§ SIR JOHN GRAY
Sir, the Question which I have put upon the paper is one to which I am certain the House will give its most anxious attention, as it refers to an alleged offence against the administration of justice in Ireland. This House has at all times shown the greatest anxiety that the administration of the law should not only be beyond reproach, but above 847 suspicion. The case which I am about to bring under the notice of the House is one of such a character that it can hardly be rendered intelligible within the limits of a mere Question; and I shall, therefore, have to trespass somewhat at length upon your indulgence in order to place the House in possession of the facts which have given rise to the remarkable judgment referred to in my Question. The House will, I am sure, recognise at once that one of the highest functions which it has to discharge is to see that the laws which it assists in making are administered even-handedly as between all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. The importance of having good laws made is great—inexpressibly great—but of what value are good laws if the Executive fail to administer these laws in a spirit of perfect equality, recognising no distinction of persons, but dealing out justice with an even hand to all? The complaint, which is substantially put in the form of a Question to-night, is not a complaint which comes from any disappointed suitor, or from any person who has failed to escape a punishment which he had hoped to avert. It does not come from any advocate engaged on one side or the other. It does not come in a factious form from the member of any local party. It does not come from any person who may reasonably be assumed to have a particular bias one way or another. It does not even come in the shape of a report to which any of the privileges of impunity attached to a private report belongs, and which almost amount to licence. But it comes direct from the judicial bench. It is the open, plain statement made from the judicial bench in the public court, before the assembled county, jurors and people, by one of the circuit Judges of Assize in Ireland, and in effect amounts to an assertion that justice has not been done, and that the administration of the law has been partial and one-sided. Considering that the person who makes that charge is officially commissioned by Her Majesty to pass from county to county in Ireland for the purpose of administering the laws—that he is a personage who has been for a long period conversant with the administration of the law in all its branches, who filled the offices of Solicitor General for Ireland, of Attorney General for Ireland, and who for twelve years has filled the office of one of Her Majesty's Judges in Ireland, his words will not fail 848 to impress this House with a sense of the gravity of the case. During the whole period for which that learned Judge has occupied a seat on the judicial bench, I think hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as Gentlemen on this side of the House will admit that no complaint has ever been made with respect to the able and impartial manner in which he has discharged his duties. He is not personally unknown to this House. He long sat as a Member in this House, where he was admired for his ability, his clearness of intellect, his frankness and his readiness to deal with every subject in an impartial spirit; and when I read to the House the observations he has made in reference to the manner in which the law has been administered in one of the Northern counties of Ireland, I am sure the House will not fail to give attention to his complaint—his judicial complaint—and to deal with it in such a manner as to vindicate its own honour and satisfy the country that an impartial administration of the law will be recognised by this House as one of the first objects it has to secure for the subjects of the Queen. I feel, Sir, that I cannot put the Question better before the House than by reading the observations which were made by Mr. Justice Keogh, at the recent assizes, held at Omagh, in the county of Tyrone. These observations are somewhat long; but it is only by reading them to the House in full that I shall be able to make the important interests involved clear to the conception of the House. On the occasion to which I refer, Mr. Justice Keogh said—I have now been for twelve years on the bench, and never, during the course of that time, had I ever so painful a duty as now. I do not wish to be considered as sitting in judgment on the act of the magistrates who first heard this case at petty sessions, or to assert positively that they had not discharged their duty. But it will become my duty in another place to bring the facts of this case under the notice of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He is at the head of the magistracy of the country, and it remains with him to determine who are fit and who are utterly unfit for the discharge of their important duties. I do not say to which category the magistrates who sat at Donoughmore petty sessions belong. I am sitting here to preserve the peace of the county, and it is melancholy to observe that here are two informations made by members of the constabulary force, to which nearly every Grand Jury in the country have been paying tributes, and well-merited tributes, of respect for their gallant conduct in preserving the peace of the country. The informations before me show that the peace of this Donoughmore district was disturbed at nine or ten at night by a faction to the number of 120 men who are 849 called Protestants. I wish to God that in the discharge of my duty I had never to mention the words Catholic or Protestant. But here 120 men of this so-called Protestant party invade the district, and constable O'Neill says that he and sub-constable Thackaber followed the processionists, who were marching to the music of fifes and drums for half a mile. Then they are joined by the Castlecaulfield party, who have also fifes and drums. They are all headed by two men, one on horseback, and O'Neill asked them to stop the music. They said they would do so, and halted. The constable feared there would be a collision with the Catholic party, which, however, had not then assembled in force. Reney then came up, catches the constable by the breast, and says to the party, 'Beat on, we'll not stop drumming.' The procession then marched off towards the Cross-roads, where they were attacked by the Catholic party, who ran out of their houses when the chapel bell was tolled. These are the short facts of the riot. What follows? The case comes before the magistrates, and that intelligent constable (O'Neill) tells us that he identified six of the Protestant party, and yet not one of their names is returned in the informations of the police except Stinson Reney, who appears to have been the leader of the band, who told his party to 'beat on.' And yet, I say, he is sent here merely for committing an assault, as if everything else he did was justifiable and proper.A gentleman, Mr. Lyle, one of the magistrates who acted in the case, and who was present, here interrupted the Judge with some observation. Judge Keogh proceeded—I will not hear another word, sir, on the subject. I will do my duty here fearlessly, not regarding whether these parties are Protestants or Catholics, but with regard solely to preserving the peace of the country. I have now to pass sentence on these men, but I do so, perfectly convinced that the aggressors in this case—the really guilty parties—are not before me. It is grievous and lamentable for this country, when such things can be done with impunity. The police—I am bound to say a body inadequately rewarded for their exertions in preserving the peace of this country—in this case did their duty: but I know who are wanting in this case for the interests and peace of this country.The Judge then addressing the prisoners—and I beg the House to take particular notice of these words—said—Notwithstanding the deliberate attempt to keep it back, I have now before me the whole truth, and the facts of the case. It appears that you were not the originators of the riot; but I can see what party was really to blame in this transaction. I care for neither. I care not who regards the line of conduct I am adopting: for I can see where the line of strict justice should be drawn in this case. The men before me were not the instigators of this riot; but others who are absent now. If I had them here I should know how to deal with them. Justice is not to be onesided—one-handed. Let the people of this country know it, that so far as the Judges of the land are concerned, fair and impartial justice shall be 850 meted out to all. I take it for granted that you were all at your houses when this lawless band were among you with music and arms, and that you collected hastily to repel a superior force. The constable says your party were not so numerous as the invaders. But I wish to impress on you that you acted foolishly, nevertheless. You, by leaving your home, played their game; for had you stayed indoors, and let them play away at their party airs, you would not now be standing in the dock. Therefore, learn wisdom for the future. Keep within your houses, but watch their movements doggedly, silently, and determinedly, and when they break the laws appeal to the laws of your country, and I tell you that you will find them able to protect you. You have also the constabulary at hand for your protection. Are they not able to do so? In other places one of them has been found equal to sixty disaffected persons, and, if encouraged by those whose duty it is to do so, they can protect the well-disposed as effectually in the North as in the South. But I know not what to say if it shall happen that those in authority shall consider it necessary to make one party amenable to justice in such cases as this, and let the others escape. It is due to the law that you prisoners should be punished; still, having regard to the circumstances of the case, the sentence of the court is, that each of you be imprisoned for one calendar month, and kept to hard labour.Now, I ask this House to remember that this is a declaration—a judicial declaration, made in open court, made before the Grand Jury of the county, made before the petty jurors of the county, made, I may say, before the whole assembled county by the representative of the Sovereign, presiding in that court to administer justice—that injustice had been done, that the guilty parties had been let off, and that the parties least guilty were transmitted for trial in such a manner as to be in danger of receiving the most severe punishment. Those who have followed me in my reading of the statement of Judge Keogh will observe that he says the parties on each side were equally identified by the constable, who appeared as a witness at the petty sessions court. As I am anxious that the whole of this case should be laid fully before the House, and that I should not hold back any mitigating circumstances, my sense of justice induces me to read the statement of Mr. Lyle, one of the magistrates who was present at the petty sessions, in which he defended the course of his brother magistrates. He occupied the chair on the occasion, and he denies that the parties were identified, though Judge Keogh said there was sufficient identification to justify informations being returned against each of the parties. Mr. Lyle said— 851They were most anxious to forward the ends of justice, but the identification of the parties alluded to by the constable (the Protestant party) so totally failed that they could not send them for trial. They were strangers, and came from another part of the country, while the others (the Catholics), being residents in the locality, were all known to the police.That is the statement of the gentleman who avowed that he occupied a seat on the bench at the petty sessions court when one party was discharged and the other sent for trial. He admits that the charge against the two parties was the same—that is to say, for riotously and unlawfully assembling, and he defends the conduct of the bench by the assertion that the identification failed, and that because of the failure of identification, and because of that alone, the rioters were not sent for trial. This, then, is the statement—this the defence, made by one of the magistrates. Now, mark what follows. There was present in the court at the time this defence of the absence of identification was set up, the witness O'Neill; and, after hearing the assertion of Mr. Lyle; Mr. Justice Keogh called O'Neill up. He was then sworn, and gave the following testimony:—Constable O'Neill (to the Court)—I swore positively to Reney (Reney was one of the Protestant party), and identified him. I know him as well as any man in the dock.Court—Did you identify any others of what is called the Protestant party?