§ Postponed Resolutions [reported 19th July] considered.
Resolutions again read, as follow:—
(15.) "That a sum, not exceeding £25,614, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1878, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices in Her Majesty's General Register House, Edinburgh.
(17.) " That a sum, not exceeding £63,428, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1878, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland.
(26.) "That a sum, not exceeding £97,391, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1878, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of Police, of the Police Courts, and of the Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin.
§ Fifteenth Resolution agreed to.
§ Seventeenth Resolution.
§ MR. PARNELL
, in moving to reduce the Vote by £5,000, the amount consequent on proceedings arising out of the suppression of the Amnesty Meeting in the Phoenix Park, said, that the Park being under the control of the Board of Works, the Government desired to prevent the holding of the meeting, and induced the Board of Works to issue a notice prohibiting the meeting. The police authorities were communicated with, and they undertook to send a sufficient force of police to suppress the meeting. The item he desired to remit from the Vote had been incurred in defending certain actions brought in Dublin against the Government by persons who were injured by the police in the suppression of that meeting. Those who had called the meeting, believing they were strictly within their rights, 604 and that the Board of Works were acting ultra vires, disregarded the notice, and determined to hold the meeting according to the original announcement. Among those who were principally concerned in the conduct of the meeting were the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) and the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. P. J. Smyth), who occupied the position of chairman, and several other gentlemen well known in Irish politics. These gentlemen occupied a position on the steps of the Wellington Monument, and the chairman had hardly proceeded for two minutes when a superintendent of police, accompanied by an inspector, were seen forcing their way through the crowd, in order to get near the speakers. Fearing that they would meet with rude treatment from the crowd Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Smyth went down to meet the police officers, but at the same moment there was a sudden rush of people on the steps, and Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Smyth took the superintendent of police by the arms and escorted him through the crowd, the only assault he received being from a man who struck him in the face as he passed, and who was told by Mr. Sullivan that he was unworthy of the name of an Irishman for striking a defenceless man. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Smyth then returned and resumed the proceedings, and almost immediately afterwards a rush of policemen, armed with batons, at once commenced a gross and brutal assault on the people there assembled. These policemen had not previously shown themselves, and they made their attack suddenly from the rear of the Monument. The result was that men, women, and children were indiscriminately assaulted. The men were beaten about the head with batons, and, when knocked down, were kicked as they lay on the ground. The women and children were not struck with the bludgeons; but in his evidence as a witness when the matter was afterwards submitted to a Court of Law, Mr. Sullivan stated that he saw some women and children knocked down and tripped up. [The hon. Gentleman quoted at some length from the evidence given by Mr. Sullivan, and other witnesses, who detailed what they saw of the proceedings on the occasion referred to.] The police charged round from the rear on these defenceless people, assaulted men, wo- 605 men, and children in an indiscriminate way, and even attacked the bandsmen who were coming to the meeting for a peaceful purpose, and broke their instruments. A young lady who had gone into the Park for half-an-hour's walk before dinner was knocked down by the police at a spot several hundred yards distant from the place of meeting, and her head cut open, and, in fact, no one would venture to say that the police did not behave in a brutal and savage manner. After hundreds of persons had been kicked and knocked down with bludgeons, 20 or 30 of those who formed the meeting determined to pay the police in their own coin, and there was considerable stone-throwing and fighting going on throughout the evening. The Princess Louise was a guest at the Chief Secretary's Lodge at the time, and the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) might have thought that he was paying a proper compliment to Royalty in preventing the meeting; but the place where the meeting was being held was fully half a mile from the Lodge, and if, as he had heard said, and with apparent reason, certain people thought the occasion was appropriate for a Juggernaut to Royalty, the idea was very completely carried out. For the dispersal of the meeting and all that followed the responsibility devolved upon the Marquess of Hartington, against whom and the police several actions were brought, and in the first, which was by Mr. O'Byrne, who was in hospital for some time in consequence of injuries inflicted by the police, the jury found that the police had behaved brutally and the noble Lord had acted illegally; but since that verdict was given the Government, who defended the action, took a technical objection which, after being argued in the Dublin Courts, was awaiting an appeal to the House of Lords; and the guilty police retained their position, there having been no inquiry into their conduct as described by the witnesses in the civil action. He did not suppose that the Board of Works in Ireland could claim any greater right over the Phoenix Park than he (Mr. Parnell) did over his own estate; and yet if he were to distribute a handbill warning people not to go through it on a particular day and left his gates open, as were the gates of the Phoenix Park, he would be answerable for the consequences if he employed 606 police to use their bludgeons against those who disregarded his warning. The Court had decided against the right claimed by the Board, and also that, if the right existed, it was asserted with unnecessary violence. The protraction of the legal proceedings did not justify the Government in ignoring the conduct of the police, for it was absurd to suppose that inquiry could influence the judgment of the House of Lords. Other actions were pending, and if the decision of the House of Lords was against the Government, it was to be hoped the resources of the Government would not be expended to obtain further delay by useless litigation; but the present Government, which could occupy a judicial position, would become particeps criminis with the late Government if it refused to investigate the conduct of the police. If it would promise to do so during the Recess he would withdraw the Amendment he now moved, that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £5,000.
§ Amendment proposed to leave out "£63,428," and insert "£58,428,"— (Mr. Parnell,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. LAW
said, he had not intended to intervene, at all events thus early, in the debate; but the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) had so vehemently assailed the late Government for their conduct in connection with this unhappy affair, and had given the House what seemed to him (Mr. Law) to be so incorrect a history of the case, that he thought it was but right to take the first opportunity of meeting the charges of the hon. Gentleman, and at the same time endeavouring to correct his mistakes. The hon. Member had very confidently asserted that for the Phœnix Park riots of August, 1871, and all the consequences that followed, the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary for Ireland (the Marquess of Hartington) was chiefly responsible; and had even suggested that what he described as a wholly unprovoked attack by the police upon peaceful citizens was dictated by a desire to get up, to repeat his words, a "Juggernaut to Royalty." As to the manner in which the noble Lord had been spoken of, he (Mr. Law) might well leave that to the judgment of the House. There was, indeed, something 607 comic in the charge of "imbecility" which the hon. Member had thus brought against his noble Friend. That charge, at least, he (Mr. Law) was certain needed no refutation there; but the facts as to these unhappy riots and the litigation that ensued had been so erroneously represented on this, as well as former occasions, that it seemed to him (Mr. Law) desirable to place a more accurate statement before the House.
