HC Deb 20 May 1881 vol 261 cc963-1004

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it was true that that morning the Rev. Father Sheehy, Mr. Henry Gilbertson, Mr. P. M'Carthy, and Mr. John Cleary were arrested at Kilmallock, in the county of Limerick, under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and, if so, whether he would inform the House on what grounds those four gentlemen had been arrested?


The four persons named by the hon. Member were arrested this morning under the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act. I can only say it is with great regret that we have found it to be absolutely necessary to direct the arrest of a Roman Catholic clergyman. With regard to the exact terms of the Warrant, we shall receive that document by post to-morrow morning, and if the hon. Member will ask me, I will give him the terms of it on Monday. It will be laid upon the Table of the House in the usual course.


said, that during the seven years which he had been in that House he had never risen to move the adjournment of the House at that early hour of the evening; but he felt that the present was too serious an occasion to be allowed to pass without protest. They knew well that in Ireland arrests were accustomed to be made without any charge being brought against those arrested; but he believed this was the first time since the abolition of the Penal Laws that a clergyman had been arrested for political reasons. Though they had a Tory Government in Office in 1867, and though thousands of persons were arrested in that year, yet amongst that number there was not a single clergyman arrested on that occasion, though the Tory Government were never given much credit for partiality towards Catholic clergymen. How was it that when a Liberal Government was in Office, and that when the number arrested was comparatively so small, that one of them was a Catholic clergyman? He knew the three large farmers who were arrested in his neighbourhood since they were boys, and he knew them to be active and industrious, and believed they would not be guilty of any reckless or illegal conduct to bring them under the provisions of the Bill. It was, therefore, a mystery to him why those arrests should have taken place. One of these gentlemen was an auctioneer in a large way of business, as well as being a large farmer, and he never knew a man more attentive to his business than he was. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) felt that he would not be discharging his duty to his constituency if he allowed this occasion to pass without calling attention to the arrest of these men. The Chief Secretary had declined to tell them the reason why they were arrested; but he (Mr. O'Sullivan) would tell them what he thought was the cause of their arrest. There was in his neighbourhood, and in many other parts of the County Limerick, a great many rack-rented tenants; but there was particularly, on one estate in that neighbourhood, the most rackrented tenantry in any part of Ireland—that was on the estate of a man named Coote. It had been stated in that House that the purchasers in the Landed Estates Court were the greatest rackrenters; but this man was not a purchaser in the Landed Estates Court. He was one of the real old Cromwellian settlers, and he was a man that rackrented his tenantry more than any other landlord in the County Limerick. Writs were flying about on that estate for a half-year's and a year's rent. The tenants had paid their rents as long as they possibly could out of the little capital they bad; but in the bad years of 1878 and 1879 they were not able to pay these rack rents. Within the last week there had been an order to evict a man with a large family on that property, named Murphy; and it was feared that if these men were at liberty, they would be able to tell the grievances of these tenants, and that the people there would rise up as one man and try to prevent the eviction of Murphy and others on that estate. He believed that was the reason why Father Sheehy and these respectable, industrious farmers had been arrested. That landlord had an agent named Townsend, and for the last 20 years his conduct had been most tyrannical to the tenantry on several properties round Kilmallock and Kilfinane. There was no opportunity that occurred, whether the death of a father or mother, or the marriage of a son, that he did not try to advance the rent, and the consequence was that the rents on the estates in many cases were double what they were 20 years ago. Another of his tenants had been served with notice to quit, so that between Mr. Coote and his agent, Townsend, the neighbourhood was unfortunately in a disturbed condition. The trouble had been brewing for many years, for there was no occasion that had not been taken advantage of to raise the rent, until at last the rents were beyond what the tenants could pay. Then they revolted against the agent. He had known a case where the rent had been raised three times in 25 years, so that what was only 19s. 3d. per acre at that time was now—2 1s. 9d. per acre. He knew the neighbourhood in which the arrests had been made; he knew the persons who had been arrested, and he knew their history; and he challenged the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to show that any of the persons arrested had committed any act which brought them legitimately within the scope of the Coercion Act passed by Parliament a short time back. The truth was, that a farmer named Murphy was to be evicted in the course of a week or two; and it was thought dangerous by the Executive Government to leave in the neighbourhood certain men of intelligence and knowledge who would be able to explain to the people the glaring injustice that was being inflicted upon ads unfortunate man. There was no Court before which the question could be raised that would not reduce the rents on this rack-rented property; and this was the explanation of the fact that writs were being numerously served on the tenants occupying farms on the estate, for they knew the Land Bill would stop their hand. Feeling that, he would not be doing his duty if he allowed the arrest of four respectable constituents of his to take place without any sufficient reason to pass unchallenged. He therefore begged to move the adjournment of the House.


said, he was reluctant to interfere with the ordinary Business of the House by supporting Motions of this eccentric character; but the circumstances of the present case rendered the course which had been taken a proper course. It had never been known in the course of the last century that a clergyman in Ireland had been arrested and put into prison without trial. He could only suppose that the reason for the arrest of the Rev. Mr. Sheehy—a gentleman of the highest character, alike in reference to education and religion—was that he was a great favourite in the county, and, possessing large influence with the people, would have been able to exert considerable power among them in reference to certain eviction proceedings which were impending. He had been surmised that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had stated his inability to lay before the House the terms of the Warrant of arrest; because he understood the right hon. Gentleman in the course of the debate on the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill to say that he would take care that no arrests should take place unless he had been communicated with beforehand. Would the right hon. Gentleman say that that clergyman had brought himself within the terms of the Act, and that he had incited people to crime, or that he had been a party to public disturbance in the district? He knew the men by repute, and he believed they were persons of such a position that it was impossible they would be guilty of offences of the kind for any purpose of their own. He thought it was time tile Government gave the House some information on the subject. At all events, they ought to lay the Warrants on the Table. He agreed that the present was an inconvenient mode of bringing on a discussion on the subject. But why was it done? The Irish Members wanted a day to discuss Mr. Dillon's arrest. They were denied that opportunity; and if the present discussion had not been raised in the way it had, no doubt they would have had to wait for such a long time that by the time it was brought on the whole thing would have vanished from the minds of the people. He said that was a subject that called for the immediate attention of the Government, for an answer from the Government, and it would not do to tell them that they had no information about it until they got the Warrant. He begged to second the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. O'Sullivan.)


I wish to remove one misapprehension in the mind of the hon. Member for Limerick, who has last spoken, and that is, that these arrests took place without my knowledge. I thought I had given the impression in my first answer that we had examined into the matter when I said it was with great regret we found ourselves absolutely compelled to arrest a Catholic clergyman. The simple reason why I cannot give the exact terms of the Warrant is because I have not yet received them; but if the question is repeated on Monday they will certainly be stated. With regard to the causes of the arrest, I beg to say that I must follow the course taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on a previous occasion—namely, that we cannot enter into the question of these arrests upon a Motion for the adjournment of the House. I must distinctly inform the House that we have made up our minds that it would not be our duty to do so. Individually, I am most anxious to meet any Motion that may be made against my conduct, or the conduct of the Irish Executive, in regard to this or any other arrests; and I shall be very much surprised if I should not satisfy the great majority in the House that we could not have taken any other course. But I must respectfully decline to enter into any discussion of the matter on the present occasion, and for this reason—that it is a charge upon the Government which ought to be brought before the House in such a manner as would enable it to say whether it agrees with the charge or not.