—I did, my Lord, six of them.Court—And did you know them as well as the men in the dock?—I did, my Lord.In dealing with this matter I have endeavoured to do so with perfect frankness, and have laid before the House the statements of both sides—the statement of the Judge, the denial of the magistrate, and the evidence of O'Neill. You have the assertion of one of the occupants of the bench of magistrates, not that the parties were not charged with the same offence, but that the offence charged was one and the same. The Catholic and the Orange parties were both before the magisterial bench at Donoughmore, charged with the offence of riotous and unlawful assemblage, and the defence set up by Mr. Lyle, on behalf of the magistrates was, that whilst O'Neill perfectly identified the Catholic party, he altogether failed in identifying the Protestant party. Thus, we have on one side the evidence on oath of the constable O'Neill that he did identify all the parties, and, on the other side, the statement of the magistrate, that there was no 852 identification—one on oath, the other merely the assertion. Of course, I do not wish to cast any imputation upon the accuracy of the magistrate's memory; but as there is a discrepancy between his statement and O'Neill's oath, I wish to bring before the House what appears to me to be the strongest and most conclusive corroboration of the accuracy of the sworn testimony of constable O'Neill before Judge Keogh. I hold in my hand the report of the proceedings of the magistrates at the petty sessions referred to. They assembled on the 1st of October last, and six Protestants and nine Roman Catholics were placed before them, charged with a riotous assembly at Donoughmore on the 17th September. Among the witnesses examined was this very constable O'Neill, who asserted on oath in court to Mr. Justice Keogh that he had not failed to identify the Protestant party; that he knew them well, and that he identified six of them before the magistrates assembled in petty sessions. Now, before the question was raised whether Justice Keogh had made an exaggerated statement or not there was printed in the Belfast papers of the 2nd of October last a report of the proceedings. O'Neill was examined, and in the course of his examination he said "Thornberry," one of the six, "stepped forward and said he would do all he could"—that was, to stop the music and prevent the proceeding of this unlawful assembly to and through the Catholic district. The witness thus plainly identified Thornberry as one of those present, and he then identified each of the Orange party who were summoned as forming part of the assembly, the report saying "the witness here identified the Orange party who were summoned as forming part of the unlawful assembly." Not only, then, have we the fact that the names of two of the six Orangemen are given incidentally in the evidence of O'Neill—which completes the identification of these two men, but we have the general statement of the reporter that O'Neill identified every one of the six then standing in the dock. In addition to that identification, we have the testimony of his brother constable Thomas Thackaberry, who gave this evidence—Sub-constable Thomas Thackaberry was next examined by Mr. Moore, and corroborated the evidence of sub-constable O'Neill. Witness identified Dilworth of the Orange party, and Loughran, M'Kinney, Gillan, and Nogher of the Roman Catholic party, as forming part of the mob.853 O'Neill identified every one of the six. The report published in October gives you an accurate statement of the identification, by each of these two witnesses, of all the Orange party then in the dock, as well as the whole of the Catholic party. And what was the course taken by the magistrates? Did they make any observations which indicated that they entertained doubts with regard to the accuracy of the evidence these witnesses had given, or that they thought the identification was imperfect? No such thing. On the contrary, after the case closed, the Crown prosecutor applied to those very magistrates, one of whom denied that there was any identification, and explained the absence of identification by alleging, before Mr. Justice Keogh, that the parties were "strangers," and asked that the two police constables be recommended for promotion. Mr. Brooke, speaking on behalf of the whole bench, said, "we have already recommended them" for promotion. They recommended these very men to be promoted, who, if the statement of Mr. Lyle before Judge Keogh were correct, ought to have been recommended for promotion to the dock on a charge of perjury. This report says that they were recommended for promotion in the force on account of their good conduct throughout the whole of the prosecution, and so recommended after they had identified each and every of the prisoners, including the Orangemen as well as the Catholics, as having been present at this unlawful assembly. But what is the course which was taken by the magistrates with regard to the accused? They ordered informations to be returned against every one of the Catholic prisoners, charging them with the most serious offence; they sent five of the Orangemen home rejoicing in their immunity from punishment, and ordered the sixth, who struck the policeman, to be sent for trial for the minor offence of an assault. That, then, is the conduct which Mr. Justice Keogh reprobates. That is the conduct which I venture to think worthy the attention of this House, and which I say the Lord Chancellor of Ireland ought to examine into, for the purpose of determining who they were on that bench, if any, who, to use the words of Mr. Justice Keogh, were "utterly unfit for the discharge of the magisterial functions." ["Hear, hear!"] I understand that "hear, hear!" from hon. Gentlemen opposite. What we say is, that this case 854 ought to be investigated by the Lord Chancellor. Very recently this House, and, if I mistake not, some of the hon. Members whom I now see opposite, expressed a strong and decided opinion at the instance of Gentlemen opposite, that this House was bound to interpose for the purpose of seeing that magisterial functions were committed to men who were above suspicion. Sir, I contend that that vote justifies me in asking the House to consider this question, and to determine by an expression of its opinion whether or not that portion of the Irish Catholic public, who live in the midst of a large population of armed Orangemen, are to have justice impartially dealt out to them by magistrates who are above suspicion, by magistrates of whom it cannot be said, on the judicial authority of one of Her Majesty's Judges, and in the presence of an assembled county, that there were some who "were utterly unfit for the discharge of magisterial functions." I wish also to justify myself in asking the House to consider this question upon the further ground that this is not an isolated case. Sir, it is only one of a series of cases which occur twice every year from the extreme portion of the North to the extreme Southern portion of the same province. In the same paper which reported the case that has been so severely commented on by Justice Keogh is a report of some proceedings in the adjoining county of Down, which also contains a large proportion of that particular class of politico-religious confederates who are known as Orangemen. At the county Down assizes, according to the report in this paper, there were six criminal cases tried, and out of the six, five were cases of Orange riotous assemblies. I will give you in brief the particulars of these five cases. No. 1 was the case of Scarva, which occurred, not on the occasion of the special anniversary of the confederation, a day which some persons might think afforded an excuse for excesses, though I cannot allow it, but on the 13th of January. In that case the constable proved that several "thousands of persons" assembled, wearing "Orange ribbands," carrying "Orange flags," bearing "swords," and firing shots. These persons were tried under the Riotous Assemblies Act, as were the Catholics who were tried at Omagh before Judge Keogh, and were found guilty of assembling to the extent of several thousands of persons, assembling with firearms, decked out 855 with Orange ribbands, carrying flags, and playing party tunes, but recommended to mercy by the sympathetic jurors. The result was, that they got off with a sentence of one month's imprisonment without hard labour. No. 2 was a case which occurred at Lisburn. The charge was that of having "riotously assembled," and having "stabbed" certain persons at such assembly, and the defendants got off with a verdict of acquittal. No. 3 was also a case of riotous assembly at Loughbrickland on the 12th of July. In that instance a thousand persons assembled together, carrying arms, Orange flags, and firing shots; their band played "Protestant Boys" and the "Boyne Water," and the prisoners were found guilty, but unanimously recommended to mercy by the sympathising jurors. In consequence of that recommendation the Judge deferred passing sentence, and I do not know that any sentence has yet been passed, though the probability is that, according to a general custom, the parties will be discharged upon their own personal recognizances to appear when called on to receive judgment. In No. 4 case the prisoners had assembled in the town of Kilturby, they carried eight Orange flags, were decked out with Orange ribbands, and had with them fifes and drums, on which they played "Protestant Boys" and the "Boyne Water." These persons were all fully identified, and the Judge observing something in the jury box which indicated to him that there was a deep sympathy on the part of the jurors with the prisoners which it was his duty to guard against, addressed these words to the jurors—If you can entertain a doubt, from what you have heard, that it was a procession calculated to excite feelings of animosity between Protestants and Roman Catholics, by all means give them the benefit of the doubt; but if you have no such doubt, do your duty as honest men, and convict the prisoners whether you think the Act of Parliament is a wise one or not.Notwithstanding that solemn appeal from the Judge—consequent, probably, upon the indications shown of the sympathetic feelings of the jurors who were trying the case, there was a unanimous verdict of not guilty, though no rational defence was set up for the prisoners. [Mr. E. W. VERNER: Who was the Judge?] Baron Fitzgerald; and the case was tried the same day, I believe, in the adjoining county to that in which Mr. Justice Keogh delivered the judgment I have read to the House. I think, then, I have established a case for 856 coming before the House and asking it to assist in taking care that hereafter throughout the Northern provinces of Ireland justice shall be administered to Catholic and Protestant with impartiality. Need I remind the House that it has before effectively interfered in reference to this Orange confederacy. It will be remembered by the House that in the year 1835 a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the constitution, proceedings, and objects of the Orange societies; and before that Committee it appeared in evidence that Ireland was the very hot-bed of the confederation; that from thence it had spread to England; that in England at that moment there were 140,000 members of the confederacy, bound by a secret oath, and in Ireland not less than 220,000 members, all of whom were fully armed and likewise bound by a secret oath. It also came out before that Committee that every individual of these 360,000 armed Orangement had bound himself to rally round the "head centre" of his lodge; that outside that head centre there was a still larger circle with another head centre, the baronial circle; outside that was the county