§ MR. HEALY
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it is true that Mr. John Rorke of Dublin has been arrested under the Coercion Act, and of what crime he is suspected?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
It is the case that Mr. Rorke has been arrested under the Protection of Person and Property Act; and I believe the ground is that he is reasonably suspected of intimidation to prevent the payment of rent.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was so unsatisfactory that he felt it his duty to make a few remarks upon it, and with that view he would conclude with a Motion. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that Mr. Rorke had been arrested because he was reasonably suspected of intimidating persons not to pay rent; but the real reason he was arrested was because he was reasonably suspected of being the partner of Mr. Patrick Egan, the Treasurer of the Irish Land League. Mr. Rorke had never taken any part in politics—he had never made a speech in the whole course of his life—but he had business relations with Mr. Patrick Egan. Accordingly a heavy fine, in the shape of imprisonment, was to be imposed upon Mr. Rorke for his business connection with that unfortunate individual, the Treasurer of the Irish Land League. The right hon. Gentleman, in his recent speech at Tullamore, stated that the only people he had put into prison were broken-down men and reckless boys. Was Mr. Rorke either a broken-down man or a reckless boy? His commercial standing in the City of Dublin was superior to that of the right hon. Gentleman at Bradford. ["Oh!"] At all events, his name on the back of a bill would have much more potency than that of a certain official at Dublin Castle, whose signature was only valuable when attached to a warrant. Be- 596 cause Mr. Rorke had the misfortune to be connected with Mr. Egan he was put in gaol. And to what gaol was he sent? Not to Kilmainham, where he would have an opportunity of conducting his business, according to the promises of the right hon. Gentleman; but he was sent down to Naas, 40 or 50 miles from the place where he could conduct his business. The Chief Secretary had stated that he would release the prisoners when outrages were discontinued. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the arrest of men like Mr. Rorke were only calculated to increase outrages. At the same time, such was the feeling of nationality that had been created in Ireland—such a feeling of solidity amongst the tenant farmers—that, were it not for the personal ruin the Chief Secretary wished to inflict, he would regard the Coercion Act in Ireland as a blessing rather than a curse. That would be his opinion, if he could merely view the matter apart from the personal destruction which he knew the right hon. Gentleman was desirous to bring upon individuals. The 800 men. who were now in prison must be released some day; and when they did regain their liberty it would be seen that the Government, by their coercive policy, had only created so many drill-sergeants and picquets in the army of agitation. He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
, in seconding the Motion, said, he believed the arrest of Mr. Rorke to be one of the meanest the Government had yet made. He had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of that gentleman. He never was a politician. He never concerned himself, to any extent, in public life; and he (Mr. Sexton) was personally aware of the fact that during last year, owing to the representations of his friends, he had rigorously abstained altogether from politics. Mr. Rorke knew well, from the moment the Coercion Act came into force, that he was placed in a position of danger. He knew that the fact of his partnership with Mr. Egan would expose him to the attentions of the right hon. Gentleman. His friends advised him not to give the right hon. Gentleman any pretext for arresting him; and he had scrupulously abstained from anything of the kind, because he knew that one day he would be made the victim of 597 the right hon. Gentleman's spleen. What was the crime of Mr. Rorke? They were told by the right hon. Gentleman that it was endeavouring to intimidate persons from the payment of rent. That was an accusation which no man. who had the slightest knowledge of Rorke could credit for a moment. He was a man. of courage and honour, willing to extend to other men the rights he claimed for himself; and if there was one man on Irish soil to-day, in gaol or out of it, who would be ashamed to practice intimidation, it was John Rorke. The moral murder inflicted under this Act was illustrated by the impunity with which a charge like this could be made up. The real charge against Mr. Rorke was that he was a partner in the commercial firm of Egan and Rorke in Dublin. The Government knew that Mr. Patrick Egan was one of their most dangerous enemies. They knew that he was the enemy of social and political tyranny in Ireland; they knew that he had devoted very rare abilities to the service of the people; and they knew the energy and skill he had brought to bear on the interests of the people; but the warrant of the Chief Secretary did not run in Paris—and therefore, to enable them to withdraw Mr. Egan from the service of the cause of the people, they had had recourse to the mean expedient of seizing on his partner, an innocent man, not at all engaged in politics, and who had studiously avoided doing anything to commit himself. The Government had done this with no other hope, and for no other reason, than that of dislocating the commercial business of Mr. Egan. The arrest of Mr. Rorke was particularly mean at the present time, when Mr. Egan's name was mentioned in connection with the representation of Meath. They had been informed by lawyers in the House that Mr. Egan was legally entitled to sit as Member of Parliament for Meath. Whether that was so or not, they knew that the Bishop and people of Meath would be very glad tomorrow to elect Mr. Patrick Egan to represent their county. Yet the Government, which had resorted to extreme and extraordinary measures to allow one of the Members for Northampton to take his seat, now arrested an honest, decent Irishman, incapable of crime, incapable of criminal thought, for the 598 purpose of embarrassing another patriotic Irishman who was beyond their reach, hoping, by the dislocation of his business, to prevent Mr. Patrick Egan from again presenting himself before the electors of Meath. Such were the means to which the Irish Coercion Act was turned; such were the intents with which it was being employed. The right hon. Gentleman, in his recent extraordinary tour through Ireland, which procured for him a round of cheers when he returned to that House, told the crowd of people, whom he took by surprise in the streets of Tullamore, that outrages were committed, not exactly as his hon. Friend the Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) had quoted, but by broken-down men and by violent and reckless boys. Did Mr. Rorke belong to either of these two categories? Was he a violent and reckless boy? He had long since reached the years of maturity, which had taught him prudence; and he was one of the last men in the world likely to lay himself open to the charge the right hon. Gentleman had made against him. Was he a "broken-down man?" The House had heard the comparison drawn by the hon. Member for Wexford between this "broken-down man" and the Chief Secretary, from the aspect of that commercial life to which they both belonged. He told the House that Mr. Rorke, so far from being a broken-down man, was one of the most substantial and respected traders in the City of Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman told the people of Tullomore that if outrages ceased or became fewer, the "suspects" would be let out; but he immediately followed up that speech in which he, for reasons of his own, gave hopes to the hearts of some poor people in Ireland, leading them to suppose that some of the "suspects" would be released by imprisoning a man who could not be supposed to have any connection with outrages. He should not comment now on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, beyond remarking that it was exceedingly easy for a man who had thrown into gaol every person that could answer him, who had put his fingers upon the throat of the country and a gag into its mouth, to appear at a hotel window, surrounded by his bailiffs and detectives, and to deliver to a crowd of people assembled in the market place a speech beginning with a dull jest, proceeding with a mean threat, 599 and finishing up, in true English fashion, with a good round text of Scripture. It was exceedingly easy for the right hon. Gentleman to do these things, because he well knew that any man in that crowd who dared to say a syllable while he was delivering his studied eloquence would find himself, after a day or two, in Kilmainham or some other gaol. It had come to a sad time with Irish politics when no respectability, no prudence, no self-respect, could save a man from arrest; and when the politics of the country, and the direction of its interests, were confided to the care of a man who was capable of such a contemptible piece of comic acting as that seen the other day in the streets of Tullamore.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Healy.)
