§ (1.) £245,844, to complete the sum for Convict Establishments in England and the Colonies.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £632,975, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Constabulary Force in Ireland.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he desired to call attention to the harsh and cruel conduct of the constabulary in Ireland. Undoubtedly, the Irish Constabulary were placed in a very different position to the force in England. They were encumbered with their rifles and bayonets, and wore called upon to do policemen's duty. The consequence was that, instead of doing it as policemen performed their duty in England, they used the butt end of their muskets, and handled their bayonets in a most savage fashion; and the dispersal of a crowd, which might be effected without injury, was frequently attended with loss of life and serious injury to many persons. He did not, at that late period of the Session, wish to go over every case in which the constabulary had exceeded their duty; but he would only mention one or two. Hon. Gentlemen might remember the ease of the beating out of a man's brains by a policeman at Bodyke, in the county of Clare. A large police force had been sent to evict several tenants of Colonel O'Callaghan, and the circumstances were remarkable in many ways. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said, at the conclusion of the last Session, that if he found that he was compelled to use the military and police forces of the Crown in Ireland to any large extent for the support of injustice he should resign his Office. Well, the case of the employment of the police and military, and the taking of this man's life at Bodyke, was a case of remarkable injustice inflicted by Colonel O'Callaghan. He was selected for a 553 visit by an enterprizing correspondent of an English newspaper, and was portrayed in the usual vivid colours as an example of the persons terrorized over by the Land League. He showed how Colonel O'Callaghan was "Boycotted" in his own house. Well, Colonel O'Callaghan's rents were so high that it was notorious his tenantry were unable to pay them. Notwithstanding their absolute inability, he proceeded to the last extremity of eviction, and compelled the Chief Secretary to send a large force of police and military down to protect the officials who were carrying out the evictions. A disturbance ensued, and during its course one of the spectators, who had not been taking any part in it, and had never struck, or attempted to strike, the police, was set upon and killed. A man named Slattery swore, at the Coroner's inquest, to the identity of the policeman who did it, and a very short time after Slattery was arrested as a "suspect" by the Chief Secretary, and thrown into prison under the powers of the Coercion Act. Well, some of Colonel O'Callaghan's tenants were evicted; but Colonel O'Callaghan— whether it was that he saw the Land Bill coming in, or that he knew it would be impossible for him to evict all his tenants who, it was perfectly evident, were unable to pay the rents—shortly after the murder of this man by the constable, gave a permanent reduction of 60 per cent to his tenants, thereby admitting that the amounts he had previously charged were monstrous rack-rents. He came now to the Mitchelstown evictions, which were going on at the present time. These evictions were somewhat different in character from those that took place on the estate of Colonel O'Callaghan. It was the case, he believed, that some of the tenants on the Kingston property were not rack-rented to such a degree as their neighbours; but, at the same time, he had it on the very best authority that a very large portion of these tenants, if they paid the rent demanded of them, could only do it by borrowing money from the shopkeepers and the banks. It was true they had credit, and, by borrowing money, could pay their rents— in fact, many of them, where the evictions had taken place, had paid their rent after the evictions, and thereby, he thought, had acted dishonestly. To him it appeared that a 554 tenant who borrowed from a bank or a neighbour to pay a rent which he had not made out of the produce of his farm, and left nothing for the proper support of himself and his family, acted dishonestly. Well, a large number of writs were obtained by Mr. Webber— who, he believed, was the husband of the Countess of Kingston, the owner of this property. These writs were enforced in some cases, and, according to The Daily News of Friday, July 1—The Colonel halted suddenly and forded the river, and the advance guard of constables followed his example with an amount of alacrity which quite disconcerted a small crowd of spectators that stood on the opposite bank.It was not alleged that that "small crowd of spectators" was doing anything more than looking on— not an unusual occupation for these poor people when they saw a large army of police and military passing through a small country place with all the paraphernalia of war. It was a very usual thing for people in Ireland to stand on the fences and watch a procession of this kind go by.The police immediately charged this crowd of spectators, and gave a few of them cause to remember the circumstances for same time to come. It was quite evident that the police were not at all grateful to those who had added this wetting to their other discomforts.The report went on to say—All the evictions, with the same result in each ease, wore carried out by 1 o'clock; and when the seventh house was being cleared of its occupants, the police, now drenched with rain and covered with mud, found it necessary to charge with their bayonets.It was not said why this was necessary. They were not told that stones were thrown, or that the people were interfering at all with the progress of the police. They were simply acting as peaceful spectators. Then the correspondent described the work of breaking in the door of another tenant; and it appeared that—The door was smashed in with a crowbar and a pick-axe, and then the police had their revenge for having been so long kept in the blinding rain. They fixed bayonets and advanced into the house. The method of evicting those within was very summary and effective. In exceptional cases, where the men showed signs of resistance, they received blows from the butt ends of the guns. About 30 persons were found inside, including several children. The police retreated to a considerable distance, and watched the bailiffs as they flung out the tenants.555 Then, in describing another eviction, the correspondent said— "The police entered through the windows with fixed bayonets" —always with fixed bayonets. He should like to know what use these fixed bayonets were. Surely they were useless where no resistance was offered.Meanwhile a number of people had assembled in the road and