§ Mr. James E. Gordon
said, he wished to put a question to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and, in order that the question might be perfectly intelligible, he would briefly state the facts of the case out of which it arose. A party, consisting of several persons, went to the house of a parish Priest in Ireland, for the purpose of having some ceremony performed. When they arrived there, they found the Priest was absent, and that his curate was employed in baptising a child. They pressed their desire to see the Curate, and he came out in a violent rage, seized a large club, and not content with driving the party from the house, chased them along the street. The Curate, on his return to the house, met with a person, who fell upon his knees and implored pardon. This, however, had no effect, for the Curate raised the club, and, while the man was on his knees, struck him on the head. From the effects of the blow, the man died with- 653 in twenty-four hours. A Coroner's Inquest was held, and of fifteen persons who had witnessed the transaction, not one would give testimony against the Priest. He must also observe, that the individual who had given the Priest notice of the death of the man, was the brother of the murdered party. After much supineness on the part of the Coroner or Magistrates, and not till public clamour rendered some step necessary, a warrant was issued for the apprehension of the Priest. That person, however, in the meantime between the murder, and the issuing of the warrant, had left the place in disguise, and fled, it was believed, to France. He wished to know from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, whether or not the facts of the case were before the Government, and if they were, whether or not any steps had been taken, with a view to the apprehension of the person who had committed the murder? He did not draw attention to this case because a Catholic Priest was implicated in it, but simply because an act of dreadful atrocity had been perpetrated, and it ought to be inquired into.
said, the case had certainly been laid before the Government, and the hon. Member had not much misstated it, as it had come under his (Mr. Stanley's) knowledge. A Roman Catholic Priest was performing the rights of baptism; some persons assembled outside of the house, irritated the Priest, and the Priest did, with a large stick, kill one of them. This occurred on the 18th of last month. On the 19th the person struck with the stick died, and on the 20th a Coroner's Inquest was held. The charge of supineness, therefore, was not well founded. It was true, that several persons who were present when the fatal assault was committed, refused to give evidence, and it was only upon the evidence of two surgeons who attended the murdered man, that the Jury were able to arrive at the fact, that the death of the party had been caused by a blow. The Jury, therefore, which consisted of seven Protestants and five Roman Catholics, returned as their verdict, that the man came by his death from a blow inflicted by some person who could not be identified. It was true the Priest had absconded; but it was rather too much to ask the Government to say where the Priest had gone. The Government had, in fact, no ground to justify the apprehension of the Priest; or, if apprehended, 654 to commit that person. The Government had, however, been extremely anxious to have the matter investigated, and it had adopted all means within its power to effect that object.
said, there was one part of the hon. Gentleman's statement which had not been proved, viz. that the Priest struck a person not engaged in the fray. This was material; but life had been lost, and the utmost activity ought to be used to bring the criminals to justice. He wished to ask, if the parties who were said to have refused to give evidence had been committed?
read a letter to the Irish Government, stating the origin of the business, and mentioning, among other circumstances, that the brother and sister of the deceased said he was struck while on his knees, asking pardon of the Priest for what he had done, and that there was great difficulty in procuring any testimony from those who were present. It further appeared, that the persons refusing to be sworn had been committed by the Coroner.
§ Here the conversation dropped.