HC Deb 08 April 1869 vol 195 cc356-8

said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, As some misapprehension prevails as to the thirty-four Fenian Convicts released or about to be released in Australia, to state whether those men have yet been released, or whether, in consequence of the conduct of those who have been released in Ireland, the release of those in Australia, or of any of them, will be stopped; and, if not, whether those thirty-four Fenian Convicts, or any of them, are to be brought back to this Country; and, if so, are any of them to be brought back at the public expense; and, if so, how many of them. Has the Report of the Law Officers of the Crown in reference to the proceedings at the meeting held at Cork on the 17th of March, and presided over by the Mayor of that City, been received yet; and, if so, has it been acted upon; and, is the Mayor of Cork still in the commission of the peace?


Sir, the greater part of this Question I have already answered twice. I will answer it again as nearly as I can in the words I used before—namely, that Her Majesty's Government have no intention to bring back, at the public expense, the political convicts for whom an order of release has been sent to Australia; but, at the same time, they think it right to secure their own liberty of consideration in any individual case which may, by possibility, come before them hereafter. The next part of the Question is—" Whether, in consequence of the conduct of those who have been released in Ireland, the release of those in Australia, or any of them, will be stopped?" The release of the convicts in Australia will not be stopped. The seditious language which has been used in Ireland by two or three of the released political prisoners, which has been very generally reprobated in that country, and which has had no effect but that of injuring the unhappy cause on behalf of which it has been used, is not, in the opinion of the Government, any reason for altering the advice given to the Crown as to the amount of clemency which should be extended to the political prisoners. With regard to the last part of the Question, the Government have taken the advice of the Law Officers, and have decided not to take any steps against the Mayor of Cork. They think it would be very un advisable and injudicious to do so; and I have to remind the hon. Member that the Mayor of Cork is not a justice of the peace under the control and supervision of the Lord Chancellor or the Lord Lieutenant, but is ex officio a justice of the peace, as the chief executive magistrate of the corporation.