He would remind hon. Members that at the end of July, 1871, the Prince of Wales and two other members of the Royal Family came over to Ireland, and remained for some days the guests of the Lord Lieutenant (Earl Spencer). The Corporation of Dublin had greeted them on their arrival with an Address of Welcome. They had visited the principal places of interest in the city and neighbourhood, and had been received with cordiality by the people wherever they appeared. There had been public banquets and public balls, agricultural and other shows, and, finally, a review of troops in the Phœnix Park; and the Royal visit was just drawing pleasantly— and, he (Mr. Law) would venture to hope, regretfully—to a close, when on Saturday, the 5th of August, there suddenly appeared in certain Dublin newspapers, and in placards posted through the city, an announcement from the Amnesty Association, that—A monster meeting on behalf of the political prisoners still confined in English dungeons would be held next day (Sunday) at the Monument in the Phœnix Park;and calling on—Irishmen to assemble in the might of their thousands, and send forth their protest against the cruelty and prolonged incarceration of their brethren.To this unexpected notice, the attention of the Lord Lieutenant was called that morning by the Under Secretary (Mr. Burke), who at the same time mentioned that less than two years before— namely, in October, 1869—this Amnesty Association had applied to the Board of Works for permission to hold a similar meeting in the Park; but that on the Board, by direction of the Government, replying that such a meeting would not be allowed, there was no attempt to hold it. In fact, up to that time, no political meeting had ever been even attempted in the Phœnix Park. It was well-known to be under the legal control of the Com- 608 missioners of Public Works, to whom, accordingly, this very Association applied in 1869 for leave to hold a meeting, submitting at once when the permission was withheld; which showed he submitted that, at all events, the members of the Amnesty Association were fully aware of the rights which the Board of Works possessed. Now, it would be recollected that at this time the Royal party were still guests at the Vice-Regal Lodge, which is situated in the Park, at no very great distance from the Monument where the meeting was thus advertized to be held, under the direction of the very persons who had acknowledged the Board's authority in 1869, but who now, without any fresh application to the Board, and notwithstanding their previous express prohibition, suddenly announced a monster meeting for the next day—the last day of the Royal visit—a meeting at which Irishmen were summoned to attend in the might of their thousands, not, it would be observed, to petition for the release of prisoners, but to "protest" against their imprisonment. Well, the Lord Lieutenant told Mr. Burke he thought the threatened meeting ought to be prevented, if it could be legally prevented; and directed him to take the proper steps for the purpose, provided Lord Hartington, the Chief Secretary, agreed with him as to the propriety of preventing it. Mr. Burke went immediately to the Chief Secretary, and was told by him that if, as appeared to be the case, a similar meeting in the Park had been prevented in 1869, he saw no more reason why it should be held there in 1871; on the contrary, that under the peculiar circumstances of the Prince's visit, it was now even less desirable than before— and, in short, that he quite agreed with the Lord Lieutenant that it should be prevented if there were legal means for doing so; but that Mr. Burke had better see the Attorney General, and be guided by him. Mr. Burke then went to his office, and sent for the Attorney General and Colonel M'Kerlie, the Commissioner of Public Works, who had special charge of the Phœnix Park. The Attorney General directed that the precedent of 1869 should be substantially followed, and that as the Association's letter, asking for permission to hold a meeting in the Park, had then been answered by a letter refusing that permission and prohibiting any such meeting being held 609 there, so now, in answer to the Association's public notice, a counter-notice should be issued by the Board of Works, prohibiting the threatened meeting. Colonel M'Kerlie undertook to see to this, but asked for the support and assistance of the police; and it was thereupon arranged that the requisite orders should be given to the police to support the authority of the Board of Works and enforce the prohibition of the meeting, if the project should be persisted in. Accordingly, a notice was immediately issued by the Commissioners of Works, printed in the evening papers, and posted extensively through the city, stating that the meeting would not be permitted; and—what he (Mr. Law) regarded as very important—that "instructions had been given to the police to prevent it." It was, indeed, the belief of the authorities that this prohibition by notice of the meeting being held in the Park would be acquiesced in, as the similar prohibition by letter had been in 1869. However, different counsels now unhappily prevailed. It was determined to hold the meeting in the Park—and thus test the authority of the Board of Works and the Government— and to hold it, too, the very next day, though there had been some 40 of such meetings already, which one would think might justify the delay of a week, or at least of a few days, till the Princes had left. But it would appear as if, with some of the authors of this meeting, the great object was to hold it whilst the Prince of Wales was on the spot, and almost in his very presence. To show the spirit of these politicians, he (Mr. Law) would read a few lines from an article which Mr. O'Byrne, the plaintiff in the principal action—the hero of the big Book, to which the hon. Member for Meath had so often referred—wrote in that Saturday's Irishman, of which he was then editor. In this effusion, Mr. O'Byrne appealed to the masses to attend the next day in the Phœnix Park in full force, declaring—to quote his words—that it wasintolerable that alien Princes should come here (to Ireland) in search of a welcome, while the Power they represent holds 50 Irish patriots in prison;and that it wasonly the duty of the people to demonstrate that the patriots were dearer to their hearts than the Princes.610 Accordingly, at a special meeting of the Committee of the Amnesty Association, held that Saturday evening, to consider the prohibitory notice of the Board of Works, and at which this amiable plaintiff, Mr. O'Byrne, attended, it was resolved to see it out with the authorities; and, in pursuance of that decision, a further series of placards were printed and posted on Sunday morning, stating that the meeting would be held in the Park that day, as originally announced.
Now, he (Mr. Law) had stated the part, and the only part, which the Lord Lieutenant, the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, or Mr. Burke, the Under Secretary, took in the matter. They thought it undesirable that this meeting should be held in the Park, if it could be legally prevented. The Attorney General of the day advised that the Board of Works had a perfect right to prohibit it; and the Board, accordingly, did prohibit it, by public notice. They had, he (Mr. Law) ventured to say, just as much legal right to forbid such a meeting being held at the Monument, as they had to forbid its being held in that part of the Park which formed the pleasure grounds of the Vice-Regal Lodge, or, indeed, for that matter, in the Vice-Regal Lodge itself. Park, pleasure grounds, Lodge, and all, were alike by statute in their charge and under their legal control; and now a collision having occurred between the people who persisted in holding the meeting and the police who sought to prevent it, the principal question meant to be raised by this crop of actions was, whether the Members of the Executive Government in Ireland, giving a perfectly legal direction—namely, to prevent such meeting— were to be held responsible for anything and everything—whether legal or illegal—that might, in fact, have been done by any policeman who happened to be so employed? He (Mr. Law) used the expression "a crop of actions," for there were 13 of them in all—as might be seen in the Return obtained by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt)—some including the Lord Lieutenant amongst the defendants, some including the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary, and Mr. Burke, and some selecting Mr. Burke alone to represent the Executive; but all including Colonel Lake, and certain members of 611 the Metropolitan Police Force. Any of these actions, too, that he (Mr. Law) had had to deal with, were all brought by one attorney, himself a member of the Amnesty Association—as, indeed, was not unnatural, seeing that that body immediately issued an address, inviting all persons who had anything to complain of to communicate with the Committee—intimating, however, that they meant first to try the Constitutional question involved before bringing personal charges against the police.
