HC Deb 19 July 1867 vol 188 cc1764-5

in calling attention to the disturbances which had lately taken place between the Protestant and Catholic residents of Birmingham, said, that the subject was a serious one, because a suspicion had arisen, owing to the manner in which some of the rioters who had attacked Mr. Murphy had been dealt with, that the magistrates were not inclined to afford the protection to Protestants which they considered they had a right to expect. In consequence of the absence of such protection a number of the Protestant inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood had associated themselves together, and had issued an address or warning to the Catholics, that, inasmuch as they had failed to obtain the protection of the magistrates, they were determined to take the law into their own hands. They naturally felt irritated because the Mayor had not only refused the Town Hall to Mr. Murphy after it had been granted to Dr. Manning, but had suffered the Catholic mob to pull down the walls of the building which Mr. Murphy's friends were desirous of erecting for a lecture room. He had reason to believe that the latter act had been done at the express instigation of the priests, who possessed great influence over the Irish Roman Catholics in Birmingham. In point of fact, the acts of those persons had been carried to an extent much beyond what was generally known or believed, and the impression was that the Birmingham magistrates had permitted the Irish Roman Catholic mob to behave with impunity, in order that Murphy might be driven from the town. Having already denounced the con- duct of those persons in the House, and remembering that an exciting election contest was now going on in the town, he had thought proper to recommend peace and quietness to all persons. All that was required was an assurance from the Home Secretary in that House that the Protestants of Birmingham should have equal rights with the Catholics to promulgate their opinions; and that so long as they did so quietly and peaceably they should be protected by the law, and that upon such an assurance being given the apprehension and dissatisfaction which now existed would cease. What Mr. Murphy and his friends desired was to enlighten the people with respect to certain tenets and practices of the Roman Catholic religion; and if the Home Secretary felt inclined to take upon himself the responsibility of keeping them in ignorance upon such subjects, he hoped he would not hesitate to avow his opinions.