(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £38,235, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on
the 31st day of March 1884, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland, including certain Allowances under the Act 15 & 16 Vic. c. 83.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that with regard to this Vote he wished to express his opinion that there had been going on in Ireland, for a very considerable time past, proceedings under the Criminal Law which he could not but regard as an abuse and an evasion of the Habeas Corpus Act. It had been of late years in Ireland a custom with the Government to arrest men in large batches on vague and unsubstantial charges, to put them into prison, and to keep them there from week to week before bringing them up at the Assizes for the county in which they had been arrested. "When so brought up their cases were adjourned from time to time, merely to suit the whim of the Government, as represented by their officials; and, as a result, he might say that at the present moment there were some 60 or 70 persons who had been lying in different prisons for the last six or seven months, and must remain there until January next, before they could have a chance of being brought to trial. There was a notable case in the County Meath, where some three or four individuals were arrested on the information of an informer, or rather informers, so infamous in character that Baron Dowse, who heard the case, said that, in his view, they were the lowest type of human nature he had ever met, if even they could be said to possess human nature at all. In the County Mayo there had been a similar case—indeed, it was still going on; and he would ask what had been the conduct of the Crown with regard to the men who had been arrested, and who had been kept in durance and remanded, remanded and remanded again, on the evidence of an informer, which evidence had been spun out in order to keep the case alive, and, as a result, to keep these men in solitary confinement as long as it should suit the convenience of the Government so to do? They were not allowed to talk together, nor were they allowed to have what were to them luxuries—namely, tobacco and newspapers. When these men were first brought up, and on subsequent occasions, the bad French system was adopted of endeavouring to gain information, or rather to invent evidence, by 286 the method of treatment applied to the prisoners themselves. There could be no doubt that under the Prevention of Crime Act the man or men in custody might have been tried a month ago, if tried in the county of Dublin. Another matter of which he strongly complained was that in the case of one of the prisoners, P. W. Nally, a statement concerning him was carefully cut out of the newspapers and sent to his fellow-prisoners before those papers were allowed to reach them. He would not complain if these things were done with the country under Martial Law; if the country was teeming with crime, or if there was any evidence to show that there was any formidable conspiracy against the Government existing in the country. It was well known to everybody that agrarian crime was decreasing with great steadiness; a fact which was shown by the official statements issued from month to month; and yet these prosecutions were continued to be got up by the Government, or, as he feared, by the Government officials, whose only object was the making of large salaries and extra fees. The Votes were full of items which showed that the officials wished the Reign of Terror to continue. The Royal Irish Constabulary, because they thought it would secure rapid promotion, and the Resident Magistrates, because they knew that a collapse of the Reign of Terror would cause their offices to lapse and their salaries to cease, got up mere fishing investigations. It was, therefore, he thought, clear that it was by means of a patched-up prosesecution of the kind to which he alluded that the Mayo prisoners were still kept in confinement, and that in Naas some 20 men were kept in gaol, on the evidence of a prostitute, for three or four months, there being no intention on the part of the Government to proceed with the prosecution. It was, to his mind, a curious thing that in cases where the Government actually did proceed they did so on the evidence of disreputable witnesses; and, as far as the case in King's County was concerned, these men were kept in prison on the unsupported testimony of an abandoned woman. The same state of things existed in the County Clare, where 20 or 30 men were kept in prison, and not brought to trial, on the information of a convict, who was himself undergoing a sentence 287 of penal servitude for life. In this county, however, there was an upright Judge on the Bench—he alluded to Mr. Justice Barry—and he refused an application made by the Crown for a lengthened postponement of the trial, and therefore the imprisonment would not, as in the case of the Mayo prisoners, extend for six months longer without trial. The Crown had refused to proceed with prosecutions at Assize after Assize, in the hope of inducing men to give evidence under the pressure of long spells of solitary confinement; and they had not failed to resort to all sorts of dodges to gain their ends. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would not adopt or permit this system of the solitary confinement of unconvicted prisoners if he knew what it really meant; and he could not understand any man in the position of the right hon. Gentleman tolerating a system of the kind on the suggestion made to him by his underlings that it was in any way necessary in order to put down crime. Crime had, practically, ceased in the country in the form and to the extent in which it existed three years ago. In all countries where anything in the nature of civil war had arisen something in the nature also of an amnesty had followed when quiet had been restored; but it was not so in this case, although the country had, practically, returned to the paths of peace, as far as agrarian crime was concerned. In Sheffield, the Commission to inquire into the Trades' Union outrages, which were far more barbarous than any in Ireland, had full power to condone crime; and this had invariably been done there. There was no excuse for the course of proceedings which had been adopted by the Government; and he therefore claimed that the Estimates now put before the Committee were inflated Estimates, and were based on a system which, so long as it existed, would make it impossible for Ireland to return to a condition of peace and quiet.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he agreed with his hon. Friend (Mr. Healy) that it was the duty of the Crown in Ireland to do everything in its power for the repression of crime; and he maintained that it was also the duty of the Crown to do that in such a manner as to win respect on the part of the people for the law and its administration. But the 288 means by which the right hon. Gentleman had worked up the administration in Ireland, particularly during the last year, had done more to injure law and the administration of justice than any system which was ever introduced into any country of Europe. With respect to the murder at Loughrea, there was a man who was in gaol on the same charge, named Dilleen, and actually he was one of the witnesses employed by the Crown to bring home the case against these unfortunate men. They were arrested early in January last; they were remanded for eight days, and at the end of those eight days the Resident Magistrate had them before him in the office at Galway Gaol, where none of the friends of these unfortunate men were allowed to enter, and where there were no representatives of the Press present. In point of fact, a solicitor was the only person allowed by the courtesy of the Crown to be present. The men were put on their trial in that informal manner, and on the affidavit of a policeman that he expected shortly to have some further evidence they were again remanded. When they were next brought up the same formality was gone through, and they were remanded again; and so on until they had been remanded nine times, when they were eventually returned for trial on the evidence which had been adduced against them on the first day. He believed that that evidence was such as the Crown could not rely upon for bringing home guilt to either of the prisoners, and in no other country would it for a moment have been accepted as evidence which would justify a committal for trial. The case against M'Carthy was made out on the information of a man who had been a tenant of his for a small house in Loughrea. This man had, on several occasions, made himself obnoxious to M'Carthy, and M'Carthy's family; and, finally, it was found necessary to give him notice, and to evict him. This was immediately after the murder; and, knowing that this man had such evidence to give, was it likely that M'Carthy would have attempted to turn him out of his house? The story was one which ought to have plainly convinced the persons who got up the prosecution that it was a pure fabrication and a mere after-thought on the part of this man, who was really endeavouring to punish M'Carthy for 289 having evicted him. There was another case of a somewhat similar nature, in connection with which a number of persons were imprisoned in Galway Gaol at the present moment. It was a case in which some seven or eight young men from the locality of Loughrea were arrested for a murder committed there about a year ago. He ventured to say that in the experience of hon. Members they never hoard a more extraordinary story put forward by the Crown in justification of the arrest of any person than in the case of these men. They had acted entirely on the statement of an informer—one of those low-class informers, whom the Crown had so frequently to bring to its assistance in administering the law in Ireland. The allegation of the informer was that four or five of these young men, who were farmers' sons in the locality, joined and made common cause with a policeman who was engaged in protecting a bailiff in the locality, and finally committed the murder with the policeman and bailiff. The Crown not only arrested these six young men, but also the policeman; and at present the policeman and these farmers' sons, who were said to have allied themselves with him, were awaiting not their trial, but the pleasure of the Crown, to discharge them. In this case the statement of the informer was certainly directed, not against the policeman, but against these young men; and he had only introduced the name of the policeman into his statement because he believed that the policeman had gone to America. The name of the bailiff was also introduced, because he was also known to have gone to America. The difficulty the Crown had to contend with in this case was that if they found the men guilty they must also find the policeman guilty. The young men charged with this fearful murder were brought forward day after day in the office of the gaol, and were remanded time after time, until they had been remanded nine times in all—that was to say, that from the date of their first examination nine weeks elapsed, and the Crown had them put back each time, on the sworn oath of a policeman, that further evidence might be forthcoming. Up to the present moment, he believed that no further evidence had been forthcoming, and he was satisfied that none ever would be, because he believed the story of the informer, 290 on the face of it, was so absurd and ridiculous that no persons, except those entrusted with the administration of justice in Ireland, would have acted upon it. He now came to the case of a man named Casey, lately in Tralee Gaol, charged with murder. This unfortunate man had been imprisoned on the statement of a little girl, 13 years of age, that on the day of the murder she had seen him in the locality where the crime was committed. It so happened that by some strange misfortune, young as she was in years, this girl did not go into Court with an irreproachable character. The Crown, for a period of 14 months, had been putting the prisoner off trial from Assize to Assize upon applications for adjournment, and they had now finally released him on bail, himself in £10, and two sureties in £5 each. On such information they had been able to remand this man for 14 months, in the vain hope that, in the end, they might have an opportunity of finding him guilty of murder. What were the means resorted to in order to find him guilty? During the time he was in Tralee Gaol he was brought up to the Assizes on two occasions; but the Crown failed to put him on his trial. One day, when he was imprisoned in Tralee Gaol, he was called upon to parade with other prisoners in the prison yard. The Sub-Inspector of the district wont into the prison yard where this man and other prisoners were, accompanied by the Resident Magistrate and a low, ill-clothed tramp, who had been introduced evidently for the purpose of identifying the man. In going along the line of prisoners the Sub-Inspector preceded the tramp, and finally stopped at a point directly opposite this unfortunate man Casey. The would-be informer, following close up, stopped at the same place, laid his hand upon Casey, and said—" That is the man I saw murder Mr. Herbert." Now, if the informer had made that statement bonâ fide, why did not the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland put Casey upon his trial, and bring justice homo to him? If, on the other hand, the statement of the informer was not correct, and there was no foundation for it, what was the defence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the employment of an infamous wretch of this kind to point out an innocent man as having 291 been guilty of murder? It had been alleged by his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) that in all the cases in which the Crown had found it necessary to bring prisoners to trial in Ireland during the past few years, they had been signally unfortunate in getting the assistance of the evidence of any respectable member of the community. It was a strange fact, and he should like to know how the Attorney General, or the Chief Secretary, accounted for it; but in all the cases which had been brought forward the Crown had never been able to get the evidence of a single witness whose character was unimpeachable. This subject was not now being drawn attention to for the first time in that House; but it had been the subject of comment from the Judicial Bench in Ireland, and not only the Press of the United Kingdom, but the Press all over the world, had expressed surprise that in the recent trials in Ireland the Crown had taken the