Well, the Court, of course, stopped the action brought against the Lord Lieutenant. That was plainly unmaintainable, just as if it had been brought against the Sovereign herself. Mr. O'Byrne's case, however, against the Chief Secretary and the Under Secretary, and Colonel Lake the Chief of the Metropolitan Police, Superintendent Hawe, and Inspector Gorman, was proceeded with. The Chief and Under Secretaries were examined and cross-examined: so were the rest of the defendants, and several other officials. Every Paper and Minute connected with the case was produced. To quote the words of Mr. Baron Deasy, when giving judgment in the Court of Exchequer—The plaintiff had no reason to complain that any evidence had been withheld. Everything was laid bare to the Court and jury. The very penetralia of the Vice-Regal Lodge and the Castle were submitted for their inspection. The most intimate and confidential communications between the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Attorney General were stated most frankly and fully to the Judge and jury who tried the case.This trial lasted 31 days. The Lord Chief Baron was at first disposed to direct a verdict for the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary; but ultimately, yielding to the spell of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), he allowed the case to go to the jury as against both the Chief and Under Secretaries, as well as the police—though, of course, he reserved liberty to the Court, in case there was a verdict against them, to change that into a verdict in their favour if he should have so directed. Well, a verdict was given against each of the defendants except Inspector Gorman; but the Court of Exchequer, after full argument, set that aside, and entered a verdict for all the defendants; holding, as to the noble Lord the then Chief Secretary and Mr. Burke the 612 Under Secretary, that there was no shadow of a case against either of them; and as to Colonel Lake and Mr. Hawe, that they were entitled to have a verdict entered for them on the defences in which they relied on the omission to give three weeks' previous notice of action as required by statute in such cases, thus rendering it unnecessary for the Court to consider the other issues involved. Finally, this decision of the Court of Exchequer, of which the late Lord Chief Baron who tried the case was then a member, had just been affirmed by the unanimous judgment of the Court of Exchequer Chamber, consisting of the Judges of the two other Courts of Queen's Bench and Common Pleas in Ireland. And yet, in the face of all this, it had been just stated that the Court decided against the claim of the Board of Works to prevent meetings or other trespasses in the Park —decided that his noble Friend (Lord Hartington) had no right to act as he did —that was to say, to express the opinion he did—and that the police had been guilty of unnecessary violence. The truth was that so far as the decision of the whole body of the Irish Judges was concerned, it was the exact contrary of what was thus represented to the House.
But it was said that the conduct of the police, at all events, had been condemned by a jury, whilst they had escaped the consequences by availing themselves of a technical defence. Well, it might be thought by some that the jury were in a rather condemnatory humour; holding even the Chief Secretary and Under Secretary and Colonel Lake, not one of whom was on the scene at all, as well as Mr. Hawe, who was there, to be all alike guilty of assaulting and beating the plaintiff. But the truth was that the verdict, as to the several defendants, was entered up by the learned Chief Baron as being, in his opinion, the result of answers to a long series of subtle questions with which he puzzled the jury, who piteously complained of their number; and that they were "twisted and turned in every way." Some questions, indeed, the jury could not answer at all; whilst as to several of those they did manage to answer, they probably had no notion of what the legal effect of their answers would be. There were, however, two responses of the jury which ought to be borne 613 in mind in this discussion. One related to the order given by the Executive to prevent the meeting; and the other to the amount of force actually used by the police. As to the first, the jury declared that they never had any other idea in their minds, but that the meeting was meant to be prevented legally and quietly; and, as to the use by the police of more force than was necessary to repel the assault on them, the answer was that they could not agree on the question of force at all. The House would see from this that the hon. Member for Meath was totally incorrect when he stated that the jury had found that the noble Lord the late Chief Secretary for Ireland had acted illegally; and, equally so, when he said they had found the police guilty of unnecessary violence. Now, hon. Members had heard, on this and former occasions, a narrative of how, on that 6th of August, 1871, the quiet people lawfully assembled at the Monument, in the Phœnix Park, had been suddenly attacked by Mr. Hawe and a body of police under his command, which he had kept till then "in ambush," as was said. Of course, in the confusion of an actual riot each person involved will, generally speaking, only see and describe one part, and see perhaps a very small part of what was going on; and thus, as the witnesses almost all speak of different things, there was no great conflict of evidence. But what were the facts as they appeared in the evidence of the police themselves; and which, in this respect, seemed to be substantially un-contradicted? Why, the story they told was this:—Colonel (now Sir Henry) Lake, having received the order from the Under Secretary to "take the necessary steps to prevent the meeting being held in the Park, " handed it over to one of his Superintendents, with the marginal addition—"See this carried out as quietly as possible." On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Hawe, accompanied by Inspectors Gorman and Mulholland, went to the Park with a party of constables, whom they left at the Station close to the entrance gate, which was some distance from the Monument, whilst they themselves walked up the main road to reconnoitre. Some cabs drove hastily up, ornamented with placards of the intended meeting, and out stepped the hon. and learned Gentlemen the Members for Westmeath and Louth (Mr. 614 P. J. Smyth and Mr. Sullivan), Mr. Nolan, the Secretary of the Amnesty Association, and Mr. O'Byrne, the plaintiff. Seeing this, Mr. Hawe directed Gorman to go back to the gate and send for a number of constables who had been left at the Bridewell Lane Station, and he sent Mulholland immediately after to tell the police at the gate to take a position nearer the Monument. Meantime, the organizers of the meeting had reached the place appointed. The scattered groups of apparent loiterers or pleasure-seekers closed rapidly in, and the meeting being just about to commence, Hawe, with Mulholland, who had now rejoined him—these two alone, and unarmed—endeavoured to get up the steps at the base of the Monument, so as to reach the Chairman, for the purpose of remonstrating and, if possible, inducing him to hold the meeting somewhere else. These two unarmed men, however, before they could effect their purpose, were—to use the words of the Lord Chief Justice—''hustled and assaulted by the crowd." and beaten down from the Monument to the ground. During this unjustifiable attack, poor Mulholland was caught and lifted off his feet by powerful arms, and whilst thus held aloft, with his legs drawn widely apart, was savagely kicked and injured in a way he (Mr. Law) forbore to state. Mr. Hawe, too, was seized by the legs, but the pressure of the assailants was so close that he managed to keep his feet. He was, however, severely beaten about the head and face; his helmet was knocked off, and he owed his escape from further injury to the intervention of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Louth, who—just as all who knew him would expect, but not the less to his honour—rescued this defenceless man from the violence of the mob, crying out—"Shame! shame! Are you Irishmen to treat a man so, who is only doing his duty?" Well, these police officers being thus violently driven off the excited crowd closed in again to make good their meeting; but the party of constables having now come up to the place, Mr. Hawe directed them to stop the proceedings and clear the Monument. This they did, though with some difficulty. The crowd then retired to a road just recently macadamized, and commenced a heavy fire of stones at the police, who, after many of them had 615 been severely injured, and, after repeated cries to Mr. Hawe, asking — ''Were they to be left there till they were all disabled? "—were at last allowed to drive the crowd out of the Park altogether. As to the general character of the crowd, it might be estimated by this —that, when forced out of the Park, they first attacked some police at the King's Bridge, and then passing up the Quays and, turning into Capel Street, they smashed the windows of Mr. Kerr and Messrs. Edmundson, both large and liberal employers of labour, the former being a gentleman who had expended his capital in developing the Belleek Potteries, on the banks of Lough Erne, and whose Dublin works had been visited a day or two before by the Prince of Wales. And these were the people who had been spoken of as the peaceful and respectable citizens of Dublin. He (Mr. Law) would rather say they were the disorderly roughs, who, of course, abounded in Dublin, as in other great cities. However, be that as it might, such was the story of the