HC Deb 19 May 1871 vol 206 cc1039-73

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [12th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient to continue 'The Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act, 1870,' beyond the date settled by that statute,"—(The O'Conor Don,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Mr. Speaker, and hon. Gentlemen—I was interrupted in my remarks on the last day we were discussing this Bill by the Rules of the House; I wish now to say a few words in addition to what I have already addressed to you, and I shall try, Sir, not to be long, or to weary the House. As the Representative of the county of Meath, I feel myself compelled to make some remarks in respect to certain imputations cast upon the sheriff and sub-sheriff of Meath by Mr. Seed, one of the witnesses relied upon, I believe, principally by hon. Gentlemen who have introduced this measure—called a Bill for the Protection of Life and Property in certain parts of Ireland. I shall refer, first, to the question which preceded this gentleman's statement. In page 91, Question 2355, Mr. Seed makes several remarks in respect to the manner in which, according to his judgment, jury panels are constituted in Ireland, and he gives his advice to the Government as to how they should be selected and framed. But I shall not stop to discuss here Mr. Seed's theory of juries; I shall go on at once to the imputation which he has cast upon two of my constituents—namely, the sheriff and sub-sheriff of the county of Meath. Mr. Seed said, amongst other things— A class of jurors will be found on all the panels of petty jurors in Ireland, as now constituted, who are wholly unfit to be entrusted with the trial of any prisoner for an agrarian crime&.. The formation of the petty jury panel is now entirely at the discretion of the sub-sheriff, who is often the friend of, and influenced by the attorney for the prisoners. He went on to recommend, that in certain cases the jury system should be altogether suspended, and added— Now, it may be said that by adopting this latter measure, the people will be deprived of their constitutional right; but it would not do so one whit more than the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, in which I entirely agree with him; and he goes on to say, it would never do to do the same as was done with regard to the North of Ireland— It would be dangerous to risk it there, and would furnish good ground of complaint that the innocent were made to suffer with the guilty. The same gentleman went on to state at page 95, Question 2395— I think that the state of the petty jury panels in Ireland at this moment is perfectly frightful; it is utterly absurd at present, in my opinion, to expect that justice can be effectually administered if the petty jury panels are not amended. Now, for instance, take the jury empanelled for the special commission in Meath last June. I would not have returned that panel, nor would I, as Crown Solicitor, have ventured to prosecute a case for the Government at the quarter sessions, if the persons returned on that panel were to try the cases; I knew them to be influenced by fear; I knew some of them to be implicated in the Ribbon conspiracy, and quite unfit to try any case. And then he states that, being asked whether he made any representation of this important fact to the Government— I had a consultation at the Castle with the Attorney General, and the Attorney General was quite shocked, as he well might be, when I handed him the panel for the special commission of Meath. He said to me, 'What do you say to this?' I said, 'Leave the matter to me, I will select a jury;' and three days before the commission opened I wrote to the inspector of the county, and desired that he would have every sub-inspector from each district in the county before me, in order that I might go through the panel and ascertain the character of each juror; the consequence was that I set aside 47 of the gentlemen, and I succeeded in getting a jury of six Roman Catholics and six Protestants, one of whom was a Presbyterian, as I (Mr. Martin) am. Mr. Seed held that nothing could be fairer than this, and further states that he thinks the panels in the North of Ireland are generally better than those in Westmeath and Meath, and that the sub-sheriffs in the North are more respectable men, and are not so likely to be influenced as those of Westmeath and Meath. Now, in reference to that statement, I have to remark on behalf of the sub-sheriff of Meath, that the panel which Mr. Seed declared, in consultation with the Attorney General for Ireland so shocked him, was framed in this way — The high sheriff and the sub-sheriff met, took the books, and went, barony by barony, throughout the county, selecting the names of two of the highest ratepayers in each barony, and after exhausting it in that way they went back and took two of the next highest ratepayers, and in that way was the panel formed, and after that was done the high sheriff signed his name at the foot, and then it became the legal panel for the commission. Mr. Seed, however, is the Crown Solicitor, and I suppose above the law. Nevertheless, it is true that these two functionaries, the Attorney General and the Crown Solicitor—two Government functionaries, whose business it is to set an example of obedience to the law—I insist upon that—these two gentlemen set aside the legal panel and framed a panel of their own. But what opportunity has Mr. Seed, who is relied upon by the Government for this exceptional legislation, of forming an opinion of the state of this part of Ireland? How is he qualified to give such authoritative information? He is not a native of Westmeath or Meath; he has not a residence there; but he merely receives £300 a-year for acting as Crown Solicitor, in discharge of which duties he visits the county three times in the course of each year. And this is the man who presumes to say he knows the state of Westmeath and Meath better than the sheriff and sub-sheriff, and who takes upon himself to pronounce upon their ignorance—to make a new panel and set theirs aside. Mr. Seed, in one of his answers, says the panel was bad, because he knew it contained the names of some Ribbonmen; and if that were so, Mr. Seed ought to be put in gaol, if, knowing a man to be a Ribbonman, he did not come forward with his evidence and prove it. [Laughter.] I have no doubt it seems rather strange to some hon. Members to hear a mere Irishman like myself insisting that the law ought to be respected and carried into execution in Ireland, but such is the case. They may think that law is a good thing for England, but that it is too good a thing for Irishmen who, like myself, entertain and acknowledge Irish sympathies. Mr. Seed can have no means of knowing anything about Meath or Westmeath, except what he learns from the police; and if the police know any man who has committed a crime it is their duty to give their evidence and bring him to justice; but the law says no man is a criminal until he has been pronounced guilty in due form of law. The true character of the Bill which Parliament is asked to pass is that it will give to the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Lord Lieutenant an indemnity to break the law, and the giving of this indemnity was argued for by hon. Members—including, among others, the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin and some Irishmen of patriotic tendencies — on the ground that the two English gentlemen to whom it is proposed to be given are conscientious honourable men, and that it is certain they will not injure any man in Ireland, except by mistake or accident, and that they are not disposed to use any absolute power placed in their hands except for the public good. I admit that experience shows that the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland has been temperate, moderate, and anything but cruel, because since August last it has been in their power to ruin any Irish national journalist at their pleasure if they found him writing anything which they disapproved of; and yet I have the pleasure of being able to state that they have not yet ruined any journalist in Ireland, though I cannot doubt that sentiments contained in the Irish national journals are very displeasing to them. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in moving the second reading of this Bill, remarked that he thought the Irish national journals were free enough, and perhaps he meant it; perhaps he is surprised that, notwithstanding a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of each of the Irish national journalists, they have still the courage to give utterance to their sentiments. But I do not like, and I cannot reconcile myself to, that state of things. I do not like that any Irish journalist, any more than an English journalist, should have to write his political opinions under sufferance; and I would have every journal in Ireland, whether advocating English or Irish interests, to be only in fear of a just law, and to fear no man's displeasure. The right hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) has said that, if England were in a state such as it was admitted certain parts of Ireland were in, he would not hesitate for a moment to pass a Peace Preservation Act for England; and then he went on to lecture the hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. Downing) as an Englishman speaking to an Irishman, de haut en bas, usually did, declaring that those who opposed this measure were not the true friends of Ireland, and setting aside the proposal of a Royal Commission by saying that it would be useless to appoint a Commission where it was impossible to obtain evidence. The parallel with England, however, did not end with the Sheffield case. I have been requested by a correspondent in the North of England to ask the hon. Members for Newcastle, Sunderland, and Tynemouth, whether it is not true that in the shipwright trade, the building trade, and other trades in the towns they represent, the employers of labour are in a state of vassalage to their workmen; and whether, during recent strikes in Newcastle, non-union joiners and other workmen are not, in spite of law and employers, intimidated into leaving the neighbourhood and giving up their work. According to my correspondent, who has written to me on this subject unsolicited, it appears that intimidation is not confined to Ireland. I have also been desired to ask the hon. Members for Lancashire whether the Judge at the late Assizes in that county has not declared that the crime of England was now more appalling than that of any other country in the world? It appears to me, from this sort of evidence—and I could obtain more if I searched for it, though this has been voluntarily communicated to me—that I can show there is a great extent of intimidation, and a great amount of criminality prevailing in England. I shall merely read from the Report the actual facts with regard to crime in the three counties of Meath, Westmeath, and King's County for 14 months, ending February 28 of this year. In King's County there were no murders, but there had been two attempts at murder; in Meath, no murder, and only one attempt at murder; and in Westmeath, three murders and four attempts at murder. That is, in the three counties, three murders and seven attempts at murder during 14 months. It would be absurd to suppose that English Gentlemen, having some knowledge of the state of crime in English counties, would bring in a Coercion Bill for the purpose of dealing with three murders and seven attempts at murder. But then it was said there was another reason for its introduction—that of threats and intimidation. But before I proceed to read the number of cases of intimidation in the police Returns, I shall venture to give my own opinion upon the matter, which is that my method of dealing with threatening letters and notes is to throw them into the fire, and the best way to deal with intimidation is to turn a deaf ear to it. [Colonel STUART KNOX: But if a bullet went through your ear?] Why, then I could not do it; but if that were done it would be an overt act, and would be a matter that must come before the law, and let the law deal with it. The total number of threatening letters returned leads me to remark that a mischievous wag, if he were a good penman, might write the whole 213 threatening letters and documents, and get through them all in a single day. And then I am ashamed to see this great Assembly of English, Irish, and Scotch Members proposing to tear the free Constitution of England to tatters for the sake of 213 threatening letters and notices, and cases of intimidation. I say the present law can deal with any disorder whatever existing in Westmeath or in any part of Ireland as easily and as effectually as it deals with disorder and crime in England. I will not further weary the House, but before I sit down I will state that I have a vast deal more that I should like to say upon this question, but I am aware that there is a moral as well as an intellectual gulf between me as a mere Irishman expressing the sentiments of a vast majority of the people of Ireland, and persons of the other two countries. And it would require a great number of speeches before I could bridge over that gulf. I cannot, therefore, make myself sufficiently en rapport with the people of England in a single speech, and it is with great reluctance I have been induced to make the few remarks to which I have given utterance.