evidence of the man who, above everybody else, was responsible for the barbarous crime which had been committed, and had made a compact with him in order to find guilty those who had been his dupes. The same tactics which the Crown had adopted in Dublin had been adopted in regard to several other cases in Ireland. Some time ago a murder was committed at Irishtown, near Mullingar, in the county of Westmeath. It was the murder of a young woman named Esther Croughan. At first, an attempt was made to show that the murder was of an agrarian character; but, subsequently, evidence proved that it had nothing agrarian about it. The Crown, for a long time, made an endeavour to bring some person to trial, and ultimately they succeeded. But who was the person employed as their chief witness, and what was his statement? His own statement was, that he was himself employed to commit the murder, and that he employed other persons who came forward at his instigation; that he placed a pistol in their hands; and that he believed they committed the murder. That was the man whom the Crown made a treaty with—the very man who, upon his own confession, was responsible, more than anyone else, for the crime which took place. He (Mr. Harrington) would read a portion of this man's evidence, 292 so that the Committee might form their own judgment with regard to it. It appeared that he had left the county of Westmeath for some time, and had been working in England, before the Crown, by some happy chance, lighted upon him, or before he found that the position of an informer in Ireland was becoming a very lucrative one. His statement was this—Previous to my going to England, I was working for the late John Croughan, who was brother of the murdered girl, for over seven years. I was working about the land and the stables. Anne, John, Esther, and the mother were the only persons then living there. Esther and her mother always joined us against John and Anne. There used to be frequent disputes against them. John Croughan died in October, 1881, and I did not work with the family after that. Some time after that I was digging potatoes in one of the fields belonging to the Croughan's, which crop of potatoes belonged to myself. Anne Croughan came to me on that occasion, and told me that she was put out of the house, and that she had got no food from her mother or sister. She then asked me could I get something done for her, and I told her I would see about it. When I asked her what she meant, she told me that she wanted her sister Essy done away with; and if I would do it, or get anyone else to do it, we would get money for it. I got 10s. subsequently from her by a messenger. After that I made appointments with certain persons to do away with Essy. The first I spoke to about it was a man from Irishtown, who said it would be well done, and that there would be plenty got to gain money on it. I also consulted two other men, one of whom said he would do it. I afterwards spoke to him on the subject, asking him would he go along with the other man to shoot Essy Croughan; he said he would. I mentioned to both of the parties about the money to be given, but not the amount, as Anne Croughan did not mention any amount to me; she said she would give me as much as she could get. Some time after I met these men in Mullingar, and I introduced the question of the shooting of Essy Croughan; one of them said he was ready, and proposed to do it at any time, and that he would do it soon; one of the others said he would go with him; the third said nothing at the time, but was listening to the conversation. A few days after, I saw my wife talking to Anne Croughan, who stopped that night with us, and for several subsequent nights; she asked me was I going to get anything done for her; or was I going to let it go by altogether? I said I was not; that I had spoken to men; and that they were satisfied to shoot Essy if she gave them money. She said she would give all the money she could get. A week before the murder, Anne Croughan came to my house, where she stopped for the night, and there was some conversation about the murder. She gave her reason for not stopping at home; that she would not like to be there, if possible, if anything occurred. Previous to this occurrence, a revolver was brought to me by a man who said he was told to bring it to me 293 when he would have done with it. On the night before the murder, I met one of the men by chance near the railway station. He stopped a good while speaking about this affair. He told me that he would go in the morning and shoot her. On the day of the murder, I went into a public-house, where he gave a description of how it was done. He said—'Wasn't it well done? '—and I said it was.He would ask hon. Members to consider whether, in any other country than Ireland, or under any other administration in the world, a man who, on his own showing, had planned a murder, and employed and paid the very persons who perpetrated it, would have been taken by the hand by the Crown, feasted by them in gaol, and thus employed to convict those whom he had led into the commission of crime? Even the learned Judge, when the case came before him for trial, commented upon the conduct of the prosecution in placing such a man in the witness-box to swear away the lives of others; and added, further, that he did not believe one word of his statement. He (Mr. Harrington) did not believe one word of his statement, or that any of the allegations contained in it were true; but what were they to say of the conduct of the Crown, who had placed him in the box to take away the lives of innocent men by perjury? No man in Ireland was more anxious than himself to put an end to the unfortunate state of crime which had existed there during the last few years; and, in his own humble way, he had done all he could, whenever he was travelling in Ireland, to endeavour to put down that state of crime. He had himself been a victim, and he had himself suffered the luxuries of a plank bed at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary opposite; but, nevertheless, he challenged the Government to point to one word he had ever said, during the whole of the agitation in Ireland, that was calculated to encourage crime. Furthermore, he challenged them, although he had spent 12 months in gaol as a "suspect," under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster)—he challenged them to produce a single speech of his during the agitation in which he had not condemned crime and outrage. He came now to the case of another man, whose name was now pretty familiar to the House. As the case had been mentioned incidentally 294 in the House on various occasions, he would not trouble the Committee with full details, especially as he intended to go into them at length at a future time. The case he referred to was that of the unfortunate man, Myles Joyce. He did not propose to deal with the execution of Joyce at present; but he would simply draw the attention of the Committee to the manner of the trial. It was the theory of the law of England that a man, when he was put upon his trial, and had a jury of his fellow-countrymen to try him, should be tried by 12 of his peers. Let them see what was the practice in Ireland. This man was arrested, with a number of others, for an atrocious crime—the murder of an entire family in Maamtrasna, in the county of Galway. The murder was certainly of a most revolting character; and although three men paid the extreme penalty of the law for it, and four or five others were suffering penal servitude for life, he believed that the motives of the crime were shrouded in mystery. Indeed, it was difficult to define the motives, even at the present time, which prompted the murder at all. It was, however, quite evident that the murder was in no sense agrarian; and he thought that fact in itself tended to the condemnation of those who were administering the law in Ireland—namely, that in the case of a murder of this kind, a murder of a purely social character, they should have resorted to a mode of trial which they themselves said they found necessary in cases of agrarian murders, and of agrarian murders only. This unfortunate man and his fellow-prisoners were placed on their trial, not in their native county—not in the county where the murder was committed—but they were conveyed away from their homes for a distance of 200 miles, and brought up to Dublin, to be tried by a jury selected from a special jury panel. Hon. Members, who did not know much of the working of the law in Ireland, were often surprised that the law was not more respected in that country. All he could say was, that if they would study the working of the law in Ireland, instead of being surprised that the law was not respected, they would be surprised that the law was even so much obeyed as it was. Let them take the case of this unfortunate man, Myles Joyce. He was conveyed 295 more than 200 miles from his home, and put upon his trial in Dublin. Not a single word of English was he able to speak; not a single word of his own language were the jury who tried him able to comprehend. The Judge, who tried him, was to him as much a foreigner as if he were a Turk trying the case in Constantinople. The very crier of the Court, and the counsel who represented him, were foreigners to him; and the whole trial, as far as he was concerned, was an empty show and a farce. As if to make the farce still more ludicrous, the very interpreter employed by the Crown to interpret the language of the Court to this unfortunate man was a policeman. Hon. Members asked why was not the law respected in Ireland; why did not the people assist in upholding the law and the administration of justice in Ireland? He would ask, in return, could any man of intelligence, or common sense, give his sanction to a system of law administered in such a manner as that in any country in the world? If this unfortunate man had had a foreign name, if he had been called Arabi, or Suleiman, his case would have drawn attention to it over and over again in the House of Commons. But, unfortunately, he had not lived in a climate sufficiently foreign to excite the philanthropic sympathy of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. When that man was brought to trial—certainly, when he was arrested he was arrested on the evidence of two men, who stated that they left their house at night and tracked a party of men to the place where the murder was committed, and they gave his name as that of one of the men they recognized among the party. Previous to the day of the trial two other men who were charged became approvers, and gave evidence against the rest, the Crown, as the Crown always did in Ireland, closing with the informers. Now, this man had been conveyed more than 200 miles from his home. If he had been tried at home, in the very townland in which he had been born—he belonged to a class too poor and too humble to employ legal assistance; but when he was taken away from his home for a distance of 200 miles it was rendered absolutely impossible for him to bring up the witnesses who might be necessary for his defence. He 296 (Mr. Harrington) knew perfectly well that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would say that the Crown, when it effected a change of venue in cases of this kind, would pay the expenses of witnesses; but any solicitor who had had to defend a prisoner in Ireland knew what trouble he was put to before he was able to obtain the cost of a single witness he might require upon a trial. Even if he got the expenses of the witnesses, he still had to bring them from their homes, and to keep them for two or three weeks, according to the pressure of business, at the place where the trial was held; and it was only on returning home and signing a requisition for the expenses incurred, that he could hope to receive some consideration for his outlay at the hands of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland. This man, being placed in this position, made an application, through his counsel, for the postponement of the trial. That application was, he thought, a very reasonable one, and such an application made in any country except Ireland would have been granted by the Judge, and would not have been opposed by the Law Officers of the Crown. The application was that, owing to the surprise created by the evidence of these men, who endeavoured to save their own lives by sacrificing those of others, it was necessary to go to the locality and examine the truth of the statements made, and, if necessary, to get witnesses to disprove them. When that application was made on behalf of the prisoners the Crown resisted it; and the Judge, as the Judges always did in Ireland, obeyed the direction of the Crown. What was the consequence? That unfortunate man, Myles Joyce, was tried by 12 men specially selected from a special jury panel—12 men actually packed for the trial, because the Crown, although they had a special jury panel, challenged 24 jurors before they succeeded in selecting a jury. The man so tried was found guilty, as also were the others, and they were subsequently executed. He would only say that two of the men found guilty with Myles Joyce, when they knew that they had no object themselves to gain, and that under Heaven they had no mercy to hope for, made a distinct and deliberate statement the day preceding their execution that they were 297 guilty, and that this man Myles Joyce was innocent. That statement was sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland hanged the man. He knew the answer would be made, as it had already been made, that men who were wicked enough to commit such a crime would be wicked enough to make a false statement with regard to the murder. That allegation was made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland in that House, and he could only characterize it as the statement of cold-blooded officialism. It might be the belief of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but his belief would not uphold government in Ireland, and it would not conduce to good government in that country. The people of Ireland, who were themselves interested in the administration of the law, and who wished to see their country happy and free from crime, declined to concur in it. He (Mr. Harrington) would assort that, so far from that statement being correct, the people of Ireland fully believed—the people in the locality in which the murder was committed fully believed, and he (Mr. Harrington), and many intelligent men with him, and many of the priesthood of Ireland also fully believed—that the man Joyce was foully done to death, and that perfect knowledge of his innocence was in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Order!"]