riots, as related in the evidence of the police. But it would seem that during the latter part of the rioting in the Park, as well as in the earlier stage, when the crowd was being removed from the Monument, several persons were struck by the constables. Well, he (Mr. Law) was glad to find that though Mulholland was barbarously kicked, and several of the constables were severely injured by the showers of sharp-angled stones, none of the people were struck with anything worse than a policeman's lighter baton. It was said, indeed, that of those who were thus struck, some were mere loiterers, or spectators, who had come simply to look on, and that he (Mr. Law) regretted to believe was the case. Such, however, he feared, was the constant result of melées of this kind; but not to mention some of the other plaintiffs, Mr. O'Byrne, at all events, could not be regarded as an innocent spectator. He was one of those who, knowing that the legal custodians of the Park had forbidden the meeting to be held there, and that the police were ordered to enforce that prohibition, determined to hold the meeting in defiance of Board of Works, police, and all other authorities, and gathered about them the crowd who enforced their constitutional views on Hawe and Mulholland 616 by the vigorous arguments he (Mr. Law) had attempted to describe. There was no doubt that a jury, moved by the skilful eloquence of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick, followed by a charge from the Lord Chief Baron of four days' duration, answered certain questions in a way that his Lordship held to amount to a verdict for Mr. O'Byrne, and that they awarded him damages to the extent of £25, which by the way, was a significantly small value to set on his injuries as detailed by himself; but, on the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the judgment of Baron Fitzgerald in the Court of Exchequer indicated something more than a doubt whether, under the circumstances, this meeting was not from the first an unlawful assembly—to be dispersed by force if necessary—and that the Lord Chief Justice the other day, in giving expression to the unanimous views of the Court of Exchequer Chamber, used even stronger language pointing in the same direction. It was, therefore, a mistake to treat the case of the police as one depending wholly on a technical defence. They rightly and properly—or, rather, their counsel for them—relied on the statutory provisions intended to meet such cases, and which required three weeks' notice of action to be given—if for no other purpose, that, at least, inquiry might be instituted—and if the constable was found to be in the wrong, that amends might be made or offered. But behind this, which was a common defence that must have been anticipated, there remained the further question, on which, however, he (Mr. Law) offered no opinion, as to the illegality of the meeting from a criminal point of view; having regard to its prohibition by the owners of the Park, and the combination of trespassers "in the might of their thousands" to overawe the authorities and the police, and commit their trespass in defiance of the law. The police also relied on the violence of the crowd as justifying their conduct on the ground of self-defence; and it was impossible to say what after a new trial the ultimate decision would have been on these important issues if all further inquiry had not been closed by the wilful and deliberate omission of the plaintiffs to give the requisite statutory notice. But it was said, why spend the public money in contesting these 617 several plaintiffs' rights to damages? Well, the answer was, that the grounds on which the Chief Secretary and Under Secretary, and, it might be added, Sir Henry Lake, had been sued were such as could not be admitted, without rendering all government impossible. If they could be made liable for what they did, not only must Colonel Henderson be held answerable for any excess of force on the part of any constable whom he directly or indirectly sent on duty in any part of that Metropolis, but even the Minister at War, if he ever allowed a military force, under any emergency, to aid the Civil power, would be responsible for every irregularity or needless violence by any soldier so employed. Then, again, complaint was made by the hon. Member for Meath, as before by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick, that the late Government promised, when the litigation was over, to have an investigation into the part which the police took in this unhappy affair. Well, probably something of this kind was said. He (Mr. Law), indeed, knew that the police themselves earnestly and loudly called for an investigation, but were told that no inquiry could be held until these actions were disposed of; and therefore it was very probable that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick might have himself received a similar answer. But the question should be put to him and his friends of the Amnesty Association, when did they mean to let this litigation end and thus leave the ground clear for the desired inquiry? They were not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Exchequer against them four years ago. They appealed to the Court of Exchequer Chamber, and had just got the decision of that Court against them too. Now, having got the decision of all the Irish Common Law Judges against them, they ha-d appealed to the House of Lords. And yet they and their friends kept lustily crying out to the Government all the time—"Why don't you stop this miserable litigation." Not only that; but it must be added, that though the points in all these cases were the same, so that the decision in one ruled all the others, and although O'Byrne's case had been tried, and a conditional order made in November, 1872, to set aside the verdict, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick, in spite of 618 earnest remonstrance on the part of the defendants, who insisted that the trial of another case just then would be a useless waste of time and money, prevailed on the late Lord Chief Baron to take up and try the case of " Frazer v. Burke," which occupied 21 days, and added, as hon. Members would see by the Return, over £2,000 to the expenditure.
Now, all this was deeply to be regretted. The unfortunate events of the 5th of August, 1871, were a source of great pain to the Irish Government of that day. Some of the assembled people, and more, he (Mr. Law) believed, of the police, were injured. Evil passions were excited; and the success of the last visit to Ireland of the Heir Apparent to the Throne was grievously marred. But he (Mr. Law) owned it appeared to him that if laying aside all legal technicalities on one side and the other, it was now to be considered who were morally responsible for this unhappy affair, it would not be unreasonable to say that those were chiefly to blame who, knowing perfectly well that the Park was by law under the control of the Commissioners of Public Works, and that the Board, to quote their letter of October, 1869, "as guardians of the Park, would not permit any such meeting to be held there," issued notices suddenly on the Saturday that a monster meeting would be held in it the next day, and though again expressly warned by the Board's counter-notice that such meeting would not be permitted, and that the police would be there to prevent it, still persisted in carrying out their illegal design, organized a trespass in force—summoning the people to assemble in their thousands —and thus deliberately incurred the risk of a collision with the police, who they knew would oppose them. No doubt there were technical difficulties as to the use of force to remove large bodies of trespassers from either private grounds or what were called public parks. But the House was not now discussing— that, indeed, was not the place to discuss —technical points of law. In the view of common sense, a number of people who wilfully trespassed on the ground of others, on which they had been warned not so to trespass, and had been told that if they did attempt it the police would be called on to stop them, could not, whether 619 few or many, be listened to when they said—"We knew we had no right to be there; we were told by the owners that they would not permit our meeting, and that if we attempted to hold it the police would stop us; but our case is, that the constables, before they attempted to remove us, did not ask each one of us to retire; and though we forcibly resisted them, we maintain they had no right to use force against us; and we ask the House of Commons to say we are entirely innocent and ill-used citizens—nay, more, that we are now entitled to insist that the police shall be censured, and, if possible, even punished, for not allowing us to commit our trespass with impunity." It was to be hoped that the House would see that this was far from being a case of police "atrocity," in which innocent citizens were "butchered," to quote the extravagant language used on a former occasion by the hon. Member for Meath. Looking at it broadly, the people who composed that meeting were the real aggressors. They came in defiance of the law, and they attacked two unarmed policemen when trying simply to approach and remonstrate with their chairman. It could hardly be deemed wonderful that conduct like this produced an encounter between the people and the constables; and if using fists and feet, and firing volleys of stones themselves, some of them received blows from a policeman's baton, it might, he (Mr. Law) ventured to think, be a question whether that was a transaction as to which the House need interfere. But, above all, he (Mr. Law) would appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath, and ask him calmly to consider whether it was on public grounds expedient or wise to revive the angry controversies and excited feelings of the past. It was of all things desirable that the relations between the people and the police should be relations of mutual confidence and goodwill. The animosities that arose from the Phœnix Park riots of August, 1871, had now happily cooled down and. passed away; and though if his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick or the Amnesty Association, really thought they had a reasonable chance of inducing the House of Lords to reverse the decision of all the Common Law Judges of Ireland, they could not be blamed for proceeding with, their appeal, he (Mr. Law) would earnestly ask hon. Members of this House, at all 620 events, for the present, to let the matter be thus dealt with as one of law, and to avoid, if possible, re-kindling those fires of passion that had now, he (Mr. Law) trusted, died out in the breasts of all, whether people or police, who took part in this untoward affair six years ago.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