in the fields; but the police instantly took to the fields and dealt unmerciful blows indiscriminately.The harmless spectators were looking on doing nothing. They could not be throwing stones, because there were no stones in the field; indeed, in one or two cases, injuries of a serious nature were inflicted on rather inoffensive persons, whose only fault was that they could not run fast enough to escape, for the people were pursued for a considerable distance. He had merely quoted these extracts, and mentioned the case of the murder of a peasant by a constable, to show what was of common daily occurrence in Ireland. The passions of the police were very frequently excited by drink when they were sent out on these eviction expeditions. Each constable, he was told, received 2s. 6d. extra allowance, which he was entitled to spend entirely on whisky if he pleased; and the consequence was that almost daily throughout Ireland were to be seen large numbers of police returning from these eviction expeditions in a state of intoxication, which rendered them unfit to discharge their duty with any sort of forbearance.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman did not suppose that he could get even Irish policemen to knock women and children about unless they were excited by drink—unless they had been carefully prepared for the work. When a body of constables were brought together for any special duty, they came from distant neighbourhoods, perhaps from other counties, a distance of 50 or 100 miles, and the Irish Constabulary were not numbered as were the policemen in England. They did not wear numbers, they were too much of soldiers for that; consequently, whenever one of 556 these young, strange constables exceeded his duty there was no possibility of identifying him afterwards. In connection with this matter of identification, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant whether he would have any objection to allowing the policemen, or to ordering the policemen, in Ireland to wear numbers similar to those worn by the police in cities, considering that they were daily brought into contact with the people, and that they were daily making attacks and assaults on them. Was it unreasonable to ask that the same protection they afforded to every rough in London, enabling him to identify the policeman who maltreated him, to be extended to the peasantry—to the women and children—in Ireland? With regard to this question of identification, a person named Travers, the manager of the Gas Works in Cork, complained that he was crossing the bridge during the time that rioting was going on, for the purpose of looking after his two young sons who had gone into the Park that day to see the races, and while he was on the bridge, there being no considerable crowd to disperse, three policemen rushed at him; one knocked him down, and another stabbed him in the groin. If the wound had been half an inch higher, according to the medical testimony, Mr. Travers would have been killed. Inquiries were made into the case by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; but no evidence to identify the policeman who committed the deed could be obtained, simply through the fact that the Royal Irish Constabulary did not wear numbers. There were a great many strangers in the town; and even if that had not been the case, the police force of Cork being a very large one, it was probable that it would have been impossible to identify the man. He thought they were entitled to ask from the Government that there should be some check upon the young headstrong constables of Ireland when they went out on special duty. There should be some means of identifying them in cases like that to which he referred. He would give the Committee another instance which had been related to him by his sister. When she was arriving at Limerick, about two months ago, by train, there were in the same train a number of constables returning from an eviction ex- 557 pedition very tired. A respectable Protestant farmer came down to the railway station to meet his (Mr. Parnell's) sister, and he was accompanied by a young lady he had on his arm. A small crowd also came down to the railway platform to meet his sister, who, fortunately for herself, remained in the carriage and allowed the police to get out first. Immediately the police got out they commenced to attack the people on the platform indiscriminately, right and left, without the slightest provocation. The gentleman who had come down to meet his (Mr. Parnell's) sister was knocked down and brutally beaten like a dog, and the young lady who was with him was also knocked down; and his sister, seeing the state of things on the platform, got out of the carriage on the other side and crossed the up line. She got out of the station that way, otherwise, no doubt, she would have been injured. As Irish Members were now going to Ireland, it was probable that all of them would be exposed to that kind of treatment on the part of irresponsible constables; and they were, therefore, entitled to ask that, if they escaped being killed by these attacks upon them by the police, they should have some opportunity afforded them of being able, subsequently, to identify their assailants. At present it was impossible to do so. Constables were brought in from all parts, and they had no opportunity of knowing them, because directly they committed an outrage they were sent away to other parts of the country. He had said it was his duty to move the rejection of this Vote. Last year they had asked that the rifles and bayonets should be taken away from the police. They had pointed out that if any rifle or bayonet was necessary amongst the police, it would be better to use the military than the constabulary. Well, the Government were now adopting the plan of using the military, and he was bound to admit that in every case the soldiery had acted in a most temperate manner; but not so with the constabulary, who had acted in very many cases in a most infamous manner. Why should they encumber the police with rifle and bayonet? They sent the soldiery with weapons of that kind, and if there was any need for their use the military would be there to use them. Certainly, rifles and bayonets were an 558 incumbrance to the constabulary when it was their duty to go through windows in evicting tenants. Rifles and bayonets were surely useless when the police had only bailiffs' duty to do— when their occupation was simply to turn women and children out of their houses. Bâtons were far more useful things at close quarters; and he should have thought the opinion of the Chief Secretary would have matured a little by this time, and that he would have seen his way to reducing the constabulary of Ireland more to the condition of a civil rather than that of a semi-military force. He placed this question as to the numbering of the constabulary before the Government, simply declaring that it was a disgraceful thing that the lives of the people of Ireland should be at the mercy of a constabulary whom it was not possible subsequently to identify. They were entitled to ask that the Irish constabulary should wear numbers as well as other policemen in the United Kingdom.