I do not know if the words of the hon. Gentleman reached me rightly; but I understood him to state that perfect knowledge of the innocence of the man was in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. Are those the words which the hon. Gentleman used?
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I stated that perfect evidence of the innocence of Joyce was in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, if he wished to examine it.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
continued: Well, materials for knowledge, if the Lord Lieutenant wished to make use of them. That was the way in which the law was administered in Ireland, and it was the manner in which it would always 298 be administered in regard to one class of people. And now let them see how the law was being administered by the Grown in regard to another class. Some time ago, in the county of Kerry, an agent of the Earl of Kenmare went with firearms to the farm of a tenant of that landlord, and, accompanied by the police, endeavoured to force his way into the man's farm for the purpose of opening a quarry to which he alleged he had a right of way. The tenant denied that any such right of way existed, and said that he had never given his permission for the exercise of it. At all events, it was a question of disputed title; but the agent of the Earl of Kenmare presented a loaded revolver at the breast of the unfortunate man, and forced his way into the farm, aided, abetted, and assisted by a policeman, who presented his rifle and tossed the tenant aside, after which they went and took possession of the quarry. Now, how did the Crown proceed in that case? Over and over again the Judges had commented on the manner in which unfortunate tenants who had been driven out of their homes had endeavoured, under shelter of the night, to gain possession of their dwellings, and the most severe sentences the law permitted to be passed were inflicted by the Irish Judges upon any unfortunate person who sought shelter from the inclemency of the weather in the only place in which he could obtain that shelter. But in the case of this man, who was bailiff of the Earl of Kenmare, Her Majesty's Chamberlain, because he happened to be the agent of that noble Lord—the Crown put him on his trial, it was true, the Resident Magistrate having returned both him and the policeman for trial; but the Attorney General sent down to the county of Kerry and asked the Crown prosecutor to withdraw the case. He would read to the Committee what occurred when the ease was brought before Lord Justice Fitzgibbon, at Tralee, in March last—Mr. Moriarty, Q.C., applied to his Lordship for permission to send up a bill before the Grand Jury dealing with a charge of forcible entry and assault brought against Mr. Henry Doran, Lord Kenmare's agriculturist, and a sub-constable named Macallory, by a tenant farmer named Cornelius Casey, who resided on the Kenmare estate. His Lordship delivered a lengthened Charge to the Grand Jury, in which he reviewed the details of the case, and 299 ordered the jury that if they considered the case was one in which a criminal assault could be proved by the tenant Casey, it was their duty to send the case on for trial before the Court; but as the assault arose out of a quarrel which took place when Mr. Doran was trying to enter the lands forcibly, if they considered that the prosecution should be instituted as one of a disputed title before a Civil Court, their ignoring the bill would render the tenant Casey liable to an action for damages. All the same, even if it was a quarrel arising out of disputed title, the strong hand would not be exercised by anyone. With regard to Sub-Constable Macallory's case, it was for them to decide whether he was only doing his duty, or whether he outstepped it. The Grand Jury ignored the bill.When the Grand Jury ignored the bill, one of the charges which, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would be disposed to make against him (Mr. Harrington) was that a leading article appeared in his paper, asking why there was not some machinery put in force by the Crown to compel the Grand Jury in that case to find a bill, when it was so invariably put in force in other cases to compel Grand Juries to find bills? He was at that time a prisoner of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and he was, therefore, not in a position to give his sanction to that article; but he did so now to the fullest extent. He believed that the article was a sensible and a rational one, and, with the exception of one sentence contained in it, which reflected on the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, he fully concurred in it. But when the article appeared the representative of the Crown actually applied to the Judge for an indictment against himself and the paper, because he had drawn attention to the matter.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, the representative of the Crown, to whom he referred, was Mr. Atkinson; but he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman was going to be very technical. Mr. Atkinson did not exactly make an application; but he drew the attention of the Court to the article, and said that, pending the decision of the Crown in the case, he would place himself in communication with the Attorney General, and he should not ask the Judge to proceed with it at present; but at the next Assizes he would be in a position to tell the Court what the Crown proposed to 300 do. He (Mr. Harrington) was afraid that he had troubled the Committee at too great length already; and he only wished to say, in conclusion, that he was as fully alive as the right hon. and learned Gentleman, or anyone else, to the importance of enforcing the law in Ireland, where the law required to be enforced; but he believed that the manner in which the law was being administered, and the manner in which it was being enforced in Ireland, tended more to demoralize the people of that country, to make them lawless, and to give them sympathy with crime, than anything previously practised in the country. Instead of making the law respected, instead of inducing those who were subjected to it to sanction, support, and sympathize with it, as was the case in every well-governed country in the world, the means resorted to by the Crown were alienating the people from the law, and compelling them to regard the officers entrusted with its administration not as the friends of justice, but the enemies of law, order, and good government in Ireland.
§ MR. O'SHEA
said, he thought every hon. Member would have heard the declaration made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, as to his desire that crime should be brought to justice in Ireland, with satisfaction; but he wished to call attention more particularly to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), with respect to the prosecutions which had recently taken place for conspiring in County Clare. There were two batches of men charged with conspiring—one from Crusheen, on the north side of the county, and on the borders of Galway; and the other from the extreme West, at Miltown Malbay. There was no Member of that House more anxious than he was to see murder, or any other crime, whether agrarian or not, severely and certainly punished in Ireland; but he thought that nothing tended less to the due administration of justice, and the implanting in the breasts of the Irish people a respect for law, than certain prosecutions which had lately taken place, and which had been called "fishing prosecutions." As long as there was straightforward evidence that was likely to bring home a crime to any malefactor, then, by all means, let every engine of the law be put in motion; but 301 these "fishing prosecutions," these prosecutions in which a number of men were taken up, confined in different cells, and where every effort was made to induce one or another to give evidence, whether true or false, against the rest, in order to save his own shin, was really a system which, when made general, could not be too strongly condemned. A great many men who were determined to give every support in their power to law and order entertained a very strong opinion that this was a very bad system indeed. He wished the Committee to understand exactly what took place in regard to these two accusations of conspiring against two batches of men in County Clare. He would take the Crusheen case first. The men were arrested on the information of a convict, and brought to Ennis. The evidence of the informer was taken; but no reasonable evidence was brought forward to corroborate it. Nevertheless, the men were remanded over and over again, every obstacle was thrown in their way, so far as rebutting evidence was concerned; and the end of all of it was that, after the greatest excitement had been created in that part of the county, the Judge ordered them to be let out on bail, notwithstanding an application by the counsel of the Crown for a postponement of the trial until next Assizes. Then, what would happen? Why, naturally, that all the ill-disposed men in the neighbourhood would regard what had occurred as a triumph over law and order. He thought that circumstances of that kind ought to be taken into consideration by the Crown beforehand, and that they ought to feel that fishing investigations of this character were not likely to end in the punishment of the men who were charged. Fishing prosecutions, which were only undertaken on the off-chance of getting proof against a man, should certainly never be resorted to. The same kind of thing took place in the Miltown Malbay case, and the result was that the men were out on bail with the charges still hanging over them. He appealed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland to look into these cases; and if the facts were as he had stated them, then the prosecutions ought to be withdrawn immediately. There was one cruel circumstance which had been mentioned 302 in regard to these men—namely, that they were on the point of emigrating, and that they had actually taken their tickets. Could anything be more cruel than that, upon the chance of bringing the case to a favourable issue to the Grown, men who had already taken their passes for another land should be kept at home idling their time away, instead of being allowed to emigrate? He could not conceive anything more likely to drive men to the commission of crime than such a state of affairs; and he asked the Government seriously to consider if it would not be better to make up their minds and declare an amnesty against the persons who were the victims of these fishing prosecutions? Various cases had been brought forward by the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last (Mr. Harrington); but he would refer only to one of them—namely, the Maamtrasna murder. He would ask the Committee to reflect for a moment, upon one of the statements which had been made by the hon. Member. He (Mr. O'Shea) had been present at one of these murder trials himself; but he could not say that it was that of Myles Joyce. The hon. Gentleman had, how over, pointed out that that unfortunate man was a perfect stranger in the midst of a Court where no one understood him, and where he understood nobody, and where the interpreter employed was a policeman. He appealed to English Members whether it was right that a policeman should have occupied that capacity in such a case? He did not for a moment suppose that the arrangement was due to anything worse than want of reflection; but half the cruelty of the world was the outcome of want of reflection. It must have been a terrible tiling for a man like Joyce to see that one whom he regarded as his natural enemy was the only person he could speak to. At the last Kilkenny Assizes, which was presided over by Baron Dowse, an informer who gave evidence was spoken of by the learned Judge in language that was seldom used in regard to a witness in a Court of Justice. The learned Judge told the jury that a more infamous specimen of humanity he had never seen than the man brought forward to sustain the prosecution. He (Mr. O'Shea) was of opinion that it was a great mistake on the part of the Crown to bring forward charges which they 303 could only support by the evidence of men who were described by the Judge in such terms. Many of these things seemed but small to the professional man engaged in securing a conviction; but they were things which sank deeply into the minds of the people.