supported the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), whose only motive, he conceived, in bringing forward the question was simply to evoke from the Government and the House an expression of opinion against a repetition of the course pursued by the authorities on the occasion now in dispute. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Law) had uttered the first expression of regret that had been heard in reference to the conduct of the police on the occasion referred to. If regret had been expressed at an earlier period, they would have heard less of the case, and the relations between the police and the people would be more satisfactory. He must say, on referring to the circumstances of the case, he drew from them inferences totally different from those adduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and he regretted to have heard from an Irish lawyer, that the people of Dublin had not a right to hold a public meeting in the Phœnix Park. No English lawyer could be found to make a similar assertion in respect of the people of London and the London Parks. The people had a right to meet to petition the Queen, and that was the sole object of the meeting, and he denied that the promoters of the meeting in Phœnix Park acted illegally or unconstitutionally; and, as long as the meeting was conducted with personal respect to Her Majesty and the Members of the Royal Family, it was the worst policy on the part of the authorities to interfere to prevent it. If the Prince of Wales had been present at that meeting, however much His Royal Highness might have dissented from the course which its promoters advocated, he would not have heard a single word of disrespect either to Her Majesty or to himself, or to any other Member of the Royal Family. The police attempted to disperse the meeting, and employed gross and unnecessary violence on men, women, and children, and it was not 621 until after they were driven away from the Monument that stones were thrown at the police. He thought it most important that an inquiry into the whole affair should take place. Such an investigation, if fairly conducted, would go a great way to satisfy the outraged feelings of the people of Ireland. The thanks of the House were due to the hon. Member for Meath for bringing the question forward, as the discussion would teach the people of Ireland not to submit to such treatment on the part of the police in future, and elicit, he hoped, an expression of regret from the Government as to the conduct of the police on the occasion now under consideration.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he was desirous of confining his observations to the direct Vote of this money, which was of great importance to the people of Ireland; but there were other cases in which the power of the Government to crush innocent persons by an unlimited command of money had been abused, and it was one of these instances he was about to refer to—the Tichborne case—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the Question before the House was whether a certain Resolution should be confirmed, and he must request the hon. Member to confine himself to that subject.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he intended to speak strictly on the question which arose as to the sum expended in the trials arising out of the Phoenix Park affair. He thought he was entitled to illustrate that case by reference to a still more flagrant one, in which the express orders of the House of Commons had been distinctly violated. It was only reasonable that the Government should give all the information possible how so large a sum of money had been expended, in order that the public might see how they exercised their powers—a procedure they had neither carried out in this case, nor in the prosecution to which he referred.
§ MR. SPEAKER
, who stated that the hon. Member, having seconded the Motion, had no right to speak further on the subject.
said, that he had been for four years exceedingly reluctant to intervene in any debates on this mat- 622 ter. He had not been very sure how far he might freely do so with a good grace, inasmuch as he was one of the parties to the actions pending, and he should not like to subject himself to the charge of pleading on the floor of the House of Commons that which ought to be pleaded before the legal tribunals. But he must say that this was a very grave and important question, and he must contest altogether the version put before the House in some of the speeches defending the action of the Government. For his own part, he had no complaint to make of the spirit which animated the lucid and able speech of the right hon. and learned Gentlemen the Member for Derry county (Mr. Law). He believed that the right hon. and learned Member with his intimate knowledge of the facts, and engaged, as he was, throughout the whole case, had stated the matter as fairly as it was possible for anyone to do. On the other hand, he thought that the right hon. and learned Member would allow him to submit to the House his (Mr. Sullivan's) own version of the affair. He would frankly admit that it would be difficult for him to be rigidly impartial on this subject. In the first place, he would say that it was highly calculated to prejudice the House and public opinion out-of-doors in England when this case was introduced with the flourish that the demonstration was intended to do something to the Heir Apparent to the Throne. It was true that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was in Dublin at the time. He had come to Ireland at a time when strong feeling existed in reference to the detention of the political prisoners. The official courtiers were surrounding him with everything that was pleasant, and taking everything that he should know away from him except what the courtiers might deem fit to put before a Royal person. It occurred to those who had charge of the Amnesty movement that at such a moment it would be exceedingly wise, and would have a good effect, if a peaceable, orderly, and respectful meeting were held in some large public place in the City, in which an Address to Her Majesty might be agreed upon and duly presented. There was in the South of Dublin a site which would not cost money, and that was Harold's Cross Green, where an Amnesty meeting had previously been held; but the promoters 623 of the meeting stated, that inasmuch as Harold's Cross Green was fringed with a lot of public-houses, where some of the persons attending their previous meeting had gone in and taken more of what was called refreshment than was conducive to the good order of the meeting, it was decided that the close neighbourhood of the public-houses would have a very bad effect, that some one might go into them and help the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget by consuming alcoholic liquors, and might come out uttering cries and exclamations against the Queen and the Royal Family, and thus turn the whole character of the meeting into an evil intent. They had held another meeting at Phibsborough Fields; but these fields had to be paid for, and the Amnesty Association was not an association in the possession of funds; indeed, as a matter of fact, it was owing a considerable sum of money to several people. Why should they not, it was asked, assert, as the people of London had successfully asserted, the right of meeting peaceably in their own Park? His right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Derry had almost laughed at the idea of the people having any right in the Park. He would tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it was the people's Park, held by the Crown for the people, held by the Crown for the nation, and in that sense it was the people's Park. His right hon. and learned Friend had told the House that the people of Dublin might as well go into his drawing-room. For his own part, he contested that doctrine on the floor of the House of Commons. He disputed it—he hardly dare say as a lawyer—but he firmly disputed it as a Member of that House and as a citizen —that the public Parks of this country were the private property of the public authorities, in the same sense that the right hon. and learned Member's own drawing room was his private property. He repudiated the doctrine, and he said that it was unworthy of being put forward in the House of Commons. What would the people of London say to any Member of the House who had been a Member of the Government and who rose to assert that they had no more right to enter Hyde Park than his own drawing room? There was once a Home Secretary (Mr. Walpole) who thought something very like that; but the Go- 624 vernment did not attempt to enlighten the people of London in the same way as the people of Ireland were enlightened on that point. The people of Dublin had seen this question tried in London, and asserted with a strong hand, and successfully, by the people of London. Nevertheless, the people of Dublin decided to avoid the extremity of conflict which the people of London so successfully pursued, because when it was decided to hold this meeting every contingency was discussed. It was resolved that if the Government put the police on the ground to prevent the meeting, they would present themselves and try the matter out. Every possible contingency was discussed by the promoters, who were determined not to hold an armed conflict with the Government, because there were soldiers— horse, foot, and artillery—ready to be brought up, and no one imagined that they were lunatic enough to try it by force of arms. His right hon. and learned Friend said that they went there in defiance of the proclamation. It was quite possible that they did; but they went in defiance of the proclamation because it was an illegal document put forward with unbearable pretensions. They went in order to lawfully try that point, and if a hand had been put upon their shoulders they would have walked peaceably away, first of all giving the names of all those concerned in the matter, so as to have proper and legal proof. Did the Government go for this purpose? No; the Government went with the law of the strong hand to beat down with bludgeons the people who had peaceably assembled there. Why did they not come to the chairman of that meeting and take his name, and he would have held himself responsible. He was not then a Member of the House of Commons, but he was ready to give his name, and the promoters were quite ready to take their fair share of responsibility on their shoulders. Would not that have been the course adopted in England? On the threshold of the whole case there was underlying the Phoenix Park conflict this conviction in the minds of the Irish Members — namely, that when they came to England they saw the British Constitution, with its noble liberties and with the rights of the people respected; and when they looked to their own country 625 they saw something more like the constitution of Bulgaria than the British Constitution. He was in that House when there was a threat to march 100,000 men into Palace Yard in the interest of a prisoner in one of the gaols of the country. The threat of the marching of 100,000 men was attempted to be carried out, and, with other hon. Members of the House, he went out to see the scene, and he never before so largely admired the Government which the people of England had over them as he did on that night. He admired the kindly, temperate, judicious spirit in which that menacing assembly was met. He saw—although they knew it was forbidden for 100 people to approach within a certain distance of that House —30,000 people surrounding the gates. He marched through that vast mass, and he saw from 50,000 to 60,000—some said only 40,000—people and he saw bodies of police, with their kindliness, forbearance, and. good temper, and they brought to his mind the bloody scenes which he saw in the Phoenix Park. He felt that the police here regarded the people as friends. There was a sort of paternal feeling which, he said, did honour to the Government that evening. But had 1,000 people attempted to go up to Dublin Castle they would have been cut down with sabres, and blood would have flowed in rivers, because in Ireland a different spirit animated the Administration, and the police were taught to regard the people as the foes of order, and the moment they asked for anything they were to be put down as mutineers, and no particle of kindly feeling was to be extended to them. What took place on the occasion in question? He went in a cab to the place of meeting. There had been about 30 Amnesty meetings held previously which he had not attended.; but when they had decided peaceably, and, he thought, properly, to contest the public right to enter the Park, he resolved to go, and not to shrink from the responsibility of appearing in a Law Court to try out the question as to the fair usage of the Park. They approached the Park-gate and expected to be stopped in their cab and have their names taken down, in which, case they would have turned back. There they thought the whole thing would have ended, but there was no sign of a policeman. They proceeded 626 through the Park and went to the place of meeting, but still there were no policemen in sight. The people assembled peaceably in some thousands, and he and others ascended the steps, but still there was no appearance of the police. Where were the policemen? Some said—he would not use the words—that they were in ambush. They were quickly on hand, for he saw Inspector Have make his way through the crowd in a way that no inspector would attempt to push his way through a crowd in England, for he rudely and violently pushed the people, and exhibited such a want of tact and temper that what happened afterwards was inevitable. They were determined to avoid a rough conflict with the police authorities, and he went down to Inspector Have and asked him if there was anything that he could do for him. The people closed in, and whilst someone struck the inspector his helmet was knocked off, and hands were raised to strike the man. He was angered at the attempt to strike a defenceless man who had trusted to the honour of the meeting as a protection, and the only man who raised his hands he himself struck, and called the man a cowardly ruffian to hit a defenceless man. He then desisted, and the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) and himself bowed the inspector out of the crowd. They resumed the meeting, and it was proceeding peaceably when they saw a body of police coming towards the crowd, then consisting not only of thousands of men, but of hundreds of women and little children in their Sunday attire. The police surrounded them in a strategic manner, and prevented all escape, and they began striking with their bludgeons indiscriminately all around them. He saw them draw blood with their bludgeons from men who were attempting to escape, and this was done before a single stone was thrown. Afterwards the people rushed to the road, which was some distance off, and seized stones, and then commenced a scene which he heartily condemned. But up to this time not a stone had been thrown, and the only act of violence was that which he saw offered to Mr. Have. As to the cowardly and brutal treatment of the other inspector, Mr. Mulholland, he considered it most disgraceful, and his arm would certainly have been raised to prevent it if he had known what was going on. 627 His right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Derry had laid stress upon the fact that this meeting was close to, or in hearing of, the Lord Lieutenant's Lodge, where the Prince of Wales was at the time; but it was more than a mile from where the Prince was, and it could not be seen for the intervening trees. There was no doubt that in view of his being in the City they desired to make the cry for mercy—a respectful appeal that the political prisoners should not be kept in prison. But they were not to try a peaceable assembly by what appeared of its intentions in a newspaper. What answer could the police make to the cowardly treatment of Mr. Fraser, who was well known to them, and had been 21 years on the Dublin Press? Mr. Fraser was kicked by the police on the face, and was struck with their bludgeons. Did he go to insult the Prince of Wales? The answer to all this was —that the police and the authorities lost their heads. He would not impute that anyone designed butchery and violence; but he did say, that since the inception of the proceedings down to the end of them, the whole blame morally rested upon the head of the Government. Why should they prevent the meeting? The same parties said that they would return when all the tumult was over, and they would peaceably assert their rights to hold meetings there. If it was wrong on the 6th of August, why was not it wrong on the 6th of September? If the authorities had been in the right, they would have prevented the second meeting. But it was too glaring a thing that Phoenix Park, under almost identical laws—Crown Parks—held for the people and the nation, should not be used by the people of Ireland, while the people of London could go to the Reformers' Tree any day they choose, and hold a meeting without let or hindrance. He had presided at meetings in the Phoenix Park, and he remembered that when the police suggested to the temperance societies the particular points of the Park that they might and might not meet in, the temperance societies said that they would hold their meetings just where they chose. It was said, what was the value of this discussion? Well, the case was pending. It was, unfortunately, pending; but he thought long ago the case would have been withdrawn if the Government had offered 628 what it was bound to offer soon—a fair inquiry, an inquiry not in the sense of one person being judge in his own cause, but a fair and just inquiry, with a resolution avoiding technicalities, that justice and reparation should be done. If an olive branch had been held out, he was very confident it would have been met on the other side. They sued four years for peace, and litigation was expensive; but it did not take the Government four years to get £10,000, and it might take the Amnesty people that time to get the money to go on with their case. What did they ask now? Was the Government prepared to say that