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I rise at once, because I consider I should be greatly to blame if I did not immediately vindicate the Irish Constabulary from the attack made upon them by the hon. Member, although it will, no doubt, be said that I always hasten to defend every one of my subordinates, and listen to nothing but their story. Notwithstanding the possibility that that may be stated, I think every man in the position of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant would be greatly to blame if he did not rise immediately to vindicate the Irish Constabulary from an attack made upon them with regard to their conduct during the past year. The hon. Gentleman made a general attack upon them, and I do not think anything more contrary to justice. I do not think anything could possibly be more unfair and more unreasonable than this attack. I will not now go into the question of the kind of work the constables have had to perform recently, and I will content myself with saying they have had most wearying and arduous duties to perform —duties wearying and arduous enough to try both their constitutions and their tempers more than has been the case with any body of men for many years past; and I think anybody who reads the papers, putting aside the information I give them from official sources, 559 will confess they are surprised at the courage and forbearance shown by the police in Ireland. In many cases it has been utterly impossible for the Government to send as many men as were wanted for the duty of protecting persons whose lives were in danger, for trying to prevent outrages, or for patrolling the country day and night. A great many of the men have hardly ever got a sufficient amount of sleep, and have been constantly exposed to great danger. It is said— Why are the police encumbered with rifles and bayonets? Why, often and often their lives would not have been worth an hour's purchase if they had not carried these arms. For instance, what would have become of the policemen with Sergeant Armstrong when he was battered to death if they had not been so armed?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Therefore, the hon. Member actually says that policemen who are sent into a district to put a stop to law-breaking are instantly to run away when confronted with opposition—they are to save themselves by their legs. ["No, no!"] Then, what did the hon. Member mean? The hon. Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that the rifle or the bayonet is always used in these cases. He has mentioned cases in which not rifles or bayonets, but bâtons should be used. But batons are used at present; and I would remind him that in the Mitchelstown case the police were divided, the men with rifles and bayonets being kept in the background to be used if it was found that the men with batons were not sufficiently powerful. The hon. Member alluded to a particular case in the county of Clare— a case in which, he said, a man was murdered by a policeman. Well, the Committee will, I think, be surprised when I tell them the other side of that story. It is true that it was an eviction upon Colonel O'Callaghan's estate. The hon. Member has alluded to a very vivid description of that estate that appeared in The Daily News, as illustrating the system of "Boycotting." Well, I have heard a great deal spoken of with regard to "Boycotting;" but if hon. Members will look back on that description, they will find that the position of the man who dare not leave his house without the fear of being murdered, and is, therefore, obliged to have 560 constables constantly with him, is very uncomfortable. I am not going to enter into the relations between Colonel O'Callaghan and his tenants, except to say it is a fact that he has reduced his rents; but to carry out the law a force was required. Now, what had happened before this man to whom reference has been made was killed? Why, the police had been fired upon three or four times.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
No; it was the same affair. The police had been fired upon. A number of shots had been fired before that affray in which the man was killed.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
It was really all the same disturbance; the policeman, as a matter of fact, had had to struggle for his life.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
At any rate, that was my opinion and conviction upon a very careful study of the case. Now, take the other case—that of the Mitchelstown evictions—and that will be found a very curious illustration of the condition of things in Ireland. The Mitchelstown tenants—I do not know whether they have a balance on the credit side at their bankers or not— but, notoriously, they were not badly off. Notoriously, again, the estate is not over-rented. I do not mean to say that the estate is under-rented; but it compares very favourably with other estates. Notoriously, the tenants were as able to pay their rents as tenants in any part of England; and I would say this, in addition— that no one who has looked into the question can doubt that everyone of these tenants would have paid his rent if it had not been for the instigation of the Land League. There can be no doubt at all about it; they were not small cottier tenants, but well-to-do farmers. Well, one weeks or months ago, there was an attempt made by the owner of that estate to get the money due to him; and there is not a man in this House who, under similar circumstances, would not have done the same. Unless a man wishes to give up the payment of all debts, there is no reason at all why 561 a landlord, under these circumstances, should not attempt to get his money. The hon. Member's statement is a very curious one— that it would have been dishonest in them to have paid. I was in Ireland at the time of these events, or just after, and I was very confident that unless we sent a large force down with the evicting party there would either have been a defeat of the ends of the law in enforcing payment of the rents, or there would have been a very bloody collision and great loss of life. A large force, I say, was sent down; and the hon. Member seems to suppose that the people in the district were merely spectators of the action of the military and the police. Well, I suppose the spectators were very much the same people who rendered it impossible for the law to be carried out without that large force. I looked forward to the matter with very great anxiety, as I feared that would have taken place in that district which I so very much wished to avoid— namely, a collision in which there would have been great loss of life. The result of the steps taken, I am thankful to say, has been that the evictions have been carried out, batons have been used to some extent, nobody has been seriously injured, and, in every case, I believe, the tenants who gave all this trouble produced the money before the end of the day and paid their rents. I do not think the hon. Member could have brought forward a more unfortunate illustration of his case.