said, he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill, relying upon the Government to defend the course they had taken, and the responsibility they had incurred. His justification for voting for the second reading of the Bill was, that he was sure, from what was known of the antecedents of the First Minister of the Crown, he would not ask the House to pass such a measure if the interests of the country did not require it; and he felt he should be wanting in duty as an Irishman if he did anything that would retard the passing of such a Bill. They had listened to the long and elaborate argument of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. John Martin), and he confessed he was somewhat amused at his argument, which went to show the illegality of everything that was done by the British Parliament. But what did he call illegality? Did not the English and Irish people sanction their Houses of Parliament entering into an union of the two countries for the ruling of both by an Imperial Parliament? Doubtless, others said that the Irish Parliament before the Union was a corrupt Parliament, and that it was bought with English gold; but he (Sir Hervey Bruce) would be sorry to cast such a slur on his countrymen as that; but, even if that were the case, had he (Mr. John Martin) greater confidence in the public morality of the present day if he got the object of his ambition—a Parliament in College Green—to think that if England wished to buy an union between the two countries, that English gold would have the less effect now than then? The hon. Gentleman appeared to assume the name of Nationalist and the exclusive right to speak for the Irish people; but instead of that he spoke the sentiments of a small portion of the people of Ireland, and by no means the opinion of the great majority of the peaceful people of that country. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. O'Conor) had thrown the taunt to that side of the House that the poor of Ireland had no friends, as much as to say he was the friend of the poor. In reply to that taunt, he maintained that there were many hon. Members who wished to see capital in Ireland remain there, and also to see capital introduced from England, and that they were the true friends of the poor, and not those who held that the poor had a right to use threats. ["No, no!"] He begged pardon; he had heard it argued by an hon. Member that threats might be used in order to do away with the oppression of landlords. ["Name!"] He was not prepared to produce the very words of the hon. and learned Member for King's County (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock); but his impression of what had been said in that House by the hon. Gentleman was, that people were justified, in times past, in using threats. ["No, no!"] If he misrepresented the hon. Member—and hon. Gentlemen opposite intimated he had done so—he would at once retract the words he might have misquoted. The hon. Member had also said that since that Bill had been threatened all the suspected persons were leaving the country; but surely that was no good argument against the measure. If the Bill had a blot, it was that power was not given to arrest those men within any part of the three Kingdoms. He thought it was very doubtful whether the remedial legislation adopted by the Government during the last two years would satisfy the Irish people, or whether they would still demand more, although he believed they had already received justice, and even more than justice. Crime of an appalling character still stalked abroad. ["No!"] If the hon. Gentleman who dissented had five shots fired at him as he was walking about, as was the case with a clergyman who had been mentioned, he would not be so ready to challenge his statement. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said he quite agreed with the policy of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), and he was glad to hear it, because they owed a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Marquess for coming down to the House at once, when he saw the state of crime which existed, and manfully facing the difficulty he had to meet. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fortescue) had referred to the apprentice boys of Derry; but those apprentice boys, when grievously provoked and tempted by the Government officials to break the law in one of their celebrations, had refrained from doing so, and kept within the bounds of the law. What they commemorated was a glorious change in the Constitution of the country, and at one period their Roman Catholic fellow-townsmen were not ashamed to join in their processions.


intimated that the hon. Member was wandering from the question.


would not pursue that point further, and would not have touched upon it at all but for the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. With reference to the observations made by several Irish Members opposite, that some change was necessary in the constitution of the police, he thought that while they gave undoubted proof of capacity to deal with rioters, they were, on the other hand, utterly useless to the magistrates at a time when the latter required assistance in the detection of crime. The object of all Irish Governments, of whatever party, appeared of late years to have been to centralize the power of the police in Dublin, so that they might be ready, as a body, to be marched out whenever the Government required them to do so. No doubt, some such force was needed in Ireland, especially in the present state of the country; but he believed great advantage would be gained by the Government by the appointment of a body of detectives, either in the police force or apart from it, provided those detectives were under the immediate control of local magistrates, who could procure information which resident magistrates were not able to obtain. In conclusion, he entreated the Government not only to convince his countrymen of their firm intention to maintain the law and make crime odious in Ireland, but to legislate in their behalf judiciously, mercifully, and kindly; so that, through the benefit they would thus confer, hon. Members who opposed these coercive measures might gratefully own a judicious change in the affairs of Ireland.