they would grant a thorough inquiry into the matter, and upon the facts of that inquiry were they disposed, as far as it might be practicable, to say what ought to be done should be done. Then there would come some good out of the inquiry. He wanted to know, if such a thing had taken place in England, would four years have elapsed without knowing why the people's blood was spilt? No, certainly not—no excuse; and, in his opinion, such a scene would have been impossible in this country. He would say nothing which was personal to himself, but he was violently used. He would not complain of being treated like the rest of the people if he went into a riot. The policeman could not discrimate; but when he was on the ground and being kicked, a police officer came up and said— "That is Mr. A. M. Sullivan; get off." And instantly they ceased to molest him. He believed that if he went into a riotous or unlawful assembly he was bound to take the consequences. He did not make any complaint. He went there, but he might be the plaintiff or defendant in an action, but he never thought of having to assert his rights against a body armed with bludgeons. It was argued that this was a case of prevention, when in reality it was a case of bloody dispersion. He would fain hope that, though years had passed over, the Government would think it was never too late to mend. He had often thought that it was a deplorable thing that blood should have been shed; but he had also felt that that blood had purchased the freedom of that Park, not in a lawless way, but in a peaceable way. And true it was that from that day to this—since then, but never previously—public meetings had been held, and he believed, 629 but for the assertion of the rights, even in the way in which it had happened, it would have been refused to them to have the use of the Park. Lastly, as to the stone-throwing and the riots in the streets. Execrable work followed. The roughs in the city, on hearing that a riot was proceeding, came to the scene, and they went through some of the bystreets and committed gross and abominable outrages on peaceable citizens. About that he could say that they viewed it with the utmost reprobation and abhorrence. But let not what happened after the assault of the police be taken as an excuse of what the police did. They might as well say that they were justified in doing on the Saturday something because of what happened on the Sunday, or the day afterwards. No doubt his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) would make a most excellent and vigorous statement, so as to make the "worse appear the better reason," when a sense of duty impelled him to it; but he (Mr. Sullivan) would suggest to him that it would be well to rise above such petty legal technicalities, that they ought not to be treated in that House as if they were a special jury; and he hoped that his right hon. and learned Friend would treat it in the broad and comprehensive and generous spirit in which conflicts between citizens and the authorities should be treated. If met in that spirit good would come of the discussion; but if not, then it would only be said that there was one law for Hyde Park and another for the Phœnix Park.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. GIBSON)
said, he did not regret the discussion which had taken place, because he thought it desirable that the exaggerated statements which had been made respecting the matter should be canvassed. He regretted that this occurrence should have taken place, and that any individual should have received an injury, but he included in that regret those members of the police force who had been seriously injured on the occasion in question. It appeared from the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Louth that the people generally wished to assert the legality of the meeting; but the hon. and learned Member had admitted that he was not an impartial witness, for he 630 was one of the participators in the meeting. He was, no doubt, most anxious to give an impartial and true account; but still it was not possible for the hon. and learned Member to rise above the ordinary weaknesses of humanity. He was cross-examined at the trial, and was the plaintiff in one of the actions, and therefore his speech was to be received with caution. These parties said that they went to assert the law, and was not it reasonable that they should be asked to abide by the law? They gave the Government no notice until the day before the meeting that they intended to challenge the law; and when they were warned that it would be prevented by the police, they then announced that it was desirable that it should proceed. Under these circumstances, he thought it would have been better if they had adopted some other method of determining their legal right. A collision occurred between the crowd and the police, and certain persons were injured. Instead of proceeding in the ordinary way to obtain damages against those who inflicted the injuries, they tried to turn the matter into a great State prosecution, and proceeded against 13 persons, including the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Commissioners of Police; and the hon. and learned Member for Louth himself out-heroded Herod by choosing as his defendant not the Chief Secretary, but the Lord Lieutenant. That showed no desire to quietly assert a legal right, and no desire to get damages for injuries unduly inflicted, but to magnify the proceeding as against the Lord Lieutenant. Down to Inspector Hawe the whole matter had been investigated before the tribunals of Ireland. A trial, which lasted 31 days, was heard before the Lord Chief Baron, who, if he had any leaning at all, had a leaning in favour of the humbler members of the community. The Chief Baron, yielding to the appeal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), allowed the case, against his own judgment, to go to the jury. Now, if the case were one of high-handed oppression, such as it was represented to be, would not the jury, instead of awarding £25 only, have measured the damages by thousands? The Court of Exchequer decided that the case never should have gone to a jury at all, and set aside the verdict. If the 631 parties had then appealed to the Government, and said—" We will not proceed any further with law, but we ask you to investigate the case from another point of view," such an appeal might have been listened to; but, instead of taking that course, they allowed four years to elapse before submitting the case to the Exchequer Chamber. Again, the law was decided in favour of the defendants; but Mr. O'Byrne, one of the plaintiffs, was not satisfied, and had appealed to the House of Lords. The litigation was still going on; and, under those circumstances, he did not see that the Motion was relevant to the Vote under discussion, which was simply to ask for money to pay for the defence of the actions brought on by the participators in the Phoenix Park affair. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Law) had given a statement which the hon. and learned Member for Louth admitted to be fair, and full, and accurate; and he hoped that the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) would be satisfied with that discussion, and allow the Vote to be taken without further delay.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
said, he had no desire to detain the House, and should not have risen, but that he had some special knowledge of the circumstances of this case. He happened to be the military officer in command of the troops which were held in reserve, and who, if the collision which was feared had happened, would have been used against the people. He took it upon himself, in the exercise of his military authority, to withhold the use of the troops on that occasion, and he had every reason to believe that by so acting he had averted the shedding of blood and the loss of human life which would otherwise have occurred. He thought, from his own knowledge, that the animadversions on the conduct of the Government were entirely without warrant; that the noble Lord the late Chief Secretary for Ireland was blameless; and that if there was any blame attachable to any one for this transaction, it rested on the police, who had exceeded their duty. The Executive Government were somewhat to blame for having deferred until the eve of this meeting their decision that it should not take place. If they had given earlier notice that it was prohibited, it would probably not have been 632 insisted on. There could be no stronger opponent than he was of the demand for Home Rule, and when his hon. Friends representing Irish constituencies had asked for the release of the political prisoners, he had felt it his duty to resist their appeal. Therefore, it gave him great pleasure to be able to say that in this matter he thought they were entirely in the right. The constitutional lesson to be derived from this case was, that the Executive in Ireland should take the utmost care to prevent their subordinate agents from exceeding their authority. The police had now their authority to put down a legitimate public meeting in such a way as they dare not do in England, and the lesson that the Government ought to derive from the discussion was, that they should not take any different action in these matters in Ireland from what they did in England. It was intolerable a Gentleman like the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who during the short time he had been in the House had gained the universal esteem of its Members, should have been subjected to the risk of any violence while attending a perfectly open and public meeting in a place where he and others had a perfect right to assemble.