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he was not at all surprised to find the right hon. Gentleman in a hurry to defend the police. Every Chief Secretary, as the right hon. Gentleman had justly stated, was anxious to defend the character of the Irish Constabulary. And why? Because every Chief Secretary knew very well that the Irish Constabulary were the basis of the law in Ireland, and not the popular will. The Irish police were the garrison of the foreigner. He remembered a time when decorations were given to Irishmen for victories gained over their countrymen. The men who fought under the Roman generals were never decorated for victories in civil wars. The police system in Ireland was the most irritating and annoying portion of English rule in that country. If they went to a railway station they found 562 two or three of these insolent fellows trying to stare them out of countenance, looking into every carriage, and, where a person was met by friends, having special attention bestowed upon them. Go through the streets of an Irish town; everywhere they would see these fellows with their caps on the side of their heads, wearing a general air of braggadocio. He had heard several of these scenes which his hon. Friend (Mr. Parnell) had alluded to described by, he thought, one of the most eloquent speakers it was ever his pleasure to listen to—namely, Jessie Cregan. He was over in Mitchelstown lately, and that lady went to Mitchelstown; and he thought that even the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, however much he might try to harden his heart and stop his ears against the truth, if he had heard of the scenes which that lady saw with her own eyes—and be it remembered she had not a drop of Irish blood in her veins—he would have been seriously moved when he heard her description. It really required all his self-control to remain unmoved. Had the right hon. Gentleman really taken the trouble to learn any of the facts? What were the number of casualties? How many were killed and wounded on these two occasions? He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) knew how many, and the Solicitor General for Ireland also knew, because he had informed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in an aside, which hon. Members could not help hearing, that there was one horse injured in that fatal affray. What was the man doing who was killed?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
I saw in a newspaper that one of the horses in a cart amongst the crowd was killed by one of the rioters.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that was all very well; but what was the man who was killed doing when he met with his death? A mounted policeman was coming on him, the murdered man lifted up his hand to keep off the horse, and was at once stabbed. That man had no share or part in the violence, whatever violence there was that was going on. The widow of the murdered man had described how that policeman had been allowed practically to go scot free, though he was brought in guilty of 563 murder by a Coroner's jury. Take the case of the Mitchelstown evictions. Miss Cregan was there also. She took care to give the facts at first hand, and not at second hand, as the Chief Secretary was in the habit of doing. What did she do? Why, he had heard her declare, before two meetings of her countrymen and countrywomen, that she put the greater portion of one of her hands into a wound inflicted upon a person by one of these powerful policemen. She went and saw a little boy, a lad of 14 or 15, who was attacked by the police, and she described with such truth and tenderness his condition that it appealed to the mind and heart of everyone who listened to her. She vividly described the miserable looks, the dejected appearance of these poor creatures on whom the employés of the British Government exercised their violence. The net increase in this Vote was £58,514, extra pay and allowances were £69,759, travelling expenses amounted to £28,000, and last year to £38,000. The pay amounted to £736,800, in place of £710,000. Every working man in England who found a great portion of his wages—who found a large portion of his 20s., or 25s., or 30s., or 35s. a-week— going away in taxes, should be given to understand the real merits of the case, and should be reminded that the Chief Secretary was this year asking for many more thousands for the purposes which had been described in the course of the debate.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, where there was really no room for differences of opinion he thought that general opinions wore best; for it would be urged by the Chief Secretary, if particular cases were given, that these were all the cases of complaint that could be collected in the whole of Ireland. He had correspondence from different parts of Ireland, some of which he would read; and he could, if necessary, give the names of his correspondents, and the Chief Secretary could verify them if he pleased. Some of these cases he had made the subjects of Questions in the usual way in the House; but the right hon. Gentleman had met them in the usual way, and said they did not call for further inquiry. Listening to the right hon. Gentleman, it would seem that he thought evictions were rather pleasant transactions for those evicted, and exceedingly pleasant 564 spectacles for those who were looking on. ["Oh, oh!"] He really believed that the Chief Secretary was delighted with the whole business. He should like to call the attention of the Committee to one point of the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) which had not been referred to by the Chief Secretary— namely, as to the badges or numbers of the police. One letter he had received from an Englishman who lately travelled in Ireland with a view of seeing the country for himself, and it exemplified the manner in which affairs were managed. It showed no very great case of brutality on the part of the police; but it did of very serious misconduct. His correspondent wrote—Will you kindly ask Mr. Forster how a stranger is to identify one of his pet police, seeing that they have no numbers on their uniforms as we have in England?He went on to say—The following is my complaint:—On August 4 I took