HC Deb 26 May 1843 vol 69 cc981-4
Mr. M. J. O'Connell

had, be said, a question to put to the noble Lord, the Secretary far Ireland, He understood that it had been announced elsewhere, that certain magistrates in Ireland had been removed from the commission of the peace, and he also understood, that three of those persons had been named — one was a Member of that House, another was an Irish Peer, and the third had, as he was informed, been named also. The questions that he now wished to ask were, first, was the information he had received correct? secondly, whether any other magistrates, except these three, the hon. Member for Cork, Lord Ffrench, and Sir Michael Dillon, had been dismissed; and third, whether there would be any objection to lay on the Table of the House the list of those who bad been removed. To these questions he now wished to have a reply, as the House did not meet until Monday.

Sir James Graham

replied, he had received an official communication from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, to the effect that, in the discharge of his duty, he had thought fit to remove from the commission of the peace Lord Ffrench, for having presided at a meeting where the question of repeal had been discussed, and also that he thought it his duty to remove the hon. Member for Cork from the commission of the peace, for the same reason. He had not heard of the third removal having taken place. He had received no communication to that effect.

Mr. Smith O'Brien

was, he said, a magistrate for two counties; and he wished to know, supposing he presented a petition praying for a Repeal of the Union, whether the commission of the peace would be taken from him?

Sir James Graham

If the hon. Gentleman attended a repeal meeting, there could be no doubt but that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland would remove him from the commission of the peace.

Lord John Russell

asked, if it were stated by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland whether, in thus acting, he had followed the desire, or attended to the recommendation, of the Lord-lieutenant?

Sir James Graham,

no. It was in the discretion of the Lord Chancellor to act upon his own judgment, solely in such a matter as this, and not under the direction of others; but he, on the part of her Majesty's Government, said that the step taken was approved of by himself and his Colleagues.

Mr. Redington

asked whether any communications had been made, through the official organs, such as the lord-lieu-tenants of counties, by the Government here, or by the Lord Chancellor in Ireland, as the responsible officer, intimating to the magistrates, what were the crimes, or what the measures in which, if they took part, they should be liable to dismission from the commission of the peace.

Sir James Graham:

No general order had been issued in this country, or in Ireland. Each case depended upon its own merits as it arose, and would be so decided upon by the responsible Advisers of the Crown.

Mr. Smith O'Brien

wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman would inform him whether he had received an account of any breach of the peace having been committed—whether these meetings had been held, except in the case of the assassination of an unfortune repealer, at a place called Clones. He wished to know, with that exception, whether he had received the account of any breach of the peace at these meetings?

Sir James Graham

had not received information of any breach of the peace, except in the case referred to by the hon. Gentleman, as to the death of one unfortunate man; but on the other hand, he had been informed that tumultuous assemblies had taken place under circumstances which had produced the greatest possible excitement and alarm amongst her Majesty's loyal subjects.

Mr. Sheil

wished to know whether, before the meeting that had been attended by Lord Ffrench, notice had been given to Lord Ffrench respecting it?

Sir James Graham

remarked that nothing could be less expected by him than that questions on this subject should be put to him that evening. He had not had the slightest intimation that it was intended to put them. It was not the usual time for putting them, and he was quite satisfied that the House must perceive there was some irregularity in the proceeding; but, then, in a matter of this kind he was most anxious at all times to answer such questions as should be asked of him, but it was most important that he should be able to answer with accuracy. To the best of his recollection, the Lord Chancellor had specifically directed the attention of Lord Ffrench to the matter. The Lord Chancellor seeing the name of Lord Ffrench appended to a requisition calling a meeting, and seeing he was about to interfere when the question of the repeal of the union was to be agitated, the Lord Chancellor communicated with Lord Ffrench, and asked him whether it was his intention to attend that meeting. Lord Ffrench replied that he did so intend. He thought that in the same communication the Lord Chancellor observed, that it was not consistent with his Lordship's duty to attend that meeting. Lord Ffrench's answer was, that, whatever might be the consequences, it was his fixed determination to attend. He did attend; and then it was that his Lordship was deprived of the commission of the peace. This was his recollection of the correspondence; but the right hon. Gentleman must excuse him if there were any inaccuracy in the statement.

House adjourned at a quarter past twelve o'clock.