§ MR. GRAY
remarked, that he had had a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Mr. Rorke, and he was perfectly convinced that Mr. Rorke had done nothing whatever to deserve arrest. Still, he could not say that the news of his arrest had caused him any great surprise. It was now two or three months since he had a conversation with Mr. Rorke, and on that occasion he (Mr. Gray) remarked to him—"The probability is the Chief Secretary will arrest you." Mr. Rorke said—"I have done nothing whatever. I have been exceedingly careful. I never attended any meeting; I have taken no part in any of the meetings of the Land League." "Well," he (Mr. Gray) said—"You are Mr. Egan's partner, and you will be arrested; they will try to punish Egan through you." He replied—"I know how serious it would be if both of us should be away from business, and on that account I have been careful to give the Chief Secretary no excuse for arresting me." It turned out, however, that his (Mr. Gray's) anticipations were correct. Messrs. Egan and Rorke carried on in Dublin a very large business, requiring personal attention and supervision. Mr. Egan, of course, had taken a very active part in political affairs; and, according to the manner in which the Coercion Act was being administered, his arrest, perhaps, would be a matter about which there could not be a great complaint. But to arrest Mr. Rorke simply because he was Mr. 600 Egan's partner was a step which was not calculated, using the words of the Resolution passed last night, "to promote good government in Ireland." It was calculated to do the very reverse. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had taken care to counteract any good which his personal inspection of parts of Ireland might have been likely to produce by the coup which he accomplished when leaving the country. Really the present course of government in Ireland was calculated to drive into despair men of moderate opinions, and men who, like himself, had always been anxious to keep within the spirit of every moral and legal obligation, and to press as strongly as possible what he considered morally right upon the people. He would take the liberty of very humbly and respectfully repeating the warning to the right hon. Gentleman which was given some time ago in a leading article of The Times, to the effect that a Government that was feared might continue to exist; but that the Government which was at once hated and despised must soon come to an end.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I have only one remark to make. I doubt very much whether the hon. Members—even hon. Members opposite—really believe that Mr. Rorke was arrested simply because he was Mr. Egan's partner. [Mr. BIGGAR: Yes, we do.] Lest those in Ireland who may read the speeches that have been just now made should be led to believe that there is any truth in the assertion, I rise simply for the purpose of stating most distinctly that the fact that Mr. Rorke was Mr. Egan's partner had nothing to do with his arrest.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he had not the honour and pleasure of knowing Mr. Rorke; but he should say that, from what he had heard from his hon. Friends around him, he believed that he was arrested mainly, if not altogether, because he was Mr. Egan's partner. Mr. Rorke had lately taken no part in politics, and had done nothing to justify his arrest, which appeared to be in keeping with the rest of the Government policy in Ireland. The Ministry had introduced a system in Ireland of government by accusation, by calumny, by bringing vague charges against persons which could not be proved, but which they asserted justified them in looking them up 601 in Kilmainham Gaol. In this case especially he should like to appeal from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Head of the Government himself. Did the Prime Minister, with all his honourable antecedents, with all his instincts in favour of liberty and fair government, approve of a transaction of this character; and was the arrest of men like Mr. Rorke consistent with the honourable and open government of the country? Up to the time of his arrest Mr. Rorke had not been much of a politician; but he should like to know whether he had not by this time been converted into a very strong politician indeed? Such treatment made not merely politicians, but conspirators.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
agreed with those who believed Mr. Rorke to have been all his life a quiet politician—a most earnest Nationalist; no doubt, as strong in his opinion as any man in the House, but a quiet business man. Some time ago he had a conversation with Mr. Rorke of the same nature as that narrated by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray). He (Mr. O'Donnell) expressed his fear that Mr. Rorke would be arrested because he was Mr. Egan's partner; but to this Mr. Rorke replied that, bad as the English were, they were not so bad as that. It seemed, however, that Mr. Rorke had been mistaken. [Mr. SEXTON: Hear, hear!] It was not, however, the work of the Englishmen; it was the work of these anti-Irish under-strappers in Ireland, who did the dirty work of the Government at Dublin. He was absolutely certain that Mr. Rorke had not taken any part in politics lately; because the argument would commend itself to the House, that if one partner in a large commercial firm like that of Egan and Rorke was avowedly playing a dangerous game, the other would be particularly careful to keep himself clear of politics for the sake of their business. He had it upon the best authority that Mr. Rorke had strictly confined himself to his business. He was a respectable Dublin merchant and trader, enjoying the respect of all classes of the community, a man who never said an injurious word of anyone, even though he might be opposed to him in politics, or any other matter of opinion. But Mr. Rorke had been arrested purely, and entirely, and conclusively because he was Mr. Egan's partner. This was a 602 case which, went on all fours with the miserable way in which Dr. Kenny was arrested, with the additional punishment put upon him by depriving him of his office as medical officer. Mr. Rorke had been taken up for the purpose of disarranging and destroying the commercial business of the firm of Messrs. Egan and Rorke. The Chief Secretary had, no doubt, believed the information on which he had acted; but he asked the Chief Secretary to communicate that information, not to the House, not to the public, but to choose from the Front Opposition Bench three or four of the Leaders of the Conservative Party—men who had no sympathy with intimidation or Irish nationality—and to communicate to them the information upon which he had acted, and if those Leaders agreed that there was any reasonable ground whatever for the arrest of Mr. Rorke, he would apologize for having called