HC Deb 06 June 1882 vol 270 cc233-5

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention has been called to the report of a speech in the Dublin papers of the 3rd instant, attributed to Mr. Thomas Brennan, late Secretary to the Land League, immediately after his release from Kilkenny Prison, in which the following passages occur:— I value personal liberty as much as any one, and feel to the fullest extent the necessity to have to conform to the rules of gaolers, especially when the gaolers are the enemies of our country. And when I say 'gaolers,' I do not mean the gaol officials, much less those of Kilkenny, from whom I have received nothing hut uniform courtesy and politeness; I mean William Ewart Gladstone, and John Bright, and Joseph Chamberlain, and the whole crowd of pseudo humanitarians and renegade Republicans that comprise the Cabinet of England (loud and prolonged cheering). These are the enemies of our country. Compared with what we have yet to do we have done but very little. I hope that if ever again I am called upon to surrender my liberty in the cause of truth or justice that I will do more to deserve it than I did before. We started with the programme of obtaining the land for the people. Well we have not yet obtained that desirable reform, and we will require to give and take many a hard knock yet before it is accomplished. We commenced with the work of eradicating landlordism. Well, the old tree and the superstitious dread that overshadowed the people have been wiped away from the Irish mind, but the roots are still deep in the Irish soil, and though time may rot them we cannot afford that time. We want the place on which to build the structure of an Irish nation, and the roots must come up and be cast into the fire; and, if the Government had, before the release of Mr. Brennan, any information leading them to the conclusion that he would range himself on the side of Law and order in Ireland?


wished, before the right hon. Gentleman rose to answer, to ask him also whether his attention had been called to a speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard), somewhat of the same nature as the speech of Mr. Brennan, in which, after accusing Her Majesty's Government of nefarious negotiations, the hon. and learned Member said he had been taught to regard with abhorrence that which was known to lawyers as misprision of treason, and that those who did aid and abet traitors and enter into a compact with traitors, were themselves guilty of an offence? He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was contemplated to submit statements in that speech to the Law Officers of the Crown, with the view of seeing whether any legal action could be taken to restrain such speeches on the part of the hon. and learned Member for Launceston, as they were most injurious to the cause of law and order in Ireland?


asked the hon. Member for Northampton, whether he had given Notice to the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) of his intention to put that Question?


said, he had only had the pleasure of reading that speech to-day. He did not know whether the hon. and learned Member was in his place, but he had had no opportunity of giving him Notice.


asked the hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham) whether he had given Notice of his Question to Mr. Thomas Brennan?


My attention has not until this moment been called to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Launceston. My attention has been called to the speech reported as having been delivered by Mr. Thomas Brennan. As to the grounds of his release, they are simple and avowable. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had regard to the ground of Mr. Brennan's arrest, as stated in the warrant — namely, reasonable suspicion of incitement to riot contained in a public speech; and also to the fact that he had been over a year in prison, and he was satisfied that Mr. Brennan's release would not endanger the peace of Dublin, where he resides. These were the considerations which weighed with His Excellency when deciding upon this case.