said, that a nobleman of great eminence both in literature and polities, formerly a Member of the Cabinet of the Government of hon. Gentlemen opposite, once used this remarkable expression—"The violation of law is a great evil—the suppression of law is a greater evil." These words of Lord Lytton constituted the text of hon. Gentlemen, who, like himself, opposed the Bill before the House. Let the House contrast the state of society in Ireland in the year 1833, when Lord Lytton spoke, with that of the period then under consideration. In 1833, in a province which hon. Members opposite would scarcely term the least civilized province of Ireland (Leinster), there had been in the preceding year no fewer than 103 cases of murder; and it was at that time that the late Sir Robert Peel had delivered his celebrated speech upon Irish crime, and he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) had not before his mind this opinion of his former Colleague, when he ventured to taunt Irish Members with the course which they then deemed it prudent to pursue. The state of crime in Ireland, if not as extended as in 1833, was yet far in excess of its state at the present time. As a young man he had gone the Leinster Circuit, and he had a vivid recollection of the lamentable fact that in the towns of Clonmel and Nenagh the Judges of Assize had been employed for weeks together in trying cases of agrarian murder. Yet what was the condition of Tipperary at that moment? Why, it was characterized by a total absence of crime, and might almost be denominated a model county. Again, let them refer to Monaghan, Louth, Cavan, and other counties from 1847 to 1852, and still later to Mayo and Meath, and what did they observe? In many cases a total, and in others a manifest diminution in crime; in short, he might say that nearly every speech which had been delivered during that debate might have equally well have been delivered in former years in regard to those counties, in which, however, peace had been established without having recourse to the unconstitutional principles embraced in the Bill under their consideration. There had been no suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and he believed that, in the long past history of disturbances in Ireland, that was the first occasion upon which it had been attempted to suspend the Constitution for the purpose of suppressing social as distinguished from political crime. The famous surgeon, Hunter, had designated an operation as opprobium medici. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) believed that the Bill of the Government merited a similar appellation. It exhibited but little statesmanship upon the part of the Government to come down to that House, and, whilst acknowledging that the existing law had proved efficacious elsewhere, to say that in this narrow Westmeath circle the whole might of the Government was powerless to cope with existing crime. He felt that in the course of the debate this Bill was too much regarded as a mere police Bill affecting a small county. To his mind it presented itself under a much more enlarged aspect. He would ask permission to regard it not as a measure directed towards a small district, but with reference to its political effect upon the whole of Ireland. The great measures of the past two years had been passed with an intention, no doubt, to improve the material position of the Irish population; but they had a further, and, in his opinion, a much greater object, to conciliate classes, remove religious differences, and lead to permanent peace and harmony in the country. Having regard to the short time which had elapsed since their passing into law, they had worked marvellously in that direction, and he had no doubt that time would immeasurably increase that good result; but what would be the effect of this measure of coercion in relation to the action of those measures? Why, a people rendered naturally suspicious by the course of former legislation, who were, to some extent—no matter, for his argument, how little—recovering confidence in the equity and kindliness of Imperial legislation, would have their confidence weakened, if not entirely destroyed. Factious or disaffected men in Ireland would work upon their feelings, and old impressions would point to this measure; would use it as a weapon against all Governments, and would dwell with bitter irony on the conduct of Government, who, whilst proclaiming conciliation, inflicted coercion, and that, too, at a time when the country, as compared with former times, was almost free from outrage. For his own part, he would venture to enunciate a proposition which, though it might not be accepted in that House, he yet firmly believed that, even for the sake of argument, admitting the state of Westmeath to be, in the words of the noble Marquess, "intolerable," it yet would, as a matter of public policy, be better to endure for a short time such a state of things, and rely on time for a remedy, rather than agitate the entire country, unsettle confidence, and destroy that repose which he concurred in believing to be essential to Ireland. The cry in Ireland, he feared, would be that we had introduced the French law of "suspects," and that Ireland was, as heretofore, to be ruled by police, and this consideration led him to make a few remarks upon the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball). That right hon. and learned Gentleman addressed the House from a lawyer's point of view, and suggested lawyers' remedies. He appeared as the advocate of personal government and of an exclusive jury law. He concurred with him in saying that the Executive Government of Ireland—except as regarded patronage, which flowed through another channel — whether Whig or Tory was in power, was the Government of the law-room in Dublin Castle. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) felt that every lawyer in power said to himself—"I have been well instructed in the principles of the Constitution, and can rely upon my constitutional principles to prevent my ever unduly straining any power that may be entrusted to me;" and, having thus convinced himself, he is willing, nay desirous, to take any amount of power which that House might entrust him with. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) believed that House would never consent to abdicate its functions, and to hand over the Government of over 6,000,000 people to three gentlemen in a room in Dublin Castle. For his own part, he would not for a moment retain the seat which he had the honour to hold in that House on such conditions; he believed that men of all parties in Ireland should be taken into the confidence of the Government, and consulted on the course which they might think advisable to pursue. He did not pretend to say that this being done, it would much affect the nature of the legislation; but it would tend to produce confidence. As regarded the Peace Preservation Act, his hon. Friend (The O'Conor Don) had already expressed his opinion upon that subject, and he should support his Amendment as far as it went, although being opposed to the Bill in its entirety. Yet the question on his Amendment would be that the words "the Bill be now read" stand part of the question, and to that proposition he should say No. In Committee, perhaps, would be the proper time to ask the Government why six baronies of the King's County were included in the Schedule to the Bill, whilst the evidence in the Report referred to only a small district, taking the town of Clara as a centre, and using a two mile radius; however, as he said before, he should reserve the question for Committee. In conclusion, he should vote both for the Amendment of his hon. Friend, and afterwards against the second reading of the Bill.


said, he could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) lest it might be inferred that he accepted the prior portion of the Bill which suspended the liberty of the subject. He protested against the whole Bill, and he had no doubt that his hon. Friend the Member for Cork County (Mr. Downing) would take another opportunity of enabling such of the Irish Members as agreed with him to record their votes decisively against the whole Bill. However deplorable might be the existence of crime in Westmeath—and Irish Members were the first to be ashamed of it—still they believed that the measures which the Government were proposing for the suppression of that crime were so severe that they would arouse a bitter feeling of hostility throughout the whole country. Hon. Members who had taken the trouble to read the evidence given before the Select Committee would have observed the immense power which was already given to the police for dealing with these crimes. He agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for the King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) when he said that, viewing this question in a high political aspect, it would have been better for the Government to have shut their eyes to the dreadful state of things that existed in Westmeath, trusting to the ordinary law to put an end to it, rather than endanger the security of good order and the principles of government.