into question the accuracy of the information of the right hon. Gentleman. But he assured the Chief Secretary such information was always at hand when wanted, especially at a time when Circulars were flying about the country. Then informers could always be found to give any kind of evidence. The Chief Secretary had doubtless received information. In connection with Dublin Castle there was always an abundant supply of auxiliaries, ready at a moment's notice to give Judas Iscariot evidence for the thirtieth part of the thirty pieces of silver. That was the system of government which reigned in Ireland at the present day; but he would not hold the Chief Secretary entirely responsible for this. The man who was responsible for the Chief Secretary himself was the right hon. Gentleman sitting on his left-hand side (Mr. Gladstone). It was the policy of the Premier that was the cause of everything that was taking place in Ireland. The Chief Secretary and the Premier, he was sure, would refuse that test; but they, knowing, as they did, Mr. Rorke, knowing, as they did, that the arrangement was that Mr. Rorke attended purely to the commercial business of the firm, while Mr. Egan devoted himself exclusively to attending to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government—knowing these circumstances, knowing the general repute in which Mr. Rorke stood, knowing the absolute 603 worthlessness of the evidence upon which the Chief Secretary proceeded, they charged the Government to any kind of test they chose, and they were perfectly certain that they would prove to the satisfaction of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote), and to the satisfaction of the two right hon. and learned Gentlemen the Members for the University of Dublin, that there was not one rag of evidence against Mr. Rorke—that the only object of punishing Mr. Rorke was to ruin the business of Mr. Egan, and that the arrest of Mr. Rorke was one of the most foul and cowardly outrages that had been perpetrated, and that had disgraced the whole administration of the right hon. Gentleman in Ireland. He (Mr. O'Donnell) was very sorry, for his part, to see that there was any apparent complaint made upon the Irish Benches of the action of the Chief Secretary in addressing the crowd gathered outside his hotel window in Tullamore. He sincerely wished that the Chief Secretary would do much more of that sort of thing. He wished that, instead of acting on the information of the Iscariots of Dublin Castle, he would go round and see the country for himself. He was sure there were hundreds of parish priests throughout the country, like Father M'Alroy, of Tullamore, prepared to guarantee the Chief Secretary a quiet hearing. If he went round to the parish priests and consulted them, and visited the convent schools, and said a few nice things to the children, and afterwards addressed a crowd outside his hotel window, he might have a few rough interruptions; but, on the whole, the people would decidedly like him in his new character of the friend of the fatherless and the lover of liberty. He sincerely hoped the Chief Secretary would pay a visit to Dungarvan next, and if he addressed a crowd from the window of his friend Mr. Flynn's hotel, he would get as good an audience, and go away after having done as little to procure support for the policy of the Liberal Government as he did in Tullamore.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he could hardly gather from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they really wished to accomplish the object they professed to have in view—to obtain the release of Mr. Rorke, or simply to vent their spleen on the Chief 604 Secretary for Ireland. He felt deeply humiliated, as did the House and thousands of people in this country, at repeated arrests of this kind. He confessed he did not know where it was going to end; but he was sure the Chief Secretary intended to make himself thoroughly acquainted with, and responsible for, every arrest that was made under this Act. He was sure, also, that of the 500 persons who were now suffering in prisons in Ireland there were many perfectly innocent. It was impossible that it could be otherwise; but he wanted to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite did they really wish to have a better state of things brought about, and were their speeches likely to accomplish the objects they had in view? Take the speech of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy). What could be more coarse, more insulting, more absolutely without a shadow of foundation, than his insinuations against the commercial credit of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. There was not a name that stood higher in England in that respect. Why should the hon. Member make his insulting and stupid comparison between the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in his business capacity, and the names of those gentlemen who had been arrested? Was that likely to assist them? Then the hon. Member for Sligo turned into ridicule the well-intentioned efforts of the Chief Secretary to come in contact with the people of Ireland. He (Mr. Mitchell Henry) knew just as much about the people of Ireland as did the hon. Member for Sligo; and he knew very well that on receiving the observations of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, they returned to their native character of love of fair play and politeness. He believed the Chief Secretary could have gone, from the very first day of his visit, into any large town or amongst any community in Ireland in perfect safety; and if he had let it be known he wished to speak to the people, he would have been received, as he was where he made his recent address, with fair play and courtesy, and even with sympathy. Well, then, why did the hon. Member for Sligo turn this matter into a matter of ribald jest? Then the hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. O'Donnell)—he understood the first part of his remarks as expressive of sympathy with the object of the 605 visit of the Chief Secretary to Ireland; but the latter part of his observations cut off all such hope. But he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) wanted to appeal to the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), who was the Leader of the Party opposite. Why did he not exert his authority, and relieve the country from that terrible incubus—the "no rent" manifesto? Did he believe in it? [Cheers from the Irish Members.] He gathered from those cheers that he did.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
Well, if the hon. Member approves of it, all I can say is that it explains something that has long been a mystery, and that is the difference between the man who wrote the historical works of which the hon. Gentleman is the author and the speeches and political actions which have lately distinguished him.
