HC Deb 19 June 1832 vol 13 cc830-1
Sir Robert Bateson

presented a Petition from the members of the Protestant Conservative Society, in Dublin, against the Bill introduced by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland for suppressing processions. Among the petitioners were many gentlemen of the first rank, talent, character and property in Ireland, and they stated, that they had heard of processions of a most extensive character in England, at which banners with revolutionary inscriptions were exhibited in the vicinity of the Sovereign's palace, and that the Government had introduced no bill for their suppression. They had heard also that some of his Majesty's Ministers had corresponded with the bodies from which those processions emanated; they had no objection to the suppression of all processions, but it appeared that it was intended, by the Bill in question, only to put down Protestant processions—those processions which usually took place in the month of July, in Ireland, and that it was not intended to embrace any other processions. So recently as last year, processions had been held in Dublin which emanated from meetings sanctioned by the Government, and attended by two of his Majesty's Serjeants-at-law. Even at this period large masses of people were assembling in Ireland, whose professed object was to destroy Church property, but whose real object was to destroy every description of property, and yet Government had not adopted any means of preventing those processions. The petitioners concluded by deploring the forbearance of the Govern- ment towards the disaffected part of the population, and prayed that the Bill might not pass into a law. He never was an Orangeman, and he had always wished that all processions, and all party animosity, should subside; but he was bound to state, that at the present moment, the Orangemen of Ireland were a most numerous and respectable body, and that within the last six months tens of thousands of persons had joined it, not from a wish to oppose the Government, but from the necessity of protecting their lives and property. He knew that a system of exclusive dealing had been recommended by the leading demagogues of the day, and every body knew that a recommendation from such quarters was law; for those demagogues not only ruled, but ruled with a rod of iron. What objection, then, could there be to allow the processions of persons on the 12th of July, when the object was merely to go to church, hear a sermon, and then go home? He implored the Government not to pass the Bill too hastily—at all events, to postpone it until after the 12th of July, at all events, it was now too late for this year, because the preparations for the 12th of July were already made—those public processions which their forefathers had been accustomed to—all that the petitioners wished for was, equal law and justice for all.

Mr. Stanley

deprecated such premature discussion, and implored hon. Gentlemen to wait until the Bill came regularly before the House. As to the procession merely going to church to hear a sermon, the Bill would not interfere with it; and would only interfere with processions growing out of religious party-feeling; but what reason was there for processions going to church with arms, banners, and music? Those tended to create a disturbance, and should be put down. The hon. Baronet had furnished him with a sufficient reason to press the Bill hastily through the House (which he certainly should do), as it appeared that preparations were already making for the processions on the 12th of July next.

Mr. Henry Grattan

hoped the Bill would be immediately proceeded with.

The petition to be printed.