§ Lord Althorp
presented a Petition from the Catholic inhabitants of a parish (New Ross, as we understood the noble lord) in the county of Wexford, against the Select Vestry Act. The noble Lord con- 391 sidered the case of the petitioners to be one of peculiar hardship, even in Ireland; for though they constituted the large majority, in the proportion of 200 to one, of the parish they resided in, they were obliged to contribute to the crection and maintenance of the Protestant church, which was actually eleven miles distant from them, owing to their parish being one of an union of three or four under one rector. The petitioners also complained that no money was ever given by Parliament to repair churches in Ireland, while large sums were given for that purpose in England.
§ Sir J. Newport
agreed with the noble Lord that the case of the petitioners was one of great hardship; one, indeed, of the, he feared, too many abuses of the Church establishment in Ireland. He had wished to relieve the inhabitants of this parish, but he found, as he had stated the other evening, that the law would not allow him.
§ Mr. O'Connell
had a motion on the list for a future evening on the subject of the abuses under the Select Vestry Act, on the discussion of which he would endeavour to demonstrate to the House the necessity to repeal that act, and to revise the present oppressive system, as far at least as the Catholics and Protestant Dissenters were concerned, of Church-rates.
§ Mr. G. Moore
considered the case of the present petitioners to be one without a parallel in Ireland, and therefore as one which should not be made the occasion of a sweeping censure on the church establishment of Ireland.
§ Mr. O'Connell
would, on the occasion to which he had just alluded, quote at least thirty similar cases, and at least fifty parishes in which the Protestants were not to the Catholic population as ten to twenty, but sometimes as six to 3,000 or 4,000, and yet the latter were compelled to support the Church establishment of the small minority.
§ The Petitions to be printed.