§ MR. CALLAN
I rise to Order. Is the hon. Gentleman in Order in referring to every subject that crops up in his mind?
§ MR. SPEAKER
When a substantive Motion for the adjournment of the House is made, I am at a loss to state what subject cannot be discussed. What has happened this evening shows how necessary it is that the House should restrain the abuse of the right of moving the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
could not help saying that when arbitrary arrests were made, no doubt with the best intentions on the part of the Government, there ought not to be a desire manifested by the House to prevent the question, being brought forward and discussed. Most undoubtedly the "no rent" manifesto, which was now being circulated in Ireland, was the cause of half the crime and wickedness that they had to deplore.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, there was hardly a Bishop or parish priest in Ireland who did not say the same thing.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that some of the most important Bishops in Ireland, including Archbishop Croke, publicly denounced the manifesto.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he did not say all the Bishops had spoken; 606 and if the hon. Member (Mr. Healy) would not obey the voice of anything but the united Episcopate he must be rather a difficult son of the Church to deal with. He was convinced that the hon. Members did not desire to see this Coercion Act modified; but they wished to see it put into operation in its most loathsome and offensive forms. They wished to see it empowered to arrest a great many more persons than it did now. If it did their object was likely to be accomplished. But such conduct was traitorous to the Irish cause, and cruel to the Irish people. Hon. Members were safe enough in their places in the House, and they knew it. There was the hon. Member for Sligo, (Mr. Sexton) who was released on the grounds of ill-health. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member to address himself to the Chair, and not to hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
The hon. Member for Sligo was released on the ground of ill-health, and he felt very much distressed on account of the hon. Member's condition; but he was happy to say that the hon. Member appeared to him to have improved. If the hon. Member were to go back to Ireland and address his constituents they would see whether he had the courage of his opinions sufficient to give the same advice there that he gave in that House. He could see no end to the discontent of the Irish people so long as hon. Members did not address themselves to the objects of the Act with the ordinary common sense, which should be dictated by a desire to achieve that which they asked for, and not merely to irritate those who had the administration of the Act.
§ MR. REDMOND
remarked, that on all occasions of this kind insinuations which were most offensive, and statements which were most unfounded, against the Irish Members at that side of the House invariably came from hon. Members representing Irish constituencies on the other side of the House, Gentlemen who owed their position in Irish politics to the fact that they advocated extreme National and Home Rule views at one period of their political existence, and who now took a very different course in acting as the despised tail of one of the political Parties of this country. He should not be led by the offensive remarks of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) into anything in 607 the shape of recrimination; but he could not help remarking that it was unworthy of any Member of that House to cast the imputations which he had attempted to cast upon his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He accused his hon. Friend of doing in that House what he dared not do in Ireland, when he knew that his hon. Friend had actually suffered the penalty in prison of the advice which he had the courage to give to the people of Ireland. The hon. Member challenged his hon. Friend to go back to Ireland now, and give the people the same advice which he gave in that House. He (Mr. Redmond) challenged the hon. Member to go back to Galway and to make to his constituents the same statement on Irish politics which he was willing to make to a hostile Assembly at this side of the Channel. The hon. Member had no more the courage of his convictions in meeting his constituents than those Members whom he wrongfully charged with not having the courage to ''Walk into the parlour of the spider," in the shape of the Chief Secretary. He protested against the insinuation which was continually in the mouth of Members of the Government to Members on that side of the House—that the Irish Members had not the courage of their convictions. He spoke on behalf of men whom he knew, who gave the same advice publicly in Ireland that they gave in that House; and he spoke on his own behalf, and asserted that in his own county every man, woman, and child knew what his views were. He might remark that he was not the candidate of a Caucus. He was not a Representative whose connection with Ireland began when he entered Parliament, or whose connection with Ireland would close when he ceased to represent an Irish constituency. He represented a county where his family had been known for generations, and where his words, young man though he was, were listened to with respect. In that constituency he had given the same advice to the people which he was not afraid or ashamed to give in the House, and that advice had been identical with the statement just now made by his hon. Friend and Leader the Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy)—namely, that when Ireland had been deprived of her Constitutional liberties, and when her leaders had been unjustly 608 imprisoned, the "no rent" manifesto was not only a justifiable, but a necessary policy. He agreed with the hon. Member for Galway, by their action on this occasion, they would not succeed in obtaining the release of Mr. Rorke. That was not their object. They had too much respect for Mr. Rorke to come in formâ pauperis to the House, and beg his release, unjustly though he was suffering imprisonment; but their object was to expose the manner in which the Coercion Act was being administered. Their object was to show that it was carried out with direct malice and with a deliberate intention of striking, in the meanest way, at the private business and the private character of the men who had been imprisoned. They had the strongest evidence of that in the fact that Mr. Rorke, whose business was in Dublin, had not been sent to Kilmainham, where he would be able to manage his commercial affairs, to some extent, but had been sent to Naas, 50 miles off, where it would be impossible for him to take any part in the conduct of his business. He was glad that this Motion had been made for quite another reason. An answer had been given to a Question of his on a kindred subject that evening, which was of such a character that a few minutes after it had been given he felt a certain kind of remorse that he had not risen and at once taken the course which his hon. Friend had taken, with reference to Mr. Rorke. His Question had reference to a matter of the gravest importance, which involved the utmost hardship and injustice to one of the leading merchants of Dublin, Mr. Moloney, who was at present in Dundalk Prison, and who had been there since last November, was a partner in one of the largest wholesale business establishments in Dublin. After being arrested he was sent to Dundalk, where it would be impossible for him to take any part in the conduct of his business. His partners, one of whom was a brother of the hon. Member for Cavan and a magistrate of the City of Dublin (Mr. M'Cabe Fay)—a gentleman who had no sympathy with his political opinions, and had never been associated in any way with the Land League—went to Dublin Castle without Mr. Moloney's knowledge, and, he dared say, without his approval, and represented to the Chief Secretary, or to his represen- 609 tative, that the removal of Mr. Moloney to Dundalk was entailing grave pecuniary loss upon his firm; and that in Kilmainham, where he would be able to take some part in the management of the business of the firm, his safe custody would be perfectly secured. The application for his removal was refused, and the firm in consequence has suffered seriously by his absence. Here, again, they had another instance of the contemptible petty feeling which ruled the Government in these matters. He could tell the reason why Mr. Moloney had been removed to Dundalk. His wife was a member of the Ladies' Land League. She resided in Dublin. The Government in this contemptible manner desired to punish her by keeping her husband in Dundalk, where he was almost out of the reach of his relatives, who might desire to see him frequently. As had already been pointed out, the Chief Secretary for Ireland suppressed freedom of discussion and freedom of speech in Ireland, and arrested every man who might be regarded as a leader of the people, and, having done so, he himself addressed a crowd of people from a hotel window at Tullamore; and on the subject he (Mr. Redmond) had been greatly inclined to put a question as to whether the right hon. Gentleman had any objection to say what proportion of policemen and detectives there were to every one of the inhabitants of Tullamore in the small crowd?