circle with another head centre; outside that came the provincial circle, with its head centre; outside these was the national circle, with its head centre; and outside the national circle came the imperial circle, with an imperial head centre, and the dictum of that imperial centre the entire organization of circles and centres was bound by oath blindly to obey. Really, one would almost think that I was describing the Fenian system in Ireland. Well, it is a sort of Fenian system in Ireland; but though a Fenian system, it is a Fenian system that is upheld by the exclusively Protestant party—by the party who profess to be the monopolists of all the loyal feeling of the country. Now, when this House investigated the question in 1835, and weighed the whole of the evidence placed before it, what was the opinion of the House with regard to this Orange confederacy? Permit me to read a sentence from the Report of the Committee on the subject. They say there existed—An organized institution pervading Great Britain and her colonies to an extent never contemplated as possible, and which your Committee consider highly injurious to the discipline of His Majesty's army and dangerous to the peace of His Majesty's subjects;and they end by asking that steps should 857 be immediately taken for the "suppression" of the society. The House will have observed that there is a reference in the extract I have read from the Committee's Report to "His Majesty's army," and the particular fact which came before the Committee to give rise to that was this:—At that time a certain Royal Duke, who was described in the Orange papers as the person "who stood nearest to the throne," gave his warrant to one Colonel Fairman to traverse the country as his deputy centre, to go from one part of the kingdom to the other, visiting the several military posts, and you who have read the accounts of the Fenian proceedings in Ireland during the last twelve months cannot fail to have remarked that, in like manner, the great head centre of Fenianism traversed England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, visiting the military depôts on a special mission, just as one of Her Majesty's colonels traversed the country with a special commission from the Imperial head centre of Orangeism, who was also a Royal Duke. The places most frequented by the Fenian Centre were the barracks in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland; and all the money he could spare was devoted to inducing the soldiers to join his confederation, just as the Orangemen admitted all soldiers without the usual fee. It came out in evidence before the Committee that Colonel Fairman, whose example General Stephens seems to have followed, went with the Royal ducal warrant in his pocket from barrack to barrack; and although the Commander-in-Chief issued a specific order that no member of the army should become a member of an Orange lodge, this Colonel Fairman, with the authority of the "person nearest to the throne," induced hundreds and thousands of His Majesty's soldiers to join the confederacy which this House considered as "dangerous." And it is this which gives a meaning to the passage I have read from the Committee's Report, that it is highly injurious to "the discipline of His Majesty's army." [Mr. CONOLLY: What is the date of that transaction?] The Committee sat in 1835. I may state, for the information of the hon. Member, the Report and evidence are in the Library of this House. Upon examining the last volume it will be found that there was not a single colony of Her Majesty into which this "dangerous" Orange system had not penetrated, corrupting the soldiers, causing them to recognise a head centre outside 858 the Commander-in-Chief, and pledging them on oath implicitly to obey the dicta of that head centre, and within ten hours from the issue of a mandate from him, wherever they were, to assemble for the purpose of performing his behests, whatever they might be. [Mr. CONOLLY: That was thirty years ago.] Yes, thirty years ago, under the old rules; but the new rules are as exclusive, and require the same blind obedience to the head centre. At that period there was an eminent statesman who led the party opposite; and speaking of the recommendation of the Committee, of the action of this House, of the Address to his Majesty—the then King—praying Him to direct that such measures should be taken as would suppress this dangerous conspiracy; of the fact that the Royal Duke, the Imperial head centre, had given an undertaking, which he signed with his name "Ernest," authorizing a gentleman named Maxwell to come to this House with his letter, declaring that he would at once dissolve the associated confederates—the late Sir Robert Peel said on that occasion—"It matters little if you do dissolve it as regards its external form, unless you also dissolve it as regards its spirit," and I maintain that in spirit that society still lives.
§ MR. E. W. VERNER
I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to know from you what all this has to do with the conduct of the magistrates to whom the hon. Gentleman refers?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has given notice of a Motion; and at this moment it is difficult for me to tell how this will bear upon it, though it certainly seems to be travelling rather wide of the mark.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I readily bow to your decision, Sir. I fear that for a time I must appear to travel a little wide of the Question I have put on the paper; but I trust I shall be able to show that all the facts I adduce bear directly upon the administration of justice in Ireland, as affected by the exclusive organization alluded to in the judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh. I respectfully but confidently come to ask the House to express an opinion upon this case. It is an important case, because of the extent of the district to which the principle of that case applies. If I do not establish by the facts that the failure of justice in Ireland in this case is but an example of many similar cases, then I will 859 admit that the hon. Gentleman is right in calling me to order. What I desire to show at this moment is, that a former Leader of that side of the House said in the year 1836 that unless the dangerous confederacy abandoned its spirit as well as its form no good whatever would result; and that afterwards, instead of dissolving in fact, they only changed their rules, the new rules having been prepared by a right hon. Gentleman who has since occupied the position of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Upon the organization being altered it was re-established in Ireland, and before I sit down I think I shall be able to satisfy the House that that organization attempts to interfere even with this House, and certainly does interfere largely with the electoral system which is under the special protection of this House. I will give the House an illustration, which has just occurred to my mind, of the manner in which this organized system acts. After this House had adopted the Resolution I have referred to, after His Majesty had declared his Royal opinion that this organization was dangerous to the public peace and ought to be suppressed, the Orange system was rehabilitated in Ireland, and at this moment there is said to be upwards of 120,000 men in the organization in Ireland, all bound to obey their head centre. The ostentatious displays made by these confederates is extraordinary. Some time ago I went to a Northern county as a candidate for the representation, and the Gentleman who opposed me was successful, and is therefore well known to this House. Some years previously that Gentleman, who was then Grand Master of the Orangemen either of the county or of the province, drove ostentatiously to the assizes with his orange scarf around him, and, so attired, walked into the court to assume the duties of foreman of the Grand Jury of the county. Now, that is a fact which came almost within my own personal cognizance. It is also known to some Gentlemen who are sitting not far from me, and I venture to ask was that consistent with the due administration of justice? [Major KNOX: What date?] About 1850, and since its new organization. On that day there was a dinner of the Grand Jury of the county; an hon. Member of this House, who is now present, and saw the exhibition I refer to, was at that dinner, and I now appeal to him to vouch for the accuracy of the statement I made. 860 That dinner was attended by the Grand Jury, whose duty it was to appear in the box as impartial administrators of justice, and if they had not the virtue of impartiality at least were bound to assume the semblance of it. Now, the Orangemen have as one of their rules that no man who was, or is a Catholic, shall be identified in any way with their organization. The hon. Member to whom I have referred is a Protestant, and not a Catholic. He was sitting at a window in the room when the Grand Master who had driven to the court house that morning with an Orange scarf upon his shoulder in the capacity of Grand Master, rose as foreman of the Grand Jury, and gave as a toast—The glorious, pious and immortal memory of the great and good King William, who saved us from Popery, slavery, brass money and wooden shoes, and may he who refuses to think the toast be——
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he must appeal to the Speaker. They had been travelling back some thirty years, and now the hon. Gentleman was about to favour them with some account of certain festivities. He appealed to the Speaker to say if the hon. Gentleman was in order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is travelling wide of his notice, as he himself admitted just now. It would be more in accordance with the rules of debate if he would confine himself to the matter referred to in the notice before the House.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I am bound to abide by the decision of the Chair; but according to my view of the question, the Motion has reference to the administration of justice in Ireland, and I wish to indicate the facts which have induced me to bring before the House this particular case, and which will show that a condition of things exists in Ireland which of necessity impairs the administration of justice, and acts in such a manner as at least to destroy all confidence in its impartial administration. What I was endeavouring to show the House was that this organization alluded to by Mr. Justice Keogh in the statement which I have read to the House, exists to a very large extent in Ireland, and that persons who are bound by their official position, and who declare upon their oath that they will administer justice impartially to all the Queen's subjects, occasionally enter the Courts of Justice with all their Orange sympathies fully influencing them, and 861 that they enter those Courts of Justice decked out in Orange insignia. As an illustration of this, I may mention the fact that when the foreman of the Grand Jury of the Northern county went into court, as I described, he was met with a cheer from his sympathisers, though he went there so attired avowedly for the purpose of administering justice; and I contend that such a state of affairs is calculated to prevent the impartial administration of justice in Ireland, and leaves on the minds of suitors an impression similar to that which is left on the mind of Mr. Justice Keogh that such persons are utterly unfit for the performance of magisterial functions. If you decide that I am not to read the remnant of this precious toast I will leave it to hon. Gentlemen opposite to give us a description of what the toast is, as they, no doubt, are in the habit of drinking it. I will not pursue the subject further; but I now wish to call attention to another matter of some importance in reference to the very principle brought before a public court by Mr. Justice Keogh, which I ventured to bring under the notice of this higher court, which I contend is bound in honour to see that the laws which it enacts are impartially administered in all parts of Her Majesty's dominions. The ex-Lord Chancellor of Ireland (the right hon. Maziere Brady) having taken cognizance of the facts which hon. Gentlemen opposite say I am not in order in mentioning here—but which I