could not be altogether surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary declined to enter into a discussion on the administration of the Coercion Act on a Motion for the adjournment of the House. But although these Motions had been made on two or three occasions, and although the Chief Secretary had always declined to go into any discussion at that moment, yet he had always expressed, at the same time, his burning anxiety to meet any charge which might be made against him. If the right hon. Gentleman wished that profession of his to have much weight with the House, it was very easy for him to take a course which would make the House perfectly confident that that was so. The Irish Government had now for three months been in possession of extraordinary powers, and there was, no doubt, a great anxiety in the minds of many hon. Members—not only from Ireland, but Members of the Opposition—to discuss the state of Ireland and the administration of the Coercion Act. The state of Ireland was quite as important as any Business which could be brought before the House. The fact was, that although the Government had brought in a very strong Coercion Act, although they had produced their remedial measures, yet the condition of Ireland was 50 times worse than it was when Parliament assembled. He could not conceive anything more important than that; and if the Chief Secretary was so anxious to meet the charges made against him, let the Prime Minister take the first Government night and dispose of the matter. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad that the Prime Minister cheered the statement, and that that course was likely to be adopted. He must say he was not surprised at the course the hon. Member for County Limerick had taken, because the matter he had brought before the House was, as he believed, without precedent. The arrest of a Roman Catholic priest, whether rightly or wrongly—as to that he pronounced no opinion—was a thing calculated to shock the sensibilities of the Irish people from one end of the country to the other. That being so, the Chief Secretary ought not, he thought, to have taken refuge under the irregularity of the Motion, but should have at once stated to the House the reason why he had resorted to so unprecedented a measure. An explanation the Irish Members had a right to demand. He was perfectly certain that the late Administration would not have resorted to an act of this kind without the greatest possible necessity existing for it, and if they had done such a thing the Minister would have been prepared to come to the Table and state all the reasons for the arrests. There was no doubt that the arrests had been most capricious. What was the difference between the speeches delivered by Father Sheehy and those of Archbishop Croke; and what was the difference between those and the speeches of Mr. Brennan? They would like to know why one man was arrested and another left out? What was the logical conclusion to be arrived at from the proceedings of the Government? It was that they desired, not directly, but indirectly, to suppress the Land League by Act of Parliament. He could not help thinking that the Land League had been rather useful than otherwise to the Government, as violent speeches rather aided the progress of the Land Bill. Those violent speeches were checked by an occasional arrest, but with the result that more violent speeches were made the next day. While on this subject, he could not help referring to the arrest of Mr. Dillon. The hon. Member for Tipperary had, before leaving for Ireland, publicly stated that he intended to defy the law and to teach the people of Ireland how to resist the influences of the Coercion Act. Mr. Dillon kept his word. He made several speeches, not one of them more violent than any of the others. Those speeches extended over several weeks, and produced a very unfortunate result in Ireland as far as the restoration of order in that country was concerned. But what did the Government do—rather, what did they not do? They did not arrest Mr. Dillon. By their very apathy they encouraged him. He was allowed to remain at liberty until the moment he was about to leave Ireland, to leave off making those speeches, to come over to the House of Commons and take part in the Con- stitutional discussion of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill; and that was the moment selected by the Government to arrest him. What, he asked, might be expected to be the natural result of the passing of the Coercion Bills? The natural result, from what they heard from the Government, would be the proclamation of the whole of Ireland, except the Province of Ulster—certainly the proclamation of Dublin and Cork, in which, to a certain extent, existed elements of evil and danger to the Irish Government. Well, what did the Government do? They did not proclaim either Dublin or Cork until they determined to arrest Mr. Dillon, and then they suspended the Constitutional liberties of Dublin, a city of 300,000 or 400,000 inhabitants. In the whole course of Irish history he did not think they could find any record of so arbitrary an act. But the course of the Government throughout had been, as he had said, capricious. They gave the House strong reasons for passing the Coercion Acts, and how many persons had been arrested under them until a recent period? Just 30. That was the practical fulfilment of the pledge of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant that if Parliament passed the Coercion Acts he would pacify Ireland. For a considerable time 30 persons only were arrested, and the result was that the fear the Acts were intended to instil into the minds of the Irish people totally evaporated. If they wished to restore order in Ireland, which he very much doubted—["Oh!"]—well, they were not going the right way about it by removing from the minds of the people all apprehension as to the operation of the Acts. No one in Ireland had the slightest fear of the Chief Secretary or the Lord Lieutenant. As had been said the other day, the Irish Government had lost the respect of every man in Ireland. He would add to that that they had lost the respect of every single impartial person in the United Kingdom. There was, in his opinion, nothing more dangerous than that a Government should extort from Parliament the unconstitutional powers they now possessed—for many Conservative Members were unwilling to intrust them with the exercise of those powers—and show that they were afraid to put them in operation. These Coer- cion Acts had been in operation some months, and the state of Ireland was 50 times worse than before they were passed. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had been asked for an explanation of the most recent proceeding of the Irish Executive under those Acts, and he had declined to enter into any explanation on the subject, stating that he would do so if a regular Motion were made in respect of it. That treatment of the subject might be satisfactory for a little time, but it could be so for a little time only. He strongly advised the Chief Secretary to take a different course; and he did so because he saw the way in which public opinion was going, looking at all the elections which had recently taken place. The fact was, the whole of the country was dissatisfied with the Government; and therefore he would advise the Chief Secretary, out of pure friendship, to lay all the facts before the House, and prove, if he could, that the present state of Ireland was not owing to the proceedings of the Government, and the sooner he could give that proof the better it would be for the Government and for Ireland.


said, he was not about to draw the attention of the House to the administration of Irish affairs by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, that right hon. Gentleman being, as he believed, in a state of Arcadian ignorance as to the real state of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was in his place, and he it was who was really responsible fir the government of Ireland. He wished to point to the contrast between the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on the Coercion Bills and the present action of the Government. The Prime Minister objected to the prolongation of the discussion on the introduction of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill, because, in the absence of the text, it was impossible to speak with accuracy of its probable operation; but he added that, if they were legislating against agitation or against popular discontent, it would be better to proceed, in the first instance, with remedial legislation; and then he declared they were legislating against the abettors and the perpetrators of outrage, on whose fears they desired to operate—men of the dangerous classes, who were not to be converted by remedial legislation. The right hon. Gentleman added that neither members of the Land League or other persons could be touched except so far as they fell within the stringent provisions of the Bill. Was it a just inference that the Bill was aimed solely at the perpetrators and abettors of outrage? [Mr GLADSTONE assented.] The right hon. Gentleman assented, and he would therefore ask whether Father Sheehy was an abettor or perpetrator of outrage? Father Sheehy was one of the most earnest, honest, fair dealing, and patriotic of the clerical party in Ireland. Was this arrest, then, consistent with the declaration of the Prime Minister as to the objects of that Bill? He took no notice of the declarations of the Chief Secretary, who contradicted himself from day to day, and guided himself with the reports of policemen, without troubling himself to find out whether they were true or not. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) to say that the description of what the Coercion Act was going to be, and against whom it was to be directed, corresponded with the arrest of this respectable and respected clergyman—with the arrest of Town Councillors and Poor Law Guardians, and many other persons in Ireland, whose solo offence against the law had been that they were earnest supporters of this great struggle of the people against landlordism. Authentic evidence of what had occurred in the neighbourhood in which these arrests had been made was to be found in the Report of the Commission. It was asserted by the witnesses that tenants who had made improvements had been compelled to sacrifice them and to accept leases, and that rents had been raised; and Mr. William Uniacke Townsend himself admitted all the charges made against him, expressed the opinion that every tenant should have a lease, and confessed that with those leases he protected himself against the clauses of the Land Act as far as he was able to do so. No wonder he wished all his tenants to have leases, seeing that they thereby deprived themselves of the benefits conferred upon them by the Land Act. It was because Father Sheehy and other honest men agitated and demonstrated against this plunder by the landlord in the dying throes of landlordism that they were put into prison in direct contravention of the statement of the Prime Minister. The question still remained, What were the Government going to do with Ireland? Were they going to respond to the invitation of some advocates of coercion and go further than they had done already? The Attorney General for Ireland, who was a master in the art of putting a most humane appearance on the most inhuman acts, had told the House that a magistrate could sentence a man to a month's imprisonment for carrying what he called an "inflammatory placard." If a parallel were wanted to the administration of the law in Ireland, they must go back to those times in France before they got rid of the landlords by the short and summary proceedings which were not permitted in this Constitutionally—governed country. The Prime Minister knew if he committed a single act of tyranny against one working man in England his Ministry would not be worth an hour's purchase. But those things were managed differently in Ireland, and the law by which it was done was the law of historic precedent and the will of the conqueror. Ireland seemed to be about as free, happy, and contented a country to live in as Russia under General Ignatieff.


bore testimony to the humane and excellent character of the Rev. Father Sheehy, and protested against the answer of the Chief Secretary. He insisted that a proper answer should be given. The right hon. Gentleman knew what was in the Warrant under which the arrest had taken place, and there was no reason why it should not be stated to the House. The people of Limerick must have been outraged by the arrest of a Catholic priest who was known chiefly for his courtesy and kindness. Had the right hon. Gentleman been in Ireland he would not have dared to be a party to such an outrage. With reference to the state of Ireland, he must say he attributed it entirely to the hesitation of the Government to bring in a Bill to stay evictions during the discussion of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill. If they took that step outrages, he believed, would cease; and if they refused to take it, the outrages, he contended, were not so much the fault of the people as of the Government. Apart from the Irish aspect of the question, it appeared to him that this act was a fatal mistake on the part of the Government at a moment when they were trying there, far away from the scene of the transaction, to pass pacific measures for the country. Instead of preparing the minds of the people for the acceptance of such measures, they were pursuing an exasperating and muddling policy. The effect of the arrest of the hon. Member for Tipperary and of Father Sheehy would be that their followers and admirers would be increased a hundredfold, and the task of pacification and conciliation would be 10 times more difficult for the Government. Such gross inconsistency was enough to make the people of Ireland look with suspicion on all their measures.


