HC Deb 20 March 1863 vol 169 cc1694-9

said, that he desired, before the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland addressed the House, to call attention to another case in which justice had not been done. In September last there resided on his property in Sligo an elderly gentleman, named Davey, who had amassed a considerable fortune in the merchant service, and who had two daughters living with him. Both girls had been well educated in the Ursuline Convent, in the town of Sligo. On the 30th of September, about nine in the evening, a person named Michael O'Connor, accompanied by another man, went to Mr. Davey's house and attempted to carry off one of his daughters. He dragged her to the door and tried to force her into a car, but was obliged to drive away, leaving the girl lying on the road. The following morning he was apprehended by the police, taken before a magistrate, and ordered to be tried at the next petty sessions. Early on the morning of the 15th of October, which was the day before that fixed for his trial, he made a second attempt to abduct Elizabeth Davey. Accompanied by seven or eight men, all the worse for liquor, he broke into the house, threatened some of the inmates, and destroyed a good deal of property. There could be no doubt that his object was to carry off the girl, but she was concealed by the father, and so escaped. O'Connor was apprehended and fully committed for trial. The case being thought too serious to be tried at the sessions it was sent to the assizes. Meantime O'Connor was admitted to bail, and in the interim married the young woman. The assizes came on, and people were anxious to know what would become of O'Connor. The indictment found by the grand jury was for the abduction alone, and of course it could not stand, because the wife could not give evidence against her husband. the accused appeared, and the Crown prosecutor said, that as he had made amends and married the daughter with the father's consent, it would be sufficient if he were bound in his own recognizance, and O'Connor was bound accordingly in the sum of £100. His complaint was that the ends of justice had been defeated, first, by the admission of the man to bail, and secondly, by with holding the indictment against him for the more serious offence; and if the action of magistrates were to be completely overruled, as had happened in this instance, by persons in authority, the very worst possible results must ensue to the peace and good order of the country.


said, that he did not exactly understand the object of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. O'Hara) in submitting this case to the House. Apparently, no doubt, violence had been offered to this young woman. It was certainly a very serious crime to break into the house, but it appeared to him that the affair was rather a rough species of courtship—the young man being in love with the young woman; that the father opposed the match, and that an abduction was attempted. A second attack was made, and after that the young man married the young woman. He presumed that they were living happily together. The hon. Member complained of the young man being released on bail without the knowledge of the magistrates, and said the proceeding was an outrage on justice But O'Connor appeared when called upon, and pleaded guilty to the charge; and he really could not see that there was any very great infringement of the principles of justice in his being admitted to bail after having been six weeks in prison. At all events the affair was, he hoped, happily finished, and he trusted that the young man would conduct himself properly for the future.