said, the Bill was opposed on constitutional principles. The Bill was a suppression of the Constitution, and he trusted that the Constitution would be as much respected in Ireland as it was in England; if it were not, how could it be expected that the Irish people would be found linked to the English by common principles and common interests? The Irish people would feel the Bill to be an insult and a wrong. He objected to a law, as applied to Westmeath, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on account of the crimes of a comparatively small number of miscreants. The noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) who introduced the Bill admitted this objection. He said the Bill was without authority and without precedent, and it was unconstitutional. What was the excuse which the noble Lord had advanced for bringing in the Bill? He said that if it had been brought in last year, or at any time since the Union of England and Ireland, the Act would not have been justifiable, but that the Land Act of last year formed his justification for bringing in the Bill of this year. The noble Lord had not gone to the bottom of this conspiracy. He would refer the House to a most conclusive authority on the subject, in the evidence given before the Committee of 1852 by Colonel Brownrigge, the Inspector General of Constabulary. Asked from what ranks the Ribbon conspiracy was recruited? he replied from the agrarian—the agricultural labourers, who were miserably paid and lodged, and consequently to a certain extent were reckless, ready for insurrection, to commit crime, or to become members of secret societies. The witness added, that if anything could be done to ameliorate their condition it would be highly desirable. That evidence had been signally confirmed by one of the witnesses examined before the recent Committee, for Mr. Boyd, a county magistrate, said that the ranks of the society were composed of agricultural labourers, servant boys, and railway labourers to a remarkable extent. And what had the Government done to improve that condition? If they had done nothing they had neglected their duty. If the noble Lord or his predecessors had not removed the cause of their complaint, his excuse for bringing in the Bill was no excuse at all. What was the other argument brought forward as the justification for this Bill? That the Government could not get verdicts in Westmeath; that they could not get evidence to secure verdicts. But the argument was used by Pitt years ago, when he applied for a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Fox scoffed at the application and the reason for making it. The suspension could not, he said, be granted for constructive treason, or for anything short of treason itself. The idea of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act for ordinary conspiracies had never till now entered the minds of the Ministers of this country from the passing of the Act in 1679. How, then, would the noble Lord justify his Bill before the country? He (Mr. Synan), however, would admit that the state of things in Westmeath was very bad. But which of the two alternatives was the best—on the one hand, suspending the Constitution, in violation of the principle and the settled practice in that House, and in violation of constitutional authority; or, on the other, leaving the state of things in Westmeath to be settled by the stringent law existing in Ireland, and to be ameliorated by the operation of the land law of last year? What would be the condition of public feeling in Ireland if the country were insulted by such an Act? How long had this conspiracy been in existence? From 1785 to the present moment; and in 1852 it was spread over four counties. In 1785 there was a Protestant conspiracy, at all events there was a Protestant body called The Peep o' Day Boys, followed by a counter body called The Defenders. The Peep o' Day Boys then changed their names to Orangemen, and the Defenders changed theirs to Ribbonmen, and these two societies existed side by side in Ireland down to 1798. After that year the Ribbonmen became an agrarian body, got up to threaten landlords, to prevent evictions, and occasionally to shoot down the landlords who had become obnoxious. But down to 1852, or, perhaps 1868, it was purely an agrarian conspiracy, interfering only with the connection between landlord and tenant; after that time, it begun to interfere with the relations between employer and employed. Mr. Drummond, when examined in 1839, said the Ribbon Society was not intended directly for the purpose of outrage, but as a defence against the eviction of the people in a wholesale manner. He believed that the Roman Catholic clergy had denounced the movement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy) had not dealt justly with the evidence of the right rev. Bishop Nulty, who had told the Committee that the centre of the organization was not in Ireland, but in England—in Manchester, in Glasgow, and in Liverpool; and that the Irish were not the heads of the conspiracy, but only the active agents. The conspiracy, in fact, so far as it related to the relations between employer and employed, must have taken pattern by the English trades unions. If that were so, what answer would the noble Lord and the Solicitor General for Ireland give to the Irish people when they asked—Why not suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in your own large towns, in order to arrest the heads of the conspiracy in England instead of suspending it in Westmeath, where you can only arrest the agents? That question would be asked on every platform in Ireland. But would that Bill be a remedy for the state of things which existed in Westmeath? If there was anything like certainty of this given in the evidence taken before the recent Committee, there might be some excuse for proceeding with this legislation. But none of the witnesses ventured to express such an opinion. On the contrary, the Rev. Mr. Crofton, who, being a clergyman, a landlord, and a magistrate, would answer to Mrs. Malaprop's definition of Cerberus, "three gentleman at once," declared that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would be useless, unless at the same time landlords were permitted to evict their tenants after a month's notice, and unless the tenants so evicted were deported to Canada. His opinion also was that the result of the suspension of the Act for two years would be, that the men for whom it was intended would, at the end of that time, go about again foaming at the mouth like dogs. Mr. Mooney said the mischief could be cured by a courageous police and an efficient magistracy. Captain Talbot was asked in what way would the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act have a permanent effect? And his reply was— If it were once done, it might be done again. Let the Habeas Corpus be suspended for two years; and if it does not produce its effect suspend it for another two years. In other words, the Suspension Act was to become permanent by repeating it constantly for spaces of two years. In conclusion, he would ask, by whom was the Act to be executed? He defied the Solicitor General for Ireland to point to the evidence of any single witness in support of the view that this measure would be of any use except to arrest a few suspected characters. The present Lord Lieutenant was everything that a man in his position ought to be; but under this measure all that he would have to do would be to issue lettres de cachet, which would be put in force by the police, and he should therefore oppose the Bill, because he believed it would exasperate public feeling in Ireland, and because it would inflict a wound upon the Constitution of that country from which it would never recover.


said, he entirely disagreed with the arguments of those who opposed the Bill; because, so far from regarding it as a measure repressive of liberty, he regarded it as calculated to insure liberty in that country; to give the landlord an opportunity of living; to give the tenant a right to hold his land without running the risk of losing his life; and to give the labourer a right to enter the service of whom he pleased, and to go to and from his place of daily work in safety and peace of mind. He did not deny that it was a lamentable thing that a measure of this kind should have to be introduced; but had Her Majesty's Government not brought it in, they would, in his opinion, have entirely failed in the first duty of a Government, which was to protect life and render the possession of property enjoyable and secure. He confessed that when he heard that a Select Committee was to be appointed his heart failed him, because he did not believe that the result would be to throw much light upon the subject; but he was mistaken, for the evidence had been of the greatest value, and the result of a long consideration he had given it was that he would venture to say that it would be of great importance if a power could be given by which a criminal could be followed from Ireland and arrested in England. The object of the Bill before the House was to render some counties in Ireland too hot to hold these men, and he thought that the whole of the United Kingdom should be rendered too hot for them. He hoped that English Members would not associate the whole of the country with these crimes, because he believed that the vast majority of Irishmen were opposed to this abominable system, and wished to see it put down. Unfortunately, however, there was a time when these crimes did to a certain extent receive the sympathy of a large portion of the people. That time was probably the time when Bishop Nulty spoke favourably of the Ribbonmen; but at that time the Ribbonmen shot only landlords. Since that time, however, they had incurred Dr. Nulty's displeasure, for they had taken to shooting tenants and labourers, and even Members of Dr. Nulty's flock. He was glad that the Select Committee had been appointed, if its only result had been to show that there was a Bishop, who set himself up to be a minister of the God of Peace, and yet, from what he would call cowardice, was afraid openly and manfully to condemn murder. ["No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] Well, he hoped he was mistaken, but that was, at all events, the impression which Dr. Nulty's evidence conveyed to his mind. He believed, also, that this Bill would tend to increase the good that was being done by the recent legislation for Ireland. As for the argument that they might wait for time before passing this coercive measure, that was all very well for philosophers, who had no personal interest at stake, or life to be endangered; but the landlords who expected to be assassinated could not wait; the tenants who thought they were going to be shot could not wait; nor could the labourers, who feared that they had incurred the animosity of the Ribbon Society. Before he sat down he would say one word as to the future of Ireland. He had been able to detect already a spirit of satisfaction among the people—the result of the Land Bill; and he looked forward to a time when criminal outrages would be repressed by the aid of the whole population. He desired, in conclusion, to say a word or two with reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. John Martin). That hon. Member looked forward to the time when Ireland would be dissevered from England. It was a matter of opinion, not, perhaps, entirely relevant to this question, but he also believed that that time would arrive. He believed that the Ballot would be the means of bringing to that House, men whose views would be so entirely discordant with those of the great majority of the English people, that the English people would become tired of being ruled according to the will of the Irish Members; for, although in a minority, they would hold together, and that would be practically the result. And though the hon. Member would not consent to vote in that House, and disapproved that Parliament, the hon. Member would, no doubt, acknowledge that, even in that Parliament, a man bringing forward views unpalatable to the majority, if he did so in a honest, straightforward and candid manner, was listened to with respect and attention. He should cordially support this measure, believing that it was thoroughly in accord with the feelings of the majority of the people of Ireland.


