HC Deb 08 August 1881 vol 264 cc1205-6

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the announcement made in the morning papers that Mr. John Dillon had been released from Kilmainham Gaol was correct?


said, that before the right hon. Gentleman answered the Question, he wished to ask him whether Mr. Dillon had been released unconditionally, or whether he had been obliged to sign some conditions?


Yes, Sir; it is true that Mr. Dillon has been released from Kilmainham, and I suppose the House would wish me to give the grounds of that release. A letter was sent yesterday to the Governor of Kilmainham, in the following terms:— I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to inform you that a representation having been made to his Excellency that Mr. John Dillon's life would be endangered by further confinement, his Excellency has been pleased to order his release. Therefore, upon the receipt of this letter, discharge Mr. Dillon, and give him a copy of this letter. That letter was written for this reason—On Thursday last I received a Report from Dr. Carte, the medical officer of the prison, stating that he believed Mr. Dillon's life would be endangered by further confinement. I was surprised to get that letter, because, although the health of Mr. Dillon is not strong, the last information I received was from the Inspector of the prison, Mr. Barlow, who, on the 8th of July, reported that he had seen Mr. Dillon, who told him that he was well, and that he did not think his health had suffered since he entered the prison. Mr. Barlow said that Mr. Dillon seemed to him to be very delicate, but did not appear to be more so than when he first saw him in prison three months ago. On receiving that Report, I telegraphed at once to two independent medical gentlemen, of undoubted standing, to go down to Kilmainham and, after consultation with Dr. Carte, to make a Report. They saw Mr. Dillon; but he politely, but firmly, refused to allow himself to be examined. After consulting with Dr. Carte, and after seeing his Report and obtaining all the information they could, they saw the Report of Dr. Kenny, Mr. Dillon's private medical officer, which entirely confirmed Dr. Carte's statement that life would be endangered by further confinement. That being the case, I thought, and my Colleagues agreed with me, that our duty was to do what we should have done with any other prisoner under the circumstances—order his immediate discharge. We did not think it a case in which we ought to make that discharge dependent on the signing of any conditions.


Does the doctor say that his life has been endangered through the confinement he has undergone?


I have given the exact statement I received, and it was the first intimation I had. The doctors would have been failing in their duty if they had not informed us of the facts.