HC Deb 01 July 1844 vol 76 cc136-7
Mr. Wyse

had seen during the past week in the public papers letters addressed to the Protestants of the north of Ireland, cautioning them against violating the law and public tranquillity by originating or taking part in the party processions which were formerly customary about this time, but which were prohibited by the existing Party Processions Act. He found no fault with these friendly and wise admonitions—quite the contrary—he would be glad to see similar counsels of forbearance more frequently producing their effect in Ireland; but there were passages in those letters which induced him to look with something like doubt on the advice given, and which urged him to put the present question. One of these letters bears the signature of Lord Farnham, and is dated, London, June 21; it speaks of the statute as being "insidious and unjust," but calls on the Protestants, to whom it is addressed, "to bear in mind that it is still the law of the land." It requests that they will strictly obey it, "however they may be provoked and aggravated by their opponents to pursue a different conduct." Another letter is signed by Henry J. Johnston, Grand Master of the county of Monaghan, dated Fort Johnston, June 20, 1844, and states the Procession Act is still in force, but adds, "the Act will expire 1st August; one trial more awaits you before the expiration of the Procession Act;" sentences which give the impression of its anticipated discontinuance. Now, much as he felt objection to coercive laws, and desired to see all suppression of these party signs and other causes of dissension arise from the parties themselves, he could not but wish (and in that he was joined by many in Ireland) to ascertain whether or not such impression was well founded. He would, therefore ask, without further preface, the right hon. Baronet whether or not Her Majesty's Government intended to renew the Party Processions Act, on its expiration on the 1st of August?

Sir James Graham

judging from the experience of past years, had reason to hope that the Protestants of the north of Ireland would, on the approaching anniversaries, abstain from processions as they had so wisely done for several years past. But there were two Acts of Parliament about to expire, both of which were of very great importance. He alluded to the Act for the suppression of Secret Societies and unlawful Oaths, and to the Act for the Suppression of Orange Processions. A Bill was already on the Table of the House for the renewal of the former Act, and it was the intention of the Government, in the present state of affairs in Ireland, also to propose the re-enactment of the Orange Processions Bill. He was, however, happy to say that Government, under all the circumstances, felt justified in limiting the duration of both these Bills to the 31st August, 1845.