These Motions for Adjournment have, perhaps, considerable attraction to those who make them, for they afford an unbounded opportunity of licence, not only for the statement of accusations, but for the statement of assertions of any kind whatever, ranging over a field of immeasurable breadth, and requiring nothing except the imputation of the worst motives on every occasion to those charged with the government of the country, and not allowing of any practical test whatever by a vote of the House. I will only say, with regard to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that whenever it does come near the region of facts, it appears to be extremely inaccurate. I will take those facts entirely within my own knowledge. He has saddled me as having made a statement that the Government were ready to entertain a proposal for introducing a temporary and provisional measure for suspending evictions. Sir, the Government has made no such statement whatever, or anything approaching to it. Nothing of the sort has ever fallen from my lips or from the lips of my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster). I believe that with that observation I may pass from the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, animating and interesting as, no doubt, it must have been to those who heard it. I come now to the speech of the hon. Member for the town of Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I cannot undertake to justify the acts of Mr. William Uniacke Townsend, or to condemn them, for I have no acquaintance with any of them, nor, indeed, was I aware of the existence of that individual. If I have read his evidence in the Report of the Commission I have forgotten him; but there is one statement with which I think it my duty to grapple. He complains that during the debate on the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill We said it was aimed only at the perpetrators and abettors of outrage, and that we have now arrested a Roman Catholic priest for supporting the operations of the Land League, which we had entirely disclaimed as the object of the Bill. He is perfectly correct in his reference to the description given by Her Majesty's Government of the objects of the Bill. We did say that the Bill was not aimed at the Land League, as such; we did say that it was not aimed at the popular agitation, in the general sense of the word; we did say that it was aimed at the abettors and perpetrators of outrage; and I am entitled to say that we have not arrested anyone, priest or layman, for being a member or supporter of the Land League, or for taking part in the popular agitation, even though we may have thought that the popular agitation went, in certain respects, far beyond the limits of safety and of justice. I simply place my unproved assertion on that subject against the unproved assertion of the hon. Gentleman. But, Sir, I must say that, although the Gentlemen coming from Ireland, not unnaturally, are led in their position to deal in assertions that are somewhat hasty and reckless, they are far transcended and surpassed by their single English ally, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). As long as the noble Lord deals with matters of opinion he is perfectly safe, because he has nothing to do but to heap upon the Government all the vilifying epithets he can command; to impute to each of their actions the very worst motive he can discover, and to serve up a highly-seasoned repast for the intellectual palate of his audience; and by this means I admit it is impossible for us to contend against a mind so judicial, against one who is so very careful and scrupulous in the language that he uses, and in the alliances he endeavours to establish by his Parliamentary procedure in this House. But, Sir, if the noble Lord will accept counsel from me, he will avoid coming to the ground of fact. When- ever he comes to the ground of fact he treads upon very dangerous ground. I heard him make many assertions to-day; but all his reproaches I will pass by with the single observation that while he accused my right hon. Friend or me of being arbitrary and capricious, he also accused him, because of the extremn paucity of arrests made under the Coercion Bill, of having deprived that measure of all nerve and strength, and sacrificed the object for which it was passed. But the noble Lord spoke on two points with regard to the hon. Member for Tipperary, now, unfortunately, under confinement. The noble Lord said that the whole of the speeches of the hon. Member for Tipperary were identical in their tone and spirit. Well, Sir, if that is to be considered as a matter of opinion from the noble Lord, we claim the right of holding the opposite opinion; but if it is to be stated by him as a matter of fact, we, as a matter of fact, respectfully deny it. All his speeches have been carefully considered by persons who are, I apprehend, quite as competent to measure their legal bearing and significance as the noble Lord. Perhaps I may go so far as to say that the Law Advisers of the Crown are even more competent than the noble Lord to measure the legal bearings of the hon. Member's speeches. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL dissented.] The noble Lord announces by a shake of his head that he is more competent to judge of the legal bearings of the speeches of Mr. Dillon; but, perhaps, I had better leave the noble Lord as Sir John Moore was left—"alone in his glory"—if it is the opinion which he entertains of his own capacity in matters of law. Passing from that assertion of the noble Lord, I come to another which is still more in the nature of an opinion, and still less of the nature of a matter of fact. He said that we allowed Mr. Dillon, the Member for Tipperary, to make his speeches as long as he was merely touring about Ireland; but that when he announced he was coming to London to take part in the discussion on the Land Law (Ireland) Bill, and to make a particular proposition in relation to it, then, seized with apprehension, we interfered and arrested him. Sir, I challenge the noble Lord to prove to me that Mr. Dillon ever did say that he was coming to London. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL. It was a matter of notoriety.] A matter of notoriety means that it is known to all men. Now, Sir, I assert that it was not known to all men. It may be known to the noble Lord, but it was not known to us. What we know is that Mr. Dillon, the Member for Tipperary, made a statement that a certain question was going to be raised in the House of Commons, and the only declaration that has been made known to us on that subject contains no statement whatever that he was on his way to London to make it. ["Oh, oh!"] Where is it? Produce it? If the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) thinks fit to interrupt me for an assertion of what is within our own knowledge—namely, the assertion of what came to our knowledge, for I went no further—if he has not patience to let me state what I am cognizant of, and what I am not, I think he is bound to produce the evidence upon which he ventures upon an interruption that, I must say, was of a rather discourteous nature. The only statement known to me, and I believe I am right in stating to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, was a statement that a certain proposal was going to be made in the House of Commons. It was not a statement that it was going to be made by the hon. Member for Tipperary. [Mr. PARNELL: That was the only inference that could be drawn.] The only inference that could be drawn, and that which the hon. Member for Cork City declares was the only inference that could be drawn, the noble Lord declares to be a matter of fact and of public notoriety. I will leave the noble Lord, in the course of his not unfrequent communications with the hon. Member for the City of Cork, to settle between them which of these versions is the correct one. Sir, I am bound to say, having referred to the noble Lord and the manner in which he thinks it his duty to render assistance to the Executive in the performance of a very difficult task in Ireland, I should not do justice if I did not dwell upon the marked contrast between the conduct of the noble Lord in that respect and the conduct of the whole of the Gentlemen whom I see sitting opposite, and to whose Party the noble Lord belongs. While they may very likely join in many of the condemnations of the noble Lord upon many of the proceedings of the Executive Government in Ireland, they have studiously avoided saying a word which would tend to weaken the arm of the law, or deprive of their effect those measures, painful but needful, that Parliament has passed for the purpose of establishing peace and order in Ireland. As I shall not have the privilege of speaking again, nor will my right hon. Friend, on the part of the Government, with regard to any further assertions that may be made, I will enter my respectful protest, that we must not be understood by our silence to admit in whole or in part the correctness of those assertions. But there is another question as to the mode of carrying on these debates. There is a complaint against the Government because they have not shown a greater readiness to find time for the discussion of those arrests. The meaning of that is, that we have not put off the discussion on the Land Law (Ireland) Bill, which the hon. Member for Cork City is trying as far as he can to defeat, nor consented to sacrifice Monday, a day which is required for discussion on the subject of taxation. We think we have great interest in having the matter of the arrests made the subject of discussion on a specific Motion; and we also think that there has been something like a deliberate avoidance of opportunities on the part of hon. Gentlemen. It may be an inaccurate impression, but we believe we have grounds for the impression, that there is a decided preference on the part of some Gentlemen for these rather rambling and certainly unmeasured debates—unmeasured as to the assertions that are made, and rambing as regards the issue from the spirit of practical discussion we might have on the Motion. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) dropped a suggestion the other day to which I should have given an answer at the time if some other Gentleman had not put another question, and the suggestion of the hon. Member for Galway was lost sight of. The hon. Member asked—"Will you propose a Morning Sitting of the House for the purpose of enabling us to have a Motion of complaint regularly lodged against you?" With regard to a Morning Sitting, Her Majesty's Government have recently had some experience. Using such information as we possessed we proposed a Morning Sitting for a particular purpose, believing that it was agreeable to the general feeling of the House. But we found afterwards that a considerable majority of the House was not disposed to regard it with favour. Therefore, it would not be prudent on my part to place myself in the same position again, until I had received some assurance that the proposal would be agreeable to the majority of the House. All I can say is that if upon the best information it is in our power to obtain we find it would be agreeable to the House, we should not refuse to ask the House on Monday evening to consent to a Morning Sitting on Tuesday. That is the only offer which, in the straitness of time we are under, I can make; and I can only add that we have every desire to forward the views of those Gentlemen who wish to challenge the conduct of the Government on this subject.


