HC Deb 02 April 1846 vol 85 cc479-82

, pursuant to notice, rose to move for an Address to the Crown for— A Return of the total amount of public money (whether derived from local funds or from funds voted by Parliament) which has been paid for services as a Crown witness, or for other services, to a man named Robert Reily, alias George Reily, alias Robert Alexander, alias George Rowan, alias Hugh O'Neill, who was sentenced to transportation, as a vagrant, at the late Spring Assizes for the county of Tyrone; specifying the service for which such money has been paid; the department and the public officer by whom such payments have been made; and the period of time during which such payments took place. His attention had lately been drawn to the case. He need not enter into the details of the evidence given by the man Reily. He presumed that Ministers would not state that they had given their sanction to the proceedings in question, and that they would admit that, if such a system prevailed in Ireland, it ought to be exhibited and condemned. He would, therefore, content himself with simply moving for the Return.


said, that since the hon. Gentleman had given notice of his Motion, he had not had any opportunity of receiving information from Ireland on the subject; and he was, therefore, quite uninformed as to the case. The hon. Gentleman, however, only did the Government justice in stating his belief that the employment of persons to entrap others into crime would be regarded by Government as the greatest possible outrage upon law and property, and that it would receive their most prompt and grave reprobation. He had no objection to the production of the Returns moved for.


remarked, that there were many instances of the police attempting to entrap persons into situations in which they might be charged with crime; and instanced the case of a policeman named Callan hiding arms, and accusing innocent parties of concealing them. There were other cases of a similar nature, in one of which a policeman was set down as being in England, when, in fact, he was secretly employed in the west of Ireland; and another in which a policeman was detected slipping Ribbon documents into the pocket of a countryman, with the view of accusing him of belonging to illegal associations. He knew persons who were cautioned that everything that occurred in their public houses was reported to Government.


The hon. Gentleman alludes in his Motion to persons transported for vagrancy. Is it a fact that vagrancy is ever so punished in Ireland?


It is. If a man taken up as a vagrant cannot give 10l. security for his good behaviour, the Judge is empowered to transport him.


expected a better explanation than the Government had given. Charges were made, names given, and parties pointed out; and not a Member of the Government was able to say whether they were true or not. If the imprisonment of two or three girls in Scotland occupied their attention three or four hours, surely such offences as that charged against the police in Ireland should be thoroughly sifted by that House. The Government should institute an inquiry immediately: their own character was at stake.


The House, I am sure, will pardon me one moment. I am inclined to think the hon. Member for Montrose has not heard what I said in answer to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Limerick places on the Notice Paper a substantive charge as to a particular person, and that so recently that I have not had an opportunity of receiving an answer from Ireland. I directed immediate inquiries as to the facts to be made, and I have not yet received an answer. In the absence of that reply, I have stated that I was most willing to give an assurance that the Government would never sanction the employment of spies, directly or indirectly. The hon. Member for Meath gives a number of cases. I hope I shall be excused when I say—considering the office I hold is not immediately connected with Ireland—that I never heard of them before. I will undertake, on the part of the Crown, to assure the hon. Gentleman, that there shall be a searching inquiry as to the conduct of the policeman mentioned; that, if found to have offended as described, he shall be dismissed; and that a general order shall be issued that no such means as those referred to shall be issued by any one in the pay of the Government.