HC Deb 03 October 1831 vol 7 cc1026-8

Mr. Lambert rose to present Petitions from Gorey, Temple-shambe, Adamstown, and other places in Ireland, praying the House to adopt measures to disband the Yeomanry Corps in that country. These petitions were respectfully worded, and he fully concurred in the prayer of them. He would take that opportunity to say a few words on the deplorable transactions at Newtownbarry, as his former remarks had been contradicted. He now therefore repeated, that all his former statements, and he had taken great pains to verify them, with the exception of one fact, were perfectly true; that one was, he had stated that two of his constituents had been killed in that affray; the case was, the son of one was shot dead, and the son of another bodily wounded. He would move, that the petitions be brought up.

On the question that they be printed,—

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, he regretted the hon. Member had again brought the subject forward, after his former statements had been so completely met by affidavits and evidence, which, in the opinion of every hon. Member who heard them, were quite conclusive.

An Hon. Member

remarked, that the aspersions on the Yeomanry Force as a body, were totally unfounded, and he trusted the Government would not listen to the remarks of persons whose only object was, to get rid of a loyal, and respectable force.

Mr. Blackney

Sir, with many of the signatures to this petition I am well acquainted; some of them are those of my constituents, and highly respectable men. I mingle with them in their afflictions, I sincerely join in the prayer of their petition. What remedy can be had for this unnatural state of things? Reform will be the antidote. Thanks to the wisdom of the Legislature, and the benignity of a just and a patriotic King, honest Representatives will hereafter portray the sufferings of his Irish subjects. From this House he will learn the true character of a people, loyal, though oppressed; easily governed in justice, but ever unmanageable under a system of coercion. Sir, my constituents complain of the slow progress of the Bill; they feel indignant at reports attributed to hon. Members in this House, as to the present state of public opinion, quite at variance with facts. Sir, I am fully sensible of the intense anxiety and impatience which prevail in Ireland on this great question. We have arrived at a crisis of the deepest interest; we are presently to choose between liberty and despotism. Shall we, the Reformers in this House, favoured as we have been by a generous and a confiding people, look on with apathy, whilst powerful enemies to their liberties are abroad, active, and insidiously at work? Sir, 'tis time that we bestir ourselves, and keep in view the powerful bearing of public opinion; and whilst we here display an earnestness worthy of freemen, and inseparable from our duty, in a cause of such vital importance to the State, we may engage the grave attention of high personages in another place, remind them of expectations out of doors, and a general apprehension of calamities, which would probably result from the discomfiture of the Bill. Sir, I will not give way to gloomy anticipations; every honest man may be in himself a host; if, then, we are faithful to our trust, the righteous cause must be triumphant. I ask pardon for having diverged from the subject immediately before the House—I feel grateful for your indulgence.

Colonel Evans

declared it to be his opinion, that 2,000 regular troops, which might have been conveyed from this country in less time than it took to embody the Yeomanry, would have been a more efficient force than ten times that number of irregular troops.

Mr. Hunt

said, he believed the Yeomanry were more frequently employed in collecting tithes, than in any other service.

Mr. O'Connell

wished that some motion might be made upon the subject of the Newtownbarry affair, so that the transaction might be discussed at once, and not brought forward so incessantly upon petitions.

Mr. John Browne

knew, that in Mayo the Yeomanry was not so exclusively a Protestant force as some Gentlemen described it. Both Protestants and Catholics were admitted.

Sir Robert Bateson

defended the Yeomanry. If they were not preserved, and the people came to blows, which seemed very likely, as agitators were continually going through the country, the Government must maintain 20,000 men in Ulster alone. If Catholics were sometimes ill-treated by the Yeomanry, as hon. Gentlemen said, though he did not believe it, Protestants, he could assure the House, did not escape. Frequently were they way-laid, beaten, and murdered. It would be the destruction of the Protestants in Ireland to disarm the Yeomanry.

Mr. Sheil

maintained, that the Yeomanry was exclusively a Protestant force; and unless the Government wished to provoke civil war, they ought to be disarmed.

Mr. Wyse

hoped that some early day would be selected for the discussion of this question, when some resolution might be adopted, which would induce the Government to take a decided course.

Mr. Henry Grattan

was of opinion, that the agitation to which hon. Members alluded, arose principally from poverty and oppression. It was not caused by the hon. and learned member for Kerry, great as were his talents. He was persuaded, that the Yeomanry only exasperated the great body of the people; and he hoped, that his Majesty's Government would take a course which shewed that it felt for them.

Petitions laid on the Table, and to be printed.

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