said, he would also express his approval of the Bill, and would observe that a year ago he had recommended to the Government the adoption of this step; because it was within his own personal knowledge that there was no other effectual method of repressing secret outrages in Ireland. It had been well said by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Saunderson) that the humbler classes of this district of Ireland had required the protection of the law, as much as the landlords; and it was high time that this Bill should be passed, in order that they might be rescued from a state of worse than Egyptian bondage, which threatened their lives and threw its dark shadow over their homes. In his own county, some years ago, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act effected its purpose instantly, while the list of suspected persons was on its way to the Government, all these persons disappeared from Ireland of their own accord. It seemed to him that not even the most constitutional lawyer in the kingdom could object to this measure of coercion, seeing that the power of authority had been so boldly defied by the secret societies of Westmeath, and that a state of things prevailed that set all law at defiance. He believed the day had come, or soon would do, when the South would join the North in respect for the law, and would be of opinion that the best day that had ever dawned upon Ireland was the day when that country was united to England. He was happy to say that Ireland had forgotten many things which it was desirable to forget, and had learned a great many things which ought to be remembered. The people had learned to respect their Catholic fellow-countrymen, and were glad to see them in the same position as other hon. Members in that House, and with them enjoying equal privileges. The University of Dublin had now amongst its members many gentlemen professing the Roman Catholic religion, and Mr. Justice Keogh, in his recent lectures, had pointed out the immense advantages which Ireland had derived from English rule. He must say he was entirely of the same opinion as the learned lecturer, and believed that the people of Ireland had derived great advantages from their connection with this country. He believed that the Union between the two countries to be a real, active, and vital union, as it was utterly useless for any hon. Gentleman, as the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. John Martin) had done, to state that he would never acknowledge the right of Parliament to manage the affairs of Ireland. That country had accepted the Union in every one of its parts. Commercially and legislatively we were one people, and he trusted that every day would tend to render that Union closer and closer.


, in supporting the Bill, observed that great stress had been laid by the hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) on the injustice of taxing the innocent for the punishment of the guilty. But those who looked on at the crimes which were committed could not be regarded as innocent persons; and if the farmers would only speak out what they knew, neither Fenianism nor Ribbonism would exist in Ireland. He regarded the tax as a tax on cowardice and indolence, and did not know any two luxuries that better deserved to be taxed. Dr. Nulty, in his evidence, had pointed out the value of the patrols for the prevention of crime, and such recommendation had received the approval of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but it should be remembered they never appeared alone—that they always went out armed, and in cases of emergency even carried firearms, and he would leave anyone to judge how many malefactors were likely to be taken up by such officers. He believed that the best remedy for the detection of offenders would be the employment of a separate class of men— plainly-clothed men — who would be much more likely to detect crime than the men now employed for the purpose.