a tourist ticket, and travelled by the Connemara route, as an Englishman desirous of seeing the country for myself. I was surprised to see the police armed and taking up positions on the Company's private property, whereby they prevent free egress and ingress from and to the trains. While travelling to Galway, a policeman took a scat at Athenry Station, and at once proceeded to fill the compartment with smoke, to the annoyance of the other passengers, among whom were several ladies. He was requested to desist by a young priest who was in the carriage; but he refused, and proceeded with a tirade of abuse. I asked him his name; but he declined to give it, and he had no number such as the police have in England. I said I would report him at Galway, and when we arrived there I wont to look for the station master, and meanwhile the constable decamped. On the following day (the 13th) I wont to the County Constabulary office to see who the scoundrel was. I made my complaint, and asked if he could be summoned for breaking the Company's bye-laws. The sub-inspector asked if I was a stranger, and when I said I was, and had come over to see the country, he replied— 'Then you had better leave the country, for if you do not you may be fastened up.'His correspondent went on to say there were no means of identifying the man, because of the absence of a number; and that he had since heard that the constabulary boast of the immunity they enjoyed from this cause. This was evidence in point showing the misfortune of not having numbers, as in England, which would check the tyrannical, impertinent manner with which the con- 565 stabulary treat all those with whom they came in contact. The custom in Ireland was for the delinquencies of the police to be screened from the highest to the lowest positions, and it was in that manner the replies of the Chief Secretary were given. Then, from County Cavan he had received complaints of the misconduct of Sub-Inspector Shaw, who was in the habit of getting drunk, and was the source of much annoyance to the neighbourhood. On one occasion, he broke into a person's house at night while in a tipsy state. On a recent occasion, Shaw was not to be found at his post in Ballyborough, and had to be sent for from Kells, where he was found cutting drunken capers in the streets of that town. In a drunken state, he had been known to sally out and make indiscriminate arrests. Of this conduct of Sub-Inspector Shaw he had testimony from three different persons. He would not read all the letters; but he would refer to one. It was from a decent, respectable man, who described how, on the morning of July 19, about half-past 5, as he was going to look for mud-turf, and having only his coat and shirt on, being without trousers and bare-footed, Sub-Inspector Shaw arrested him, and would not allow him to dress, but marched him in handcuffs into Ballyborough, where he was detained from 7 to half-past 11, until Mr. Simpson, J. P., ordered him to be liberated. Shaw was very drunk, and gave his prisoner a great deal of abuse on the way. The writer, whose name was Nixon, complained to Shaw that his treatment in marching him off without allowing him to put his breeches on—almost in his bare skin— was too bad; but he replied that he was "arrested under the Coercion Act, and he would be arrested again if he did Dot hold his tongue." In three instances he had complaints that Sub-Inspector Shaw had made arrests on charges of murder, but without any evidence; in fact, he could not make a charge, and had no authority to take the persons prisoners. If the Chief Secretary did not like general charges against the action of the police, these were of a specific character; and he could give proofs that this man, Stanley Shaw, had behaved in a most reprehensible manner, and it was the duty of the Chief Secretary to have these charges investigated, and Shaw dismissed from the 566 force. When Philip Brady was arrested and conveyed to Mullingar, he complained of his treatment by the police there; but, when he (Mr. Biggar) put a Question on the subject to the Chief Secretary, the latter, as usual, defended the police, said they were not to blame, and the charge was unfounded. Philip Brady, seeing the report of this in the newspapers, wrote to him a reply, in which he said they were detained two hours at Mullingar waiting for a train to Galway; and that, with the exception of about 10 minutes in the day-room and some 15 minutes for refreshment, the time was spent in the lock-up. Head Constable Lynch, from Ballynamore, could testify to this. The constabulary at Mullingar had no right to interfere while the prisoners were in charge of constables and being conveyed to Galway. Another complaint he had made the subject of a Question in reference to the misconduct of the police at Moville, where one of the constabulary, named Moffat, was so outrageously drunk in the house of Mrs. M'Graddy that he lay on the floor for hours. He entered Mrs. M'Graddy's kitchen, and ordered her out, and behaved in such a rough, coarse manner, and frightened her to such an extent, that she was forced to call in civilians to remove the police from the house. In spite of these and many other cases that could be brought forward, the Chief Secretary could stand up and certify that the police were a highly respected, well-behaved, and trustworthy body of men. He trusted he had said enough to show the Committee that they were not justified in granting the Vote, unless they wished to perpetuate a system that could not be defended.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he could hardly concur in all the remarks of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). So far from the constabulary being a force open to unlimited condemnation, it was a force, in many respects, deserving the approbation of the people among whom it was located. The Irish Constabulary were a respectable, well-conducted body of men; and he questioned whether in any country in the world a force of equal strength placed in such circumstances—if, indeed, in any country such circumstances could be paralleled—as those under which the Irish Constabulary were placed would conduct themselves so 567 well. But it was beyond question that many of their faults were induced by encouragement from head-quarters, and provocation under circumstances in which they were placed. He would not contest the allegations against particular individuals; but he felt bound in conscience to say that he believed such were entirely exceptional. They were due to the system under which the force was administered. If anyone wished to understand the position of a sub-constable in Ireland, he must remember that if the man was a Catholic, if he belonged to that religious body, of which the great majority of the people were composed, then his chances of promotion were very much lessened. If