take this opportunity of saying I will bring forward on a future occasion in a manner that cannot be deemed beyond my notice; for if ample justice be not done in this case I shall feel it to be my duty to place a notice on the paper for an Address to Her Majesty, praying Her to take the whole question of the Orange confederation into Her most gracious consideration, when I hope to have an opportunity of bringing out the whole of the facts—the ex-Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Mr. Brady), taking the facts, which I am not at liberty to state, into his consideration, came to the conclusion that, as the chief administrator of the law in Ireland, as the person who represented the Executive appointed by the votes of this House to carry out the law with impartial and even-handed justice in Ireland, no gentleman who was a member of that confederation was fit to hold Her Majesty's commission; and by a letter which he addressed to the Lord Lieutenant 862 of the county of Down he declared that he would not in future give the commission of the peace to any person who was a member of the confederation. That letter was discussed a good deal in the public press, and was discussed also in both Houses of Parliament; and I hold in my hand a statement which was made in the year 1858, with reference to that letter, by the late Lord Carlisle—a nobleman who was familiar with the whole state of society in Ireland, and was for some time chief of the Executive Government there. Speaking of the town of Belfast, which had been notorious for being perpetually in a state of civil warfare on account of the disunion which was created by that Orange confederation, Lord Carlisle said—The recurrence of these most unhappy and most disgraceful riots in Belfast only served to strengthen his conviction that the Irish Government last year acted in consonance both with their duty and with the strictest policy and prudence in taking the only step which it was in their power as a Government to take to show their disapproval of exclusive religious societies and organizations, by refusing any fresh appointment of members of the Orange society to the office of magistrate."—[3 Hansard, cl. 1594.]I wish now to call attention to the happy results that followed a more recent and more stringent proceeding in the town of Belfast. Immediately after the publication of the Lord Chancellor's letter a Royal Commission was issued to inquire into the condition of Belfast, and how it occurred that that city was always in a state of chronic civil war. The Commissioners went to Belfast, where they found that most of the magistrates were sympathisers with one side, and that the entire police force, with the exception of six or seven individuals, were members of one religious persuasion. It was reported by the Commissioners, one of whom is at present Judge of the Landed Estates Court in Ireland, that out of a police force consisting of 160 men but about half-a-dozen were Roman Catholics, while the whole of the rest were Protestants. They also reported that some of the police appointed by the local magistrates—gentlemen who were themselves sympathisers with, if not members of, Orange societies—appeared in Orange processions, with Orange ribbands bound round their staves, and recommended that there should be a change in a system which tolerated such occurrences. The Report was not, however, acted upon. The brethren of Belfast 863 had friends in high quarters, and from the year 1858 up to 1864 Belfast continued to be in that condition which warranted Lord Derby in stating that it was a disgrace to a civilized country that the most opulent, and the most flourishing, and most commercial city in the kingdom should be in a perpetual state of civil war. Sir, in the year 1864 the town of Belfast was for five whole days in a state of actual siege. [Major KNOX: Belfast is not Tyrone.] I know Belfast is not Tyrone, and I mention the case of Belfast because the same system, if not of partial justice, at least of want of confidence in the magistracy, prevails all through the North of Ireland, and I desire to show that if the same remedy which was so effectively applied to Belfast within the past year were applied elsewhere, the stigma which has been removed from Belfast might also be removed from the other places where similar practices still prevail. During the party riots in Belfast in 1864, 311 persons were wounded. Of these, ninety-eight suffered from gunshot wounds, and eleven of them died. There is in this House an hon. and learned Gentleman who was deputed, in common with another learned Gentleman, to inquire into the proper means of supplying an impartial police and impartial magisterial authority to put down those Orange displays and party riots which gave such unenviable notoriety to Belfast. Those Gentlemen reported that the number of Catholics in the police force dwindled down to five; that the police were looked upon as a partizan force in that town; and that the control of the police and the appointment of them ought to be taken out of the hands of the local authorities altogether, and that two stipendiary magistrates, the one a Roman Catholic, and the other a Protestant, should be appointed in their stead. This recommendation was acted on, and the local magistrates, one of whom rode at the head of an Orange funeral procession during the riots, and was cheered by the brethren, ceased to have any control over the police force, and from that day to this there has not been a single party riot in Belfast. Now if this course were adopted throughout the North of Ireland there would be no more party contention, and no more party processions, for the persons otherwise disposed to take part in those exhibitions would know that prompt and effectual justice would be done upon all who violated the law. Sir, we were en- 864 gaged last Session, and we have been occupied this Session, in endeavouring to produce a good electoral system throughout the country, by which every man entitled to a vote should receive the franchise. There is nothing which this House is more jealous of than external influence exercised over the enfranchised classes. Whether that influence be that of coercion or of bribery, or of secret intimidation emanating from some all-pervading power which issues mandates in secret from sources the existence of which are known only to the initiated, matters not, The House of Commons in all cases feels called upon to protect those whom it has deemed worthy of enfranchisement. But what, let me ask, is the practice of this Orange Association with respect to electors who join their confederacy. I hold in my hand a Report of the proceedings of the Grand Orange meeting, held in Dublin, at which Lord Dungannon and the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir William Verner) and other distinguished personages were present, and I find that among the business transacted was the consideration of a report upon the electoral condition of the county of Londonderry, and that forty-three members of Lodges in that county were expelled because they had voted contrary to the orders of the head centres.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I am quite aware of that fact; but I merely refer to the influence which this association exerts to show the House the extent to which the classes whom it has enfranchised are interfered with.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The subject does not fall within the Motion of which the hon. Gentleman has given notice.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
Sir, I shall cheerfully bow to your judgment, and pass to another branch of the subject. Since I gave notice of this Motion I have received several communications from the county of Tyrone, for the accuracy of which I cannot be expected to vouch, but I give them to the House as they reached me. Some of them state that there are only one or two Roman Catholic magistrates on the bench in that large county, although the great majority of cases to be decided by the magistrates arise out of party riots between Orangemen and Roman Catholics. I have also been credibly informed that the jury panel contains about 150 names, 865 and that although the Roman Catholic population of Tyrone is, in round numbers, 134,000 against 103,000 Protestants of all denominations. Now with these notorious facts, and regard being had to the additional circumstance that so many of the magistrates are either themselves members of the Orange confederacy, or warm sympathizers, we cannot feel surprised that a strong feeling of distrust in the administration of justice should pervade the public mind. And, Sir, I respectfully submit that, when an occurrence of so remarkable a character as that denounced by Mr. Justice Keogh is brought under its notice, it is the duty of the Government and of the House of Commons to give expression to their opinions, and to indicate a determination that vigorous action will be taken to secure that justice shall be as impartially administered to Roman Catholics in the North of Ireland, as to any other class of Her Majesty's subjects in any other portion of her dominions. But we may be told that the judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Keogh was exaggerated, and not itself impartial. In order to meet any such assertion, should it be made, I may cite as an illustration of the perfect impartiality of that distinguished Judge, that on the very same day on which he passed a sentence of one month's imprisonment, with hard labour, on six Roman Catholic prisoners, and sentenced one Protestant to six months' imprisonment with hard labour, he also, in another case of riotous assembling which came before him, sentenced six Roman Catholics to six months' imprisonment with the addition of hard labour. This was in the Pomeroy case, and in that case I should state that the steward of one of the magistrates before whom the accused persons had to appear at petty sessions was the person who carried the Orange drum to excite animosity between Roman Catholics and Orangemen. That magistrate may be very just, and no doubt is; but will the public accept him as impartial in such a case? I am aware, Sir, that it was said by the learned Judge that the bell of the Roman Catholic Church was rung at Donoughmore, but what, let me ask, is the practice in the county of Tyrone, which led to the necessity of that measure. Shortly before the riot took place at Donoughmore, the Roman Catholic clergymen of Pomeroy, an adjacent district, received an anonymous letter, informing him that his parishioners would soon have a 866 visit from the "True Blues." Now, it is but right the House should know what a visit from the "True Blues" to a Catholic district really means. The town of Dungannon, which is represented by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Knox), received a visit from the "True Blues" about a year previous to the "invasion" of Donoughmore. He will, doubtless, recollect the riot of 1865, and that the town was wrecked—that is, the Catholic houses and the chief hotel in the town were reduced to a ruin. Dungannon was wrecked in 1865, under the new rules, just as Maghery was wrecked some thirty years before under the old rules. The rules were altered, but the practice was the same. The case of Maghery is reported by the Committee I adverted to, and in that Report it is stated that the "True Blues" paid a visit to that village, which was inhabited by Catholics. The place was the property of Lord Charlemont, and on that occasion the "Killyman" Blues wrecked it, by smashing the doors and windows, breaking the furniture, and everything movable within the house, and turning out the inhabitants to find shelter in the ditches. On that occasion property of Lord Charlemont to the value of £600 was destroyed by the invading Blues, and I feel it right to the venerable Baronet opposite to state to his credit that he accompanied the wreckers during the whole of that day, endeavouring to stay their hands, but in vain. He was not at that time authorized by the chief centre to command, and they wrecked the houses before his face, against all his entreaties and remonstrances. In this case there were no imprisonments, for it appeared that the plea that there were no identifications was to the full availed of by the Killyman wreckers. This was what was meant by a visit from the "True Blues" in 1830. This was what was meant by the visit to Dungannon in 1865. When, therefore, the people of Donoughmore heard that the "True Blues" were coming among them in force, and at night, what could they do but sound the alarm, assemble together, and protect themselves against the invaders? In these wreckings of villages the Orangemen spared neither sex nor age, and the hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon knows well that such are their practices. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is himself a member of the Orange confederation. The town he represents was wrecked in 1865 as he ad- 867 mits. He knows that on such occasions Orangemen, always of course excepting the head centres, respect neither house of God nor the house of man, and that every body who does not bow down to the Moloch of Orangeism is regarded as an enemy. I have now only to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he had read or had had his attention called to the observations reported to have been made by Mr. Justice Keogh at the assize court of the county of Tyrone on Friday last, with reference to the conduct of certain justices of the peace for that county, and the alleged consequent failure of justice; and whether any and what steps had been taken by the Irish Executive to institute a full inquiry into the facts of the case, and the conduct of the magistrates referred to; and if no steps had been taken, was it the intention of the Government to take any and what steps in relation thereto? I also beg to move for the papers in connection with the subject.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "there be laid before this House, Copies of any Correspondence that has taken place with reference to cases referred to in Mr. Justice Keogh's statement at the Assize Court of the county of Tyrone, and of the Letter of Lord Chancellor Brady to the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Down, on the impropriety of conferring the commission of the peace on Members of the Orange Association; and, of any Correspondence that arose thereupon,"—(Sir John Gray,)
COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, that as one of the bench of magistrates attacked by the hon. Member, he had to thank him for bringing the question before the House, although, in doing so, the hon. Member had travelled into matters not at all connected with the subject. The hon. Member had abused the Orange lodges; but he did not seem to know that not one of the magistrates sitting on the bench on the day referred to was an Orangeman. He (Colonel Knox) was not ashamed to acknowledge that he was an Orangeman, and so long as he obeyed the laws of his country he believed he had a right to continue to be one. The hon. Member had alluded to confederations; but had the hon. Member never belonged to one. Had he forgotten 1848? The hon. Member had spoken of illegal processions. Had he forgotten the procession in which he himself had taken part in 1865? [Sir JOHN GRAY: Where?] 868 In Dublin. At that procession, conducted under the auspices of the late Government, and at which the hon. Member was prominent, there were bands, and banners, and party emblems, which brought it clearly within the Act against illegal processions. He hoped Mr. Justice Keogh had empowered the Chief Secretary for Ireland to explain the hasty and ill-judged words which he had used, and to which the hon. Member had now called attention. He would tell the House what really happened. It was the habit of the Protestants in the North of Ireland to go about in the evening and amuse themselves by the music of drums and fifes. If party tunes were played they put themselves within the reach of the law. For himself, he did not approve of such a practice. He wished it could be got rid of; but the hon. Member would find that the habit was too inveterate to be easily put down so long as the persons acted according to law. On the occasion in question a small party of Protestants went to Donoughmore to meet another party whose drums they had borrowed. On their way they met the police, whose conduct on this, as on all other occasions, redounded highly to their credit. The police desired the party to leave off their drumming, and they did so instantly. After this an attack was made upon them by a party of Roman Catholics from Donoughmore. He would read the evidence which was taken before the magistrates, and which would show how far Mr. Justice Keogh was justified in the observations he made from the bench. Constable O'Neill stated that the Protestants ceased to beat the drums when they were told, and that after this the Roman Catholics came and made an attack on them, shouting out, "We will kill every man of them," and striking right and left. The constable added that the chapel bell was rung, and that he went to stop it—The drumming party were conducting themselves quietly when going through the town. Heard no party tunes played. Saw no firearms with them, or weapons of any kind. When the drumming party were returning from Mr. Lyle's gate the town (Roman Catholic) party went to meet them. The drumming party were attacked before they got into the town. They afterwards went on towards the Cross, and were again attacked at it. Up to the time they were attacked I did not see a weapon in the hands of the drumming party, nor observe them doing anything improper. They committed no breach of the peace until they were first attacked on the road, at which time they were not beating the drums. They did not then retaliate, as we managed to keep them asunder.869 [Mr. SULLIVAN: Where are you taking the evidence from?] He was reading from the Belfast News Letter, and he had good authority for stating that it was a correct report. Did the hon. Member wish the magistrates to commit men for trial when even a Roman Catholic policeman declared that they committed no breach of the peace when attacked, and did not retaliate? The effect of the Judge's language would be to rouse ill-blood between the Orangemen and Roman Catholics of Tyrone and the North of Ireland, and to bring the bench into contempt. The magistrates to whom this stigma was affixed did not deserve it. They were highminded men, who had acted disinterestedly, without partiality or favour. If the hon. Member opposite chose to move for a Committee on the subject, the magistrates were ready to meet him, and it would be shown that they were men who were perfectly fitted to hold the commission of the peace. The hon. Member had made much of the accusation brought by Mr. Justice Keogh against Mr. Lyle, who had been a magistrate in the district for many years, who was no Orangeman, and who had always done his duty fairly and honestly. What Mr. Lyle wished to say, when he attempted to interrupt the Judge, was, that none of the Protestants were identified as doing anything contrary to law. If he had been allowed to finish his sentence to that effect it might have made a different impression on the mind of the learned Judge. That learned functionary had himself used language which was hardly justifiable. He advised the Roman Catholics to keep within their houses, but to watch the movements of the Protestants doggedly, intently, determinedly. He would ask the House whether that was language proper to be used from the bench, or whether it was not calculated to stir up ill-blood in the country? With regard to the single Protestant who was tried by Mr. Justice Keogh, and who was told by the Judge that he ought to have been indicted, not for an assault, but for a riot, the information which he (Colonel Knox) got was to this effect—that this man pushed the constable before the Roman Catholic party came up, and when, therefore, no rioting had taken place. If he had been indicted for a riot the bill would have been thrown out by the Grand Jury. After this statement which he had made, and which he believed to contain a plain narrative of the facts, he thought he had a 870 right to ask the noble Lord whether he would not call upon Mr. Justice Keogh to remove the stigma which he had cast, not upon the justices of that bench alone, but upon those of the whole of the North of Ireland, thus bringing the whole administration of justice into contempt. As to there being no Roman Catholic magistrates in Tyrone, he admitted this might possibly be the case; but that was because there were not resident gentlemen of that persuasion in a station of life that would qualify them for the bench. He was sure no one who knew the present Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone would doubt his willingness to act with perfect impartiality in the matter.
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he felt a painful duty had been cast upon him. He would state the facts of the case as they occurred, and he would ask the hon. Member (Sir John Gray) how he could justify himself to the House for having ignored the evidence in the case, and tried to hide from the House the real facts, while he went on for more than an hour endeavouring to poison the public mind with respect to the administration of justice in the North of Ireland. This might be strong language; but he was forced to say that it had never been his painful duty to hear so extraordinary an attempt as this was to malign and misrepresent the conduct of worthy men. He could understand the object of the hon. Gentleman in going back to the events of 1835, in order to produce an impression upon the public mind which the facts of the present case, taken by themselves, would not justify. He would give the House a plain and simple statement of the facts. He would begin by referring to the charge of Mr. Justice Keogh, which was quoted by the hon. Member opposite. How far that learned and excellent Judge had been correctly reported he was not able to say; but if the report as quoted was correct, then the learned Judge must have received some secret evidence, which certainly was not brought before the public. He would tell the House what really did happen. Before doing so, he must state that just before the assizes an anonymous letter appeared in the county paper, the production of a violent partizan—a most improper letter, for the writer had the insolence to pretend to teach the jury their duty, and told them that all the Roman Catholics ought to be punished at once. The counsel for the prisoners, knowing that he had not 871 a leg to stand upon, appealed to Mr. Justice Keogh to say whether that letter was not fitted to poison the public mind, and asked him to postpone the case, as it was impossible that the prisoners could, under the circumstances, have a fair trial. Mr. Justice Keogh read the letter, and, though he could not consent to postpone the trial, his indignation was strongly roused by the letter, and he said he wished he had the writer in court, and that he could punish him. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) heartily wished so too. The men pleaded guilty at once, and the Judge was called upon to pass sentence while the feeling of indignation was still strong upon him. It was under the influence of these feelings that he made—if correctly reported—the statements which had been read to the House. Then, with regard to Mr. Lyle, who attempted to interrupt the Judge, and who said that the Protestants could not be identified—what Mr. Lyle meant to say was, not that they were not identified personally, for they were well known, but that they were not identified as having taken part in anything illegal. But he was rather nervous, and he interrupted the court, which he had no business to do; and when he endeavoured to explain, he was put down by Mr. Justice Keogh. The hon. Gentleman opposite talked of his love of justice. God preserve Ireland! A more unworthy attempt to speak in the name of justice had never come under his notice. A certain number of Protestants and Roman Catholics were indicted for rioting and assembling illegally, and the hon. Gentleman, having read the evidence, said that the magistrates dismissed the charges against the Protestants, and sent the Roman Catholics for trial. He charged the hon. Gentleman with having made that statement, or, at least, having conveyed that impression.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I did not make that statement. I stated that one was sent for trial, and the others were not committed.