said, he was not sorry that the question had been discussed in all its various bearings; it was very right that it should be so, as, although they were technically dealing with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) only, they were practically also discussing the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) for the rejection of the Bill on the second reading. The Bill consisted of two portions; one relating to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, as it was called, the other to the continuation of the Peace Preservation Act. The first portion of the measure was by far its most important part, and the justification of the Government for bringing forward that Bill depended upon the state of society and of crime in the county of Westmeath and in the adjacent parts of Meath and King's County. He would put before the House a few figures, not drawn from imagination, although that fertile source of arithmetic had been freely placed under contribution in these discussions, but derived from the Report of the Committee and the Blue Book before them. The Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act received the Royal Assent on the 4th of April, 1870; all its provisions were in force in the district in question. Since then two aggravated Ribbon murders had been committed in Westmeath—that of Mr. Dowling and Mr. Waters—Waters had been spoken of as "a drunken process-server;" he did not know whether it was intended to convey that the man had a worse title to his life on that account than if he had been an advocate of the Permissive Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). Since the 4th of April, 1870, there had been two attempts to murder in King's County, two in Meath, and five in Westmeath, even counting two attempts to murder one man at different times as only one attempt. Thus, since the passing of the Peace Preservation Act, there had been within the district included in the present Bill nine attempts to murder and two actual murders; and excepting in one single instance—namely, the attempt to murder Mr. Radcliffe, which was the subject of a Special Commission, not one of the guilty persons had been brought to human justice, and, as far as it was possible to speak of such matters, never would be. In fact, no evidence could be procured upon which any jury could act. He would compare the offences committed in that district in 1869 and in the year 1870–71. In the year 1869 there were four murders and six attempts to murder. In 1870–71 there were five murders and 14 attempts to murder. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) said there had been no outrages in Westmeath since February last; but that fact was a most eloquent argument in favour of the Bill, because from the day on which his noble Friend the Chief Secretary publicly declared that the state of things in Westmeath was intolerable, and asked the House for its assistance, lawless and astute men in that part of the country had refrained from lifting their hands against the lives of their fellow-men. Why, that was of itself a justification for the measure. The hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate) had made a mistake in his figures by relying on one of those fountains of inspiration called the London evening papers, which were as frequently wrong as right; for the organ from which he quoted, The Pall Mall Gazette, had mistaken the criminal statistics of 1870 for those of the present year. A table was to be found at page 166 of the Blue Book, which contained the account during the years 1870 and 1871 of 274 Ribbon outrages in the three counties of Westmeath, Meath, and King's County, and in only two of those cases had the parties been brought to justice. Was he to be told that the state of those counties was not as bad as that of Cheshire? He believed the persons who committed murder in Cheshire were brought to justice, were tried, and dealt with according to the law of the land; and if the law were found to be insufficient to deal with them he had no doubt hon. Members for Cheshire would be the first to demand something that would strengthen the hands of the Executive. That was the difference between the crime of Cheshire and that of Westmeath. He would next call attention to the Charge of the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland to the grand jury of Meath, delivered on the 27th of February last. The present Lord Chief Justice of Ireland was a man to whose words the greatest weight should be paid; and, although he had differed from him politically, he undertook to say that no Judge brought greater fairness to bear on the trials that came before him than that distinguished man. He could not, in any way, be cited as a Judge who was given to arguing in favour of a foregone conclusion. The hon. and learned Gentleman here quoted Lord Chief Justice Whiteside's Charge, which said— There was no use in keeping back the truth; the report of the constabulary officer of the county on the various outrages showed that the class of persons attacked in that county were stewards, bailiffs, or owners of property; that the state of things in the county was unsatisfactory; that a man's property was set on fire because he was unpopular; that those offences showed the existence of a spirit of disaffection which should be encountered by the strong arm of the law; that they could not have better officials than they had in that county; that it was said there were persons in that county of the same rank as the grand jurors who could not go from their homes or even attend the Assizes there without great danger of being shot—a horrible state of things; that it was dreadful to think that in that rich county, day after day, men should, for some supposed offences against individual interests, lie in wait, watching tiger-like for an opportunity to assassinate their victims. That was the picture drawn by Chief Justice Whiteside of the county of Meath in February, 1871; and if a different picture could be drawn of its state at present, it was because of the action taken by his noble Friend the Chief Secretary. If, however, the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork were unfortunately carried, the Lord Chief Justice's description would, no doubt, be found again applicable to the state of Meath at some coming Assizes. He had also before him the charge delivered to the grand jury of Westmeath, at the same Assizes, on the 2nd of March, 1871, by Chief Justice Monahan, who had been formerly an eminent member of the party to which the hon. Member for Cork belonged, and who therefore could not be supposed to be influenced in his opinions either by politics or by religious differences—it was sad that it should be necessary to introduce such topics into a discussion of that kind—who said— When I was last here, gentlemen, the county was in an unpleasant state, but I indulged in the hope that things would mend; I find, upon the contrary, that things have proceeded from bad to worse, and that the county is in a state that it is almost impossible for me to conceive or to describe, and one cannot wonder that it has engaged the attention of Her Majesty's Government. I only trust and hope that the proceedings which are now being taken in Parliament will result in measures being devised that will be productive of improvement, and afford some safety to the inhabitants of this county. Was there anything more distinct than the picture which the charges of these two eminent Judges gave of the state of crime and the condition of society in this district? How are all these facts met? By speaking of coercion and the wrongs of Ireland only to be found in the sad records of the past. What was the use of hon. Members, representatives of Irish constituencies, getting up in that House and talking of "my country" as though there were no other Irishmen in the House but themselves? Ireland was as much his country as it was that of the hon. Member for Meath; in England he did not even possess the lodger franchise, and he appealed to the House whether he did not bear every mark and token of being an Irishman? He was not afraid to acknowledge his country, which he loved no less, because he endeavoured to do his duty by her in the position in which he was placed; and he believed he was not unfaithful to her dearest interests and hopes, as well as to the best interests of his constituents, for he also represented a popular constituency as well as the hon. Member for Meath. The evidence given before the Committee on the state of the county of Westmeath was most conclusive to show the necessity that existed for adopting such a step as that proposed to be taken by this measure. Captain Talbot, in his evidence, when asked whether he thought remedial measures, as well as repressive measures, were necessary in order to improve the state of society in Westmeath, replied that he thought they would be very effective, but that he did not wish to be understood to say that remedial measures alone would ever eradicate Ribbonmen; and in reply to another question, as to whether the impression did not prevail in Westmeath that the law was perfectly powerless and unable to reach those offenders, he stated that that was the boast of Ribbonmen, and that notorious Ribbonmen had boasted to that effect. Again, when asked whether the minds of the people were in such a feeling towards the Government of the country that they would adopt a conspiracy like Fenianism if brought among them, he said that he did not think that they would adopt it unless it tended to their own interest; and that he thought that the farming classes of Westmeath were not at all disloyal, that they would not take up any line of action against the Government if they were once rid of this nightmare which was over them; and he also stated that if 1,000 police were quartered on these people they would not give evidence, because if they did they knew they would be punished, either by being shot or beaten, or having their houses burned. Again, Captain Talbot stated that in Westmeath, Ribbonism happened to have a certain number of very determined and daring leaders, which accounted a great deal for the amount of crime and terrorism which that association had produced of late. And yet, this being the state of this district, the only remedy which had been proposed by those who opposed this measure was that of the hon. Member for Meath, which, in view of the fitness of things, should have emanated rather from the hon. Member for Kilkenny — namely, that the people should be armed. The present condition of the district was an answer to such a suggestion. People in the district had to be guarded in order to preserve their lives, and even a widow was obliged to have two policemen living in her house to protect her. Such was the nature of the evidence that had been laid before the Committee. It might be said that the evidence ought to have been tested by cross-examination, but the hon. Members for Cork, for Cork City, and for King's County were on the Committee—all popular Members as the term was—and yet they made no attempt to break down the testimony of the gentlemen who were examined; and, indeed, never suggested that they were not speaking the truth. He was the more particular in dwelling upon this matter, knowing the great influence which his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) exercised in Ireland; and who had another advantage—that his speech would be more fully reported in the Irish newspapers than his (the Solicitor General's) would be. The only advice during this debate that hon. Members gave who opposed this measure, was that things should be left to themselves to get better, but, as he contended, to get certainly and rapidly worse. In answer to a question he had put to one of the witnesses—for which he had been complimented by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing), whose compliments sometimes meant a good deal more than praise, he would say, in passing, that he always did his duty in these matters, and he would say no more upon the point, because the compliments that a man paid himself possessed no great value—it was stated that, although the Ribbonmen did not constitute the majority of the population of Westmeath; yet, by the course they adopted, they made themselves the strongest, as minorities frequently did when they adopted vigorous measures. The House had been told that they were about to suspend the Constitution; but was not the essential object of the Constitution to secure life, liberty, and property? Surely the House was not bound to adopt the doctrine— Propter vitam vivendi perdere causas? If the Constitution was not able to secure life, liberty, and property in Westmeath, something must be substituted for it that would give protection to the honest, the just, and the true. It had been stated in the Committee that evidence could not be got in cases of murder and other crimes of violence. In another portion of the evidence, a statement was made with reference to the case of Anketell, who was murdered at Mullingar for the faithful discharge of his duty; and when evidence was being procured upon the case, the resident magistrate could not secure for the witnesses food, lodging, or the ordinary comforts of life in the capital town of Westmeath. He did not say that the people sympathized with murderers, but they sympathized with themselves: self-preservation was the first law of nature, and it was a law which was respected in Westmeath. He could not blame these people for not bringing themselves face to face with a conspiracy which had all the terrors of the Vehmgericht, and which was of an even worse character, for the member of the Vehmgericht, who was commissioned to carry out the vengeance of the society, struck a dagger in the table of the doomed man as a warning; but in Westmeath a man was shot without, to use the language of one of the witnesses (Mr. Crofton), receiving—"the courtesy of a threatening letter." The Trim station-master of the Midland Great Western Railway Company gave offence to workmen employed on that railway, by detecting workmen stealing coal of the company, and what was the result? To save his life, the station-master lived in a bullet-proof house, guarded day and night by policemen; and this in a town for hundreds of years within the English pale, in the centre of one of the richest counties in Ireland. The chairman of the railway company (Mr. Cusack) stated to the Committee, that the company's line ran from Dublin nearly parallel to a canal belonging to the company for 60 miles; that the management of that canal for the last 20 years had been in the hands of members of a secret society, and that the company could not remove them for fear of the canal being cut, and great damage done to their property. Then there was the evidence of Mr. Mooney, an excellent attorney belonging to the chief town of Westmeath, who received a threatening letter warning him that he would be shot, because he had had the audacity to apply for rent on behalf of an English landlord. Again, Bishop Nulty was asked by the Committee, whether he knew of a man that was called Captain Duffy. He said he did. Why was that man called Captain Duffy—was he in the Guards, or did he take an interest in the Army Regulation Bill? It appeared that this Captain Duffy was an officer of a non-purchase corps; he was called "captain" by his neighbours because he was a captain of Ribbonmen — that was to say, captain of a secret band whose deeds frequently ended in murder. And what did he find that man doing? And he would take the account of his doings from the Bishop's evidence. Proceedings were taken against him by his landlord to evict him, and