§ MR. REDMOND
said, he should be exceedingly glad if that statement were correct; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman was better informed on that point than he usually was on other matters in regard to which he derived his information from the detectives. He should like to point out that the right hon. Gentleman, in going to Tullamore, had taken a course which it would have been better for him to have taken long ago. Let the right hon. Gentleman go to other places in Ireland in the same manner—and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would be safe from injury or insult in doing so—and he would find that he and his Colleagues in the Cabinet, by their conduct in regard to Irish affairs, had encouraged that condemnation towards the Government which existed in the hearts and minds of nine- 610 tenths of the people. He was glad that that Motion had been brought before the Government for the purpose of exposing the manner in which these arrests had been made, and trusted that it would be pressed to a division; and he sincerely hoped that when matters of that kind came forward in future they would not have a repetition by the Chief Secretary of the insinuations against the Irish Members that they had not the courage of their convictions. He hoped the Motion would be pressed to a division.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he could not allow one remark made by the hon. Member who had just sat down to pass without a few words of comment. Tullamore was the capital of the county which he represented; and he believed that any crowd which could be assembled in that town would hold opposite views to those of the Chief Secretary, especially with reference to coercion in Ireland; but, at the same time, that they would express them in the most legitimate manner. In no part of Ireland were the people more actuated by that spirit of fairness which he wished to see manifested by men in high position in Ireland; and if the right hon. Gentleman came amongst them to express his own honest convictions, he believed they would be prepared to give him, as they had given him, a courteous and fair hearing. While differing from the course taken by the Government on the Coercion Act, he tendered his best thanks to the Chief Secretary for the bold and courageous manner in which he placed before the people of Tullamore the naked truth with respect to the gross and outrageous atrocities which had been committed in Clare and in other parts of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman won their sympathies by a recital of the acts of violence which had been committed in the County Clare; and he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) was also there to express his regret that hon. Members opposite, who came from Ireland, on the many occasions they had for addressing their constituents, entirely omitted to use similar strong language in repudiating and expressing their abhorence of the outrages committed in Ireland; deeds which, under whatever Government—Whig or Tory or Ultra-National—must result in disgrace to that country.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he would not have joined in this debate but for the closing 611 statement of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. In reply to it, he would point out that during the Recess there were in Ireland only three or four public meetings which were attended by Members of Parliament. His hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), the hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond), and he himself on those occasions strongly condemned outrages, and a report of that condemnation was reported in the newspapers on only one occasion. He never stood upon a platform from which he did not hear outrage condemned. The fact was that the condemnation of outrages from Land League platforms became so much a part of every man's speech that the newspapers, in reporting those speeches, altogether omitted the part. [Laughter.] If hon. Members who laughed would wait, they would see there was nothing so very extraordinary in that statement. London papers, in reporting speeches delivered in that House, endeavoured only to give as much of a speech as could make pretence to some originality; they would not constantly report arguments which had been over and over again repeated. Perhaps hon. Members would now see that his explanation was not absurd. He repeated, that he never stood on a platform where he did not hear outrages condemned. In the County Tyrone he constantly, during the election, condemned outrages, and on the next day the paper did not contain any report of his speech. But hon. Members might like to know that a Government reporter was present; and any hon. Member who doubted his words could move for a Return of the shorthand-writer's report, and test the truth of his statement. The Land League meetings, furthermore, were generally attended by clergymen. Would anyone say that the Irish priest had not, over and over again, denounced outrages? If the Irish Members persistently denounced outrages, they would not be believed. [Mr. WAETON: Hear, hear!] It would be saying their denunciation was like "Don't nail his ears to the pump." So that, whatever course they adopted, a hostile construction was put upon their words and acts. With respect to Mr. Rorke, he only made his acquaintance a few months ago. He could not speak for anything Mr. Rorke did before the suppression of the Land 612 League. But since that time he was aware Mr. Rorke had done nothing. The charge made against him in the warrant was absolutely false. Similar charges had been brought against other men. Though they might contest these charges, they could not deny the persons attended Land League meetings, and perhaps spoke at them. But with regard to Mr. Rorke, he knew of his own knowledge that that gentleman was not connected with the Land League since its suppression; and he could hardly suppose that the right hon. Gentleman was only now suspecting him of some intimidation committed four or five months ago. Was it fair that a man arrested on mere suspicion of a certain offence should be sent down to Naas Gaol, and thus prevented from affording any assistance in the carrying on of his business? He might have been kept as securely in Dublin. If it were not fair, had not the Chief Secretary broken the pledge he gave to Parliament that the Coercion Act would not be used for the purpose of punishment? He did not suppose there was any use appealing to hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal side of the House. [Mr. HEALY: Hear!] Nevertheless, it was their duty to point out how the Chief Secretary's pledges had been broken. Whether he was administering the Coercion Act as a means of punishment or not, its administration amounted to punishment which should not be meted.
