HC Deb 30 April 1883 vol 278 cc1428-30

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If it is true, as stated in the "Standard" of the 27th instant, with regard to charges brought by a convict named Tubridy against twenty-five persons in Clare, that— The witness Patrick Sullivan, assistant postmaster at Ennis, had been previously exa- mined before Mr. Clifford Lloyd at a secret inquiry under the Crimea Act, held at the police barracks on the 20th April, and on his information being read he stated that it contained many statements which he had not made, and which he wished to have altered, Mr. Morphy then read the deposition, and asked the witness whether each paragraph was true or false, the result being that he made several material changes in the original statement; and, if he can state what rules have been adopted with regard to the taking of evidence in private at such investigations?"


I have already stated, in reply to the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny), that the authorities are engaged in endeavouring to bring to light and break up a murder conspiracy which is believed to exist in the county of Clare. Inquiries under the Crimes Act are pending in the matter, and I must respectfully decline to make any statement as to the evidence which has been or may be taken at such inquiries. No special rules have been made on the subject. With regard to questions as to arrests made in districts where there have been few recent outrages, it is necessary to remind hon. Members that during the last three years no less than 54 murders and about 3,500 serious outrages, which remain undetected, have been committed in Ireland. The Government intend to do their best to bring the perpetrators to justice.


I want a distinct answer to a distinct charge. A witness has in a public investigation sworn that his evidence at the private inquiry was altered by the examining magistrate, and I ask the Chief Secretary whether he will make any inquiries as to whether that charge is true, and whether Mr. Clifford Lloyd substituted the words "secret societies" for "associates" in the evidence of Patrick Sullivan? I beg also to repeat the Question, What rules have been adopted with regard to the taking of the evidence in private at such inquiries?


The Irish Government are endeavouring to the best of their imperfect powers and possibly imperfect judgment to carry out the intentions with which Parliament instituted these preliminary inquiries. We have quite satisfied ourselves that to answer Questions of the nature of that put by the hon. Member would be to defeat the intentions of the Legislature.


I beg to ask the Prime Minister if he intends to continue the powers of private examination vested in a magistrate who has been accused upon oath of having changed the depositions of witnesses examined in private before him?


I am not cognizant of the whole circumstances to which the hon. Member refers; but so far as I have heard the answers of my right hon. Friend, and gathered the position from them, the answers have my hearty concurrence.


Sir, I beg to lay the evidence on the Table of the House, and I challenge investigation. [Cries of"Order!"]