HC Deb 29 January 1878 vol 237 cc618-9

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether Edward O'Kelly, a prisoner confined in Spike Island Convict Prison, is allowed only half an hour's exercise each day during six days of the week, and one hour on Sunday; if it is true that a third jury had to be empannelled in his case before a conviction was obtained; if it is true that an important witness against him was a person named O'Farrell, alias Brady, who, before the trial, had. been imprisoned for burglary, and who, since the conviction of O'Kelly, was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, but liberated when only half of the term of his sentence had expired, and who is now undergoing a sentence of fifteen years' penal servitude; and, if it is true that Edward O'Connor, another prisoner confined at Spike Island, was recently subjected to the punishment of twenty-one days' bread and water, while suffering from an abscess in his thigh?


Sir, I beg to inform the hon. Gentleman that Edward O'Kelly is allowed half an hour's exercise daily during six days of the week and about two hours on Sunday, under the direction of the medical officer of the prison. The prisoner is employed at a trade. He was tried three times, the jury having twice disagreed. A witness against him named O'Farrell was convicted, as alleged; but he was not an important witness, being merely one of three who all deposed to certain facts which, I believe, have never been disputed. That person was convicted of burglary, and sentenced to imprisonment, as stated in the Question of the hon. Member. At the expiration of about half the sentence he was released, on the ground of ill-health, upon a special medical report from the medical attendant of the prison and an eminent local practitioner who had also examined the prisoner. This report was made by the medical attendant in pursuance of a General Order issued some years previously— that whenever the medical officer of any prison considers a prisoner's life would be endangered by further confinement, he should at once report the fact to the Government. O'Farrell was also subsequently convicted and sentenced as stated by the hon. Member. The last statement as to which the hon. Member inquires is not true.