§ MR. HEALY
asked Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland, Whether it is true that Mr. Eager, Governor of Limerick Gaol, stopped on the 17th of May a letter addressed to a friend by one of the political prisoners (Mr. Hodnett, Chairman of the Ballydehob Board of Guardians) because of some statement therein that a magistrate who had expressed a hope from the bench that "the people would soon get powder and ball" was unfit for his position, if he will quote the exact words to the House and state whether he approves the suppression of the letter; whether it is true that the Governor detained several other letters addressed to Mr. Hodnett and, in at least one instance, refused to give him the sender's name, so that the latter might be communicated with by Mr. Hodnett; whether the House can be informed of the language which caused the suppression in these instances, also upon what principle of censorship the Governor acts, if his power or discretion is uncontrolled; and, whether at least the Government will give instructions that letters addressed to political prisoners when stopped shall be returned to the senders with the passages objected to plainly marked, or that the gentlemen imprisoned shall have the choice of receiving them with these passages erased; and, if he can explain how it is that inquiries respecting matters affecting Limerick take so long to answer?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
Sir, letters to and from Mr. Hodnett, at present imprisoned in Limerick Gaol, under the Act for the better Protection of Person and Property in Ireland, have been detained by the prison authorities in the exercise of their discretion, and with the sanction of the Executive in Ireland; it being considered that these letters were of such a character as to justify that course. The discretion of the Governor of the gaol in such cases is not absolute, but is subject to the review of the Government. I must decline to undertake, on the part of the Government, the responsibility suggested, that letters which are thus detained shall be returned to the sender with the objectionable passages marked, or that the letters shall be delivered with the passages erased.