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he had no desire to enter into a detailed discussion of the Vote under consideration. That would be done by the Irish Members themselves. But there was one point—which struck at the very springs of British justice, and in which English Members were as much, if not more, interested than the Irish—to which he wished to allude. The question had been referred to on previous occasions, but there had never been an adequate answer to it; and the present was the first, as it certainly was the fittest, opportunity for a full and adequate explanation respecting it. What he wished to say was this. When the Coercion Act now in operation was first submitted to the House, it contained provisions for certain trials being conducted by a Commission of Judges. The Irish Judges, however, greatly to their credit, refused to undertake the onerous and objectionable duties that the Government proposed to thrust upon them. In consequence of this refusal, the Ministry, at the end of the Bill, introduced new clauses which empowered the Attorney General to shift the trials from one end of the country to the other, and authorized him to jumble together the county and borough jurymen. In a word, to secure a verdict, he could change the scene of trial as well as the composition of the jury. The first Commission under this Act commenced its sittings in Dublin last autumn, and there were five cases set down for trial at it. For these trials there was a panel of 193 jurymen pricked. Of this number, 112 were Protestants, 80 were Catholics, and one a Jew. The manner in which the jury panel was got was purely mechanical, and no objection was taken to it. The jurors themselves were selected from the panel by ballot, and this operation was also impartial. But, by some legal, arithmetical, political, or other legerdemain, it curiously happened that there was not a single Catholic juror allowed to serve on any of the five juries that were selected. This was a very extraordinary circumstance. It was a veritable 304 Chinese puzzle. What he wished to learn from the Attorney General or the Irish Secretary was—how it came to pass that every Catholic was excluded, and that Protestants alone were allowed to act on these juries? Other cases of a like kind had occurred throughout the country. At Cork, where there were 200 jurymen summoned, 150 were Catholics and 50 were Protestants. By the same species of manipulation, however, 47 out of the 50 Protestants were required to serve on the juries, while only 35 out of the 150 Catholics were chosen. One of two things—either the Government had discovered a process by which they could draw Protestants from the ballot box at will, or they had packed the juries. There was no escape from this dilemma. They were either masters of some mystery, or they had broken what was supposed to be the letter, and certainly was the spirit of the law. The Irish Executive evidently felt that they had been guilty of procedure that they could not defend, because, when attention was called to the matter, they tried to evade it in a very paltry way. On the first two trials the names of the jurymen objected to were read out aloud in Court. The Freeman's Journal called attention to the exclusion of Catholics, and commented on it. At the next trials the names of the men objected to were not read out—only their numbers were called. This was done with a view of concealing the very dubious proceedings that the Irish Law Officers were guilty of. It had been asserted in that House that no man was disqualified in consequence of his religious opinions. According to Ministerial statements, it was the farthest thing from the thoughts of the Irish officials to exclude Catholics alone. This was the stereotyped answer. Jury-packing in olden times in Ireland was reduced to a fine art. It was done to perfection, and the manner of doing it was concealed. Every time the practice was referred to in the House of Commons, however, it was denied, although everybody knew it was resorted to. Hon. Members might recollect the case of Lord Fingall and the members of the Catholic Association. It was roundly denied that they were tried by a packed jury; and yet it was a fact that a list of the jurymen who did try them was afterwards found, in the handwriting of the Irish Secretary, in the possession 305 of the Crown Prosecutor. Sir Robert Peel said, when they passed the Catholic Emancipation Act, that it was one thing to render Catholics eligible for political and judicial offices, but it was another tiling to confer such offices upon them. He (Mr. Cowen) knew that spirit formerly animated the Irish Executive; but he had been led to believe that it had died out. He was certain of this—that the English people were averse to such religious distinctions being made. Conservatives and Liberals alike were opposed to it; and the only reason why it was tolerated in Ireland was because in this country people did not know of its existence. It was, nevertheless, a fact that—54 years after the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act, and 14 years after the disestablishment of the Irish Church—the Irish Executive had so much distrust of Catholic jurymen that they would not allow them to take part in agrarian or political trials. Now, did the Government believe that by this species of exclusion they were likely to make the Catholics more loyal and more contented? If they did, they were greatly mistaken. Distrust begot distrust, and the distrust of the Catholics by the Government would lead to the distrust of the Government by the Catholics. It was a fact that, though nine-tenths of the people of Ireland were Catholics, as many as nineteen-twentieths of the magistracies and like offices were filled by Protestants. This was excused on the ground that the Catholics were usually poor, and otherwise unfit for such posts. But whatever disqualification there might be for filling the office of magistrate, the disqualification did not apply to filling the office of juryman, because here was a case where Catholics were absolutely upon the jury panel, and yet they were prevented discharging the very duties that the Legislature had thrown upon them. He felt sure the Government—even from their own standpoint—were acting very unwisely in this matter. The indirect effects of the pure and impartial administration of law were much greater than the direct effects. Jurists and moral philosophers, from the time of Solon and Socrates to Paley and Jeremy Bentham, had all contended that it was better to allow an occasional criminal to escape than to create a distrust of the justice and impartiality of the 306 law in the minds of the community. Yet, here the largest portion of the Irish people were distrusted, and, by the action of the Executive, declared to be incapable of exercising the powers that by the Constitution they possessed. The moral teaching of the law ought to be such as not to alienate men's minds and sympathies from it, but to lead them to gravitate to it. The Government ought not to keep up the harassing prosecutions by which they were hunting the Irish peasantry to death, or, if not to death, at least engendering amongst them an undying hatred of the English rule. Other Governments in the case of civil wars had cried a truce. They had granted an amnesty after a certain measure of blood had been spilt; and surely the Irish Executive would do well to follow the example. There was another point he wished to call attention to. It was this—Nothing did more to excite popular odium against the Irish Executive than the system of secret inquiries that were conducted in Dublin by the police and the magistrates. One of the first requisites of a Court of Justice was that its proceedings should be public. It was the surest guarantee against corruption and cruelty. The Irish Government, howover, persisted in shrouding all their preliminary inquiries in secrecy and mystery. There were two institutions in this world whose names always sent a thrill of horror through the popular imagination—the Star Chamber in England and the Bastille in France. Every feeling calculated to arouse indignation and excite animosity was stirred by the memory of these two hateful places. The Government might not be conscious of it; but it was a fact that the proceedings now being conducted in Dublin Castle were associating that building with the other two obnoxious institutions. The sooner they tried to shake themselves clear of that prejudice the better. Every Irish peasant at home, and every Irish emigrant abroad, looked upon the Castle with the same feelings of distrust and detestation that the French peasants in times past looked upon the Bastille in Paris. The Government would really serve their own ends better if they would at once proclaim martial law. Everybody knew that there were occasions in the history of the world when the safety of the State required that dictatorial power should be 307 vested in the hands of one man, or a small body of men. These men for a time wielded exceptional authority for the benefit of the community; but their action did not interfere with the ordinary law, or bring discredit upon the administration of justice. The Irish Executive had double powers. They had all the authority of the Dictator, and along with it they discredited the judicial institutions of the country. They created a feeling against the administration of justice, and against the English Ministry, that neither this generation nor the next would see die out. He knew they would not listen, or, if they did listen, they would not heed his counsel; but he was, nevertheless, satisfied that the future would show that what he was now saying was correct.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) would appeal in vain for the secret of jury-packing in Ireland. It was a sort of Chinese puzzle; the secret lay with the Crown Prosecutors, who took care never to admit the public into their counsels. The evils which arose from the system of secret investigation were very great, and not confined to any particular Province. He had been obliged that day to call attention to the case of Mr. M'Hugh, which had arisen out of this system of fishing for crime. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in his answer to the inquiry he had addressed to him on that subject, had denied certain statements contained in the Question. In so doing he admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had acted according to the best of his belief. The statement was that the man was arrested on the 22nd of June last, and then brought to the police barracks, where he was put into the Sub-Inspector's room with a stranger, who, addressing himself to the man M'Hugh, said—" We have evidence sufficient to convict you; but if you will surrender to justice the real author of the murder in this case you shall go to your home, and we shall do what we can for you." Mr. M'Hugh had written to him, and from what he knew of that man he believed his statement to be absolutely correct, that one of the curates of the district—Father O'Beirne—was sent for without any communication with him, and was introduced into his presence. 308 M'Hugh said he believed the probable object of that on the part of the Government was to surprise any confidences that might take place between them; because some three years ago, when M'Hugh was arrested on the charge of murdering Mr. Young, this priest heard his confession in gaol. The man naturally assumed that the object of the Government, in bringing this priest into the room, was to surprise whatever little confidences might pass between the two men, so that they might be able to put the priest into the witness-box against M'Hugh. If anything worse than that happened in the Star Chamber he would like to know it. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that there was the sworn evidence of Clarke the informer—Clarke the confessed murderer—against this man; was that the sworn evidence on which the right hon. Gentleman relied? Now, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the way in which the law was administered in Ireland, and the story of the man M'Hugh was an excellent case in point to show with what vindictiveness and injustice the law was being used against individuals. Some three years ago this man was arrested with another man whose name he had forgotten. [An hon. MEMBER: Weldon.] He was charged on the evidence of a man named Clarke, an informer, with having murdered Mr. Young, a magistrate, who was very much respected, and was of an amiable character; the Government put him in prison, and kept him there for 18 months; after being remanded from time to time, he was put upon his trial and acquitted. He was acquitted on this evidence. Clarke confessed that he himself was one of the parties who plotted the murder of Mr. Young; he admitted that in the witness-box. When the case came to trial, a priest, a doctor of the town, and a policeman, came forward and swore that at the time the murder was committed M'Hugh was in the Castlereagh Court House; he was acquitted, and disappeared from the scene for a little while until Mr. Forster's Coercion Act was put into operation, when he was put in prison and kept there for more than a year, although no crime had been committed in his locality, nor for miles around; he was one of the first men arrested on suspicion, and one of the last released from prison. On the 22nd 309 of June last he was again suddenly arrested upon the charge of conspiracy to murder. When it became apparent that the Government could not prove anything against him efforts were made to intimidate him to swear away the life of another person. During all the trial there was but one piece of conclusive evidence—there was evidence, of course, that a man had been killed; but it was never able to be proved that any human being had been a party to the murder. The man Clarke was known in the district to have a private grudge against Mr. Young; he was known to have threatened him. When Clarke came forward and attempted to swear away the life of this innocent man, the Government supported him; and when he failed to show that M'Hugh was a party to the conspiracy in which he (Clarke) admitted himself to have been engaged, the Government allowed him to go away, they took him under their protection, and in all probability had him in their pay still. The Government were using the power of the law to persecute M'Hugh, simply because he was distasteful to them. Those were the facts, and he thought Irish Members were entitled to some clear explanation of them, as well as an assurance that there would be something in the nature of a Statute of Limitations for the purpose of protecting this man from lifelong persecution on the evidence of a confessed murder.