observed, that the House was discussing the case without an accurate knowledge of the facts, and without the possibility of arriving at any practical result. He was glad, therefore, that the Prime Minister was disposed to give an early day for the consideration of the arrests under the Coercion Act. The whole subject was extremely important; but the arrest of a man like Mr. Sheehy was a peculiarly grave act, and one that might have very serious consequences on the public peace in Ireland. He claimed no immunity for any body of persons, lay or clerical, from arrest if they brought themselves within the law; but in the case of a Catholic priest in Ireland only the gravest reasons could justify his arrest, and when the Government had thought it right to make such an arrest they were bound to come prepared at the earliest possible moment to state to the House fully and fairly the grounds of that arrest. In many parts of Ireland the voice of the Catholic priest was the only free voice that could be raised against the oppression of the people. When he asked the Government to state the grounds on which they had acted, he did not demand a mere technical compliance with the letter of the Coercion Act, but a full and fair statement of the reasons for which Mr. Sheehy had been arrested.


The Prime Minister has rightly interpreted the silence we have observed during this discussion. While we must hold the Government entirely responsible for the whole of their action in this matter, we desire in no way whatever to embarrass or to weaken their hands in the discharge of their most painful and most responsible duties. I rise, not in order to make any general observations on this subject, but to refer to what I understood the Prime Minister to say with regard to a Morning Sitting. As I understand, he desired that an opportunity might be given for the discussion of the very serious question raised by this and other arrests in a proper and convenient form by appointing a Morning Sitting on Tuesday. If that is the desire of the Government, I think the House ought to support that proposal. The question of the conduct of the responsible Government at such a crisis as this, and in such an important matter, is one which ought not to be left in abeyance. It is impossible that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland should take every opportunity, regular or irregular, for the discussion of this question; and they must feel that the only true and satisfactory way in which it can be discussed is by a regular Motion. We quite understand that it would be difficult for the Government to give a Government night for the purpose; and I think, though I reserve my opinion as to the proper times and seasons for Morning Sittings generally, that the best course is to appoint a Morning Sitting. If Tuesday morning is convenient, I have no doubt that the great body of the House would accede to that suggestion. I hope, if it is generally understand that that course will be adopted, that it will not be thought necessary to prolong this discussion.


justified the course taken in moving the adjournment of the House on the ground that it would have been impossible to raise the question of the Irish arrests in any other way. He put it to the English and the Scotch Members whether, if the Constitution were suspended in their countries in order that innocent persons might be arrested under lettres de cachet, they would not have done the same thing? The right hon. Gentleman, who consulted solely the convenience of the Government in all his Parliamentary arrangements, had given no facilities for the Motion of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy). When the Bradlaugh question was before the House, the right hon. Gentleman had proposed a Morning Sitting; but as soon as the Leader of the Opposition had extricated the Government from their difficulty, Northampton became as uninteresting to the right hon. Gentleman as Tipperary. In the meantime, excellent men were arrested on so-called "reasonable suspicion;" but if there was one man more responsible than another for outrage, disturbance, and discontent, it was the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, by limiting the scope of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill of last year to disturbed districts, had practically induced the more peaceable counties to qualify for the extension of its operation. However, with regard to the proposed Morning Sitting on Tuesday, he asked for information on a point of Order, and desired to know whether it was possible at a Morning Sitting to proceed by Notice of Motion without suspending the Standing Orders of the House?


said, that only Orders of the Day were usually taken at a Morning Sitting; but, according to the decision of the House arrived at not long ago, the difficulty might be got over by a Motion being introduced on the preceding evening, and then made an Order of the Day for the following day.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister talked of rambling; but his own speech wandered considerably, for he had not even told them why the Catholic clergyman was arrested. If the proposed Morning Sitting were to be of any value for the purpose for which it was designed, the request of the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell) ought to be complied with. What were they to discuss at the Morning Sitting? Arrests which were shrouded in an impenetrable veil of secrecy. The Government ought to communicate to the House the language or the acts they imputed to the men arrested in Ireland, and hon. Gentlemen could then proceed to discuss that language and those acts. As it was, not even the persons who were most interested knew anything of the causes that led to them. The Government first took away all liberty in Ireland, then stifled discussion, thus denying to the people all mode of examining into the exercise of despotic power. The House was told two months ago that the Coercion Act was directed against the village tyrant and the village ruffian; that it was intended to put a stop to outrage. It had, however, been used for arresting the most respectable people in Ireland, Poor Law Guardians, members of the representative Bodies, until they had made Kilmainham Gaol a place to which it was perfectly accurate to say the love and confidence of the people of Ireland turned. He (Mr. Sexton) was sorry to say that the Prime Minister's references to the speech in which his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) announced his intention to bring the question of evictions under the notice of the House did more credit to the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman than it did to his candour. He (Mr. Sexton) was present at the meeting in Dublin at which the Member for Tipperary spoke, and the universal impression was that his hon. Friend intended to come over here and to raise the question of evictions on the floor of the House. When his hon. Friend was arrested, public opinion in Ireland wavered between two conclusions as to the reasons which dictated his arrest. One conclusion was that it was an act of Parliamentary policy, and that the Government thought that was a convenient way of getting rid of a troublesome opponent. The other was that in the speech which immediately preceded his arrest he had the temerity to make personal reference to the two right hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in the debate. People in Ireland said that a man might go far in discussing general principles; but that when he made reference to the right hon. Gentlemen who occupied the Treasury Bench, he had better look out for his liberty. He did not know whether the Government, before ordering or sanctioning the arrest of Father Sheehy, had taken the trouble to consider for a moment the intense, the intimate, and sacred nature of the ties that existed between the priests and the people in Ireland; but he thought that even from motives of statesmanship they might very well have considered these ties, and might have considered also that the act which they had done in arresting Father Sheehy was an act the like of which had not been done within human memory in Ireland. English statesmen knew very well that Irish priests had often exposed themselves to unpopularity by their efforts to keep their people within the ways of peace and Constitutional action, even under circumstances of great suffering and great provocation. He (Mr. Sexton) had personal knowledge of Father Sheehy, and was able to boast of the privilege of his friendship. He had been for years a spectator and critic of the share he had taken in public life in Ireland; and he was able to say that Father Sheehy, while devoting his rare intellectual gifts to the service of the Irish people in a spirit of the purest patriotism, and while showing himself solicitous for the general progress of the people, he had always, he thought, shown himself no less solicitous for the peace and tranquillity of society. No step taken in the House, no language that could be spoken in it, could give any adequate reflection of the feeling that would be excited in Ireland by this act of arbitrary power directed against this gifted and estimable gentleman. This act marked the most advanced and the most perilous stage of the policy pursued by the Government. Nothing, he believed, but his sense of the extremity and anger of the suffering people brought Father Sheehy into this present movement. He was arrested, not because he did anything against peace and order in Ireland, but because in the locality in which he lived he was feared by evil-doers—a man whose courage and eloquence made him a tower of strength in the cause of the people. He had been thrown into gaol; and the agent in that locality—who combined the cruelty of a Turkish Pasha with the instincts of a banditti—would be at liberty to exact his rack rents, which Ministers on the Treasury Bench had admitted to be unjust. Her Majesty's Government ought to have reflected on the present convulsed and perilous state of Ireland, never so bad as then, but had, apparenty, not done so; and he (Mr. Sexton) would warn them that they were driving the people to desperation. Unless the Government meant to goad the people beyond the bounds of prudence and legitimate Constitutional action in Ireland, what did they mean by applying such a terrible provocation to the passions of the people as that arrest? The relations between the people and the priests of Ireland were closer them that between any people and priests in the world; and if that were true in a general sense, it was true especially in Father Sheehy's case, than whom there was no man more reverenced or beloved in Ireland. No man or woman in Ireland would believe that he had brought himself under the designation of those who ought to be arrested under the Coercion Act. The Prime Minister told them on what grounds he was not arrested; but they wanted to know on what grounds he was arrested. There was not among the 4,000,000 of people in Ireland one person who would believe that Father Sheehy had said one word which was discreditable to him as a priest, or dishonourable to him as a man. The landlords in Ireland were exercising their powers with the grossest disregard for right and justice; while there were landlords who were incarnate libels upon humanity. Since his last return to Ireland, he (Mr. Sexton) had been able to appreciate the mental condition into which Mr. Dillon was driven by his experiences of the misery and suffering which existed in that country. Unless the Government wished to light and apply the fuse to the magazine of passion which was now before the Irish people, the House had better beware how they gave such provocations as were supplied in the arrest of Father Sheehy. Let them have the opportunity given of discussion. Let them be told for what words Father Sheehy had been cast into gaol. The majority of the House cheerfully and almost gaily passed the Coercion Act, and he had no doubt an equal majority would support the Government in any act they might do; but let them not be mocked by sneering invitations to make Motions which were doomed to defeat, and by irritating references to majorities against whom it was impossible to contend. Let them have the grounds upon which Father Sheehy was arrested, and the Irish Members would be prepared to discuss the question, and to show that it was not in the interests of the Irish people that such a course should be taken.