§ DR. COMMINS
considered that the insinuations thrown out against certain of the Irish Members were as entirely undeserved as they were unworthy of those who made them. He did not know that ever he attended a Land League meeting in the ordinary sense of the word; but during the Recess he had been present at meetings held in every part of the county he represented (Roscommon). Ever since this question of outrages came up he did not think he had ever stood on a platform without using the strongest language in denunciation of the outrages, and pointing out that those who committed outrages were the real friends of coercion and the Government policy, and were not the friends of the policy which would render the people contented and happy. But this advice given to the people was studiously left out of the reports in the newspapers which formed the usual source of infor- 613 mation of the Chief Secretary, as it would not have been agreeable to English readers and to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose delight it was to level insinuations which were cowardly in the extreme against Members of that House. He appealed to the reports of his speeches by the Government shorthand writers, who, by the way, acted in the most insolent manner, elbowing their way on to the platforms by shoving others aside, and doing their best, by their conduct and language, to provoke occurrences which would suit the purposes of their reports. He appealed to their reports; and if they did their duty faithfully it would be found that he had done his best to prevent outrages occurring or recurring. But while he and his hon. Friends around him had done that, he missed any such address by the hon. Baronet the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) amongst his constituents, or by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry). To whom did the reproaches levelled by those hon. Gentlemen against other Members most apply? Did they not most apply to themselves? Either those two hon. Gentlemen were utterly destitute of influence among their constituents, or, if they had influence, they were cowards, who dared not go among their constituents to deliver their speeches. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is bound to withdraw that expression applied to a Member of this House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must distinctly call on the hon. Member to withdraw that expression, and apologize to the House for using it.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, he had already withdrawn it. [An hon. MEMBER: Apologize.] He was afraid he had been misunderstood. What he said was that if they had the courage of their convictions they would have delivered among their constituents the speeches which they actually addressed to the House of Commons. In short, he put the case hypothetically. He did not wish, however, to soften the withdrawal of anything that had been deemed ob- 614 jectionable. Nothing could have been found in the speeches of Mr. Rorke that would have justified his arrest. Why had Mr. O'Kelly, his Colleague in the representation of Roscommon, been arrested? He had never said anything objectionable in his speeches, except one pardonable slip, far less culpable than he (Dr. Commins) had just been reprimanded for. No one could have been more moderate in his tone or sensible in his remarks. He never attended a meeting but his voice was heard against outrage and in support of law and order—meaning by law and order not despotism and disorder. Undoubtedly, his hon. Friend was preparing test cases for the Land Court; but that, he believed, was not now considered a sufficient ground for arresting anybody. Why, then, was not his hon. Colleague released? Poor Law Guardians, traders, editors, and proprietors of newspapers had been arrested in the county of Roscommon, and, like the editor of The Roscommon Messenger, regarding whose offence he was completely in the dark, they were sent to distant prisons from which they could not manage their business. In this respect the cases of Mr. Rorke and Mr. Moloney were not peculiar; because he believed that it would be found in almost every case where such a proceeding must effect a man's commercial ruin, the course of sending them to distant prisons had been adopted. These were matters which the Irish Members would like to have explained; but no explanation was ever given. As one who desired to see the reign of disorder cease—and he believed disorder was not all on one side—desiring also to see the suspicion dissipated that the Coercion Act was being used, not so much for the suppression of crime as for the suppression, of political association and agitation, he asked some explanation from the Government of the subjects he had noticed. He was not sorry the Chief Secretary had gone to Tullamore. Wherever he had gone he would have experienced the same immunity from obstruction and insult. He (Dr. Commins) promised that every Member of the Government who visited Ireland would experience the same courtesy, even though they spoke to the people in a way calculated to rouse angry passions, as he must say the Chief Secretary did at Tullamore. 615 He himself, in all his travelling through Ireland, had only been insulted twice—once by a soldier, and another time by a policeman. He was glad that this question had been introduced, and he hoped the Government would consider the expression of opinion from Members on that side of the House as the expression of opinion of people outside.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he would not have interfered, particularly in a case of this kind, but for the avowal of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. M'Carthy) with reference to the "no rent" manifesto. No Member until that night, with the exception of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), had avowed his approval of that document in the House. [Mr. HEALY: They have.] Well, the hon. Member for Wexford might have done; but he much regretted that the hon. Member for Longford should have spoken in the way he had done. His hon. Friend below him (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had said that the Bishops in Ireland had denounced it, and the statement was received with incredulity. He (Colonel Colthurst) challenged them to mention any Bishop, or any but an infinitesimal number of priests, who had not denounced it. The Archbishop of Cashel (Dr. Croke), who went as far as anybody in his defence of the Land League, said it was immoral, wicked, and cowardly, and for that he had been denounced in The Irish World in much the same language as was used in that House towards the Chief Secretary. In an editorial letter in The Irish World on the 18th of December, the statement was made that "his name would be handed down to the execration of the Irish race for ever." That was simply because he had denounced the "no rent" manifesto. He challenged hon. Members opposite to give them the name of one Bishop who had even tolerated the "no rent" manifesto. He knew a mean and dishonest use had been made of an opinion expressed by Dr. Nulty, Bishop of Meath, and had been put in an abominable document issued from Paris, and signed by Patrick Egan, and retained there in spite of the reclamation of Dr. Nulty. He was sure his hon. Friend the Member for Longford would not have given the endorsement he did to the manifesto, if he had been fully acquainted with the facts of the case. 616 In the County Kerry an unforunate man was visited by a party of "Moonlight" marauders a few nights ago. He was put on his knees, and when he said he had paid his rent, but had got 34 per cent reduction, the men rejoined that they "id not care a d—what reduction he got; he should pay no rent while Parnell and Dillon were in prison." They then shot him, so that he was badly wounded. He was sure his hon. Friend would not tolerate, even by connivance, such action as that. He said distinctly that the "no rent" policy could never have succeeded except by means of the terrorism of Captain Moonlight." He was glad to say that his constituents, the people of the County of Cork, were not responsible for these outrages; but that the signatories of the "no rent" manifesto were morally responsible. He would go further, and say that every member of the Executive of the Land League who had signed the "no rent" manifesto, or who, even not signing it, had not disowned it, was morally responsible for every outrage which had taken place. He had received the day before a letter from one of the most respected Bishops in the South of Ireland, and in regard to the Land Question he said—On the whole, the prospect is more cheering than it was a short time since. I have learned from my priests that in a large number of parishes in their diocese the farmers and the landlords are amicably arranging their differences; but these unfortunate outrages—thank God! we have but few of them—are terrifying well-disposed men from paying their rents.He had letters from America saying that the "no rent" manifesto was killing the agitation there. If it did, perhaps its authors might be forgiven some of the misery and some of the crime they had caused.