HC Deb 26 May 1879 vol 246 cc1230-2

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Whether he is aware that a regular centre for the printing and distribution of tracts of the most offensive description exists in Dublin, where, it is announced, they are kept— Stereotyped, and can be had on application, from one copy to a million copies, at cost price, for universal circulation; whether it has come to his knowledge that in these productions catholic places of worship are styled "mass houses," and catholics are described as worshipping "stone goddesses and wafer gods;" whether such statements, offensive to the religious belief of many millions of Her Majesty's subjects, are scattered wholesale in tramcars and Railway carriages, and even in private carriages standing at shop doors, and are flung down areas and thrust into private letterboxes, and into the hands of passengers through the public streets; and, whether it has not been repeatedly reported to the Government by magistrates, clergymen, and respectable persons of all denominations that such practices are a cause of deep pain to honourable Protestants, and highly calculated to provoke to breaches of the peace among an earnestly Catholic people.


Sir, with respect to the two first paragraphs of the Question of the hon. Gentleman, the facts are as he has stated them. With reference to the third, I understand that these documents have been circulated pretty generally, but no intimation has ever been conveyed which would authorize me to affirm that they have been circulated in the way referred to. As to the fourth part of the Question, I cannot say that any reports have reached me on the subject; but, since public attention has recently been called to it, I have received certain communications—amongst others, I may say, from the secretary and other persons responsible for the conduct of the Irish Church Mission, in which they certainly do express themselves very much in the manner that the hon. Gentleman does, in so far as he says that these practices were the cause of giving pain to honourable Protestants; but, beyond that, no communications have been made to the Government. As to the last few words of the Question, no information has reached me that leads me to suppose that those practices are calculated to provoke a breach of the peace.


asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Why, since in Scotland outrages upon the religious belief of a section of Her Majesty's subjects can be prevented and punished by the Law, a similar protection has not yet been extended to the Catholic people of Ireland?


Sir, the expression, "outrages upon religious belief," is somewhat indefinite, and might be used to describe events differing very widely from each other. The reply of the Lord Advocate to a Question put a few days since by the hon. Member with reference to certain occurrences at Dundee was, no doubt, justified by the facts and circumstances of that particular case. Indeed, it is obvious that all such cases, wherever they occur, must be decided on their own special facts and circumstances. I have no doubt that the law of England and Ireland, in the event of occurrences causing riots or breaches of the peace, would be found amply sufficient to protect all sections of Her Majesty's subjects, no matter what their religion might be.