HC Deb 15 July 1875 vol 225 cc1476-7

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If his attention has been called to a letter published in the "Hour" of the 13th, purporting to have been written by Father O'Keeffe to the Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, describing himself as a prisoner in his own house under the protection of six policeman, the mob holding forcible possession of his entrance gates, and admitting no friend or parishioner to visit him; and, whether such a letter has really been received, and what action has been taken, or is proposed to be taken, about it?


had also given Notice to ask, with reference to the state of affairs in Callan, Whether it is true that, in Reply to Mr. O'Keeffe, the Lords Justices have informed him that it is open to him to take proceedings by way of information against the persons who have taken possession of his chapel; whether it is true that two justices of the Peace have refused to take such information; whether the taking of such an information is not a purely ministerial act; and, whether, if such a refusal has been given, he can satisfactorily explain or justify the conduct of the magistrates?


Sir, I believe a letter similar to one which has appeared in the public Press has been addressed by Father O'Keeffe to the Governrnent, and has been re- ceived by the Under Secretary for Ireland. Perhaps I may also take this opportunity of answering the Question of my hon. Friend (Mr. Holt) on the same subject. There has been, I think, considerable exaggeration in the statements made by Father O'Keeffe. The House is aware of the unfortunate circumstances of the case and of the differences which have arisen among the inhabitants of Callan respecting Father O'Keeffe's position. There has recently been a demonstration against Father O'Keeffe on the part of those who have taken the opposite view to his own, and that demonstration culminated in a riot, for which some prisoners were indicted at the Kilkenny Assizes. The Constabulary have had instructions to do their utmost to preserve the peace and protect Father O'Keeffe from any violence on the part of his opponents. That is all the Government can do in the matter. The question really at issue is a question of disputed title, which must be tried in the ordinary Courts of Law. It is not the fact, as I am informed, that Justices of the Peace have refused to take any information laid by Father O'Keeffe; and I need hardly say that if any magistrates had failed in any degree in their duty their conduct might be brought in the ordinary way before the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.