§ DR. KENEALY
Mr. Speaker,—I rise to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell). From what I have heard in this debate, I have formed the opinion that the conduct of the late Ministry in this matter was wholly indefensible, and I regret that their Successors stand up for proceedings which are, in truth, wholly without excuse. The case is as simple as it well can be. Let me present it to the House in the plainest manner. The people of Dublin have a park, which is their own absolute property. It is regulated by a Board of Works, whose only authority is to keep the park in order—an authority analogous to that of Ranger of one of our own public parks. But it has no title whatever to deprive the people of that which is theirs by common law and inalienable right. The people of Dublin are as much entitled to hold a public meeting in the Phoenix Park as the people of London are in Hyde Park; and as nobody now disputes their authority in this metropolis, so no one ought to dispute it in Dublin. Well, the citizens of Dublin called a meeting for a certain 633 Sunday in Phoenix Park. Dublin Castle, which ought to have known, and probably did know from its Legal Advisers that this meeting was perfectly lawful, resolved, nevertheless, that it should not be held. They gave notice to the promoters of the meeting that they would prevent it. The promoters, relying upon their right and upon the law, held the meeting in a place where it could cause annoyance to no one. Dublin Castle sent out its policemen, armed with bludgeons, who attacked and wounded men, women, and children, and seriously injured persons who were doing no harm, but who went as reporters, spectators, and the like. This outrageous attack was followed by subsequent riots, ending in the death by violence of several persons. Some of the persons who had been bludgeoned by the police, brought actions against them and others for damages. There is a statute which requires three weeks' or a month's notice of action to policemen. This statute was not passed in the interests of justice; but rather to defeat justice by protecting wrongdoers. It appears that, for some reason, this notice of action had not been given. At the trial the whole of the merits were on the side of the plaintiffs, and only this miserable technicality on the other side. The counsel for the Castle having no real defence, insisted upon this flaw. The Chief Baron, however, sent the case to the jury, and those gentlemen gave one of the plaintiffs a verdict for £25. They had been called a " condemnatory jury," by way of reproach. In my judgment they were not so; the moderation of their verdict refuted the idea. Dublin Castle, since then, had followed the plaintiff through many Courts of Law upon this wretched technicality, which was as dishonest a plea as that of the Statute of Limitations to resist a just debt. It was the duty of Dublin Castle to have settled the cases without further litigation; for wrongs had been inflicted by its officers without even a colour of law upon their side. But the Castle resisted, and the case was spun out for years at an immense cost. It appeared, indeed, that two out of its counsel had received in fees upwards of £2,000. And now what did Her Majesty's Ministers do? They call upon the country to pay the cost of these outrageous and indefensible defences. This 634 is not right; and I again express my sorrow that they should have done so. Their proper course was to say to those defendants—"Your cause was illegal; your conduct was worse; your law has no excuse for it; and, as you have done all these things, it is proper that you should pay for them out of your own pockets, and not at the public expense." As they have not done this, I give my voice and my vote against them on this matter, and shall vote with the hon. Member for Meath.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was not surprised at the tone adopted by the right hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Law), in speaking of constitutional rights, for during an experience of nine years in that House he had never heard any constitutional doctrine laid down by an Irish Attorney General save in a cringing and craven spirit. The right hon. and learned Gentleman blamed the hon. Member for Meath for speaking of this transaction as a "Juggernaut to Royalty;" but he (Mr. Callan) had been present in that House when the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) had spoken of that transaction as an "attempted massacre," and no objection had been taken to his language. He (Mr. Callan) could safely place that passage, as the testimony of one who was present, against the statement of the ex-Whig Attorney General, the right hon. and learned Member for Londonderry. The hon. Member for Westmeath had offered to give his own name and that of his companions to the police, before a blow was struck, and he had also stated that he was willing to dissolve the meeting, if he had been allowed to address a few words to the people, but he was not allowed to do so. The right hon. and learned Member for Londonderry had said that the action of the police was in self-defence against a disorderly and lawless mob; but he (Mr. Callan) could cite, on the other hand, the testimony of an able reporter on the Dublin Press, who was injured on the occasion. This gentleman, who was on the staff of The Freeman's Journal, had, in some evidence he had given, stated distinctly that he was assaulted and knocked down more than once, while standing quietly, and without giving any provocation whatever. After citing at some length from the evidence of this gentleman, a Mr. Fraser, who, he said, 635 was now a mere wreck of himself in consequence of the injuries he had received, the hon. Gentleman asked the Chief Secretary to consider whether some compensation should not he given to him. It was true that he had received £100 damages for the injury he had received, in an action which he had brought; but let them contrast that miserable sum with the large sums which were paid by the Crown to the counsel to resist his claim. And he must now appeal to the Government to consider his case, assuring them that by doing an act of justice in it they would do much to extinguish what remained of the ill feeling which had been occasioned by this unhappy occurrence.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, if the Government had responded fairly to the moderate demand which had been made upon them, they would not only have prevented the time of the House from being wasted, but would have given the Irish people reason to entertain a somewhat improved feeling towards them. It was admitted that a gross outrage had been committed on popular rights on the occasion in question. Every attempt made to diminish the responsibility of the authorities, or extenuate the atrocity of their acts, had been of such a paltry character that it was difficult to restrain the terms which should be used to characterize those attempts within the limits of Parliamentary language. The idea that a peaceful meeting of citizens, supposed to enjoy the rights of British citizens, should be set upon and bludgeoned in this inhuman manner, merely because a Member of the Royal Family was a mile off, was a pretension which had only to be mentioned in order to be received with a feeling which he did not wish to refer to more particularly. Meetings often of a violent character were held in Hyde Park, much nearer the Queen's residence, and it had never occurred to any Member of any Government to justify their dispersion on the ground that they were held near a Royal palace. He could not think that it made any difference that the meeting in the Phoenix Park was held in favour of the amnesty of the political prisoners. But, notwithstanding the wrong that had been done, all redress was year after year refused, and so far from any expression of regret being offered by the Government for what had happened, the 636 success of the defendants on a mere technicality was put forward as a defence of their conduct. Such repeated and persistent evasion of the just claims brought against the Government was only calculated to deepen the distrust with which the Government was regarded, and was certainly not calculated to increase the respect of the Irish people for the opinion of the House of Commons. The manner in which the Motion had been received, and the whole conduct of the Government was only an illustration of the well-known fact that in Ireland successive Administrations, from whichever side they came, united the meanness of evasion to the grossness of arbitrary authority. No doubt the Government would be successful in the division which was about to be taken; but the practice of calling in the obedient English and Scotch Followers of the Government, in order to support them in refusing the just demands of the people of Ireland, was a means of promoting the disruption of the Empire, and one which in the long run would be found more efficacious than any which had ever entered the head of the most revolutionary opponent of the Government.
§ Question put, "That '£63,428 ' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 14: Majority 100.—(Div. List, No. 310.)
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Twenty-sixth Resolution.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he intended to take a division on the Vote, in order to mark his sense of the conduct of the Government in refusing to listen to the appeals that had been addressed to them from all sides of the House, to show some sense of the occurrence that had taken place five years ago. They had been asked to take into consideration the case of the unfortunate reporter, Fraser, who had been ruined for life, but they had made no response. They had been asked, whether if the actions which had been brought were stopped, they would inquire into the conduct of the police. But, again, to this they had returned no response. It really seemed that they were still to be treated in Ireland as they had been hitherto, and that peaceable public meetings were to be interrupted by the police without provocation 637 or justification, and that the victims to police violence were to get no redress. It had been proved in the most unquestionable way, and on the most uncontrovertible evidence, that the meeting in question was perfectly peaceful until it was attacked by the police, and that if some stones were afterwards thrown, this was only done in retaliation for the violence which the police began. As the Government would give no pledge that conduct of this kind should not be repeated, he would, to mark his sense of their conduct, move that the Vote should be reduced by £250.
§ MR. BIGGAR
, in seconding the Motion, said, that the Phoenix Park meeting was lawfully held, that it was improperly interfered with by the police, and that the police were therefore responsible for what had taken place. The plaintiffs in the actions which had been brought against the police having been defeated by a mere technicality, that House should interfere to do justice to the victims of police misconduct.
§ Amendment proposed to leave out "£97,391," and insert "£97,141,"— (Mr. Parnell,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that but for the innate humanity of an English officer in command of the troops on the occasion of this meeting, a grave outrage might have been converted into a deplorable massacre. That they now had on the authority of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock), who was in command of the troops, which, but for his self-command, might have been launched against the people. That being so, they must hold the Government responsible not only for what they did, but for what might have happened. This revelation, which had been made for the first time in Parliament that day by the hon. and gallant Member in question, quite justified the hon. Member for Meath in calling upon the House to mark its sense of the transaction in question.
§ Question put, "That '£97,391' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 15: Majority 99.—(Div. List, No. 311.)
§ Resolution agreed to.