HC Deb 15 February 1881 vol 258 cc888-9

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If, at a public meeting reported in the Belfast "Morning News" of the 4th instant, as having been held at the "Diamond," county Armagh, on the 4th instant, Mr. Parker G. Synott, a justice of the peace for that county, expressed himself as follows:— Papacy is the same to-day as it was three hundred years ago. It has the same devilry in it to-day, and it would deceive God Almighty himself if it was any benefit to its adherents; whether this gentleman sits as a magistrate at petty sessions, in a district inhabited by a mixed population of Orangemen and Catholics, where there is not a single Catholic magistrate; and, whether this report is substantially accurate; and, if so, whether he will cause to be instituted against Mr. Synott any prosecution for the use of such language?


, in reply, said, he had seen no report of the proceedings at the meeting in question, and had no information on the matter. If the gentleman alluded to had used the expressions attributed to him, he (Mr. Forster) was very sorry for him, for he thought it very unadvisable that objectionable expressions should be used, whether by a magistrate or anyone else. The hon. and learned Member asked whether a prosecution would be instituted against him for them; but he (Mr. Forster) was advised that no prosecution would be likely to succeed, if it was undertaken. He was sorry to say that, in past times, Catholics used very much stronger words towards Protestants,. and Protestants used very much stronger words towards Catholics; and he believed the general interpretation of "freedom of speech" was that a prosecution did not follow upon such words.