said, he had been expecting some attempt on the part of the Attorney General for Ireland to reply to the series of damaging inferences and accusations brought forward by Irish Members, and to the still more damaging query raised by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen). The whole system of Crown prosecutions in Ireland was so infamous that Irish Members could go on giving instances in point until morning, as bad as those which the Committee had listened to already. He said that the Government, by using this system, were responsible for all the crimes committed last winter in Ireland. The system created more crime than it punished, besides disgusting and disheartening anyone who desired to have respect for the law. What were the facts? From the early part of May, 1882, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford 310 (Mr. Forster) left the country, the number of agrarian crimes in Ireland was diminishing by leaps and bounds—that was to say, during May, June, and July—and during those three months Earl Spencer did not try a single sort of repression—this peculiar system was not in force at all. There was the evidence of James Carey as to the state of things in July. He said that in that month he relinquished his connection with the "Invincible" Society, which was falling to pieces; its occupation was gone, the horror in the public mind caused by the Phœnix Park murder was unabated; and he ventured to say that if this system had not been put in force the murderous spirit which had developed since by its assistance would never have dared to raise its head. In August, however, Judge Lawson's Special Commission commenced, and so they had a new reign of violence in Ireland. Cases began to be handed over to juries, such as those described by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen)—juries selected by the secret agent of the Conservative Association in Dublin—Mr. Walsh. [Colonel KING-HARMAN: I beg to deny that.] He took the denial for what it was worth. The Government, who knew better, had not denied it. There were scenes of scandalous foul play taking place on the Bench at the time he spoke of, in the selection of juries and in the jury room; and when the most eminent Journalist in Ireland—the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray)—ventured to remonstrate mildly, and call for inquiry in his newspaper, he was thrust into prison with every circumstance of indecency and vindictive-ness. Public opinion was thus driven from the surface, public indignation was smothered, and the expression by every means of lawful opinion was put an end to. The "Invincibles," of course, saw their chance, and began their work again. He asked, who was to blame for that cessation of improvement? In their hurry to hang murderers, by hook or crook, the Executive hanged men whom, as his hon. Friend said, the public sentiment in Ireland believed to that day to have been foully tried and unjustly condemned. What was the amount of credibility to be given to the informers' evidence? When they were in prison, policemen and spies were sent around to work on their weakness, and 311 get them to denounce one another; and, of course, the result was what might have been expected. It had gone on all the winter, and it was going on at the present moment; there had never been any attempt to deny it; the prisons were filled at that moment with men who for months had been awaiting trial, not because there was no evidence against them, but on the chance that before their trial they would be weakened, or suborned, or coerced into telling a story. It was almost flogging a dead horse to be denouncing these infamies when there had not been the slightest attempt to deny them. In dealing with this Vote he wished they could reduce it to the last farthing of its amount, because he believed the smallest coin of the Realm would be worth more than this system of criminal prosecution to the Irish people.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he wished that some of the eloquent indignation which had been expressed by hon. Members opposite had been directed against the crime in Ireland which they all deplored, instead of against those who had been endeavouring, under circumstances of considerable difficulty, to vindicate the law and to punish crime. He was sure that if hon. Members would endeavour, whilst condemning crime and outrage, to give the law their sympathy and assistance, they would materially contribute to bring about the state of affairs they wished for. He had said that those concerned in the vindication of the law in Ireland had to deal with circumstances of very considerable difficulty, and he thought this was a proposition which was self-evident. Hon. Members opposite appeared to forget the crime which had existed in Ireland until recently. That crime had really been crime perpetrated by a secret and privy conspiracy. Outrage and crime had not been committed by assassins in the face of day. The outrages had not been committed in daylight in the presence of respectable witnesses; but gangs of men with blackened faces, or otherwise disguised, had gone about in the middle of the night destroying their victims, and, in some instances, leaving not a single human being behind to tell the tale of what had passed. If these men were to be convicted at all, they could hardly be expected to be brought to justice by the clergyman of the place, 312 or by the doctor, or by the magistrate, or by the landed gentry, or by the respectable farming classes, because these, as a rule, had not been the objects of attack, and, therefore, had no testimony to give on the subject. It was freely admitted that it was an unfortunate necessity, not peculiar to Irish law at all, but existing in other countries and other lands, that in cases of secret and privy crime recourse must be had to informers. He regretted that it was necessary in Ireland to obtain the assistance of such persons; and he would gladly have availed himself, had it been possible, of the assistance of persons not in any degree mixed up with crime. He regretted the necessity of having recourse to these men; but he, for one, could never consent to lay down a rule that, under no circumstances, could the assistance of persons, themselves implicated in crime, be used against their accomplices. One of the very circumstances which most strongly tended to produce a want of that confidence amongst secret conspirators which was necessary for the fulfilment of their fell designs was the possibility that, at some time or other, one of their number might turn against them. To that circumstance was largely due the success which had attended the vindication of the law in Ireland. He demurred to the statement which had been made by some hon. Members that in every case where convictions had been obtained they had been obtained on the evidence of informers. This had not been the case. There had been many cases in which such evidence had been used without conviction; there were many cases in which, although it had not been used at all, convictions had been obtained. Hon. Members had called attention to a great number of cases in which they complained of an abuse of the Criminal Law; and a complaint had also been made by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) of the delay in bringing persons to trial. The hon. Gentleman had mentioned a number of instances. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) did not profess to recollect the facts of each and every one of those cases with minute accuracy; and if, in any respect, his memory turned out inaccurate, any error he might make was not intentional on his part. He found considerable difficulty in dealing with the cases which 313 the hon. Member had cited; because, in some instances, the prisoners had not yet been tried, and it would not be becoming and fair if he were, in the case of men untried, to express his opinion in relation to the evidence, either one way or the other. He, therefore, was under a restraint which hon. Members opposite had certainly not imposed upon themselves. It might be that some of the cases would result in acquittal. If the evidence was not strong enough to convict, he should be just as happy as any hon. Member opposite could be if an acquittal took place. He had no wish that there should be a conviction, either in the case of innocent persons, or in the case of insufficient evidence, and evidence on which it would not be reasonable to act. It was a matter for thankfulness to those concerned in public prosecutions to know that they had got a verdict from a jury in a case, and that the prisoner had got the benefit of the consideration of 12 of his countrymen. A verdict of acquittal was accepted just as loyally by the officers of the Crown as if the decision had been in the opposite direction. Reference had boon made by the hon. Member for Monaghan to the case of the Mayo prisoners, in which, on the evidence of an informer, a number of men had been returned for trial; but the case had been postponed until the next Assizes. Hon. Members were, perhaps, not aware that when a prosecution was commenced, it was not possible, nor would it be right, to go on if the evidence was not complete. If they had complete, strong, and primâ facie evidence, the case must be returned for trial. It often happened, even if a case had been returned for trial, that there still were threads of evidence which had not been followed up. Sometimes there turned up evidence on the eve of a trial; and in regard to the very case in respect of which the statement of the hon. Member for Monaghan was made—although he (the Attorney General for Ireland) was not in a position to express any opinion with regard to the evidence in that case—since the trial had been postponed very material and important evidence, which, in his opinion, ought to be submitted to a jury, had come to the knowledge of the authorities. He was sorry it was necessary to postpone criminal cases; but sometimes a postponement was very necessary. In all murder cases, 314 it was recognized by the law of the land that it was the right of the Crown to postpone a trial once without giving any reason. After that, it became the right of the prisoner to call upon the Crown to go on, and, if they failed to do so, to claim his discharge under the Habeas Corpus Act. He was sorry if any man had been detained in prison under circumstances in which he ought to have been liberated on bail. At the same time, it must be remembered that the Judges were absolutely independent, and were not under the control of those representing the Crown. They were absolutely independent, and could only be removed by means of an Address presented against them in both Houses of Parliament.