HC Deb 18 March 1835 vol 26 cc1135-8
Mr. O'Dwyer

presented a Petition from two individuals, named Walsh and Murphy, one of whom was a Roman Catholic priest, complaining that Mr. Doyne, a Magistrate of Carlow, had offered from the Bench to pay a fine inflicted on two men, who had been convicted of assaults on persons at Borris, because they were opposed to the return of Mr. Kavanagh, the present Member for the county. Such conduct, he must say, was highly improper on the part of any Magistrates, and, if the allegations contained in this petition were made out to the satisfaction of that House, Mr. Doyne ought not to be allowed to remain in the Commission of the Peace.

Mr. Kavanagh

denied the truth of the statements put forward in the petition. He was Chairman of the Quarter Sessions when the two men in question were convicted, and he could, therefore, state, that no such proposition as that alluded to by these petitioners was made either by Mr. Doyne or any other Magistrate. The petitioner said, that those who perpetrated outrages in his favour during the late election were indemnified against the consequences, but he must positively deny that any outrages were committed by any of his friends or supporters on that occasion. On the contrary, it was notorious that the only outrages perpetrated during the late election proceeded from those by whom he was opposed, namely, "the Priests' party;" and it was a fact of equal notoriety, that collections were made by the priests from the altar to pay the fines which might be inflicted on those of their adherents who might be convicted of outrages.

Mr. Finn

said, that while such proceedings on the part of the Magistracy as those complained of were tolerated it would be hopeless to look for peace or order in Ireland. Instead of the priests interfering, as the hon. Gentleman had alleged, with a view to intimidate the voters, they were compelled to take no part in the proceedings of the elections by every species of threat. The charge of intimidation, therefore, rested not with the priests but with the landlords, who used all the influence they possessed to oblige their tenants to vote for a particular candidate.

Colonel Bruen

said, that he could not allow this petition to be placed upon the Table without making a few observations on the allegations contained in it, and the persons from whom it proceeded. He held in his hand an affidavit which would set the matter at rest, so far as the conduct of this individual priest was concerned. The affidavit to which be alluded was made, not by a Protestant, but a Roman Catholic, who resided in the part of the country where the Rev. Mr. Walsh lived; and the statement contained in it was first delivered in a Court of Justice, and while this same priest was present on the trial of certain parties who bad been guilty of an outrage. The priest, at the time, denied the statement; but, notwithstanding this, the man not only persisted in it, but subsequently deposed to every fact he had mentioned; and, if he were to read this document, the House would be convinced that this petition was undeserving of attention. The hon. and gallant Officer then read the affidavit, which was in these words:— "County of Carlow to wit:—The information of Patrick Roache, of Borris, in the said county, who deposeth and saith, that on Sunday, the 1st day of February instant, he attended mass at the chapel of Borris, where he heard the priest, the Rev. John Walsh, sen., proclaim from the altar his intention of making a collection on the following Sunday for the purpose of raising a fund for the payment of fines inflicted by the Magistrates on persons found guilty of assaults. Deponent further swears, that this declaration had scarcely passed the priest's lips when a movement took place by some people near the chapel door, towards the steps of the gallery, when Edward Mulligan, the only freeholder in the chapel who opposed the priest's party at the late election for the said county, was then sitting, but who were prevented, as deponent believes, attacking the said freeholder by a person who stood at the foot of the steps of the gallery; but as soon as the priest turned round to quit the altar, a simultaneous rush was made up the gallery where the said freeholder, Edward Mulligan, was, and who in an instant was dragged off his knees, thrown down the stairs, nearly twenty feet high, and totally ejected from the chapel, and, when outside, pelted with stones, and otherwise assaulted: and had it not been for the humane and manly conduct of some of the people of Borris, deponent verily believes the consequences would have been probably fatal to the said Mulligan. Deponent further swears, that the whole of this disgraceful scene was perpetrated in consequence of the encouragement held out by the aforesaid priest, viz. that he would raise a fund for the purpose of paying the fines inflicted by the Magistrates upon those persons found guilty of assaults (as deponent verily believes) on those freeholders who opposed the priest's party at the late election for the said county. (Signed) "PATRICK ROACHE." "Sworn before me this 10th day of February, 1835. (Signed) ROB. DOYNE. The affidavit which he had read would, he thought, put the House in full possession of the real character of this reverend agitator, who was one of the greatest firebrands by whom the peace of Ireland was disturbed. From the proceedings of this priest the conduct of others might fairly be inferred; and while such an interference on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy was tolerated, no laws would be available in Ireland. Since the passing of the Emancipation Bill the priesthood had so agitated the county with which he was connected as to render it almost unsafe to live in it. What he had stated was a notorious fact; and he again asserted, that, unless strong measures were adopted to restrain the Roman Catholic priests from the course of intimidation which they had been pursuing, Ireland would soon be in such a situation as not to be habitable by any other Christian sect. As it was, he could assure the House, that the county which he had the honour to represent was almost unfit for a civilised person to live in; and the consequence of opposing the wishes of the priests incurred, he might almost say, no less a penalty than death. Not only were the lives of the individuals placed in jeopardy by opposing the views of those persons, but even whole families had fallen sacrifices to the spirit of animosity which they had been the means of engendering. [Cries of "No! no!"] What! could it be denied that whole houses had been burned down—that both father, mother, and children, had fallen victims to the flames, ignited by midnight incendiaries for their destruction? But, without detaining the House longer on a subject so painful, he would conclude by observing, that the affidavit which he had read would give the House some faint notion of the scenes which were daily perpetrated in Ireland.

The Speaker thought that a great deal too much had been said on the presentation of this petition. If such discussions were got up on every petition which was presented, the time of the House would be taken up, not only unreasonably, but to the exclusion of all other business.

Petition to lie on the Table

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