HC Deb 15 July 1881 vol 263 cc1004-6

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been drawn to a speech made by an Englishman named Mr. Fredericks, a member of the English Democratic Confederation, at Loughrea on 8th July, and quoted in the "Daily Telegraph" of 9th July and other papers, in which he is reported to have said "I drink to the health of the Irish Republic," and that he would not be afraid to take up a rifle in defence of Ireland's rights; whether the making use in public of words of that character be in any wise a crime punishable by Law; whether he, as the result of his inquiry, can state whether Mr. Fredericks can be reasonably suspected of having made use of these words or words of a similar character; and, whether he has already caused many Irishmen to be detained in prison on the grounds that they were reasonably suspected of making use of language of a character far less strong and less likely to lead to injurious consequences in the present condition of Ireland?


, in reply, said, before action was taken on words uttered at a public meeting, the first question to be considered was whether the words had been used; the second, whether they came within the powers given to the Government by the law; and, thirdly, whether they were spoken by a person of sufficient importance to require notice to be taken of them. The meeting in question was not an important one.


asked whether a deputation of English miners had not been travelling for two weeks in Ireland using the same violent language?


said, he was aware that representatives of miners had been travelling in Ireland; but nothing had come to his knowledge that he deemed necessary to take action upon.


, in consequence of what fell from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bellingham), asked the Chief Secretary whether he had received any Report from Ireland in any way complaining of the deputation from the miners of Durham and Northumberland in their tour through Ireland to investigate the state of the country; and, whether there had been anything in their conduct or speeches which tended in any way to promote a breach of the peace, or to encourage others to break the peace?


inquired if the Chief Secretary could say that the deputation in Ireland to which reference had been made did represent the miners of either Durham or Northumberland, because he (Mr. Macdonald) was in a position to say they did not?


said, he could not be expected to settle the disputed question raised by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macdonald). He understood that these gentlemen stated that they were a deputation from the miners of Durham and Northumberland; but it had not been his business to inquire into their credentials. With regard to the Question of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pease), he had no official Report—in fact, he had no Report at all—of anything having been said or done by these gentlemen contrary to the public peace. Of course, it would not be expected that he should enter into any question as to the correctness of their statements, either one way or the other; but he had had no information brought him to the effect that they had created any disturbance of the public peace.


said, he was closely connected with the miners' organizations in Durham and Northumberland, and he could state that no such deputation as that referred to was authorized to represent the miners of those counties.