he did not demean himself towards the population in an overbearing, tyrannous manner, he would have very little chance of commending himself to his superiors. A Parliamentary Return was furnished some time ago by the Chief Secretary of the number of Catholics and Protestants in the force, and the different ranks and grades; and from that Return it appeared that, as the ranks rose in status, the proportion of Catholics fell off, until at the top there were absolutely none at all. He did not wish to dwell unfairly on this question of religious difference. Catholic as he was himself, he trusted that in personal demeanour he had not borne himself differently to another man on account of a difference of religion; but this question of religion did so underlie all the relations of Irish life that it was simply affectation to disregard it in the consideration of this question. It must be borne in mind, also, that the constabulary were administered and directed by a certain handful of men in Dublin, whose instincts were directly antagonistic to those of the population; and the principles they inculcated were—"Keep the men down, keep the people down. Do not allow them to hold their heads erect before you. Men, women, and children must be taught that the word of a policeman is law, and if you do not induce that idea you are unfit for promotion or for the force." He had heard it from men in the force, and in different parts of Ireland, that the great majority of the police went very much against the grain to all the scenes of evictions, and often and often they put their hands in their pockets to assist the unfortunate 568 people whom they were called on to evict; and he had been assured by the police themselves that that would be done more frequently but for the fear the men had that by so conducting themselves they would interfere with their chances of promotion, by bringing upon them the displeasure of their superiors. A little time ago there was an indication of the spirit in which the police force was directed. Some months ago, when the Chief Secretary was trying to force the Coercion Bill through the House, he was assured by the police that once the Bill was passed they could put their hands upon 100 of the classes for whom the Bill was intended—village ruffians and village tyrants. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor") challenged the Chief Secretary to deny this; but the right hon. Gentleman declined to say what communications had passed between himself and the responsible authorities at Dublin, though it was notorious in Ireland and perfectly well known to every well-informed person. When the Coercion Bill was passed, the police authorities could not redeem their promise; and then a Circular was issued, pointing this out, and twitting them with their want of diligence. "You ought to know," it was said, "the people who ought to be reasonably suspected; "and it was as much as hinted," whether suspected or not, we must have something to show the necessity of the Coercion Bill." It reminded him very much of an expression put into the mouth of one of Shakespeare's characters—"Seem to see the thing thou dost not." The complaints against the police in Ireland arose not so much from the conduct of the men themselves as from the system under which they were placed. There was another point in connection with the Vote to which he wished to draw attention, and that was the question of charging localities for extra police when they wore drafted from a different county. He was prepared to contend that this charge for extra police was utterly illegal, and on this ground. The charge for police was thrown on the Consolidated Fund, and this Consolidated Fund had to bear the charge for the whole of Ireland, and the total force appointed was 10,003. This force had not been increased. The returns of the effective strength of the constabulary on any particular date would show that the Establishment had 569 never been exceeded; and his contention was that the Government had no legal right to enforce the charge for extra police upon any particular district. What did the Government do? They took, say, 40 police from Queen's County, and sent them into Mayo. But these men incurred no extra charge on the Government; their pay, allowances, and travelling expenses were provided for in the Vote; but yet, over and above that, the Government exacted from the district into which the men were sent a charge as for extra police, and they claimed the power to do so under statute. But a careful perusal of the statute showed that the power to charge a district with extra police when they were drafted from another county, unless the men belonged to the Reserve did not legally exist. Last year the Chief Secretary expressed some doubt about the matter, but he said he would inquire into it; and perhaps now he would state the result of that inquiry. He had not heard that the right hon. Gentleman had given any opinion, or declared the result of his investigation, and he was interested to know the answer. Unless the Government could clearly show they were within their statutory authority in making the charge, he would be prepared to reduce the Vote by £14,000, that being the amount of the charge for extra police.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Member had alluded to what he said last Session; but the only doubt he then expressed was whether the moiety of the cost should be levied on the district, or on the county. That was the point upon which he had doubt—he had no doubt whatever that it could be levied on the locality, either the county or the district. The hon. Member seemed to be confident that it could not be legally charged on the county; but if that were so, no doubt, when the presentment came before a Grand Jury, that body would, if they saw any ground for doing so, dispute the claim. But on the legal advice he had received he had no doubt whatever that the charge could be levied. As regarded the points raised by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), the Committee would not expect him to say more than that he could not be expected to give eredence to the charges, for which there was no proof beyond the statements of the ton. Member's informants. According 570 to the regulations in force inquiries would be made into the conduct of individual members of the force; and although the hon. Member for Cavan might think there was no good likely to result from an application to the authorities, he could only say that he had always found them anxious to inquire into all cases of the kind brought before them. There were two other modes by which redress could be obtained—to have the case investigated at Petty Sessions, or claim damages in the Courts of Law.