§ Mr. O'Connell
presented a petition from two parishes in the county of Westmeath, complaining of distress, praying for the introduction of Poor-laws, inveighing against the arbitrary conduct of the Duke of Buckingham's agent, accusing him of endeavouring to sweep the people off the lands — and declaring, that with this view he had sought to denounce them as belonging to the society of Ribbonmen.
The Marquis of Chandos
begged leave to contradict all the assertions set forth in the petition, and said, it was fortunate that the gentleman alluded to was in town to clear himself from the charges preferred against him. He denied that the land was overlet, and he stated that he had the authority of that gentleman for saying, that he never had suspected the tenants on the estate of being Ribbonmen, and that there had only been one case of a tenant having been ejected from the land, and that was in consequence of his having proceeded upon false information, and refusing to pay his rent without previously having a receipt. All the disturbance which had occurred in these parishes arose from the improper interference of the Priest, and inflammatory harangues delivered from the altar of his chapel. A tenant, on being applied to lately for his rent, had refused to pay it, declaring that he had been ordered not to pay it by the Priest, and that he would sooner go through hell-fires than disobey his reverence. In short, the tenants had been encouraged to pay no rent so long as the gentleman alluded to continued agent. In conclusion, he expressed his hope, that the learned Gentleman would for the future examine the truth of 514 the assertions made in petitions, before he presented them to the House.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, that having ascertained that the signatures to the petition were genuine, he considered that it was his duty to present it. He trusted that he had not gone beyond his duty; and he had not been wanting in the proper courtesy, as he had submitted the petition to the inspection of the nearest relative of the noble Marquis with whom he was acquainted. As to what had been alleged by his Grace's agent respecting the parish Priest, he (Mr. O'Connell) must say, that he considered him incapable of the conduct imputed to him, and he had no doubt that before long he should have a petition from that reverend person in denial of it.
§ Lord Nugent
confirmed the learned Gentleman's statement. The hon. and learned member for Waterford certainly had sent him the petition, and he had communicated the contents of it to his noble relative.