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
It was pretty much the same. Was it a magistrate's duty to commit two Protestants because he had committed two Roman Catholics, or vice versâ? Or was it his duty to listen to the evidence, and see how it applied to each person? Why did not the hon. Gentleman read to the House certain portions of the evidence which he had altogether omitted to refer to. The evidence of one of the Roman Catholic 872 witnesses—a Roman Catholic sergeant—distinctly stated that the Protestants were not guilty of anything illegal. But it would not have suited the hon. Gentleman's ideas of impartial justice to have read that. The hon. Gentleman's speech was to vilify the magistrates, and to convey to the House one of the most one sided and unfair representations he had ever heard. A sub-constable—a Roman Catholic—stated in his evidence that the Protestants were not armed; that they played no party tunes; that they had no colours; and that they committed no illegal acts; and that the Roman Catholics attacked them with stones and other weapons, their leaders saying that they would kill every one of them. Against the six Roman Catholics who were indicted there was the most distinct evidence of their having committed a breach of the law; but every Protestant who was charged, with the exception of the one who was proved to have committed an assault, and who was now undergoing imprisonment, it was shown had done nothing. The hon. Gentleman had spoken for an hour and a half to endeavour to show that they were all equally guilty, but that the Roman Catholics were all sent for trial, while the Protestants were all discharged. That was the charge made by the representative of impartial justice, and lover of truth! The hon. Member also talked of "armed Orangemen." Throughout the whole investigation it was stated that they had no arms, and it was distinctly stated that when attacked they did not retaliate. The Protestant party came with drums along the high road. There was nothing illegal in that. There were no colours and no arms; and yet the hon. Gentleman talked of armed Orangemen. Both witnesses—the Roman Catholic serjeant and the Roman Catholic sub-constable—said they saw no arms. The party came up playing music, but not party tunes; they had no emblems, there was not a single element of illegality. At a certain place the officers met the party and said, "Pray don't go on with that drumming, it may create a disturbance." The party complied and stopped playing immediately. Other persons who were also indicted attacked the party with stones and other missiles. The sub-constable, according to the Report, said—The first person I recognised coming forward to attack the drumming party was Patrick M'Cluskey. [The witness here identified all 873 the Roman Catholic prisoners.] M'Cluskey and O'Connor were the first to strike the drumming party. Those two men came forward shouting 'Kill them; we will kill theni every one.' They struck all round them—every one that they could get a blow at belonging to the drumming party.The witness proceeded to say that he and another constable attempted to interfere. He then named other two principals, Loughlin and M'Girr, and then a third, Nogher, and gave distinct evidence of violence on the part of each. Nogher was—Shouting that Lyle (a magistrate) was away from home, and that they had the town to themselves. The other defendants of the same party were all striking at each other, or throwing stones.The witness then came to the names of the opposite party. He said—I did not see Thornberry strike any one—on the contrary, he did all that he could to quell the disturbance. Reney only caught me. Dilworth did nothing. M'Ateer did nothing but beat a drum. Stewart did nothing whatever.Thus this party committed no illegal act, but did what they could to check others, except one, who committed an assault, and was punished for it. Thus, man by man, the evidence proved the one party to be guilty, and on the other hand, man by man, the police constables testified that the other party had committed no illegal act. Yet the hon. Member spoke for an hour-and-a-half to induce the House to believe that the magistrates had evidence before them showing that all these men were equally guilty. In cross-examination, sub-constable O'Neill said—The drumming party were conducting themselves quietly when going through the town. Heard no party tunes played. Saw no firearms with them, nor weapons of any kind.The hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gray) talked of "armed Orangemen." Throughout the whole of this investigation the term "armed Orangemen" was never introduced. The witnesses always spoke of Protestants. That statement was completely confirmed by the evidence given by sub-constable Thackaber, who saw all the men who were convicted assaulting the drumming party. It appeared that Mr. Justice Keogh had made representations to the authorities, and, for his part, he would invite the fullest inquiry into the circumstances. But he could not help again asking honourable Englishmen and honourable Irishmen what was the reason for poisoning the minds of those who were to hear the evidence by a statement such as had been made to the House that evening. 874 Was it right to endeavour to induce the House to suppose, in opposition to the facts, that the magistrates, in dealing with men who were equally guilty, had committed all the Roman Catholics and had discharged all the Protestants. Was it by such statements as these that Ireland was to be regenerated? Was that impartial justice? Why should magistrates, when they made a distinction between the innocent and the guilty, be charged with having come to their decision in consequence of political or religious bias? He pitied the man who was capable of making such a use of his position as a Member of the House of Commons, and he trusted the hon. Gentleman's speech would have a very different effect from that intended. Some remarks had been made respecting the absurdity of people going about with bands of music, and he certainly did not think it a very wise thing to do; but a distinction must be drawn between what was sensible and what was legal. Unfortunately, there was not in Ireland so much social amusement as was desirable; and, consequently, the people were led into the habit of playing music in a manner which sometimes unfortunately resulted in a disturbance. Drumming on the high road was certainly legal, though he did not at all approve the practice, as it had a tendency to arouse bygone animosities. The House had been told that the Protestant party had been solely to blame; but no mention had been made of the most gross outrage of all, the breaking into the belfry at night by two Roman Catholics tolling the bells and rousing the whole country. The exponent of impartial justice, however, had not thought proper to allude to that circumstance, although having read the evidence, the hon. Member could not have been ignorant of it. He trusted he had made it plain to the House that the magistrates had acted in accordance with the sworn testimony given before them, without being influenced in any way by the fact of the accused being Protestant or Roman Catholic.
§ MR. SULLIVAN
said, he would not have interfered were it not for the observations made by the hon. Member for Dungannon respecting Mr. Justice Keogh, which he would not allow to pass unchallenged. The hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon (Colonel Knox) said he was an Orangeman; but even that did not justify in saying that the O'Connell procession in Dublin was illegal. He (Mr. 875 Sullivan) would rather hear the opinion of a lawyer on that point. He would answer for Judge Keogh that he had not given instructions for his defence to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Judge Keogh was not the man to intrust his defence to any other person and rested his defence on the due discharge of his public duties. He (Mr. Sullivan) defied hon. Members to point to any act of the learned Judge's judicial life that was not deserving of approval. The hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon should have quoted correctly the observations of the learned Judge. After the passage "keep within your homes, watch their movements doggedly, silently, determinedly," he should have added the words that followed—"and when they break the laws appeal to the laws of your country: they are able to protect you." Why did the hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon suppress that part of the Judge's observations? Was that the practice of the Dungannon Orangemen? Judge Keogh never advised that revenge should be taken by the Roman Catholics. [Colonel KNOX: The passage was read before by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray)] That was not a fair way for the hon. and gallant Member to treat the House when the character of a distinguished Judge was assailed. By omitting the material and important part of the observations the hon. and gallant Member had misrepresented the learned Judge. Again, he (Mr. Sullivan) would repeat the words that were omitted—"when they break the laws appeal to the laws of your country, and they are able to protect you;" and he (Mr. Sullivan) hoped that these words of wisdom would reach the ears of the Dungannon Orangemen. The Orangemen of Ireland assumed to themselves a monopoly of loyalty while they did enormous injury to the country. They had no right to make such an assumption; there were as loyal men Roman Catholics in Ireland as any Orangemen. It was upon sworn informations returned by the magistrates from petty sessions that Judge Keogh made his observations. It appeared that 120 Protestants, with drums and fifes, with two horsemen in from, marched into Donoughmore, and an affray took place. It was said the constable could not identify them because they were strangers and came from another part of the country; but that was a miserable and unworthy quibble; and this patent fact stood out—every 876 Roman Catholic was returned for trial, and every Protestant was let off except the one man who struck the constable in the face. But no great credit could be given to the Tyrone magistrates for sending the Protestant to trial who struck the constable in the face. He thought this was a serious case, and so far from the Chief Secretary having instructions from the learned Judge, the matter would be investigated. But he (Mr. Sullivan) was not going to pronounce an opinion on the conduct of the Tyrone magistrates. That would become a subject of investigation by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who would no doubt deal with it fairly and impartially. But whatever might be the result of that investigation, he was convinced it would be found that the assault made upon that distinguished Judge, Mr. Justice Keogh, was Wholly unjustifiable.