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he thought it was only necessary to say that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) could hardly be intended to be taken seriously, for it could not be supposed that the conduct of the Judges would be affected by what a Crown Solicitor might think or do. As regarded the case of the Mayo prisoners, they were returned for trial not very long before the commencement of the Mayo Assizes. The cases were very complicated, and, as he had already said, additional important evidence had been procured since they were returned for trial. It appeared that the Crown authorities were charged with a slight inconsistency by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Hon. Members had insinuated that those applications for the postponement of trials had been made in consequence of a desire on the part of the Crown to prejudice the cases of the prisoners by having them tried before a particular Judge, and it was hinted that the Judge probably selected by the Crown to try the cases was Judge Murphy, the most recently appointed of the Judges. Now, as a matter of fact, it was Judge Murphy who postponed the cases, so that the trials would not take place hereafter before him. They were told, again, that these applications were made because persons profited by them. The Constabulary certainly did not profit by them, neither did the Crown Solicitors. The Crown Solicitors were paid by salaries, and they, there fore, 315 did not profit to the extent of one farthing by a postponement. The witnesses certainly did not profit by postponements, neither did the counsel. The hon. Member for Monaghan had said that the Attorney General profited by them; but he (the Attorney General for Ireland) was willing, in the presence of the Committee, to have it decided whether he was likely to be a party to a proceeding whereby the imprisonment before trial of any person would be prolonged in order that a couple of guineas might go into his (the Attorney General for Ireland's) pocket. He asserted, with a full sense of his official responsibility, that, so far as he was aware, and so far as he could answer for the time of his Predecessor (Mr. Johnson), in no single instance had a postponement been asked for on the part of the Crown except for bonâ fide and real reasons. The hon. Member for Monaghan had referred to the Naas case. That was a case in which a policeman was murdered. A number of persons, undoubtedly, were concerned in that murder, and several prisoners were returned for trial, chiefly on the evidence of a young girl of the peasant class. He had considered the facts of the case, and had come to the conclusion that not one suggestion of personal impropriety against the girl's character had ever been proved. The Crusheen conspiracy and the Miltown Malbay case had also been referred to. In the Crusheen case there were two sets of persons arrested in different parts of the country. As regarded those arrested in Miltown Malbay, there was against them a very formidable case of conspiracy. The case, however, did not involve the actual commission of any individual outrage, although, undoubtedly, it was a most formidable case of conspiracy by persons who banded themselves together by an illegal oath for the purpose of committing outrages. When he came to read the information, he directed that the men should be discharged. The Crusheen case stood on a very different footing. There a dwelling-house had been attacked by a number of men armed to the teeth. The master of the cottage opened the door and fired in the dark in the direction of those who had fired at his house; and he (the Attorney General for Ireland) only wished that the example of that man were more generally 316 followed. One of the attacking party was shot in the back. He was immediately deserted by his comrades, was arrested, and was convicted of having taken part in the outrage. That man afterwards swore to the persons who were concerned with him in the attack on the house. [An hon. MEMBER: He was sent to penal servitude for life.] Of course he was sent into penal servitude, and why should he not be? He (the Attorney General for Ireland) presumed the man was still undergoing imprisonment. The man came forward, in the first instance, and mentioned the names of a number of persons who were with him on the occasion of the attack, and two persons of very respectable position gave evidence in the strongest degree confirmatory of the charge he had made, speaking to the very oath and the circumstances under which the conspirators were sworn in, and with reference to the general objects of the conspiracy. The man, however, afterwards went back on what he had sworn, and refused, ultimately, to appear as a witness at the trial. Under the circumstances, he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had no wish to go into the merits of the case with reference to the individuals who were still untried. The men had been sent for trial, and they were now out on bail. As to the result of the trial, he would say nothing; but he thought that if the men charged with the crime were guilty, it was highly important, in the interests of the public, that they should be convicted. A good deal of comment had been made with regard to another case—namely, that of John M'Carthy, who was now in prison on the charge of murdering Constable Linton while on duty in a street in Loughrea. It was quite true that other persons had been charged with the murder, and had been tried and acquitted. It was quite true, also, that two other persons were now on their trial with respect to the same murder. In regard to that case, however, it was necessary that the evidence should be complete, and there could be no hardship in adjourning the trial until the next Assizes. He assured the Committee that it was his most anxious desire to avoid any postponement which could by any possibility be avoided; and the case would, undoubtedly, be tried at the earliest possible moment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
thought the hon. Gentleman was in error on that point.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, the magistrates remanded the prisoners from time to time until the Assizes were over.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, that, recollecting the kind of organizations with which the law had to contend in Ireland, it was not an unreasonable request that in this and several other cases the trials should be postponed. Another case was referred to by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy)—namely, that in which a number of persons were returned for trial in connection with the occurrence at Letterfract, in Galway. In that case, a number of persons went to the door of Lyton's house at about 8 o'clock in the evening, broke open the door, dragged Lyton and his son into the roadway, beat them, and fired shots at them, murdering them both. There were, undoubtedly, six or eight persons engaged in this outrage, although only one had been tried and had paid the penalty of his crime.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, the man was not traced at all. The statement made at his trial was that he was at a wake at the time of the murder; and then his witnesses had been sent out of the country.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, that the statement that the man's witnesses had gone to America was not made at the trial. As a matter of fact, his witnesses were examined. There were half-a-dozen of them, and they swore that he was at the wake. The man's identity was proved by the dying declarations and the statement, sworn in his presence by the lad, who died within a fortnight, to have been present on the occasion, and to have murdered his father. As a matter of fact, a clearer case had never been submitted to a jury, and it was a case in which the prisoner very properly paid the penalty of his crime. It was not necessary for him to ask the Committee to come to a conclusion, one way or the other, as to this trial. The point was, that one person did not commit the crime alone, but that it was committed by a number of persons; and when positive 318 and clear evidence was given of the complicity of several other persons in the crime, it was a matter demanding complete investigation, and it was receiving such complete investigation. If, in the case of persons now returned for trial, clear and plain evidence was not forthcoming, they would be acquitted. It had been said, more than once, that there ought to be a Statute of Limitation passed in respect of these crimes in Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he heard the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), and certainly his hon. Friend did not recommend that a Statute of Limitation should be passed in reference to these crimes.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, that what his hon. Friend (Mr. Healy) had asked was that a Statute of Limitation should be passed with regard to the particular men who had been tried and acquitted.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, that in regard to crime of a purely political character he should be glad to pass an amnesty when the state of the country would permit of it. But he was not now dealing with political cases at all. He declined to accept the doctrine that midnight assassination, usually against persons who were absolutely unpolitical—against herds and poor peasants—was a political crime in any sense of the word. The hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) dwelt upon the case of the murder of the policeman, to which he (Mr. Porter) had already referred. There were several persons awaiting trial on that charge; and there was against them, undoubtedly, the evidence of an informer. That evidence was such as the Courts were accustomed to treat with great caution, and not to act upon except in so far as it was corroborated. The case in question, however, distinctly demanded investigation. There had also been mentioned the case of the murder in the vicinity of Loughrea. That was a terrible crime. A house was attacked at night, and amongst the assailants was a police-constable and a bailiff. The bailiff had escaped to America; but the constable had been returned for trial, along with a number of other persons,
§ MR. HARRINGTON
asked how many remands had taken place; and whether, at the last remand, any additional evidence was brought forward?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he was really unable to answer the question from memory. That was a matter which must rest with the magistrates. Of course, the Crown felt it their duty to apply for remands as long as there was a prospect of getting additional evidence. Witnesses had to be brought a considerable distance; and in this particular case the postponement had taken place with the consent of those who represented the prisoners. Again, reference had been made to the murder of Mr. Herbert in Kerry; and he (the Attorney General for Ireland.) might say that in that case there was a clear and distinct charge against the man who had boon returned for trial if the witnesses were to be believed. [Ironical Home Rule cheers.] Well, his experience was that a man of bad credit might tell the truth in a particular case; and it was quite possible that though a man was not a safe witness for a jury to rely upon, he might be telling the truth for all that, and it was the bounden duty of the police to investigate the case, and it was the bounden duty of the magistrate to return the man for trial. But when a case came before him (the Attorney General for Ireland) it was his duty, inasmuch as he should have felt if the man was convicted on the evidence of a doubtful witness that the conviction was very unsatisfactory—it was his duty to prevent the trial, and have the prisoner liberated. Under the circumstances, he did not permit the case to go on. Hon. Members said that the authorities ought to bring forward witnesses of unimpeachable character. Of course, they would do so if they could get such witnesses. But these murders were not planned and carried out upon persons of unimpeachable character. Reference had been made to the case of the persons charged with the murder at Mullingar. That case was tried before Baron Dowse at Kilkenny. The learned Judge formed an opinion, which he expressed in very strong language, as to the man Walsh, and he advised the jury to acquit him. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) could only say that with this advice he most heartily agreed. It was the duty of the Crown to act upon evidence which appeared sufficiently satisfactory and trustworthy; but in many cases they had no test of what was satisfactory and 320 trustworthy until the case was heard in Court, although there might be, in extreme cases, such tests as he had mentioned. The case he had just referred to went for trial upon the evidence of a man called Walsh, who, undoubtedly, on his own showing, was an accomplice. The police and the magistrate did their duty, and then the jury did theirs by refusing to convict, because the evidence was not satisfactory to them; but the remarks of the Judge on the character of the witness Walsh, made for the guidance of the jury, did not necessarily involve any condemnation of those who sent the case for trial. The hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) then referred to the case of the Maamtrasna murders. Of the details of that horrible crime the Committee had heard so much of late that he would not go into them again. The hon. Member particularly alluded to the execution of Myles Joyce, and he dwelt upon the circumstance that the prisoner did not speak English, and therefore did not understand the language in which the trial was conducted. The proceedings must necessarily take place in the English language; but the evidence, as the case went on, was interpreted into Irish. The objection which was now raised he had never heard put forward before. He could remind the hon. Member who had called attention to this matter that the policeman who interpreted was not one of those engaged in the investigation of the case. The officer was under the immediate control of the prisoner's attorney; and he had, no doubt, done his work faithfully and well, notwithstanding that differences of opinion had arisen as to the proper interpretation to be put upon certain words. When a horrible murder, such as that at Maamtrasna, occurred, they could not allow the man to escape trial on account of his being unacquainted with English; and anyone who was concerned in these trials, at which there had been Irish-speaking witnesses and Irish-speaking prisoners, would know that increased pains and care had been taken that nothing should be done to in any degree prejudice the prisoners. And he might say that an indictment was brought, on an occasion not very remote, in that House against the conduct of the trials in Dublin. The hon. Member who had brought the indict- 321 ment—he thought the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), who he did not now see in his place—had referred to the Maamtrasna case as one in which there had been no unfairness. The hon. Member was very much against what had taken place on the previous trials mentioned by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen); but as to the Maamtrasna case, he was of opinion that it was the only one on which the public mind and conscience was satisfied as to its fairness. There was one part of the statement of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Harrington) which he could not pass by without alluding to. The hon. Member had permitted himself to say that Myles Joyce had been "foully done to death by the Lord Lieutenant, who had evidence in his hands at the time to prove the man's innocence." It would be hardly necessary to ask anybody but people blinded by prejudice—it certainly would not be necessary to ask the vast majority of Members of that House—to come to the conclusion that Lord Spencer, if he had not believed a man to be guilty, would not have allowed him to be executed. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh, oh!] The hon. Member for Cavan was amongst those who made that charge. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Cavan believed it or not. [Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR: All Ireland believes it.] He did not know upon what these hon. Gentlemen founded their statement, for, on the evidence of those who attended the trial, he declared that a clearer or more conclusive case had never been proved in a Court of Justice against any man than that which had been proved against Myles Joyce. The man, with several others, had walked a long distance across fields to the house of his victims, for the purpose of assassinating a whole family—he had killed them all, except one, a boy, and he had left him behind, believing him to be dead. The assassins were watched, almost from the beginning to the end of the proceedings, by two persons, who gave evidence on the trial; moreover, some of the men implicated in the assassination had turned round and given evidence against the others. One of the principal witnesses who proved the presence of this man, Myles Joyce, amongst the gang of murderers in a walk of five miles across the fields and back, was his own cousin, a person who was also 322 related to him by marriage, and against whoso veracity there could not be a shadow of suspicion. It was true that two of the prisoners had subsequently declared that Myles Joyce had not been a party to the assassination; but that was a statement to which the authorities could not for a moment attach weight, in the absence of any other ground to believe that the man had been unfairly convicted. That Myles Joyce was guilty of the murders they had upon the sworn evidence of those present at the time, one of them being his own cousin. However, he would not go more fully into this case, or ask the Committee to re-try it—he was only dealing with the charges that had been made against the Executive. The hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) had mentioned the case of the man Casey, complaining that whilst the Crown had prosecuted unnecessarily and convicted unfairly, in some instances, in this case they had unjustly refused to prosecute. In the case referred to—that of Casey—the farm was held by lease, Casey being the tenant, and Lord Kenmare the landlord. Casey had not produced the lease; but the fact, as it appeared in the information, was that for a period of 30 years Lord Kenmare, or his agents, had been in the habit of using the quarry in the tenant's field. On one occasion Mr. Doran going there, as had been his wont to do, found the gate locked. He sent at once for the police, who went to the spot; the gate was then pushed open by Mr. Doran. A statement had been made by one of the witnesses that Doran, the bailiff, drew a pistol when resisted by the man Casey; but there was no evidence on the part of the police that he had done such a thing. That was the entire case against Mr. Doran; there was nothing more than the assertion of a right which Lord Kenmare's agent claimed to have existed for 30 years which the man Casey was attempting to evade, and that right could have been demonstrated if the lease had been produced. It was obvious to anyone who know anything about law that was the real point in dispute; and inasmuch as he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had come to the conclusion that it was a mere attempt to put the Criminal Law in motion for a purely civil purpose, he had refused to allow the case to go on. 323 A bill had been sent up to the Grand Jury, with the sanction of the learned Judge who presided, and the Grand Jury threw it out, and they were quite right in so doing. If in that one case, believing there was an attempt to use the Criminal Law for a civil purpose, he had refused the application of a tenant to proceed against a landlord or an agent, he had certainly on more than 20 occasions stopped proceedings by landlords against tenants where a similar attempt was being made.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman stopped any such case which had been returned for trial?
§ MR. PARNELL
Does the proportion the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentions bear any proportion to the respective applications to put in force the Criminal Law against tenants for civil purposes?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he was not in a position to go into these figures at present. He said that; but, at the same time, he also said that he had never allowed himself to be swayed by any consideration as to whether an application was brought by a tenant or by a landlord. Whenever an action was brought in which seemed to him, either from motives of economy or from ill-will, it was desired to put the Criminal Law in motion for civil purposes, he had always stopped it, and he always should do so; and he believed his Predecessors had always done the same thing. As to the general administration of justice in Ireland, referred to by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), and particularly with regard to the late trials in Dublin, it had been remarked that there had been an exceedingly small number of Catholics on the juries. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) had admitted that the small number of Catholics on the juries was a strange circumstance—[Laughter from the Irish Members]—but hon. Members who laughed must remember that last year, when he had the figures before him, he had gone exhaustively into this matter. Mention was made in particular of the earlier cases under the Prevention of Crime Act. It must not be forgotten that in each and every one of 324 these cases the prisoners had the right of challenge, and that they had the advice of persons who were perfectly competent to assist them in exercising that right, from the knowledge they had of the panels. Not in a single case had they exercised that right to the full extent; and that point had never yet been dealt with by Members of that House. He had pointed out that there was a rule which excluded from criminal juries a class of persons, who, no doubt, might be perfectly respectable, but whom it was not thought right to place upon the panel—namely, licensed vintners. That was an established rule, which had not been made by him, but by his Predecessors; but, at any rate, the instruction was positive that these persons should not be put upon the panel. These persons, who retailed spirits, were brought into contact more or less with persons engaged in criminal pursuits, and it was therefore supposed that their decisions would be partial. Anyone who knew Dublin knew perfectly well that this business of licensed vintners was very much more in the hands of Catholics than Protestants; he did not know the reason of it, but such was the fact. Let anybody take a jury list and examine it for himself, and he would see that the statement he (the Attorney General for Ireland) now made was perfectly accurate. It was also the fact that many of the farming class who had been actual sufferers under the conspiracies that had existed in the country were set aside for specific reasons. He did not say that some of those who were set aside might not have made very good jurors, and have returned very fair verdicts; but they were obliged to have jurymen who were altogether above suspicion—in the condition the country was in they were obliged to have jurymen who were above suspicion. The hon. Gentleman had made the same charge against many of the other trials that took place in Dublin recently, on which large numbers of Roman Catholics had been challenged by the prisoners themselves, though there was a desire on the part of the Crown to have Roman Catholics on the juries. In the last case the number was six Catholics against six Protestants—and, on the whole, he could say it had been the anxious desire of the Executive that no man should be excluded from the jury-box on account of his religion. 325 ["Oh, oh!"] Well, he had taken every pains a man could take to ensure that result. He had been acting in concert with Roman Catholic colleagues throughout, and he appealed to everyone connected "with them if it was not the most anxious desire on the part of the Crown—particularly on his own part, because he was charged here with being biassed in this matter—that there should be no distinction made on the ground of religion? Anyone who knew anything about him was perfectly aware that he had as many personal friends who were Roman Catholics as Protestants, and that he had no wish to give preference to one over the other. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) had referred to the process of secret investigation going on in Dublin Castle, and had asked how long was it to last, saying that it would be better to have Martial Law at once. He did not know what the hon. Member meant when he said—"How long is this secret investigation at Dublin Castle to go on?"—he did not know to what the hon. Member referred, as he was not aware of any secret investigation going on. What he would say to the hon. Member was this—that so long as there was atrocities and horrible and disgraceful crime going abroad unpunished, so long as the law armed the Executive with modes of investigation and trial which were likely to prove efficacious in leading to the discoveries of outrage, so long would those powers be employed; and if it was necessary to proceed in the future as they had proceeded in the past, he would be prepared to do it without shrinking, as no doubt would his Successors as well as himself. The hon. Gentleman had said it was better that guilty men should escape than that innocent men should suffer, and he perfectly agreed in that view, and he challenged any fact that could be brought forward against the scrupulous fairness of the trials with which he had been connected. That was all he could do. He had always been actuated by a desire for fair play, and arriving at the justice of the case. It was in the firm vindication of the law that the absence of crime was to be looked for. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had spoken of the remarkable diminution of crime that took place in the months immediately succeeding the Phœnix Park assassinations. The hon. Member had 326 quoted James Carey's remark in reference to that matter, and it was not the first time that the hon. Member had referred to Carey in terms of eulogy.