said, the course of events was precisely that which the Irish Members had predicted when the Coercion Act was being passed through the House. The persons who had been arrested did not at all belong to the class of whom they were told by the Government the Act contemplated the arrest. One of the Irish Members of Parliament had been arrested, then a Catholic priest, and he supposed a Catholic Bishop or Archbishop would come next. Father Sheehy had been arrested only because his liberty had been whispered away by some secret enemy at Dublin Castle; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland ought to have hesitated before he arrested a Catholic priest upon suspicion and private information. The right hon. Gentleman, if he had ever studied the history of Ireland, would know the story of another Father Sheehy who was executed on false testimony in the year 1766, and who was regarded as a martyr by his countrymen. It would surely have been better not to have awakened these unpleasant memories in the mind of the Irish people. There was no doubt the state of Ireland was rapidly going from bad to worse; and he (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) believed that unless the present Chief Secretary for Ireland were removed from his Office, in which he had so signally failed, and some man of greater stability of character put in his place, the worst consequences would result. Acting, as he did, on the suggestions of the Irish landlords, and carrying out their desires, he believed the Irish people would be driven into a condition of open insurrection. It was vain to address warnings to the Government from that side of the House; for they had shut their eyes to facts that had occurred in Ireland, and they were running into a condition of things which, he believed, they and this country would have reason to regret if much longer persevered in.


rose to address the House, when—

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


expressed a hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. W. M. Johnson) would undertake, on behalf of the Government, that, at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday, the House would be supplied with full and accurate information as to the grounds on which Father Sheehy and the other men had just been arrested at Kilmallock. Unless the House were furnished with that information, they would have no means of deciding properly whether or not the Executive Government had acted fairly or justly in making those arrests, and nothing valuable would be gained by the discussion. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had disappointed them of a speech from him on the Land Bill the other evening, and the least the hon. and learned Gentleman could do was to make up for it by addressing them on the present occasion. The reply to the question of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), as to the reason why the Government applied the Coercion Act in the extraordinary way they did, was this. The right hon. Gentlemen opposite (Mr. Bright and Mr. Forster) had both told the House that such an Act would only be tyrannical in the hands of the Conservative Party, and, therefore, instead of arresting people by 200 or 300 at a time, they arrested individuals by ones and twos and threes at different times. If people read in a paper of two or three people being arrested under the Act at Limerick, they did not pay much attention, and did not credit the Liberal Administration with acting tyrannically. At present, the people of Ireland were engaged in a movement to carry out an object which the Prime Minister in his Mid Lothian speeches had declared to be a legitimate object—namely, the expropriation of the landlords. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had expressed great regret that he had been forced to make that arrest; but that was not the first time that an Irish priest had been arrested on the evidence of spies and informers. That arrest would increase the hatred of the people of Ireland against foreign rule; and he felt sure that Father Sheehy would be satisfied to spend his whole life in prison if he could teach the Irish people, as his arrest would certainly teach them, the utter hollowness of the Liberal Ministry's pretences of sympathy and friendship for Ireland.


said, if they were to judge by the conduct of the Government in Ireland, there was little to choose between Conservatives and Liberals. Instead of smothering discontent and crushing agitation by arrests such as that of Father Sheehy, the Government were making a great and fatal mistake. He was well known to possess great influence and authority in the county of Limerick, and was a man whom every- one there respected for his high-minded qualities and intellectual gifts. If there was one man who tried to keep the agitation within the bounds of Constitutional limits and of common sense, Father Sheehy was that man. And yet this man was selected as a victim of the Coercion Bill. By design, or through ignorance, the Government were drawing the people to dangeous courses; but they had learned from their past history that their strength lay in combined action within Constitutional bounds. The Government had been warned that it would be impossible to govern Ireland by Coercion Bills; but their whole system in that country had been a government of force, behind which there was the wretched informer and the miserable spy. He and his Friends regretted that they should have to raise this discussion on a question of Adjournment; but necessity had no law, and until the Government told them the reasons for the arrests of Mr. Dillon and Father Sheehy, it would be their duty to have a discussion upon every arrest which took place in Ireland. He had no doubt it would be inconvenient, and would retard Business; but as an Irish Member he must say there was something higher and more important than even the progress of Public Business, and that was to know the reason why the liberties of an individual, or a nation, were taken away. The priests of Ireland had done much to preserve the people from extreme crimes, warning them especially against the doctrines of Communism and Socialism, and yet it was from this order that the Government had selected one of their victims. By their miserable and arbitrary acts the Government were driving and goading the people to sheer desperation. He deplored those acts, though he believed firmly that never in the history of the country had the British power in Ireland been in a weaker condition than at present. The government of Ireland had been a failure, and it must continue to be so so long as the country was governed against the express wishes of the people.


said, that the advice repeatedly tendered to the Government during the passing of the Coercion Bill by the Irish Members had been treated with the contempt which the Chief Secretary for Ireland habitually manifested to the Representatives of Ireland. But he (Mr. Barry) maintained that every prediction made by them on that occasion had been realized. The landlords had, and were then, everywhere exercising their rights in the most cruel manner, and thousands of eviction processes were being served. But how did the Government act under the circumstances? They coped with that system of wholesale and capricious eviction by a system of wholesale and capricious arrest. He charged the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) with having carried the Coercion Bill through the House upon false pretences. The right hon. Gentleman said the Bill was intended for the village tyrant and the dissolute ruffian; but they had not witnessed any wholesale arrest of rowdies and ruffians and criminals, but the arrest of some of the most respectable men of the country. Merchants, men of the most influential position, members of public bodies, a Member of that House; lastly, to-day, the crowning wrong had come, and a Catholic priest had been arrested—a man of the highest character, who had always been distinguished for his love of order and peace, and who on one occasion had prevented a conflict between the people and constabulary. By that stumbling and blundering course of conduct they would drive the people from despair to desperation. How long was this policy to continue? Did the Government think they were going to put down the Land League? If they thought they could do so, they would make a great mistake. If every member of it was arrested to-morrow, there would be hundreds of thousands to take their place.