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he was one of those Members who, with entire personal respect for the Chief Secretary, were inclined to regard him as a Member of a Cabinet of divided counsels. They might respect the Chief Secretary personally; but they mistrusted his Government. He did not think he was the only Member who believed the Government had misused the Coercion Act. Their policy had been no better than a policy of imbecility. One day they were too lenient, and another too severe. No respect was due to them beyond that due to people who had good 617 intentions, and they knew where good; intentions paved the way to. Why were the hon. Members for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) and Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) arrested? At the time of their arrest they were not more guilty than they were months before; but many people properly believed that the reason why they were arrested was because they had replied—and effectively replied—to the speech of the Prime Minister at Leeds. There were many people who believed—and he confessed he was one of them—that those Gentlemen, who truly represented a large portion of the population of Ireland, were arrested for the cause he had mentioned, and not for the reasons stated in the warrants. In regard to the particular case now before the House, he did not think the Chief Secretary for Ireland appreciated the gravity of the charge that was brought against the Government. If the right hon. Gentleman were to say that he personally knew about this case—that, of his own knowledge, he knew that Mr. Rorke had been doing that which justified his arrest—he (Mr. Mac Iver) should believe him; but he distinctly thought that if the right hon. Gentleman had a good case, he should now get up in his place and take the House into his confidence.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I have no right to speak again; but, after the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I must say this—that in no case have I satisfied myself more completely that there existed such reasonable suspicion as rendered an arrest necessary. But the hon. Member is, of course, aware that, in accordance with the conclusion come to after a long debate last Session, it is impossible for the Government to publish the grounds for the arrest.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that at a meeting of his constituents, which he attended, he denounced outrages, and warned them that force was no remedy. At that meeting he also spoke in very contemptuous terms of the Chief Secretary, and reminded the farmers that, whether in power or out of power, he had never lost an opportunity of voting for coercion, and that when in power he had voted oftener for it. He need scarcely refer to the clinical lecture delivered by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who appeared not 618 to have forgotten his early habits. He believed that the last time he addressed his constituents, he was accompanied to the platform by Mr. Michael Davitt.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he did not go to a meeting with Mr. Davitt; but Mr. Davitt, unexpectedly to him, attended one meeting where he spoke.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was not aware of the order of the procession, as to whether he followed Davitt or Davitt followed him. He remembered, however, when the hon. Member followed Mr. Butt and kicked out of the traces. He (Mr. Callan) happened to know both Mr. Egan and Mr. Rorke, and as far as he was personally concerned he could not believe that Mr. Rorke was guilty in any respect. The last time he knew Mr. Rorke to take part in politics was on behalf of a then supporter of the Government. The only occasion on which he knew of Mr. Rorke taking part in politics within the last three years was upon the occasion of the election for the City of Dublin, when he assisted in returning the two hon. Members who represented the City, and were supporters of Her Majesty's Government. Mr. Michael M'Donnell, of the County Louth, who, at the request of the Sub-Inspector, interfered with the tenantry of Mr. Tipping, a "Boycotted" landlord, with the view of getting them to pay their rent, wrote to Mr. Tipping that he would get his rent if he allowed a reduction of 15 per cent. Mr. Tipping sent the letter to the Chief Secretary, stating that he was "Boycotted," and within 24 hours Mr. M'Donnell was arrested under the Coercion Act. He was sent to Naas Prison, 100 miles away, and the result was that he and his family were ruined. In like manner the Chief Secretary was now doing all he could to ruin the firm of Rorke and Egan. Why was he sent to Naas, and not confined in Kilmainham? Was it not done deliberately and maliciously to destroy his business? If it was any comfort to the Chief Secretary, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had ruined many young families in Ireland; but the time was coming when the Irish electors would teach the Government in English constituencies, and teach certain Irish Members in theirs, a lesson. There would be retribution for coercion.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
pointed out that while fair play had been shown to the Chief Secretary in his recent visit to Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman himself had displayed no fair play whatever. He could not see any fair play in descanting upon the merits of the Land Act—and he did not deny that there were merits in the Land Act—when those who could criticize the Land Act, and whose view of the matter differed somewhat from that of Her Majesty's Ministers, were locked up in prison. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to show fair play, let him bring down with him to Tullamore, or anywhere else in Ireland, Mr. Parnell or Mr. Dillon, and tell the people to judge between their arguments on both sides. Let him take with him the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton), and they would also allow him to bring with him to argue his side of the question the two Irish Law Officers, and as many right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Ministerial Bench as he chose. As to Mr. Rorke, he was a man who avoided politics, and devoted himself to his business. He scrupulously tried to avoid bringing himself within the scope of the reasonable suspicion of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in Dublin Castle. He called such an arrest as this a stab in the back. If a man committed a garotte robbery, he was punished with the lash, and the political garroting of which the Chief Secretary was guilty was deserving of the same kind of punishment. He hoped the political garroters would soon receive the punishment they deserved, and he could wish with Shakespeare that he couldPut in every honest hand a whipTo lash the rascals naked through the world.He regretted to say that the worst actions of Her Majesty's Ministers were backed up and encouraged by Irish Members on the other side of the House; and he was ashamed to hear, as recently as last night, words that would create throughout Ireland a feeling of indignation. He was sorry that one of the two Members for Tipperary, who was allowed by the Government to sit and vote in the House, should give utterance to sentiments that were an outrage upon the feelings of the people of Ireland.