§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether Mr. Eager, Governor of the Jail of Limerick, in which several persons are at present confined under the provisions of the Coercion Act, is the same Mr. Eagar whose conduct was brought under the attention of the House of Commons on June 1, 1869, by the late Mr. George Henry Moore, and who on that occasion was stated by Mr. Moore to have harshly and cruelly treated Mr. W. H. O'Sullivan, while imprisoned in the said jail, detaining him for fourteen days before he was allowed to see a solicitor, twenty-eight days before he could write a letter, and one hundred and twenty days before he was allowed to see his wife and children, leaving the said Mr. O'Sullivan with insufficient clothing at night, compelling him to wash filthy basins, to drink from 1057 filthy vessels, and to walk round a ring in the prison yard in silence, Mr. O'Sullivan being a political prisoner never put on his trial either before or after his imprisonment; whether, in the course of the same Debate, Mr. Chichester Fortescue did not admit that Mr. O'Sullivan was treated "with an amount of severity which was beyond the necessity of the case;" whether the same Mr. Eager did not punish the slightest breach of the silent system by the political prisoners with bread and water for forty-eight hours; and, whether in view of these circumstances, it is in accordance with the present treatment of political prisoners to commit the charge of untried prisoners under the present Coercion Act to persons exposed to such charges?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER,
in reply, said, that he had really answered the first Question already. Mr. Eager was now Governor of the Limerick gaol, and his conduct was brought under the attention of the House in 1869. But the hon. Member quoted a speech of the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he (Mr. W. E. Forster) felt bound to call attention to a few words that went before and after that quotation. Mr. Chichester Fortescue had said that it wasUnnecessary for him to go fully into Mr. O'Sullivan's allegations, but, after careful inquiry, he had ascertained that there was a large amount of exaggeration in his representations. At the same time his apprehension was that there was an amount of severity beyond the necessity of the case.Then Mr. Chichester Fortescue also made use of the words that it wasWorthy of remark that neither Mr. O'Sullivan nor any other political prisoner made any complaints of treatment whilst in prison.He (Mr. W. E. Forster) quoted those remarks, because the hon. Member had only given part of Mr. Chichester Fortescue's observations. He had no to attempt now to go into the case, which happened in 1869; but, having looked carefully into the matter, there was no doubt that the prison regulations of that time were such as to require considerable change, and changes had been made at the time of the passing of the Westmeath Act. He did not think that in the case alluded to any special blame attached to the Governor. But he wished to state with regard to the present position of affairs that the Governor was under the supervision of the Execu- 1058 tive Government, and that the regulations were very strict in the matter. There had been no complaint against anything that the Governor had done.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
wished to know, Whether Mr. O'Sullivan had not written to the public Press challenging Mr. Chichester Fortescue to prove that there had been any exaggeration in the statement of his case; whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention had been called to statements in The Freeman's Journal as to the treatment of prisoners; and whether for 20 out of the 24 hours, prisoners were confined in a cell 12 feet by 6 feet?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER,
in reply, said, he declined to go into a case which happened in 1869. With regard to what was going on at the present time, he had answered a similar Question a day or two ago. He had no complaints brought before him. He could not take notice of complaints appearing in newspapers without any responsible authority. The orders were that any complaints made in the usual manner would be thoroughly and immediately investigated.