said, it was quite evident, from the conduct of the Government, that in time there would not be a respectable man in Ireland out of gaol. He regretted that his hon. Friend (Mr. O'Sullivan) had chosen a Friday night on which to move the Adjournment, and that the time of private Members should be taken up by a Motion of the character of the one which the House was discussing. Had he been the hon. Gentleman, he would have chosen the first Government night—and upon this ground, that the more inconvenience they could give the Government, the greater chance and probability there was in Ireland that they would conduct themselves with something like decency. [Mr. CALLAN: No, no!] it Some hon. Gentleman had apologized for the inconvenience of the Motion. He saw no need for apology, when they reflected how little the Government cared for the convenience of the Irish people, and how they trampled upon all the people held sacred. Whenever any man, be he priest or layman, Member of Parliament or crossing-sweeper, was arrested in Ireland unconstitutionally, they ought to come down to the House and give the Executive Government all the trouble in their power, and, by making Motions of this sort, insist upon the discussion of the matter. As to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. he (Mr. Healy) would venture to adopt the language towards him used in that House some years ago by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster respecting Sir Charles Adderley, then a Member of the Government. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a very dull man, and his policy in Ireland of arresting the most respectable and worthy men in the country was stupidity followed by stupidity. The Government appeared to be determined to single out for imprisonment the most respectable people they could find. But it was a great mistake to suppose that educated men were to be intimidated from doing their duty by threats of imprisonment and punishment. It was Father Sheehy today, and it might be a Bishop or an Archbishop to-morrow. He had the honour of knowing Father Sheehy, and he was prouder of that now that he was in Kilmainham. The First Lord of the Treasury had made the Irish Members what he (Mr. Healy) might call a tortuous offer of a Morning Sitting; but the right hon. Gentleman had given no promise of acting with energy to force the House to consent to such a Sitting. Very different would have been the demeanour of the right hon. Gentleman if the question had concerned an Atheist or blasphemer. Had the Irish Members but known what use would have been made of the Coercion Act, they would have opposed the Bill with ten times more determination than they showed during its progress through the House. His regret was that they had not done so, for no Irish Member should shrink from suspension, if he should incur that punishment for advocating the rights of his countrymen; and he, for one, did not, neither would he care whether he was suspended or not. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had said that the Coercion Act would only be used against men who planned and perpetrated outrages, and that the persons who committed crime and whom he was desirous of imprisoning were "the remnant of the old Riband and other secret societies;" "Fenians who had taken advantage of the present state of things in Ireland," and the mauvais sujets of various localities. Father Sheehy most certainly did not belong to any of these three classes. He was a Christian and a gentleman. Neither did Mr. Dillon, nor Mr. Moran, the solicitor. Yet they were the men whom the Government singled out for the honour of cells in Kilmainham. Men were generally impaled upon two horns of a dilemma, but he would give the right hon. Gentleman his choice of three. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Coercion Bill, had said—


said, he must remind the hon. Gentleman that it would be out of Order to quote speeches made during the current Session.


said, that being so, he hoped there would be no further references to dissolute ruffians and village tyrants in the course of future debates. He should, however, like to know whether he could refer to a Question which he had put to a right hon. Gentleman yesterday? The reason why he wished to do so was because he had to complain of the answers which Ministers gave to Questions asked by the Irish Members. He had asked the Secretary of State for War, whether it was the fact that four pieces of artillery and a flying column had been sent against the peasantry in the county of Limerick, and if he could give the House any news from the seat of war; but the right hon. Gentleman treated it as a joke. He warned the Chief Secretary for Ireland that his answers were deeply taken to heart. They watched the manner in which he attended to local complaints, and they felt keenly such contemptuous replies as implied that the subject was unworthy the attention of the Government or the House. If their complaints were always received in a spirit of levity a most dangerous feeling would grow up in Ireland. He complained of these arrests, not only from the cha- racter of the men arrested, but the indignity with which they were accompanied. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) had spoken of the meanness of the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Davitt. There was not only meanness, but malignity in the arrest of Mr. Dillon. These indignities had increased the irritation which existed in Ireland, and might yet provoke a storm of passionate indignation against the Government of the right hon Gentleman. If the Government wanted to allay agitation in Ireland, they should not arrest men who had the love, respect, and admiration of their countrymen.


thought it would be admitted on all sides of the House that that debate was an unfortunate sequel to the second reading of the great remedial measure, the Land Law (Ireland) Bill; but, at the same time, it was solely and entirely the fault of the Government in arresting a popular Catholic clergyman. Why did not some more sensible Member of the Cabinet warn the Chief Secretary for Ireland of the danger of arresting men like Father Sheehy, because they engaged in the defence of the most sacred rights of their flocks? Was it intended on Tuesday to confine the information vouchsafed to the bald parchment of the Warrant, or would the Chief Secretary, who was now called the "Chief Process-server" in Ireland, have the courage, of which he was always boasting, to give the necessary details by which the action of the Government might be tested? He denied that the Government had any right to say that any language used by Father Sheehy or any other person was to be taken as incriminating himself, unless such language was considered in connection with the context and the circumstances in which the language was used. If this was not done, or if the Government did not give a fair and candid answer for their conduct, the Irish Members would feel themselves justified in reverting to the line of conduct they deemed themselves justified in taking at a time when they believed the Government were willing to act upon the anonymous slanders of informers who held communication with the authorities at Dublin Castle.


said, he could not remain silent when the conduct of the Government was under discussion for a national offence. He was willing to admit that Government might be misled by their poisoned sources of information; but they were too ready to lend a willing ear to the malicious officials of Dublin Castle. He was, however, surprised that a Liberal Government should have exercised a tyrannous power in a tyrannical manner, and still further so, that they should have acted in such a manner as to have arrested a priest. The Government could not surely forget that to Irishmen, and to Irish Catholics particularly, a priest was a sacred character, and what was done to a priest in Ireland was done to Catholicity all over the world. It was, therefore, highly impolitic on the part of the Government to raise against itself Catholic opinion not only in Ireland, but in England and America, and all the world also, and it would tell against the Liberal Government not only at any bye-Elections that might take place, but at the General Election which the exigency of circumstances might bring about at no very distant period. Why was not Father Sheehy brought up in the ordinary course of law? The reason was, they could not sustain any charge against him, and he was confined upon a vague Warrant, because, like others, he attempted to do his duty to his country. He was the more sorry that this course had been taken now, because he had hoped that we were on the eve of a period of reconciliation between the people of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom.


