HC Deb 09 September 1831 vol 6 cc1242-7
Mr. Lambert

presented six Petitions from places in Wexford, praying that the Yeomanry of Ireland might be disarmed. The petitioners referred to the affray which took place at Newtownbarry, by some denominated a massacre, and by others a sad transaction, and prayed that the Government would visit with its censure the conduct of the corps which had been there employed. The Magistrate who had been sent by Government to inquire into the matter, had borne most favourable testimony to the conduct of the inhabitants of Newtownbarry. He did not ask to have the Yeomanry immediately disbanded, but the people of Ireland would not be satisfied unless measures were taken gradually to effect that, and unless the perpetrators of the outrage at Newtownbarry were: punished.

Mr. Maxwell

indignantly denied, that the affray at Newtownbarry was a massacre, and said, that the loss of life which took place on that occasion, occurred under circumstances of great provocation, one of the Yeomanry having been killed. He also denied, upon authority of statements from Ireland, what had been said respecting Mary Mulrooney, who it was affirmed, had been, when pregnant, ripped open. The hon. Member quoted several statements, to shew that such was not the fact, and expressed a hope, that after such a refutation these tales would not be repeated.

General Archdall

said, he knew the Yeomanry to be a most exemplary body, I and they had on many occasions rendered most essential service.

Mr. Walker

must, notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. Member, contend, that the affair of Newtownbarry was a massacre, and he begged to ask the hon. Member, if he was not aware that the facts contained in the petition were proved before the Coroner; and if he was not also aware that his Majesty's Government had already declared, that the interference of the Yeomanry was wholly unnecessary?

Mr. O'Connell

said, that the calling out of the Yeomanry was wholly unnecessary, as was proved, not only by the declaration of his Majesty's Government, but by the various documents upon which that declaration was founded, and which would be shortly in the hands of hon. Members, for he had obtained an order that they should be printed. It was wholly immaterial whether the womb of the unfortunate woman was ripped open or not, for the fact was admitted, that she was shot through the back by the miscreant Orange Yeomanry. If a military force was required, let the regular military force be employed, and not a party force like the Irish Yeomanry. The Marquis Wellesley had governed Ireland without the Yeomanry, and he did not know why the present Ministers could not accomplish the same thing. They were deeply responsible for the state of Ireland.

Mr. Shaw

lamented the sad circumstance of Newtownbarry, but the facts of the case had been distorted and greatly exaggerated. He imputed to the hon. member for Kerry and his friends, the having misrepresented the transaction. He thought the people were to blame, though he regretted they had suffered so severely. It was most unfair and unjust to characterise the affair by such terms as butchery, massacre, and murder.

Mr. Blackney

said, that whatever terms were used, it could not be denied that the unhappy woman had been shot, as she was endeavouring to escape,

Mr. Maurice O'Connell

said, that it was clear from the evidence, that the aggression was on the side of the Yeomanry, and not on that of the people.

Petition laid on the Table.

Mr. Lambert,

in moving that it be printed, said, that he was convinced that the Yeomanry force could not exist for a week consistently with the preservation of the public peace; and he believed conscientiously, that the Newtownbarry affair was as atrocious and cold-blooded a murder as ever stained the annals of any country.


thought, that the charges made against the Yeomanry and the Magistrates of Ireland were so vague that they carried their own refutation with them. If the Irish Yeomanry was disarmed, all Ireland would be united in demanding the Repeal of the Union; and the Government of this country could not then resist; but must accede to a measure which, he conceived, would be fatal to both countries.

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, that it gave him more pain than he could well express to be obliged so frequently to lift up his protest against systematic misrepresentation, but never, while he had the honour to occupy a seat in that House, would he listen to charges of murder and massacre, brought against any body or class of individuals who stood acquitted at the bar of public justice. Why, he asked, in the name of justice, humanity, reason, and common sense, were the Yeomanry of Ireland to be held up to this House, and to the country, as the perpetrators of the foulest atrocities that disgraced human nature? Were the hon. Gentlemen who prompted and supported these petitions, ignorant of what constituted murder and massacre? If they were, he would give them a practical definition, and he would go no farther than Wexford for the illustration. The burning of the barn at Scullabogue was a massacre. The never-to-be-forgotten tragedy on Wexford-bridge was a massacre. But it was reserved for the hon. member for Kerry and his friends to maintain, that a set of men acquitted by a Grand Jury, acting on their oaths, were guilty of murder. If the definitions which he (Mr. Gordon) had given were not sufficient to point out the difference between a massacre and killing in selfdefence, he should be ready with a few more against the next time that the charge was preferred. The truth was, that the Yeomanry of Ireland afforded to that country, and to the empire at large, the safest gurantee for the existence of the Union between the two countries, and there lay the head and front of their offending. As a rural armed force, distributed over the country, they not only extended a general protection to its inhabitants, but being ready to act at every point, at a moment's warning, they opposed the most impregnable barrier to the progress of a revolutionary influence of any force in that country. It was perfectly natural, then, that the hon. member for Kerry should stand forward as the denouncer of the Yeomanry of Ireland; for that hon. Member could never succeed in his objects while they continued upon their present footing.

