HC Deb 01 July 1880 vol 253 cc1250-1

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, taking into consideration the generous amnesty extended to the rebel subjects taken in arms by the American Government, the large and all embracing amnesty granted to the Communist prisoners by Republican France, and the long periods of solitary imprisonment endured by those known as the Fenian prisoners in the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Government will not now advise Her Majesty that the fitting time has at length arrived when a full and complete amnesty should be extended to all the Irish political prisoners, and that Messrs. O'Leary, O'Meara Condon, Clarke-Luby, O'Dono-van Rossa, and the other Fenian prisoners, should be allowed to return to the United Kingdom and reside in their native land?


My attention is called by the Question of the hon. Gentleman to three circumstances—first, the generous amnesty extended to its rebel subjects taken in arms by the American Government. No doubt, Sir, that was a very noble act on the part of the American Government; but I must observe that it had reference entirely to a great quarrel decisively disposed of by a civil war, and not to any state of facts continuing or likely to continue in that country. My attention is also called to the amnesty granted to the Communist prisoners by Republican France. No doubt, a proposal of that kind is before the French Legislative Body; but, so far as my information goes, I believe that that proposal has not yet been accepted or become law. With respect to the Irish portion of the case, which forms the main subject of the Question, I beg that my answer may not be understood to extend beyond the terms in which it is couched. That answer is, I am sorry to say, that we do not consider the present period, with the circumstances which prevail at the present time in a portion of Ireland, as a fitting or convenient period for entertaining the subject of granting a further amnesty.