Mr. Speaker, I wish, before a division is taken, to join my words to those of my Colleagues in deprecation and denunciation of the step which the Government have most unwisely and rashly taken in arresting my esteemed friend Father Sheehy. I have known Father Sheehy for a great many years, and I have never heard him in the course of this Land agitation say anything that could be, in the slightest degree, twisted or interpreted into an incitement to outrage. I think this is one of those unfortunate steps which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland seems to allow himself to be forced into, and which he takes from time to time, without proper forethought and without sufficient premeditation. The Government, during the last week or fortnight, have been urged on by a Tory Press and by a debate in "another place" to use the Coercion Act more extensively than they have done up to the present time. They have yielded to the pressure which has been brought to bear on them by their political opponents, and they have made, in a short interval, a large number of arrests of very respectable men throughout the country. The Government have not used the Act in the way in which they promised the House to use it. They have not arrested a single "dissolute ruffian or village tyrant." In fact, they have been doing everything, in carrying out the provisions of the Act, which they undertook to the House when obtaining the Act not to do, and they have left undone everything which they undertook to the House they would do. They stand convicted, by the result of the working of the Act, of having obtained it under what, practically, amounts to false pretences. One of the speakers to-night said that, if a Conservative Government were in power, the whole of Ireland would be proclaimed under the operation of the Protection of Person and Property Act. I venture to think that if a Conservative Government were in power, they would not have obtained that Protection of Person and Property Act with which they could proclaim the whole of Ireland. Instead of having both sides of the House united against us in assisting the passage of coercion, we should have the Liberals and Radicals who now constitute the Government helping us to obstruct the Government, and helping us very successfully, I have no doubt, to prevent the Government from passing such a severe enactment. The history of former Conservative attempts to enact Coercion Laws for Ireland shows that the Liberals and Whigs, when out of Office, always combined for the purpose of preventing coercion for Ireland; but, when they come into Office, they always combine for the purpose of carrying coercion for Ireland. So that, as far as the matter of coercion goes, I feel convinced that if we had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) at the head of Her Majesty's Government, we should be without coercion worthy of the name in Ireland, and that Ireland would have every reason to be grateful for the change so far as the absence of coercion is con- cerned. It has been pointed out that one of the reasons why Father Sheehy has been arrested is that he successfully prevented the eviction of certain poor tenants by forming a combination amongst them. Another of the reasons I believe to be the Reports which the Government have received from a recently introduced stipendiary magistrate, one Mr. Clifford Lloyd, who has been distinguishing himself very much, during the few days he has been in Kilmallock in charge of the police, by his brutal treatment of the unoffending people of the locality. I hold in my hand a letter which I have just received from Father Sheehy, written shortly before his arrest, and he says— Mr. Clifford Lloyd, R.M., is here in his magisterial capacity since Friday. On the evening of his arrival he went through the town, and though an utter stranger here, being an importation from Belfast on the day previous, he insisted on the people dispersing to their homes who were quietly chatting in the street in groups of three and four, as is the wont of people at that time in the town. On their refusing, he proceeded furiously to strike them with his cane, and struck several violently over the shoulders. He subsequently brought out the police, with their shotted guns, and cleared the streets. The police clubbed the people freely with the stocks of their rifles. This riotous conduct on the part of this magistrate was all one-sided, there having been no provocation or resistance of any kind on the part of the people. The whole town is my testimony to the absolute truth of what I here write. The man's demeanour is an insult and a menace to our community, and he is zealously supported by an unfledged sub-inspector and a force of unscrupulous policemen. Their furious wantonness was climaxed last evening. Our local band played some airs through the street, and on its passing the police barracks some few persons in the crowd cheered. Forthwith over a dozen policemen, whom the magistrate had formed into line, in anticipation of the arrival of the band, rushed into the midst of the crowd, and used their batons like so many maniacs on the unfortunate people, who were out merely for recreation. Amongst those was our servant, who went to the post-office with letters from the Presbytery, as is customary with him every evening at the same hour. This man is well known as a quiet, moral, and unoffending person, and the same character is borne by others who were cruelly and wantonly beaten. It is very unfortunate that one of the penalties of directing attention to outrages on the part of the Government officials in Ireland is in future to be arrested on reasonable suspicion. I can have no doubt that Government must have acted on the report of Mr. Clifford Lloyd in directing the arrest of this esteemed clergyman. The Prime Minister accused me some time ago of want of courtesy to him. I should be very sorry to be wanting in courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman. I can assure him that, in explaining, I had no intention to show a want of courtesy to him. ["Oh, oh!"] But I would wish to say that perhaps the Prime Minister, before accusing hon. Members on this side of the House of want of courtesy, might direct his own Followers to be more observant of the ordinary courtesy of Parliamentary life than they showed last evening, when they deliberately insulted many of the Irish Members as they were walking out of the House by interjecting remarks of a most offensive and personal character; and as such we passed them by. For my part, I regret that the Government have embarked upon this renewed course of outrage and coercion on Ireland. It will entirely mar whatever effect the Land Law (Ireland) Bill might possibly have as a matter of justice to Ireland, even if that Bill be very extensively amended. The course that you have taken puts it utterly out of your power to say that you have done anything with a feeling of justice to the Irish people, for you are treating them in a way which the high spirit and the sense of the people cannot possibly stand.


said, that he sincerely deprecated the arrest of Father Sheehy, against whose character he was sure nothing could be said. The arrest would create widespread indignation and resentment, not only throughout Ireland, but throughout America and every other part of the world where the Irish people were scattered; for if there was one feeling more indigenous in the hearts of the Irish people than another, it was their deep-rooted respect for the priesthood. He (Mr. Givan) had not the pleasure of knowing the reverend gentleman, but had heard that his life was devoted to the promotion of the best interests of his people. He could bear testimony to the manner in which the priests of the North of Ireland had restrained the people and counselled them against obstructing the remedial measures proposed by the present Government. There was, no doubt, some cause for disaffection and for agitation in Ire- land; but, at the same time, he could not but regret that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway had not met Her Majesty's Government in another spirit, and had not aided them in their effort to carry further the object the Premier had in view in proposing the Bill which became law in 1870.


said, that his belief was the arrest of Father Sheehy would have a good effect, for it would place in the clearest light the conduct of the Government and the uses they were making of the Coercion Law, which they obtained under false pretences. The professed object was the suppression of violence and the arrest of ruffians, and not such arrests as those now complained of—namely, those persons who were the most respectable and the most respected in their several districts by the people. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland might, as a result of one of these arrests, be complimented on having added to his title of "Buckshot Forster" another with which he would be known by henceforth—namely, "Priest-hunting Forster."


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been exceedingly discourteous to hon. Gentlemen, and had exhibited the grossest ignorance on subjects which should have been within his knowledge, and had shown his incompetence for his position. He (Mr. Biggar) contended that the Government had misled the country as to the object of the Coercion Bill, as was proved by the character of the arrests which had been made. He quite agreed in the inconvenience of moving the adjournment of the House at Question time; but, he would ask, what were they to do when Ministers would not give them information which they had a right to obtain? At first, he did think they were men who could be trusted, when the Government came into Office; but as soon as the proposal was made to introduce the Coercion Bill, as soon as the Prime Minister turned his back on the professions he made before the Election, he ceased to have any confidence in any statement coming from the Treasury Bench.


The hon. Member is not entitled to say of any Member of the House that he does not believe a statement he has made.


begged leave to apologize for having used the expression, because, as the House knew, he was exceedingly anxious not to use un-Parliamentary language; but they could not surely expect Irish Members to have confidence in a Government such as the one now in power. Why, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was the pet of the Tories of Bradford, and it came with a bad grace for him to pose as an exponent of Liberalism. Nor could Irish Members be expected to place confidence in an Attorney General who was a confidential friend of the late Lord Leitrim, and who had defended the unscrupulous conduct of such men as Mr. Hussey, the agent of Lord Kenmare, and Mr. Townsend, the agent of Mr. Coote.


wished the Government to realize the effect the arrest of Father Sheehy would have on the moderate men of Ireland. It would alienate the Catholic priesthood, to whom the Government had been largely indebted for the preservation of peace. It would be regarded as an outrage on the whole body unless serious ground could be shown for it. In saying that, he did not wish to suggest that a priest should be regarded as in any sense above the law; but he knew that the utterances of Father Sheehy had not been as violent as those of several men who were still at large. The Irish people required to be subject to some restraints, and the persons who had the power to restrain them were the Catholic clergy; but the arrest of one of them would weaken that power. It would rankle in the minds of the people, and all the more because of undue reticence in stating the charge. Taking all things into consideration, he denounced it the more on the part of the Government, when bringing in a remedial measure, to make an arrest which was an insult to the mind and sentiment of the Irish people. It was the bounden duty of the Government to make allowance for the condition of things in Ireland, and he was very sorry for the sake of the peace, which he loved, that such an insult had taken place to the people of Ireland. For that reason he could not but add his protest to the others against the arrest which had taken place.


said, he felt it his duty to protest against this act of retrogression that had been committed by the Government under the operation of the Coercion Act, now that it was in operation, as he protested against it when the Bill was before that House. To arrest one of the priests of Ireland was to do a very dangerous thing, and he did not hesitate to say that it was an outrage on the feelings of the great majority of the Irish people. He also entered his protest against sending down to the South a violent and prejudiced Northern magistrate. Were they, then, come to this, that they had tramp magistrates in Ireland? He was satisfied of the imperfections of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but having a very difficult duty to perform he (Mr. Macdonald) would appeal to Irish Members to show more mercy to the right hon. Gentleman, who, like the other Members of the Government, was anxious to give Ireland a good Land Bill, which, it was to be hoped, would settle the question.


rose to Order. Were they discussing the Land Bill?


said, the hon. Member for Stafford must be aware he could not discuss the Land Law (Ireland) Bill, as it was not then before the House.


resuming, said, he was not discussing the Land Law (Ireland) Bill, or thinking of such. He was in the hands of the Chair, and felt that if he in any way digressed that he should be told so. He totally objected to be under the ruling of the hon. and learned Member for Bridport, or any other novice that took upon himself the duties of censor of the House. He implored the Government to abandon the course they were now pursuing in regard to arrests. He did not blame the Ministry, but the Executive at Dublin Castle; and he would again ask Irish Members to be more considerate in their treatment of the right hon. Gentleman. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members should treat him kindly; whereas they seemed to be hunting him for his scalp every day. He urged the Government to release the priest, and allow the Business of the House to proceed, in order to promote the peace and happiness of Ireland.


was greatly surprised that the Government had employed the magistrate whose name had been mentioned. A more dangerous man they could not send to the South of Ireland. His (Mr. Whitworth's) brother, who was a magistrate in Drogheda, told him that if this man were sent to the disturbed districts there would be bloodshed. At the same time, he blamed the Chief Secretary for Ireland for being too lenient. It was his great fault that he was too lenient, and that he had not put his foot firmly enough down. Every man who made a seditious speech ought to be arrested. Members of the Land League posed as the friends of Ireland. He held that there were no greater enemies of Ireland than the Gentlemen he saw opposite. Nothing was wanted so much as English capital in Ireland.


rose to Order. Was English capital the question before the House?