Mr. O'Connell

complained, that the hon. member for Dundalk should put himself forward as the only honest man in the House. He had just given, indeed, one convincing specimen of his capacity as a teacher. He had discovered what a massacre was. Why, certainly, that required a person coming from the North, and gifted with second sight. The hon. Member said, that the transaction at Scullabogue was a massacre; but the hon. Member might have stated, that many transactions of that unfortunate period (1798) were equally well deserving of the name of massacres. But the hon. Gentleman, not content with putting himself forward as the only honest man, also set himself up as the only oracle of truth in the House; and yet no other hon. Member had made more frequent and more glaring, he did not say wilful mistakes. The story of the goats and the hare was a case in point. He had heard of an ignorant fanatic, born in the wilds of Cunnemara, with an accent, the richness of which overpowered every one but the natives of that famed district, and astonished even them; who, somehow or other, acquired a pious hatred to Calvinism, and accordingly set off to convert the people of Scotland. He went from village to village preaching furiously against the doctrines of John Knox, and crying down Presbyterianism as the most damnable heresy, and repeating every calumny that had ever been uttered against it. But was this man entertained by the gentry? Did any great man take him into his house, and make him a member of his family? Was any man, or any class of the people, so blind as not to see that this man, having no talent, endeavoured to make up for its absence by an unusually large proportion of impudence? No such thing. The gentlemen of Scotland laughed at this pretended teacher of religion, as he deserved to be laughed at; the people scorned and rejected him, and Pat was obliged to carry back his brogue to his native wilds of Connaught. A successful case of this kind could only occur in Ireland. Once more he implored the hon. member for Dundalk to let that country alone. Every man who wished for the Repeal of the Union would encourage Government in keeping up the Yeomanry corps; for they bred the strongest feelings against the Government by their conduct. As long as the Government pursued that course, the mischievous agitation which the hon. member for Dundalk so much reprobated would continue to be kept up in Ireland. Distressed as Ireland was, he would pledge himself to support the Government in putting any additional burthens on that country that might be necessary to defray the expense of substituting a regular military force for the Yeomanry force now in existence. If this was not done, he feared that not a day would pass without bringing accounts of new massacres in that part of the empire. The hon. Member concluded by making some very severe observations on Mr. Gordon, whom he accused of speaking in his own praise, and of coming forward with an air of self-importance respecting the affairs of Ireland, which ill became the mere nominee for a close borough.

Mr. Henry Grattan

was convinced, that the Yeomanry were altogether party corps, and ought to be suppressed. The hon. member for Dundalk was totally ignorant of the state of Ireland. The people of Ireland were awake, and were not to be imposed upon by any itinerant religious impostors, who sought for power by paying their addresses to the wives and daughters of other men. The Government had made a great mistake in calling out the Yeomanry.

Colonel Rochford

thought that Ministers ought to produce the Report of Mr. Greene.

Mr. Shaw

would be happy to see the Report produced, as he was sure that it would settle all the questions connected with that subject, and put an end to the vituperation that was now indulged in.

Mr. James E. Gordon rose to vindicate himself against two gross personal attacks. The hon. member for Kerry had taxed him with speaking in his own praise. He was sorry to learn, that he possessed at least one feature of identity with the hon. Member; and this discovery, he trusted, would lead him to a closer inspection of his conduct in future. The hon. member for Kerry had taunted him with sitting in that House as the nominee of a noble Lord who was proprietor of the borough of Dundalk; but he must say, that he would rather sit on these benches as the representative of any of that noble Lord's dependents than as the nominee of the hon. member for Kerry, who assumed to himself the authority of returning officer for Ireland. With respect to the hon. member for Meath (Mr. Henry Grattan), he would not detain the House by so much as a reference to the abusive language which they had just listened to. What he would say in answer to the charge of affected sanctity and superior morality should be short. If defective in either of these quailties, the last person to whom he should seek for a lesson of improvement would be the proprietor of the Freeman's Journal, better known to the House as the manufacturer of Coldblow Lane freeholders.

Sir John M. Doyle

said, that all things in Ireland were so entirely absorbed by party spirit, that he wished to see an entirely English commission appointed to investigate the state of Ireland. He was convinced that it would recommend the immediate abolition of the Yeomanry.

Petition to be printed.

Back to