HC Deb 24 August 1835 vol 30 cc946-8
Mr. Morgan J. O'Connell,

on the Motion that the debate on the Kerry Election Petition be resumed, rose to complain that the petition was a series of either misrepresentations or falsehoods. He denied altogether that the Knight of Kerry had lost the election through intimidation, either by himself, his political friends, or the priests in that county. That placards had been exhibited of a party nature was natural at a disputed election in Ireland, but that there had been any attempt to intimidate by affixing the emblem of a death's head and cross bones over the doors of those who chose to vote for his opponent was most untrue. As to the circumstances stated in the petition as having taken place upon the Sunday previous to the election in the chapel of Listowel, it was proved to be untrue even by the circumstance of its having never been mentioned as a charge against him or his friends during the heat of the election upon the hustings by any one opposed to him. The placard called "the Patriot's Curse," said to have been exhibited there, was a shameless forgery, and, strange to say, appeared in the London paper, The Times, first. Its authors were known, and the delusion attempted to be practised was dishonest and most unworthy. He denied that the Roman Catholic clergy had, to influence votes, threatened to refuse the rights of the Romish Church to, or had refused to christen the children of, such Catholics as should vote for his opponent, in conclusion he must say the petition contained phrases and expressions which he certainly thought highly indecorous, and such as the petitioners, who were men of property and character, ought never to have allowed themselves to subscribe their names to as sanctioning calumnies of so gross a nature against other respectable gentlemen. Upon the whole he assured the House the petition was replete with a variety of misrepresentations and unfounded assertions.

Mr. Mullins,

thought he should neglect his duty were he not to defend his constituents against accusations like these. He could confirm all the statements of the hon. Member who had just taken his se and could assure the House, that the electors were allowed the full, free, and conscientious exercise of their privilege.

Mr. O'Connell

regretted that so much attention had been paid to such a piece of impudent mendacity—such an outrage of common sense. There had been in this case a petition under the Grenville Act, and in support of that witnesses might have been examined. If the petitioner spoke the truth he would now have been sitting in that House. Up to the last hour, even when the day of ballot came, he alleged that he could prove his allegations; but when the opportunity was afforded him he retired. Of another Knight it was said, that— He loves and he rides away; but of the Knight of Kerry it could truly be said— He hates and he rides away. Careless of the allegations set forth in his petitions, he neglected to avail himself of the only opportunity that could be offered for establishing the truth of them. The Patriot's Curse about which so much had been said, was a hoax, practised by some ti-patriot on the correspondent of The Times, and now amongst other falsehoods was introduced into the body of the petition—a petition so absurd in its structure as to be equally false and ridiculous. As to the attacks made upon himself he utterly despised them.

Mr. William Ord

wished to say that he had not stated that the Knight of Kerry had brought the subject of the "Patriot's Curse" before the Committee—it was mentioned by a stipendiary magistrate.

Mr. Maurice O'Connell

said, that the Knight of Kerry was a Member of that same Government which instituted the investigation into the subject just mentioned.

Colonel Perceval

contended that there were many reasons why the Knight of Kerry should not have taken any other course than that which he had adopted, and amongst the number was the expense attendant on any other proceeding. The conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy in Kerry had much influence upon the election adverse to Mr. Fitzgerald, and the language they used was of a most violent and inflammatory description, in some cases amounting to a threat of a denial of the rites of the church to any person voting in favour of Mr. Fitzgerald.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that the Bishop of the diocese would immediately punish such conduct on part of Catholic clergymen, and contended it could not have been practised.

Mr. Praed

said, it could not be expected that Mr. Fitzgerald should himself have been at the expense of proving that intimidation which was quite a public concern, as much so as the Great Yarmouth and the York cases.

Petitions to lie upon the Table.