thereupon Captain Duffy called in the assistance of two gentlemen to value his land before the chairman, in order to get compensation under the Land Act. One of those gentlemen was a magistrate, and Bishop Nulty thought that both were. One of them consented to become a valuator, on the condition that a friend of his, who had been fired at more than once, should not be shot. A doctor, who was the son of that friend, in relating the circumstance to one of the priests of Bishop Nulty, said— One can hardly imagine such a person asking Captain Duffy to pledge his honour that my father would not be shot, and accepting the valuation upon those terms. Was that a state of society which any man in that House, or any intelligent and patriotic man out of that House, would tolerate? The result of the whole affair of Captain Duffy was this—that the landlord, a clergyman, was shot at, fortunately without serious harm, and an unfortunate process server of the name of Waters, employed to serve the notice to quit on Duffy, was killed. There was nothing in the law at the present time which could deal with that state of things. He (Mr. Dowse) was told that since this Bill was introduced Captain Duffy had gone to America. He wished the locality to which he had gone joy. Did not the departure of Captain Duffy to America, of itself, show the value of this Bill, and the necessity for its immediately becoming law? Mr. Rogers, a resident magistrate in King's County, told the Committee that he got evidence in Fox's case sufficient to show that there were 15 persons who were digging potatoes in a field, and who saw the unhappy man fired at, and heard his screams for assistance, but who never stirred hand or foot to take him from the ground where he was lying wounded. When brought before the magistrates they would give no evidence, direct or indirect. The excuse was—"Sir, I am afraid of being shot myself." Mr. Rogers told the Committee, that terror or sympathy was the reason why the people refused to give evidence; but very often, he thought, sympathy had a great deal to do with it. As to the composition of the Committee, every attention ought to be paid to the Report of the Committee; he did not think that a more representative Committee ever sat. Three popular Members were upon it. They concurred in the Report which was, as it stood, an unanimous Report, and now they say nothing should be done. It was said that no witnesses were examined on behalf of the country by the Committee, but whose fault was that? The Committee were willing to give every facility for the examination of any witnesses on behalf of the country—Dr. Nulty was called by the hon. Member for Cork County. Under all these circumstances, the Westmeath Committee had been compelled to come to the conclusion that the present law was inoperative in Westmeath; that the Peace Preservation Act was not fit to cope with the state of things in that district; and that though the authorities had vigorously carried out the law, still, owing to the causes referred to, in a large number of instances, they had been unable to arrest and make amenable to justice either the perpetrators of the crimes, or the movers and organizers of Ribbon Societies. He respected the opinions of Irish Members as much as any man could do; but he wished to know how they would propose to deal with this state of things? It had been said that it was the duty of the Government, and not of individual Members, to suggest remedies; but when a Member entered his protest against the Government Bill, without suggesting any remedy, and did not deny the facts or dispute the inference from them, he felt bound to ask — Are we to allow these evils to continue to exist in Westmeath; are we to allow people to be handed over bound into the hands of the spoiler; are we to allow the midnight assassin to go about all over the land; are we to allow men to be doomed to death by conspirators, and killed by their agents; or, if not, what measures are we to take to prevent all this? Were they to stand up and say—"Let time be the healer?" But would time heal the sorrow of the widow mourning over her son's grave, that son being her only support? And if they stood by while crime rode roughshod throughout the district, they would be open to a very different kind of criticism. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. John Martin) suggested that the population should be allowed to arm themselves. Well, that would doubtless produce a solitude, whether it was called peace or not. The idea was certainly an original one; but he trusted it would not be tried in any county he happened to live in, unless he had an opportunity of getting a-year and a-half's notice to quit before the experiment was made. The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in this particular district was the remedy suggested by every witness who was examined before the Committee, not even excepting Mr. Seed and Bishop Nulty. When the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended before, only 14 or 15 persons were taken into custody in the county of Westmeath, and in no instance was injustice done. What was found effectual then would in all probability prove effectual now, and Dr. Nulty, though not in terms, practically approved of this course being adopted. Had anybody suggested another remedy? The Government could not leave things as they were. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) had suggested no other remedy, but he had remarked that on a former occasion he (Mr. Dowse) had stated to the House that the Government of Ireland could not be carried on without the Party Processions Bill then before the House. He had stated nothing of the kind. There was a Bill before the House to repeal the then existing law respecting party processions, and to enact a new law on the subject. What he said was, that the Government of Ireland could not be carried on without one or other of these measures, and he still was of this opinion. The hon. Member for Meath had made some further remarks which he wished to refer to; but he could not do so without paying to him a tribute of admiration for his enthusiastic devotion to, what he believed, to be the cause of his country. Long before he came into that House he had heard of the hon. Gentleman, and he believed there was no more single-minded man in that House than the hon. Member for Meath. Although, in his judgment, the hon. Gentleman was wholly mistaken, he had, by reason of the sacrifices he had made for them, every right to speak out his opinions like a man in that House. With much that fell from the hon. Gentleman he entirely disagreed; but this was not a fitting time for entering into a discussion on the wide question of the Repeal of the Union. The hon. Member said he opposed the Bill because it was against law. It was not against the spirit of the law of the land, nor was it against the law of God, Who had said—"Thou shalt do no murder." It might, indeed, be contrary to the letter of the Constitution, but it was certainly not contrary to its spirit. Again, the hon. Gentleman said the Bill was founded upon false and frivolous accusations; but surely he would not pretend that the statements of Dr. Nulty, and of the other witnesses examined before the Committee, were false and frivolous—opinions that had been acted upon by the Committee in its Report? Then the hon. Gentleman objected that the measure would not remove the causes of the crime in Westmeath. Doubtless, that was perfectly true. Medical men, however, were sometimes obliged to attack symptoms; they would not resort to an operation if they could help it, but sometimes amputation was necessary to save the life of the patient. No doubt we must wait for the results of our recent remedial legislation, considering the short time that the Church and Land Acts have been in existence. It must be allowed time to operate on the wrongs and miseries of Ireland; but the Executive Government must take care, in the moment of fruition, that there was a people of Ireland left to reap the benefits of the recent legislation. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork County (Mr. Downing) had referred to the case of a man named Supple, and stated that a memorial was presented to the Lord Lieutenant, containing resolutions which alleged that the case was a got up one. He now held in his hand those resolutions which, like most secrets of the kind, had been published in The Freeman's Journal. They were to the effect, that the representatives of certain united parishes in the county of Westmeath took the earliest opportunity of expressing their abhorrence of the attempt on the life of constable Supple, and no charge was made in any of the resolutions that Supple's case was a got up case. He had the authority of Chief Justice Monahan to state the following facts:—The Chief Justice said he was satisfied that the evidence of the constable was substantially correct, and that the outrage was committed, although he was by no means certain as to the identity of the man. That being so, there was an end of constable Supple's case. With reference to Mr. Seed, the Member for Meath asserted that he (Mr. Seed) had, in point of fact, set an example of disobedience to the law by concocting, in conference with the Attorney General in Dublin Castle, a new jury panel. Mr. Seed, if he was inclined, could not do what was alleged. He had nothing to do with the preparation of the panel; that was the work of the sheriff. Mr. Seed got a copy of the panel, and all Mr. Seed did was, in open court before the Judges and the parties, to order men to stand, aside when called. He could not frame a new panel, or alter the one in existence, or add to or subtract from it in any way. No doubt Mr. Seed exercised the power of ordering some men to stand aside, and in the exercise of his legal discretion, and in obedience to the rules of his office, he had the power to do so. The hon. Member was completely wrong in imputing any misconduct to the Attorney General for Ireland in reference to the framing of the panel referred to in the evidence of Mr. Seed; and he could speak with the more freedom upon this question, because he was not in any way responsible for the administration of this branch of the law in Ireland. The Attorney General, in a memorandum relating to the circumstances, said that, having been informed by Mr. Seed of the manner in which the panel was prepared, as he would not tolerate a jury packed for the Crown, he certainly would not approve of one framed for the specific exclusion of the respectable and intelligent class who in the ordinary course of things ought to be in the panel for a special Commission. He held in his hand the rules for the guidance of Crown solicitors in Ireland—rules which were revised by the present Vice Chancellor of Ireland, and, subsequently, by Mr. Warren, both of whom were Attorney Generals at the time to the Government of the Conservative party, and by Rule 9, he found that the Clerks for the Crown were to procure four days before the commencement of each Assizes, a true list of the jurors summoned, and the Crown solicitor was to make inquiries in reference to the jurors summoned, and where he found there was any reason for challenging—such as infirmity, sympathy with the prisoner, or fear of doing his duty—he should order the juror to stand aside. All Mr. Seed did was to act in accordance with that rule, which had been sanctioned by successive Law Officers, and what happened? Two men were tried, one of whom confessed his guilt, while about the guilt of the other there could be no doubt—none, indeed, has ever been suggested—and in that case 34 jurors were set aside by the Crown, and 36 by the prisoner, and yet they were told that the Crown was guilty of jury packing. He gave the charge the most direct and circumstantial contradiction. With reference to the Peace Preservation Act, he would say, in reply to the hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don), that there was only three entire counties in Ireland proclaimed, and a portion of six. But if that act was not continued, the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act would be of no use, because its utility depended on its being brought to bear in counties where the special proclamations of the Lord Lieutenant were in existence already and had not been successful. On the whole, he thought no valid reasons had been adduced to cause the House to accede to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon, and therefore he would not weary the House by pressing further the arguments against it. He would make a few observations on the Press clauses. It had not been necessary to put the powers contained in these clauses into operation in a single case with reference to any newspaper published and printed in Ireland. The newspapers had trimmed their sails to the gales that were blowing, and, though they exceeded in licence any newspaper printed in England, as long as they kept from openly advocating murder and treason, they were left without any interference by the Government. The powers, however, were still considered necessary, and therefore it was proposed to renew the Press clauses for two years. Much had been said in the course of the debate with reference to newspapers containing seditious articles intended for circulation in Ireland but printed in the United States, and he would refer to an instance which had just come under his notice. The Irish People, a paper of the kind, which had been intercepted and handed to him, contained an article headed "Gallant Westmeath," in which it was stated that the people of Westmeath had been all but exterminated; that those who remained were engaged in the quiet collection of arms in order to punish the exterminators, and that they were justified in so doing, the only real consideration being the safety of the people. With this last observation he entirely agreed; but he wished to ask whether the "safety of the people" was more likely to be secured by granting letters of marque to every ruffian in the district to take life and destroy property, or by making the law respected and the power of justice and truth so strong that the country would soon again be inhabited by quiet and peaceable citizens? He could quote other articles from papers published in New York, and seized in Ireland, containing sentiments repugnant not only to Christianity but to civilization, but he thought the sample he gave was sufficient. If the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland were invested with the powers proposed by this Bill, he would exercise them with a due regard to the liberty of the people and the safety of the innocent inhabitants in the district included in the scope of the measure. Above all, this would, if passed, be but a temporary Act; for he should, indeed, despair of the future of his country, if he believed it could only be governed by Peace Preservation Acts and by suspending the Habeas Corpus. He knew that so far from this measure being introduced with all the wantonness of despotism, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Meath, it had not been proposed to Parliament until every other means of meeting and dealing with the painful and exceptional circumstances of the case had been exhausted, and then with feelings of the bitterest pain on the part of the Prime Minister and of the Government. If Ireland were ever to be happy and enjoy the glorious future her sons had predicted and prayed for, it could only be brought about by the adoption of measures like the present, which, while accompanied by remedial legislation, would remove a pressing danger, and teach her people to love, obey, and reverence the law.