Four hours of the time of the House were never, to my knowledge, worse employed than they have been this evening. The Notice given by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) was perfectly justifiable, considering the remarks that have been made on the conduct of the magistrates from the bench. The hon. Gentleman having given notice of a question—which I was ready to answer at once—took the opportunity of delivering a speech to which I will not allude at length. The hon. Member delivered a speech characterized by the worst qualities that distinguished our debates in the worst period of our history. The only consequence it can produce is unmixed and unmitigated mischief. I am sure that the English Members who agree with the hon. Member for Kilkenny in political opinions will regret that he should have thought fit to go back forty years and rake up stories and public events which every true lover of his country must desire had never happened. The learned Judge who made the remarks to which the attention of the House has been directed stated that he intended to draw the attention of the Lord Chancellor to the conduct of the particular magistrate and of some other magistrates. I can only say, on the part of the Government, that up to this moment no such communication has been made. When such communication is made—as I have no doubt it will be made after the words that fell from the learned Judge—I can answer for myself and for the Lord Chancellor that a fair opportunity will be given 877 for a full and impartial inquiry near the place where those occurrences are said to have taken place. Every one who comes forward to take part in the inquiry and to offer the evidence they think they ought to offer will be heard, and then it will be for the Lord Chancellor and the Members of the Executive Government to decide upon the result of the inquiry. It would have been more generous and proper, and more suited to his position as an impartial Member of the House, if the hon. Member had waited until the inquiry was concluded before making the remarks he did. It would be unbecoming in me to offer a word on the facts. I know nothing of them beyond what I read in the newspapers; but I should be sorry on a newspaper report to make an attack upon persons holding the commission of the peace when their conduct is about to be submitted to an impartial and rigid inquiry.
§ MR. VANCE
I have not risen to impugn the conduct of Judge Keogh, which I am sure was committed by him under an honest but mistaken impulse, but to defend one of the magistrates whom I know—Mr. Lyle—and he is as incapable of committing an act of injustice as any human being. The way in which the hon. Member for Kilkenny brought forward this question reminds me of the observation of Madame Roland—"Oh! justice, what crimes are committed in thy name!" The hon. Member did everything to enkindle animosities and inflame the passions of the people of Ireland. A few Protestants assembled together and chanced to be playing drums and fifes—without any insignia forbidden by law. They were unarmed, and were met by Roman Catholics. A riot ensued, and the rioters were not the Protestants. One of those Protestants committed an assault for which he was most severely punished by six months' imprisonment. The Roman Catholics who committed a riot were punished with one month's imprisonment. The result of the investigation will be, that the Lord Chancellor will be obliged to confess that no illegal act has been committed by the magistrates. He will, probably, add that the magistrate who had addressed him was not allowed by Mr. Justice Keogh to state the entire of the facts of the case. The bringing of the circumstances before the House is calculated to prejudice the judgment the Lord Chancellor may pass upon them. I think 878 the Motion for papers is uncalled for, and I hope it will be refused.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he thought it was the duty of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, or of some Gentleman on that or the other side of the House, to bring forward the question. He was not going to defend the conduct of Mr. Justice Keogh, who was as well able to defend himself as any man in the country; but on hearing such discussions in the House, he could not help thinking that it would have been a mercy if they had been born Turks. In the South of Ireland the Protestants and Roman Catholics were free to differ in religion; but these religious differences did not disturb the peace and harmony in which they lived. He regretted, as an Irishman, that these discussions should take place; and he believed that the parties on either side were equally wrong in forgetting, in their religious differences, that they were Irishmen, subjects of the same Queen, subject to the same laws, and living under the same Constitution. It was really distressing that such discussions as they had been listening to that evening should take place. Both sides of the House were equally guilty in stirring up such debates, and it was unfortunate that such should be the case. At the same time, he must confess that he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny had done right in introducing the question which he had done that evening.
§ MR. LANYON
said, he regretted that the hon. Member for Kilkenny had brought that subject before the House, and had thought fit to indulge in the discursive observations he had made—particularly with reference to the riots in the town of Belfast. That hon. Member had made a most unjustifiable attack on the Orangemen of Belfast in saying that they had caused those riots. The Orangemen were not the aggressors, and he denied that the disturbances were due to them. The navvies and Ribandmen of the town began the greatest riot which ever took place in Belfast by attacking a Protestant school in Brown Street. He believed, however, that the partial administration of justice in Ireland sometimes created an irritation in the minds of the people. Illegal meetings had been held with bands and colours under the very nose of Government, and no notice was taken of them; while occasional petty processions of a few boys with banners had been punished with the utmost rigour of the law. The sooner the Irish 879 Members of that House forgot the violent party feelings displayed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny that evening, and united to promote the substantial welfare and prosperity of Ireland, the better it would be for their common country.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he was glad to hear from the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Lord Naas) an assurance that the circumstances which had been brought under the notice of the House would be fully and fairly investigated by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The case just brought before them was one which not only justified such an inquiry, but rendered it absolutely necessary. Notwithstanding all that had been said by hon. Members, he thought they were indebted to the hon. Member for Kilkenny for having brought the case forward. This was not a case of a class totally unknown to them. He feared that although such cases were not so rife as they were once in Ireland, they were still too familiar in that country. Knowing, as he did, the impartial character of the learned Judge whose observation had originated the discussion, he was certainly of opinion that it would have been impossible not to have brought the matter at an early period under the notice of Parliament. He would not now discuss the matter; but when the promised investigation took place, he trusted the House would take proper cognizance of the case.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, it must be abundantly manifest to every one that the observations which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down must carry very different weight to those of an ordinary Member, when it was remembered that under the late Government he filled the high and responsible office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Those observations were of the gravest character. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the case now brought under their consideration was only one of many with which they were familiar. Such a remark, coming from one of his high authority, was most improper. So far as he (Mr. Conolly) could recollect, no such imputation as the present had been made against the Irish bench of magistrates during the whole time the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary. When the investigation took place, it would be found that the magistrates would be thoroughly exculpated.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
The hon. Gentleman opposite has been 880 too hasty in imputing to me what he calls improper conduct. No doubt he is excited on this subject. [Mr. CONOLLY: Not at all.] At all events, I think he was not entitled to impute improper conduct to me. I wish, Sir, merely to say that the hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken in thinking that I passed any judgment upon the conduct of the magistrates. I do not know who they are. I said I should reserve my judgment until after the investigation, when we should know the facts of the case. When I said that these events were too common in the North of Ireland, I meant party demonstrations of this kind.
MR. SERJEANT BARRY
said, that the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Lanyon) had taken him by surprise. The hon. Gentleman said that the Orangemen of Belfast had been unjustly charged with being the originators of the Belfast riots.
MR. SERJEANT BARRY
said, that the Belfast riots of 1864 had been made the subject of a Government inquiry, of which he was the senior Commissioner, and that that Commission had affirmed that the riots were caused by the wanton and unprovoked assault of the Orangemen upon their inoffensive Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. Since the subject of Orangeism had been introduced into the debate, he ventured to express a hope that before the present Session of Parliament closed the question of the future existence of that society would be brought specifically before the House. He believed it would be well if Her Majesty's Government would take the subject in hand, and would propose the abolition of that most mischievous society. He could assure them that although by so doing they might lose the support of some hon. Members, they would be compensated by the general support of the people of Ireland. Every Member of the House who knew the judicial character of Mr. Justice Keogh would admit that he was not more conspicuous for his ability than for his strict impartiality.
§ SIR WILLIAM VERNER
said, he felt it to be his duty to stand up in defence of a body of men who had rendered the greatest possible service to their country. He was proud to say that he was a mem- 881 ber of that body. And he could with confidence state, after an experience of nearly sixty years, that he knew of no act committed by the Orangemen of Ireland which he should be ashamed to acknowledge. Great fault had been found with them for the last few years for going in procession. Now he would state what he knew from his own actual knowledge on that subject. He acted on one occasion with General Lake, who led upwards of 30,000 men, with his (Sir William Verner's) father at their head, in the district with which he was connected, when all the loyal inhabitants, men, women, and children, turned out to meet them. He defied any person living to mention a single instance in which the Orangemen had ever attacked or insulted any man living. He would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite what was once said to him by Mr. Daniel O'Connell. He said—I know your tenantry as well as you know them yourself; I have heard from your Roman Catholic tenants that you never make any distinction between Roman Catholics and Protestants; and although you and I differ as much as any two men in existence, if you were to change from what you are now I should never respect you again.He could not refrain from again expressing the pride he felt in having been for fifty years a member of the Orange body.