The Question before the House is, "That this House do now adjourn." I am bound to say that it is one of the many inconveniences of this proceeding that it gives the utmost latitude for discussion, and the observations now being made are not out of Order.


said, that an immense amount of injury was done to Ireland by the violent speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were not really friends of their country; but, on the contrary, before three years elapsed, would be considered its greatest enemies.


as an Irish Protestant Member, said, the more he reflected on the gravity and unwisdom of this act of the Government, the more he felt compelled to add his protest to those which had been delivered by his hon. Friends around him. He did not share all the sentiments which had been expressed by Irish Representatives to-night; but he believed that in the whole course of the Land League agitation and the action of the Government towards it, there had been no more unwise and unstatesmanlike step. He reckoned among his friends many Roman Catholic priests, and there were no persons whom he more respected and admired. The strength of affection and veneration with which the Roman Catholic priest was regarded by the people was intense; and if, even, one of them had been carried away too far, it would have been wisdom in the Government to give him a very long tether. As the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been in the House for some days, he hoped the direct responsibility for this arrest did not rest upon his shoulders, though, of course, he must share the responsibility with other Members of the Government. He would make a strong appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to the Prime Minister in particular, in the interest of peace and of the measure before the House, to reconsider this mistaken step, with a view to the liberation of the priest. As yet, there was still time to repair the harm that might have been done.


said, he wished to enter his respectful protest against the language which had been used by his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda (Mr. Whitworth), and some other hon. Members with respect to the magistrate referred to, who was not able to be present to defend himself. It was not desirable that a person holding the responsible position which this gentleman did should be described in the unmeasured terms employed by hon. Gentlemen. The magistrate had been described by his hon. Friend, not from his own knowledge, but from report, as a "dangerous character;" but the charge did not appear to be founded on anything more than his hon. Friend's dislike to these public officials. In the case of a man occupying such a responsible position it was a serious thing to make such charges without producing an atom of proof. ["Reasonable suspicion!"] It was not a usual thing, in an assembly either of Englishmen or Irishmen, to abuse a person in the position of the gentleman who had been thus attacked, when it was impossible for him to defend himself.


said, he would not have risen in this debate if it had not been for the observations which they had just heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. He (Mr. Cowen) had been in Ireland frequently recently, and he had many opportunities of becoming acquainted with the state of the country, and he must say he entirely agreed with the opinions which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Drogheda (Mr. Whitworth). There was "reasonable suspicion" to say that the person who had been attacked was a political and social firebrand. In whatever district he went he was calculated to excite dis- order and animosity. He (Mr. Cowen) did not wish to go further, as it was a mere matter of testimony. When Roman Catholic priests were arrested on a reasonable suspicion, there was at least equal ground for the opinions expressed by the hon. Member regarding the actions of the official in question in Ireland. He would not now go any further into the subject, as it was understood that it would be brought before the House next week; he would only repeat the experience of everyone familiar with the state of Ireland that the actions of the class of men referred to were calculated to embitter and exasperate the feelings of the Irish people.


said, he had not intended to take part in this discussion. [Laughter.] He wished to refer to the conduct of the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), and to express his regret that the hon. Gentleman should have gone out of his way to sneer at Irishmen to-night. The hon. Member had gone out of his way to laugh and sneer in a way which was very offensive. Such conduct was not creditable to the class of workmen to whom he belonged.


said, that if the hon. Member had to complain of any language used in the House reflecting upon himself or others, he should address himself to the Chair.


said, he did complain to the Chair. He was expressing the opinion to the Chair that it was desirable that discussions should be carried on without ill-feeling and sneers, and he thought his complaint was well founded. If there was to be harmony between English and Irish working men, it was desirable that one who was a Representative of working men should not sneer at Irishmen. He was about to say he had not intended to intervene in the debate, because he did not approve the system of moving the adjournment of the House. The abuse had lately become common of that which he held to be the only real check they had upon evasive and contemptuous answers from Ministers. If such Motions were often repeated, he feared the Government might seize upon the opportunity thus afforded for abrogating the privileges of private Members of the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was an eminent Chancery barrister; but he knew nothing whatever of criminal law. It was notorious in the Four Courts; the failure of the Crown prosecutions last winter showed it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's ignorance of criminal law was only equalled by the ignorance of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary of everything appertaining to Ireland. When he (Mr. Callan) was in Ireland, there was unanimity on two points only; one was the desirability of including in the Land Law (Ireland) Bill the jurisdiction of the County Court, and the other the necessity of removing from Office the present Chief Secretary. A Colleague of that right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had made a serious charge against Irish workmen, by suggesting that they were impoverished by superstition, by their observance of the holidays of the Church. The hon. Member for Drogheda (Mr. Whitworth) was, he (Mr. Callan) believed, the informant of the right hon. Gentleman; but he had very lately been in Drogheda, and had ascertained that the Catholic hands at the principal mill in that town, if they went to mass in the morning, came earlier, and worked the usual number of hours, and were paid exactly as on other days. The charge, therefore, was altogether without foundation. With regard to Mr. Clifford Lloyd, the Attorney General for Ireland had described him as a most excellent magistrate; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman could not have spoken from his own knowledge, and those who had better information would have described Mr. Lloyd as a very dangerous character, and as the enemy of all the popular rights of the people of Ireland. Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman corroborate his statement by any specific proof? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the charges against Mr. Clifford Lloyd were not proved. He (Mr. Callan) asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman to afford an opportunity to the Irish Members of giving specific proof of the charges. Doubtless, Mr. Clifford Lloyd fulfilled, in perfection, the duties assigned to him, and he had the courage of his opinions as the enemy of all popular rights. The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, on the other hand, changed his opinions with great facility three years ago. In that House he denounced tenant right, fixity of tenure, and valuation of rents; and, in fact, every principle of the Bill which he now supported. He had eaten his words in an unprincipled manner, and apparently with the sole object of retaining his salary.


said, the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan) had given him a lesson in courtesy, which, no doubt, he was very competent to give; but the hon. Member was quite mistaken in saying that he (Mr. Burt) had sneered at him. He simply laughed because the hon. Member for Louth began the opening sentence of his speech with what appeared to be the usual formula of saying that he had no intention of speaking. His laugh was not meant to indicate any want of sympathy either with the hon. Member, or the attitude which the Irish Members had assumed that evening. In fact, he entirely sympathized with them, and he only regretted that it had been necessary for them to take that course of moving the adjournment. He was one of those few English Members who had steadily opposed the Coercion Act; and whilst he did complain that it had been placed in the power of the Government to arrest anyone on what was called "reasonable suspicion," yet, assuming that the power was justifiable, he rather gave the Government credit for arresting a Member of Parliament and a priest, as it showed that they were no respecters of persons in carrying out what appeared to them to be necessary for the maintenance of order.


contended that it was not the Irish Members, but the Government, who were to blame for irregular conduct, inasmuch as the Government had taken the irregular course of suspending the Constitution. He wished to enter his indignant protest against the arrest of the Rev. Father Sheehy. The event would strike a chord in the heart of the Irish people all over the world, and would damage the Government in their estimation, as the priests had been with the people in every battle they had fought for their Constitutional liberties and rights. The arrest of the rev. gentleman would raise a feeling in Ireland which would not soon be allayed. Assuming that the Land Law (Ireland) Bill was everything that the Irish tenants could desire, the fact of it being accompanied by the arrest of Father Sheehy robbed it of all the grace and advantage it might otherwise possess.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 32; Noes 130: Majority 98.—(Div. List, No. 206.)