presented a Petition from St. Ann's parish in Cork, and one from Blarney, complaining, that when a public meeting had been called for the purpose of promoting Irish manufactures, and when the people were about to assemble, they found the place of meeting occupied by a large force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, under the command of Sir George Bingham, and were prevented from proceeding as they had intended. The hon. Gentleman said, this was not an anti-tithe meeting, and he wished to learn from the Ministers, whether the people of Ireland were in future to be debarred from the constitutional proceedings of every British subject?
also begged to ask, whether the Government would give an explanation of this circumstance. If the petitions were true, there was an end put to the rights of the people; and when this took place in Ireland, Englishmen would find it was quite time to look about them. He could not believe the statement made to be true, and he, therefore, wished for some information from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland.
said, that a great many meetings had been held in Ireland, not in order to petition, but for illegal purposes. It was pleasing, however, to know, that, although Government felt it a duty to prevent such assemblages, not a drop of blood had been shed in dispersing them. The character of the illegality of a meeting depended almost entirely on the circumstances with which it was attended, and, not having had an opportunity of inquiring, it was out of his power to give an explanation of what had occurred at this particular meeting.
asked, whether the depositions in this case might not be had; as it would be of great consequence to know what would constitute a legal or illegal meeting?
§ Mr. Leader
supported the petition, and said, that with respect to another meeting held on the subject of tithes, it had been proved at the Petty Sessions, before the High Sheriff, Sir William Wrixton Becher, and a number of Magistrates of the county of Cork, that a policeman, dressed in coloured clothes, had been seen throwing stones at the military, in order to give the colour of a riot to the proceedings. The Magistrates had strongly reprobated this conduct, and the man was ordered to be dismissed.
said, that there was no connexion between the two meetings mentioned by the hon. member for Kilkenny; and he could not but consider the story of a policeman throwing stones at the military incredible. The meetings and associations, which ware said to be for the encouragement of Irish manufactures, were, in fact, held with a view of binding the people not to consume English manufactures. The meeting would then appear to be illegal, and the assembly was to be held in force, for the purpose of intimidation. The Government neither had, nor would interfere with the constitutional right of petition, but they would take care that it should not be abused.
§ Petition to be printed.