§ MR. COGAN
congratulated the hon. Baronet on the courage he had displayed in standing up and so boldly declaring his opinions. He thought it required no ordinary courage to do so. It was, however, astonishing, and he thought deeply to be deplored, that at this time of day two hon. Members should have stood up in that House and avowed themselves members of the Orange society—a society which was not only inimical to the prosperity and harmony and peace under which fellow-citizens should live, which so fatally kept alive and fanned the flame of those religious animosities which had led to so many fatal conflicts in the North of Ireland, and which it ought to be the aim of every lover of his country to mitigate and extinguish, which made so many in that part of Ireland live in a sort of latent civil war at all times, which broke out periodically in such excesses as they all deplored, and which had been so strongly and repeatedly condemned by every tribunal before which its proceedings had come—by Committees of that House—by Addresses to the Throne by both Houses of Parliament—and by public opinion out of that House on so many occasions— 882 so far back as 1813 by Lord Catlereagh, subsequently by Mr. Canning, Sir Robert Peel, and Lord Derby himself. He had hoped that after all this no member of the Orange body in that House would be found avowing his connection with it, and that the good sense and better feelings of those who represented that part of Ireland would rather have lent the weight of their influence and authority in putting an end to that mischievous organization, which by dividing against each other fellow-citizens of the same country, so tended to hurt and weaken the power of the Empire at large. This course might render it necessary to take the sense of Parliament again on the question as to whether such a society ought to be allowed to exist, and whether it did not poison the administration of justice in the North of Ireland, and shake the confidence of the people in that which it was of such consequence they should have faith in, that any injustice being suffered from, could and would be remedied by an impartial administration of the law. In the year 1860 he (Mr. Cogan) had brought this subject before the House when he proposed the introduction of the "Party Emblems Act," which was taken up at his suggestion by the then Government, and became law, and he then stated it as his conviction that, although these sort of laws might act as palliatives, and might check these insulting displays which had so often led to loss of life; that we must go deeper if we wanted to go to the root of this evil; that he trusted the increasing enlightenment of the age and greater toleration of opinion which had sprung up might induce those who had weight with the Orangemen, those who, by their education and station, held positions of influence which entailed responsibility, to put an end to these irritating party displays, and dissolve this society; but that if this hope was disappointed, it was the duty of the Government, from which they should not shrink, to discountenance and discourage it—to allow no member of the Orange society to hold public offices of honour, such as lords-lieutenant and deputy lieutenants of counties, and especially not to allow them to hold official positions, such as sheriffs, sub-sheriffs, clerks of the peace, or crown prosecutors—and above all, that they should not be intrusted with judicial functions as magistrates, for although they might act with the strictest impartiality, yet it was neces- 883 sary that the administration of justice should be above suspicion, and that confidence in its entire impartiality in these frequent cases of party processions and riots should exist among the people. The whole question of Ireland must soon be dealt with boldly, and he wished he could hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be afraid to deal with this, which was a most important part of the question. He might, by doing so, lose the support of some Members from the North of Ireland by taking that course; but he would gain in public opinion, and other quarters, a strength that would more than counterbalance their loss. With regard to the particular case to which the attention of the House had been directed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), and the conduct of the magistrates, he (Mr. Cogan) refrained from expressing any opinion whatever; the matter would be the subject of inquiry, and until that inquiry took place it would be clearly premature to come to any conclusion. His hon. Friend the Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) had put the conduct of the magistrates in a point of view quite in contradiction to that presented by the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone and the hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon, who seemed to have come there that night with regular briefs for the magistrates. The two defences—that by the hon. Members for Tyrone and Dungannon, and that by the hon. Member for Donegal—were evidently contradictory and at variance; they could not both be correct. If his hon. Friend the Member for Donegal was right, Mr. Lyle agreed with the Judge that informations ought to have been sent up against persons who were not sent for trial, and therefore that justice was not done. He expressed no opinion on the case as yet. Very properly, inquiry was promised, and he was confident that in the hands of the distinguished and eminent man who was now Lord Chancellor of Ireland a full and searching inquiry would take place into the conduct of the parties implicated in the matter which had been brought under the notice of the House; and that when that investigation was made, he would fearlessly deal with it so as to satisfy the people, in the words of the learned Judge, that "justice is not to be one-sided—one-handed."
§ SIR HENRY EDWARDS
trusted it would not be considered irregular or pre- 884 sumptuous on his part to address the House on what might be considered an Irish debate; but, as a Yorkshire Orangeman of twenty years' standing, he was proud of an opportunity of standing up in defence of that loyal society. He had little expected to hear such abuse lavished upon them, for they were men who would defend the Crown and the institutions of the country against all aggression—men who had hitherto been trusted by the Crown, and would, he hoped, continue to be so as long as a Protestant sat upon the Throne, He should not have intruded himself upon the notice of the House had he not felt bound to defend his brethren—the Orangemen of England—from the abuse which had been poured upon them by hon. Gentlemen opposite, not only below, but above the gangway; and also to protest against the most unjustifiable and violent attack made upon his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dungannon by the originator of the Motion under discussion. He hoped there would be an end of such trash as the hon. Member has indulged in, for the Orangemen had as much right to have their opinions represented in that House as the Fenians had. ["Oh, oh!" "Hear, hear!" and "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member was out of order in applying such an expression to any Members of the House, after the terms in which the House had stigmatized Fenianism.
§ SIR HENRY EDWARDS
hoped he had sufficiently the feeling of a gentleman to withdraw any expression which the Speaker, representing the House, might think he was bound to withdraw; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had misunderstood the meaning of his words. He had simply meant the sympathizers with the Fenians. ["Hear, hear," and "Oh, oh!"] He simply meant the sympathizers with the Fenians and Ribbonmen in that House. ["Oh, oh!" laughter, and cries of "Order!"]
I beg to move that the hon. Baronet's words be taken down—"sympathizers with Fenians in this House."
§ MR. SPEAKER
I expressed an opinion very decidedly with regard to the word "Fenian," and I express an opinion as strong with regard to the expression "sympathizers with Fenians." In answer to the Speech from the Throne, this House made use of these terms, that, "Fenianism was a conspiracy, adverse alike to authority, property, and religion, and disapproved and condemned alike by all who are interested in their maintenance." Therefore it certainly is an improper expression to address to any Member of this House, after that declaration has been made by the House.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir Henry Edwards) will, on reflection, feel that he has, in the heat of debate, used expressions which it is impossible to justify, and which he will deeply regret; because, to suppose for a moment that any Gentleman, on whichever side of the House he may sit, can possibly sympathize with opinions of a seditious and treasonable character, is a course which it is quite impossible to justify. But I very much regret altogether the general character of the debate which has taken place. I was not present during the whole of it; but when I came in, it recalled the days when I first entered the House of Commons. About five-and-twenty or thirty years ago I did hear discussions of this kind, and when I came in I felt something like Rip Van Winkle when he awoke after his long slumber. In those days we used to bandy these accusations between the two sides of the House, and Members used to dilate on the respective merits of Protestants and Roman Catholics. But I really thought all this was agreed to be passed. For many years past, I must say, although we have had moments of great political excitement, and strong and fierce political excitement, we have never stumbled back into those old ways of bad repute, and I very much regret that by any circumstance whatever, a discussion has originated to-night which when I entered the House appeared to me to lead us back to the days which I hoped had been entirely forgotten. I am afraid it was the original character of this discussion which has brought us to the climax at which we find ourselves. But I think it so important that we should not allow the unfortunate backslidings of this evening to bring us back to a repetition of the scenes 886 or a revival of the sentiments of the past with respect to this subject, that I hope both sides of the House will not allow this irritation to continue, but will assist any Gentleman who has been led in the heat of debate to use expressions which he must regret, to withdraw those expressions. The form of having the words taken down is not really necessary after you, Mr. Speaker, have interfered with so much propriety and such appreciation of the position of affairs. I hope we need not have recourse to these strict and technical proceedings; but that with a better feeling on both sides of the House we may put an end to this scene, and recur to those generous feelings of reciprocal regard which have hitherto characterized our proceedings. So far as the original question is concerned, I do not think there was the slightest necessity for the somewhat acrimonious feeling which has been exhibited on both sides. No doubt the subject itself might fairly have been brought under the consideration of the House, though I think it was brought forward in a manner much too elaborate and much too historical. I think my noble Friend (Lord Naas) treated it in a proper manner. If the learned Judge who is concerned makes a representation to the Government the Government will give to it that attention which a representation from such a quarter deserves. I remember the learned Judge in this House, of which he was a very able Member. He has proved himself a most admirable Judge, and I will not shrink from saying that I am proud of his personal acquaintance. I am sure he has performed his duty so far, and will for the future, in a manner not only honourable to himself but advantageous to society. I hope, therefore, that we may put an end to this misunderstanding, and that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beverley will feel upon reflection that it will be a pleasure to him as a gentleman—and I know him to be a thorough one—to express regret that in the heat of debate he has used expressions which were not warranted, and which, I am sure, knowing him to be a man of extreme candour and friendly feeling, no one will more frankly or cordially retract than the hon. and gallant Member.
§ SIR HENRY EDWARDS
I have not had the experience of this House, during the last twenty years, without being able to appreciate kindness on the part of a friend. I deeply regret it is not in my 887 power to give expression to my feelings in the manner that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has just sat down has done; but I should be the last man alive to say anything to lessen the dignity of this House; and I will cheerfully withdraw any un-Parliamentary expression used that may irritate the feelings of any Gentleman, or that may have the slightest tendency to inaugurate anything contrary to that which has always been the custom in the House of Commons.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The rule of the House is that no Resolution can be withdrawn without the consent of the House; and as some hon. Gentlemen object to this Resolution being withdrawn, I must put it to the House.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.