have been from time to time repealed, so as to place the Roman catholics of Ireland upon a footing of political power not enjoyed by any other dissenters from the established religion in any other state; but though the Roman catholics declared, at the time of relaxing those laws, they would be fully content, yet the petitioners are sorry to observe, that that cordiality and union of sentiment which would be so desirable in Ireland has not yet taken place; and further, the petitioners cannot but observe, that the petition of the Irish Roman catholics, though professing to explain the tenets of that sect, as affecting political duties, is not signed by a single ecclesiastic of that persuasion; and that the assertion in the said petition, that Irish Roman catholics are excluded from the privileges of corporations is wholly unfounded, inasmuch as they are admissible into all guilds and corporations on taking the oaths in their own petition recited; and that many of them do at this time actually enjoy and exercise such privileges; but the petitioners observe, that the object of this assertion seems to be to induce the legislature to compel the Protestant corporations of Ireland to elect Roman catholics into their franchises, in such numbers as to overbear and destroy the Protestant interest, an attempt which was made both in England and Ireland during the short and arbitrary reign of that unfortunate and infatuated king, James the Second, and which, with other serious innovations, led to the glorious re-assertion of the constitution in church and state, under the great king William; and that the petitioners beg leave most humbly to impress upon the house, that the lower order of Roman catholics in Ireland are in possession of the same degree of civil, religious, and political liberty that is enjoyed by protestants of the same rank and station; and even the restraints complained of by the said petition affect a very inconsiderable number of Roman catholics; the petitioners therefore humbly conceive, that the inducement held out by the petition to the house, viz. "that granting the demands of the Roman catholics of Ireland would extinguish all motives to disunion and means of discontent," is utterly fallacious; and they most humbly submit, that if the demands contained in the said petition were acceded to, all the fences and securities of our excellent constitu- tion, in church and state, established by Protestant legislators from the time of the reformation to the reign of his present majesty, would be destroyed and annihilated; and therefore praying the house will continue to preserve unimpaired our excellent constitution, and reject the demands of the Roman catholics of Ireland. "Ordered, that the said petition do lie upon the table.