Coining next to the remarks made by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Whiteside), he was also unable to perceive very clearly what his object was in bringing forward the unfortunate murder of Mr. Braddel in July last. That case came before the House on two or three occasions last year, when he had endeavoured to explain, he hoped satisfactorily, that everything had been done by the Government in order to discover the known perpetrator of that most audacious offence. But up to the present time, as his right hon. Friend had truly said, the criminal had escaped them. What had become of him they did not known. All kinds of reports had been current, and every attempt been made to mislead the Government and the police. The right hon. Gentleman had clearly narrated the circumstances under which this awful tragedy took place in the town of Tipperary in the afternoon of a market day. It would seem that some of the persons present had acted a cowardly part, and that Hayes, a rather powerful man, succeeded in effecting his escape to the country. The case had given the Irish Government great anxiety, and no stone had been left unturned to bring the criminal to justice. In regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Clonmel, (Mr. Bagwell) he would only say, that although fifteen minutes elapsed between the commission of the offence and the police receiving an intimation of it, no time was lost in having the country scoured in every direction in search of the perpetrator. In this case, as unfortunately sometimes happened, the people of the neighbourhood sided with the murderer, or at least would give the police no information; otherwise a clue might have been obtained to his whereabouts, and he might have been arrested. Immediately the police found that they could get nothing to put them upon his track, they telegraphed to all the towns and ports of Ireland, as well as to Liverpool and Glasgow, in order, if possible, to intercept his flight. Much stress had been laid on the whereabouts of Hayes. One assertion was that he had escaped from Berehaven, or that, not being able to take a passage in a ship, he returned; another that he escaped from Galway immediately after the murder; another that he was confined in a building underground somewhere in King's or Queen's County. These various statements had, of course, been made by interested parties for the purpose of misleading the Government; but he was bound to say that he did not think the police were at all to blame in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman had passed a just panegyric on their conduct. It was not only an admirable force, but it had very much contributed to the comparatively peaceful state of Ireland. He did not know what Baron Hughes might have said at Clonmel, but in the north and north-west the reports of the Judges had been most satisfactory. In some cases murderers did unhappily escape the powers of human justice, and this was one of those cases; Lord Nor-bury's murderer remained unknown to this day, although thousands of pounds had been offered for his discovery. In this country also the famous Road murder and the murder in Waterloo Road were still mysteries unsolved; and so in the case of Hayes, although a man most re markable in stature and of very considerable age, he had managed, up to the present time, to elude apprehension. But he believed confidently that Hayes was not dead—that he was still somewhere concealed in Ireland, and although it was impossible to have any accurate data on the subject, the constabulary, on whom the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had pronounced a eulogium, had yet hopes of finding him. Letters had been received from America stating that Hayes was there, but in the present state of that country it was impossible to get accurate information such as under other circumstances they might make available. With regard to the conduct of a policeman who had been dismissed by the Government because it was asserted that he saw Hayes on a particular day, and that he refused to arrest him, the facts were these: — Shortly after the murder two constables, named Costigan and Hughes, asserted on oath that they saw Hayes. Hughes would not himself arrest Hayes, when he said he could do so, and forbade Costigan, who volunteered to do so or to fetch assistance. These points were submitted to an inquiry on oath by the justices at Clonmel, and the finding of those justices was this: "We are of opinion that both the above charges are proved." But though they declared the charges against the constables proved, they gave no opinion as to whether Hughes acted prudently or otherwise; and therefore they left it to the Government to decide what course should be taken in regard to him. He had read the papers most attentively, and he had come to the conclusion that in the in- terest of the public Hughes had failed to do his duty, and that he should be dismissed; and dismissed he was. But it had since come out that he did not see Hayes. That, however, did not alter his view of the case, for Hughes swore that he saw him. He had acted on his solo authority because the Court declined to give an opinion, but he was quite sure that the public would say that he had acted rightly. Their military equipment had frequently been made a charge against the constabulary, but he should be very sorry to see any alteration in that respect. Their present armament and dress did not in the least interfere with the efficient performance of their duty. A report had just been received by the Government of a case in which a constable had been in pursuit for twenty miles across country, and yet his dagger and gun did not in the least encumber him, for he captured his man. Besides, his hon. Friend knew that in addition to the constabulary there was a force of detectives in every county of Ireland, who went silently and prudently about their business. If be had known the reports which had come to the Government within the last year, when the constabulary had rather hard times of it the hon. Gentleman would not find fault with them. They were still taking active steps. Hundreds of men had been on foot solely for the purpose of discovering Hayes; and he might just mention, to I show the extreme activity of the police what had been done in the case of the murder of Mr. Fitzgerald. Two assassins were hired to shoot him; be was shot dead; nobody was present but the wife. The assassins shot their victim from behind a hedge, and ran off immediately. One was immediately brought to justice, and executed. The other was also brought to justice, and suffered the extreme penalty of the law; and only within the last few days the police had been able to trace the man who hired the two assassins; he was found guilty at the recent Limerick Assizes, and would suffer the extreme penalty of the law on the 15th of next month. He did not think, therefore, that the charge of inefficiency was well-founded because the police had not been able to bring the heinous criminal Hayes to justice.

Another Question had been put to him by his hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry, with reference to the Law of Marriage in Ireland. No one knew better than the right hon. Gentleman, who intro- duced a Bill last year for the purpose of Assisting the Dissenters of Ireland, the difficulties of dealing with this subject. They all admitted that the Marriage Law of Ireland was in an unsatisfactory position. It was based, not on the Civil rights of parties, but rather, as it were, on religious differences. That was a great objection, which certainly ought to be dealt with. They had in Ireland a state of things which it. was very difficult to deal with. There was a law of marriage for Protestants, a law of marriage for Roman Catholics, another for Presbyterians. Quakers, and Jews. It was a complex system to treat in one uniform measure. There were at the present time three Bills before the House relating to the subject, which alone would prove the extreme difficulty of dealing with it. It was said that the Government should take up the subject, and he should be very glad to do so if he could perceive any prospect of dealing with it in a satisfactory manner, having regard to the conscientious scruples of persons of different religious persuasions. He, however, did not think that was possible at the present moment. His right hon. Friend opposite had failed to carry a Bill bearing his name, and not only that, but had violently attacked the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Mr. White-Bide), whose name also was on the back of the Bill. [Mr. WHITESIDE: I made no violent attack.] He had heard the right hon. Gentleman differ from his hon. and learned Friend, particularly as to the hours of marriage. That was a very important point, and such differences showed the difficulty of dealing with the subject. He could only say, that if the Bill now before Parliament should fail, and he should continue in office, he would endeavour next Session to introduce a measure which would meet the wishes of all parties. He would not go into a history of the Marriage Laws in Ireland from the time of Henry VIII., which would occupy too much time, but would only remark that from that period until 1822, very severe restrictions had been imposed upon the Roman Catholics. Of late years there had been some modification, and it was very desirable to bring the whole system into harmonious action, but at the present moment the Government had no intention of dealing with the question.