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he would refrain from doing so; but he must say that when a Member stood up to make excuses for coercion, he libelled and outraged the feelings of the Irish people. When any man rose to fasten the chains and fast bolt the prison-door upon the high-minded John Dillon, the real and true Member for Tipperary, such action would not be forgotten by the people of Ireland, or, least of all, by the brave and patriotic people of Tipperary. The Government had been warned, again and again, that these arrests would do no service to the cause of good government in Ireland; that they would not prevent outrages in Ireland; and he declared that if the people now in prison were let out, they would have fewer outrages and fewer crimes, though they might have a more lively and pervading agitation in the country. If that were done, he was perfectly certain they should have a repudiation and condemnation from these gentlemen of everything in the way of crime and outrage, and anything that would bring shame upon a good cause. Instead of doing good, the Government were going deeper into this mistake. What was the result? Return after Return laid upon the Table of the House showed that, instead of producing the effects desired, the tendency was in the other direction, and he saw no hope for peace or prosperity until a different course was resolved upon by the Government—until they were prepared to open the prison-doors and prepared to fight their opponents openly upon Irish platforms and the benches of the House of Commons. Until the Government did that, he saw no chance of a restoration of peace and order in Ireland.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) read them a lecture on the "no rent" manifesto with regard to the opinion of ecclesiastics upon the subject. He was not prepared himself to enter into the ecclesiastical part of the subject; but with regard to the question whether or not outrages arose from the "no rent" manifesto, or whether that manifesto was justified by the facts at the time of its issue, he clearly could not agree with the hon. and gallant 621 Gentleman. It was not issued until the Government had made it impossible for the Land League to assist the tenant farmers of Ireland of small means in having their cases properly laid before the Court. He was clearly of opinion that the manifesto had nothing to do with outrages, as the Government obtained the Coercion Act six months before the issue of the manifesto on a statement of alleged outrages. The senior Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) said that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had acted boldly and courageously in addressing the people at Tullamore. He did not see what courage there was shown by a cock crowing on his own homestead, and the right hon. Gentleman took care to be surrounded by police spies, by bailiffs, and by people who were probably less reputable. Besides, he had the opportunity of putting in prison anyone who disagreed with him. He did not agree with the hon. Baronet as to the good effect of that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct, for he believed it had entirely broken down. Some hon. Members on the other side of the House and the Irish people were exceedingly fond of fair play—he thought they were; but fair play was not exercised by the Government in Ireland. In one of his speeches the right hon. Gentleman denounced outrages, as he had a perfect right to do; but he blew his own trumpet loudly about his charity, and that sort of thing; whilst, at the same time, he was assisting those landlords who had been charging impossible rents to exterminate their unfortunate tenants. He had talked about what he had done in Ireland 30 years ago during the Famine. Some people like to see misery and suffering; and he strongly suspected that as to the motive that had actuated the right hon. Gentleman in going to Ireland at the time it was to gratify his love of personal suffering.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is attributing unworthy motives to the right hon. Gentleman. The motives attributed by the hon. Member are atrocious. I must distinctly call upon him to withdraw that observation.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he would at once withdraw it. He would be very sorry to say anything un-Parliamentary—it was not his wish to do. He denied 622 the truth of the assertion made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mitchell Henry) with regard to the state of health of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) at the time of his arrest; and he thought the hon. Member for Galway should withdraw what he had said respecting that hon. Gentleman, as it was notorious that he was in a frightful state of debility, and perfectly incapable of moving from place to place when released from Kilmainham. He believed the Government ought to turn over a new leaf, and not put any more persons in prison under the Coercion Act unless there was some case made out against them; and he thought, also, they should redeem the pledges they made when that Act was passed, and when a person was arrested they should allow him to carry on his ordinary occupation, which was impossible in the case of Mr. Rorke, he having been taken to Naas instead of Kilmainham Gaol. In conclusion, he expressed his conviction of the futility of appealing to the sense of fair play of the Government, for he believed that, politically speaking, it was the most untrustworthy Government that it was his fortune to remember.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
, in reply to the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), said, he did not deny that the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had been very ill—on the contrary, he firmly believed that at one time he was very ill, and he was very sorry for it—but what he said was that the hon. Member was now in excellent health, and he complained that the hon. Member was employing his health in giving atrocious advice to the Irish people. He challenged the hon. Member to go and give that advice in Ireland which would ensure what he thought would be a very great blessing—namely, his being prevented from continuing to give the "no rent" advice which was the cause of all the outrages.
§ MR. GILL
corroborated what had been said by the hon. Member for Cavan respecting his hon. Friend's (Mr. Sexton's) state of health, and said, even though he looked strong now, he was not so, and it was very much against the advise of his friends and medical advisers that he was in that House at all. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not believe there was a Member, even amongst those on that side of the House, who 623 realty thought that Mr. Rorke was arrested simply for being Mr. Egan's partner. Nearly all of them had said they did believe it, and he believed it too. That, no doubt, was the real ground of the arrest; but there were plenty of hirelings in Dublin Castle who would furnish the right hon. Gentleman with some more convenient reason. He should like know what had become of the pledge given by the Government when the Coercion Act was passed, that every case of arrest would be investigated, for he could not suppose, if that promise had been kept, that 700 or 800 of the most respectable men in Ireland would now be in prison? He denied that the Irish Members had neglected to condemn outrages, and expressed a wish to divide the House as a protest against the tyrannical conduct of the Government.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 147: Majority 131.—(Div. List, No. 43.)