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he had two remarks to make with reference to the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. First, he believed the right hon. Gentleman was very much mistaken in imagining that the Grand Jury would be likely to assist the people of Ireland in any way as against the administration of the police; and, secondly, with regard to the question of the right of the Government to charge a moiety of the expense of the extra police to the counties, he would ask him to bear in mind the provision of the Act 9 & 10 Vict., c. 97, that before the moiety could be charged to the counties the magistrates in Session should certify that the existing force was insufficient. Now, that provision had never been regarded, and he did not think the right hon. Gentleman could show that in any instance this necessary meeting had taken place and the certificate been obtained. He therefore felt it his duty, under the circumstances, to move the reduction of the Vote and press the Motion to a division. He would also point to the 29 & 30 Viet., which dealt with the same question of extra police, and provided for the reduction of a proportionate number of constables from the extra force. The whole of the extra charge appeared to him illegal and unjust; and he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £43,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £589,975, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Constabulary Force in Ireland."—(Mr. Arthur O' Connor)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he did not think the hon. Member for Queen's County was quite correct in his remark 571 with reference to the Grand Jury. The hon. Member seemed to suppose that the Grand Jury would wish that the county should pay more than the proper amount. That was not his experience, and he did not think it was the experience of the Committee. He did not believe that any Member of the Committee was more jealous of the interests of his county than the hon. and gallant Member for Leitrim (Major O'Beirne), who was a very active member of Grand Juries; and he thought that the views of the hon. and gallant Member would be allowed to afford a proper indication of the course likely to be taken with regard to the charge upon the counties. He was, however, just informed by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland that the decision did not lie with the Grand Jury. The presentment could be traversed by any ratepayer, and the question brought before a Judge.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
said, he should like to bring to the notice of the Committee in a few words some of the details of a case of police interference that had taken place in the county which he had the honour to represent, and which showed that the police were sometimes sent to places where their presence was not required, and without the observance of the rule which was said to be observed when an extra police force was sent to any part of Ireland. It had been stated a night or two ago by the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the modus operandi for the purpose of getting a force of police to attend a sale by the sheriff was for the sheriff to enter into communication with the police authorities, and that on his representation that such force was, in his opinion, necessary for the preservation of order, a body of police would be sent by order of Government to the place of sale. That was certainly not the course followed at a place called Red Cross, in the county of Wicklow, on the 30th of June last, to which he desired to call attention. In that instance the sheriff positively declared he had no apprehension of any danger, and that he did not want any police whatever to be present at the sale, and he further protested against their being sent there. However, no attention was paid to the remonstrances of the sheriff, and a large force of police was sent down; and, although no 572 disturbance took place, this proceeding on the part of the authorities very nearly resulted in a collision between the people and the police. Immediately after the occurrence he had drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to the circumstances of the case; and he was bound to say that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman furnished him with very scant information on the subject. The inquiry addressed to the right hon. Gentleman was to this effect—Whether it was true that any police force had been sent down to attend a sheriff's sale at Red Cross, in the county of Wicklow, by the Government, without the consent of the sheriff, and in direct opposition to the publicly expressed desire of the sheriff; whether his attention had been called to the correspondence which had taken place upon the subject in the newspapers, and so forth? He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was aware, as the sheriff had anticipated, the whole amount of the rents had been peaceably paid, and whether the sheriff had not said he could not help thinking that such unnecessary displays of physical force were calculated to create alarm in the district, and to inflame the minds of the people? He had also inquired on whose application the county of Wicklow had been subjected to the expense consequent on the movement of the force. He was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman did not always give that candid information in his replies to Questions which hon. Members were fairly entitled to. On the occasion referred to the right hon. Gentleman replied that in putting the Question he (Mr. Corbet) was under some misapprehension. He did not see what misapprehension he was under. The right hon. Gentleman then said there would be no extra expense to the county for the removal of the force; that the force had been sent on account of information which the Government had received, and but for the precautions taken there would have been a serious disturbance at the sale. He wondered how the right hon. Gentleman could know that a serious disturbance would have taken place. They had in this case the direct assurance of the sheriff that he apprehended no danger whatever; and yet in spite of the assurance of that authority, who, according to the statement of the 573 Chief Secretary for Ireland, was the proper person to apply for the assistance of the police in cases where danger was apprehended, a police force was sent down. He had felt it his duty to bring this case again before the right hon. Gentleman upon the present Vote, as an illustration of the way in which the police were sent to various parts of Ireland at great expense to the ratepayers; and before the large amount now asked for was passed by the Committee, he thought that some further information than that given by the right hon. Gentleman on a former occasion was desirable in reference to this matter.