HC Deb 23 June 1879 vol 247 cc432-4

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If his attention has been called to a letter which appeared in the "Freeman's Journal" of 17th June last, from the Reverend Thomas Fenlon, Roman Catholic Priest, Rose- nallis, Queen's County, and headed "Threatened Eviction of a Priest," in which it is stated that in consequence of a possible difference between himself and his landlord he has, to use his own words, brought his " case before the local public from the altar," and adds— In fact I am anxious for this case to terminate in my eviction, for I am thoroughly convinced that in good hands and turned to proper account it can be made to subserve the cause of the Irish tenant in a very telling forcible way; and, what steps the Government are taking in consequence of the state of affairs, of which the above letter, as well as the violent language made use of at recent meetings in the west of Ireland, afford evidence?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, I should like to know, Whether he has inquired of the hon. Member for Armagh why, in referring to the end of the priest's letter, he omitted all mention of accounts of the priest's grievances?


With reference to the Question just asked by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), I can only say that I have not addressed an inquiry such as he suggests to my hon. Friend. In consequence of my attention being called to this letter by the Question of my hon. Friend, I have sent over to Ireland for information upon the subject, which, however, I have not yet had time to receive. Meanwhile, I think it only right to remind my hon. Friend and the House that the action of the Roman Catholic authorities in other parts of Ireland—whatever may be the rights or wrongs of this particular case —has been very different, happily, from that alleged in the case of this gentleman, and calls for recognition at the hands of Government and all lovers of order. With reference to the last matter alluded to—namely, the state of affairs in certain parts of the West of Ireland, brought about by what is known as the anti-rent movement—the Government is fully alive to the necessity of dealing promptly with it. Colonel Bruce, Deputy Inspector General of Constabulary, has been despatched on a special mission to the districts concerned. His duty will be to consult with the resident and other magistrates and the local constabulary, and to report to the Government as to what additional police force and special police stations may be required in order to enable full protection to be afforded to all persons in the exercise of their legal rights. Special police protection will be afforded to process-servers or others requiring it. Considerable reinforcements are being drafted into these districts; and it has been notified to the inhabitants that, in the event of any attempt at outrage, the cost of these measures will be levied off the neighbourhood in which it occurs.


Would the Chief Secretary for Ireland say, Whether his attention has been directed to the meeting held at Milltown, County Galway— the last of these meetings that has been held—and say whether it is a fact that the chairman, proposer, and seconder of the resolutions were not tenant farmers, or in any way connected with the district in which the meeting was held?


I believe it is the case that some of the persons who took part in those meetings were not in any way connected with the neighbourhood.


Nor with the land?


Certainly not connected with the land.