, who spoke amid continued interruption, said, he wished to put a question to the Government. Bishop Nulty, in his evidence, stated that there was a time when those Ribbonmen who were now trying their strength with the Government had the confidence of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. That time, he added, had passed away, and at the present moment the relations between them were not satisfactory. He wished to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland whether, in discharge of his duty as one of the Law Advisers of the Crown, he had investigated that statement of Bishop Nulty, and whether he could state at what period the Roman Catholic priesthood and the Ribbonmen ceased to have those confidential relations?


said, he could not vote for the Amendment, because it recognized one-half of the Bill as just and the other as unjust. He thought the first part of the Bill contained, if such were possible, the greater injustice, for it suspended the Constitution in what, notwithstanding the criticism of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, he must call his country, because it was that which gave him birth. He could not vote for the Amendment, because, if he did, he should be supporting in principle the first half of the Bill.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 340; Noes 12: Majority 328.

Bagwell, J. O'Brien, Sir P.
Browne, G. E. O'Conor, D. M.
Chadwick, D. Synan, E. J.
Charley, W. T. White, hon. Colonel C.
Delahunty, J.
De La Poer, E. TELLERS.
Garlies, Lord O'Conor Don, The
Henry, M. Dease, E.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Tuesday next, at Two of the Clock.

On Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time,"


explained that he had unfortunately got into the wrong lobby (with the minority), though he had been very anxious to support the Government on this occasion.

Main Question put, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

The House divided:—Ayes 293; Noes 11: Majority 282.

And, it being now ten minutes to Seven of the Clock, the House suspended its Sitting.

The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the Clock, when—

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,