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet) was under a misapprehension in regard to the expense to the county which he represented of sending down the police force to the sheriff's sale at Red Cross. Wicklow was not one of those counties to which the Government had thought it necessary to send any extra police force; and, therefore, it was only natural that he should, in replying on a former occasion to the Question of the hon. Member, state that there would be no extra expense to the county. He was informed that the police force was sent without any cost to the county. The hon. Member had stated that no force was required at the sale at all. That might be so, and he would not take upon himself to deny the statement of the hon. Member; but he wished to press upon the attention of the Committee the necessity of considering the position in which the Government were placed in reference to these matters. He believed hon. Members would agree with him when he said that in cases of this kind it was much better that a force should be sent where it was not wanted than that where it was wanted it should not be sent, because the effect of not sending it might be the loss of life. It was perfectly true that he had said that the sheriff should inform the authorities in all cases where he expected there would be resistance; but it must be borne in mind that it was the Government who were responsible for the preservation of order and the protection of life and property, and that the sheriff might sometimes be too sanguine in the view he took of the peaceful character of the proceedings about to take place. There had been instances 574 of that kind, and the greatest danger had occurred in cases where the sheriff's officers had been over-sanguine and had endeavoured to execute their duty with too small a force. Therefore, he contended, it was better to err on the safe side, and for the Government to do what they believed to be right for the preservation of law, whether there was any resistance or not.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland the desirability of not placing implicit reliance upon the reports of police shorthand writers, which, owing to their inaccuracy, would lead the Government into grave mistakes. It was much more difficult to learn to write shorthand in a proper way than to learn to speak a foreign language. It required almost constant practice to master it and to retain it. No doubt, a policeman could write something which might be called shorthand; but he believed that by no possibility could a trustworthy report, even of the shortest speech, be made by such a process. Some passages that were attributed to him had been quoted at the recent State trial at Dublin, and afforded a perfect illustration of his contention. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that nothing could be more ungrammatical or more unmeaning than the speech that was attributed to him. Irish Members had good reason to believe that the Government had, by placing reliance upon the report of a constable, committed a great mistake in the case of Mr. Boyton; and, therefore, he urged upon the right hon. Gentleman that if he must have reports of every meeting that took place in Ireland, and if he could not trust to the newspapers, where he would generally find a good report of the proceedings, he should, at least, employ competent and qualified men for the purpose, and not send incompetent persons—three-fourths constable and one-fourth reporter—to furnish him with excuses for arrests.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he must confess he should be very glad if the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) did not proceed to a division upon the special point contained in the Motion before the Committee. For his own part, he thought it would be better to divide against the whole of the Constabulary Vote. There were several 575 points which he might have been inclined to raise; but which he should not on that occasion dwell upon. With regard to one which he had been requested to raise—namely, that relating to the conduct of Sub-Inspector Smith in Donegal, he had already brought it before the Committee on a former Vote a few days ago; and he would only repeat his hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would look fully into the matter. But there was one subject that he had referred to last year on which he desired to say a very few words. It was a matter of interest to both Englishmen and Irishmen that some means ought to be found that would have the effect of correcting the numerical inequality between the numbers of persons of different religions which existed in the higher ranks of the Constabulary Force in Ireland. He believed that the proportion in those ranks of Protestants and Catholics was as 250 to 40. There were five or six times as many Protestants as Catholics; while in the rank and file it was just the reverse. It was not necessary for anyone to characterize that state of things as a scandal. It was a scandal, however, which could not be corrected in a day. But he looked to any Government who wished to give its own police a fair chance in Ireland to correct, as far as possible, such a state of things. He again expressed a hope that no division would be taken on the special point, but that they should divide upon the Main Question, as a protest against police tyranny in Ireland.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he wished to recall the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to his explanation, or rather reply to his question, with regard to the case of Sub-Inspector Shaw. Amongst other means of redress, the right hon. Gentleman had said that the complaint would be inquired into by the police authorities; but he (Mr. Biggar) had pointed at one of Sub-Inspector Shaw's superiors, whose conduct in this matter ought to be investigated.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Member must be aware that the complaint ought to be put forward, with 576 a detailed statement of the facts of the case.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, if the right hon. Gentleman wished for a detailed account of the facts, and the names of the parties concerned, the case should be investigated, and a written statement sent in. The right hon. Gentleman had said that an aggrieved person could claim damages; but, supposing an action was brought, what would be the result? Why, the Government would, of course, get the verdict, and the unfortunate applicant would have to pay all the costs incurred. It was, therefore, of no use to apply to the Courts of Law. The only way for a person to get redress was through the right hon. Gentleman in the House of Commons. If redress did not follow after an appeal to the Chief Secretary for Ireland it could be got in no other way.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 54; Noes 14: Majority 40.—(Div. List, No. 405.)