HC Deb 18 June 1833 vol 18 cc978-81
Mr. Ronayne

begged to call the attention of the House to a Motion which he considered of great importance. It had reference to persons who had been imprisoned for tithes. The persons imprisoned under the tithe laws at Kilmainham, Kildare, and other parts of Ireland, were allowed every possible indulgence; they were permitted to have wine and such other necessaries as they wished to procure, while those imprisoned in the gaol of the county of Cork were treated with the greatest cruelty. They were locked up in stone ceils at four o'clock in the day, and treated in every respect as convict felons. One of the persons so treated was his own cousin-german. He applied to Judge Moore, by whom the parties had been tried, and that learned and humane Judge immediately applied to the Castle, and the consequence was, that the High Sheriff of the county of Cork was called upon to report upon the case. That gentleman did make his report, and the case was again referred to Judge Moore, who expressed his indignation at finding that three persons had been confined in a cell about ten feet square, and subjected to such persecution. He (Mr. Ronayne) applied day after day, to Sir William Cosset (the Lord-lieutenant's private Secretary) on the subject, until he at length gave it up from a feeling that the Government found themselves too weak to oppose themselves to the Conservative Committee of Magistrates of the county of Cork. He hoped the House would not, under these circumstances, reject his Motion for the production of the documents necessary to explain the whole of this transaction. He would mention a fact or two, which perhaps the House might laugh at, but which no honest man could fail to give weight to. The first was, that when the Sheriff and he visited the: gaol, the Sheriff gave orders that the men should not be confined to their cells, but be allowed the range of the corridor) the outer door only being closed) and gave a written order to that effect. The Sheriff, on quitting the gaol, turned to him and said, "I should not at all wonder if the gaol committee should rescind that order." And what the Sheriff predicted came to pass; the order was rescinded, and the parties were driven to their cells as usual. The other fact was, that he found on inquiry, that there was not such a thing as a night-chair in the cells. He ordered one from the hotel, and the Sheriff ordered it to be placed in a separate cell; but this order, too, the gaol committee rescinded, and ordered the night-chair to be placed in the cell with the three men. The hon. Member concluded by moving for "copies of all the memorials to the Irish government from the prisoners confined in the gaol of the county of Cork under sentence of the Judges of Assize, at the last Autumn Circuit, for offences connected with tithes; and of all communications made on the subject of every such memorial by the hon. Judge Moore; and of all letters from the Irish government in reply to any such memorial to any prisoner, or to the Sheriff of the county of Cork; and of the letter or letters of such Sheriff to the Irish government on such subject; and of all communications between the Irish government and the gaol committee of the county of Cork on the said subject."

Mr. Fergus O'Connor

said, that in seconding the Motion, he felt it his duty to say a few words, because he had acted as counsel for the accused parties. He had advised them the course which they had pursued upon their trial, but upon hearing of their sufferings in gaol, he felt it his duty to represent the case to Judge Moore, who said he would not have passed such a sentence upon them, had he known that they were to be so punished in gaol. If the Motion of his hon. friend were to be refused, he did not see how any Motion for the production of papers could be carried, and the result would be, that the magistrates of Ireland would be an irresponsible body.

Mr. Littleton

should have no objection to the production of the documents required, as he was convinced that they would add to the confidence which the people reposed in the Government, He would, therefore, accede to the production of all the communications required, with the exception of one letter of the hon. Judge Moore, on the principle, that being on private business, it could have nothing; to do with the case. If the hon. Member saw the letter, he would, he was sure, agree, that it was of no importance.

Motion agreed to.