said, that if the Parliamentary vocabulary were a little enlarged, he would answer that with the retort it deserved. If it were repeated elsewhere, he would give it a very different answer to that which he was compelled to give it in that House.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, the hon. Member had written his desire to see James Carey lifted on men's shoulders to places where he would do them and the nation no discredit; he had said that Carey had no strength but in the deep heart of the people. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) did not mean to say that the hon. Member had eulogized James Carey after the fact of the man's complicity in the Phœnix Park murders had come to light; Carey was a man who was very jealous of his public reputation. He had stated that immediately after the 6th of May—at any rate, the inference of what he had stated was that immediately after the 6th of May he was drawn from the Invincible Organization, because he believed its end had been accomplished, and that it had nothing further to do; but the work of the Invincibles went on notwithstanding that James Carey withdrew from it. There was distinct proof that it went on on several subsequent occasions; but the increase of crime that went on until the murder trials in Dublin had almost ceased after the first conviction.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Mr. PORTER)
said, that his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, no doubt, knew or possessed these statistics; but he himself had not got them. He had now dealt with the statements of hon. Members as far as he recollected them, with the exception of one by the hon. Member for Mallow, to the effect that the prosecutions that had been going on in Ireland were infamous. The Executive were strictly to vindicate the law, and he could not give any promise to the hon. Member that in the future there would be any deviation on the part of the Government for an anxious desire to bring 327 to justice those who were really guilty, and to acquit those who were really innocent.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, in his long and able speech, had endeavoured to make things pleasant to the House of Commons. Was there ever a period in the history of the two countries when the Law Officers of the Crown were not found ready to take the same course when the Government of the country were challenged for misrule and wrong-doing? Whatever charges were brought against the Executive the Members of Her Majesty's Government in that House, and especially the Law Officers, at once came forward to show that Ireland was being ruled upon the most beneficent and just system it was possible for human ingenuity to devise. But when he looked back to the past, he knew that the verdict of history was of a far different character; and so it would be in the future. When the history of these times came to be written, notwithstanding the speeches of the Law Officers of the Crown in that House, the verdict would be the same as in the past—namely, that the people were misruled and oppressed, and that outrage and crime were the natural and inevitable consequences. Several of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman had struck him as not being very conclusive, and one of them in particular in reference to the case of Myles Joyce. The case of that unfortunate man was a very remarkable one. Let the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what he might, he (Mr. Sullivan) believed there was not an easy conscience about it in Dublin Castle. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there was satisfactory evidence that this man, Myles Joyce, travelled five miles with the other men engaged in the murder in the dead of night. Now, he (Mr. Sullivan) believed that to be perfectly true; but what he was also convinced was perfectly true was that Myles Joyce had neither act nor part afterwards in the commission of that crime. It was quite possible for a man to go along with a party bent upon such a deed as that; but it was also possible that, repenting at the last hour, he might have had neither act nor part in it. In this case there was no evidence to show that Myles Joyce had anything to do with this 328 abominable deed. There might be evidence to show that he went along the road with the other men; but it was not clearly established that he was in the house, or that he took any part in the perpetration of that hideous crime. He (Mr. Sullivan) and his hon. Friends were not there pleading for immunity and protection for criminals against the consequences of crime. Nothing of the sort, and he hoped no such impression would go abroad. No men in the world had a greater interest in the preservation of peace in Ireland than the Irish people themselves. They desired to see Ireland peaceable and contented; they desired to see Ireland prosperous, virtuous, and happy; and what was driven into their hearts and souls was the conviction that she never could be so while the present system of government existed. [An Irish MEMBER: And they know it, too.] It had been complained in that House, over and over again, that the whole condition of the country was marred by the treatment the Irish people received. Everything was distorted; everything was set wrong; and it was not owing to England or to English law, but to the influence of the good Irishmen and the priesthood of Ireland that the country was not in a much sadder condition. Irish people were trying to make headway, as they had been for long years, against the evil influences which were acting upon them, and which came from England. It was complained that the name of the law was not revered and respected in Ireland. How could it be? When was it worthy of respect? Was it worthy of respect to-day? Nothing of the sort; the Irish people fully believed, for good reasons, that the law which was administered in Ireland today, although it might be called law, in very many cases could not be called justice. The law had persecuted the Irish people; the law had hunted them; the law had ground them down; it had destroyed their trade, their commerce, their Parliament, and everything they had worth keeping; and the wonder was that there was still in Ireland a people possessed of so much virtue as the Irish. The Irish people had no confidence in English law; they had no confidence in their Judges, no confidence in their juries, and there was neither regard nor affection for the Stipendary Magistrates or the Constabulary. 329 Why should there be? The Crown was now on the rampage in Ireland, and was carrying things with a very high hand. The Crown determined that men should be convicted and punished. Some of them might be guilty, but some were innocent—and he believed many of them were innocent—but, however that was, the Crown must have them convicted. That was the state of the case. He protested against the idea that in Ireland they desired to shelter any criminal from the consequences of crime. They grieved over the horrible outrages which had taken place in the country. It was the hearts of Irish people that were wounded more than those of Englishmen. To them the character of their country was dear; but it was not so to this country, which had been defaming them for centuries, and which would continue to defame them to the end of the earth, spreading its lies and calumnies against them. Theirs was a country of many sufferings and sorrows, and so it would continue to be as long as the iron hand and cold heart of England were the rulers of Ireland. Some day England would have to give up this brutal experiment, which had been tried so long, and which before God and man had proved such a hideous failure. His fear was that before they gave up their misrule of Ireland, England would have spoilt the people, and that when an Irish Parliament came to rule them it would find that its task had been made a hard one.
§ MR. BIGGAR
wished to say a few words in regard to the Vote itself, and the administration of what passed for justice in Ireland. In reference to the question of economy, there was one thing which struck him very much in connection with criminal prosecutions in Ireland—namely, the system of throwing away extravagant sums of money upon lawyers. In the criminal prosecutions in Dublin it was quite common for four or five counsel to be engaged in a single case, although the prosecution itself was carried on by one or two of them. No doubt, legal gentlemen of Dublin looked upon that as a very good joke; and so it was from their point of view, although it was anything but a joke to the ratepayers. The practice was to engage four or five counsel, and to get the work done by one or two, 330 so that the others had a snug sinecure. Not only did these counsel get complimentary briefs, but all the expense of preparing the briefs, and so on, went into the pocket of the solicitor who was charged with the conduct of the prosecutions. There was another matter which had come under his own personal notice—namely, the system of sending down a Queen's Counsel, with a special fee, to conduct cases before the magistrates. He considered a practice of that kind wholly unnecessary, especially when it was a well-known fact that it was arranged beforehand what the decision should be. It would, therefore, be the easiest thing in the world to go through the formality of having the case conducted by an ordinary local solicitor, who for a few shillings would do all that was required, instead of sending down a special counsel from Dublin, whose fee amounted to a larger number of pounds than the shillings that would be necessary if the ordinary rule were followed. He was personally acquainted with instances of that kind in cases heard before the Mayor of "Wexford, and also before the Mayor of Waterford. Seeing that in Dublin the Government could always have a jury carefully packed, and secure as many convictions as they liked, it was preposterous, he thought, to hire high-priced counsel, and a much larger number of them than was really required by the merits of the case. He had heard part of the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland upon this Vote, and there were one or two passages in that speech which had struck him as rather peculiar, and which he desired to point out to the Committee. It seemed to him extraordinary that the Attorney General should protest with such vehemence against the existence of such a thing as jury-packing. Why, the fact was so notorious that it scarcely required even to be stated. Everybody in Ireland knew that the packing of juries was carried on in that country in the most wholesale and barefaced manner. His own opinion was, that such a thing as an honest jury in criminal prosecutions in Dublin did not exist. These juries were selected for a particular purpose, and they made up their minds before they went into the docks to find a verdict of guilty, whether the evidence was slight or overwhelming, and thus to 331 carry out the arrangement under which they were selected by the Crown. There was another matter to which attention had been drawn by the Attorney General—namely, the postponement of trials. Applications were frequently made for postponement on behalf of prisoners, and also by the Crown, in the interests of the Crown, and the invariable custom was for the Court to decide as the Crown wished. If an application for postponement was made on behalf of the prisoner, and the Crown objected, the postponement was not allowed; but if, on the other hand, the Crown made any objection, as a matter of course the postponement was allowed. Again, when the Crown applied for a postponement it invariably got it at once, no matter what might be the case set up. He would not inquire into the motives by which these decisions were guided, because different motives would actuate different Judges; but he did know that a good many of the minor appointments in connection with the Law Courts in Dublin, and the administration of justice, were given away to the relatives and connections of the Judges. Nepotism ran rampant in the Law Courts of Dublin; and it was beyond doubt that the Irish Judges did distribute their favours in such a way that the small game, at any rate, found its way to their own relations and friends. He believed there were some honourable exceptions on the Irish Bench. He did not mean to insinuate that all were similarly tainted. As far as he could form an opinion, there were honourable men on the Irish Bench; but, on the other hand, he believed that a certain portion of the Judges were perfectly untrustworthy, and that they had no disposition to do justice to the prisoners who came up for trial before them. Reference had been made to some of the cases which had been recently tried in Ireland, and notice had been taken of the case of Myles Joyce, who was hanged at Galway. It was well known that two of the persons who were hanged for that offence acknowledged the day before the execution that they were guilty; but they declared, at the same time, that Myles Joyce was innocent. As had been pointed out, these men had no inducement to speak untruthfully in regard to Joyce; and he thought that in a case of that sort, where a prisoner 332 had been condemned to death, and where representations of his innocence were made to the Crown, the Crown was bound to give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt, and, at any rate, to allow his life to be spared, so that further evidence might be called for afterwards, in order to make the matter conclusive one way or the other. But it suited the exigencies of the Government at that time to have a large number of executions, and that was the real cause why this particular execution was allowed to take place. The object of the Executive was not to find out who was guilty, but how to obtain convictions on account of the revelations which had just been made in connection with the Phænix Park murders. In his belief, those murders were a national calamity; and he had never heard any politician of the Irish National Party who did not express an opinion that the Phænix Park murders were aimed more against the interests of the agitation with which they were connected, than against the English Government. Notwithstanding, there was a great outcry got up in this country, and Her Majesty's Government thought they could make political capital by securing a large number of convictions. They, therefore, pursued this system, and hanged every person convicted, whether the evidence was conclusive or not. In the case of young Walsh, who was tried for shooting a policeman at Letterfrack, he (Mr. Biggar) had himself heard the evidence against the prisoner, and he was prepared to say that it was of the most frivolous nature. One part of it was that the mud on Walsh's stockings and shoes was of a similar character to the mud in the street where the murder took place. Everyone knew that this young man was in the habit of going down that street day after day, and naturally the mud on his boots would be of a similar kind to that of the street in which the murder took place; but, although that was the strongest evidence against Walsh, the man was convicted by a packed jury, and was within an ace of being hanged. His brother was hanged, although, in his (Mr. Biggar's) opinion, his innocence was clearly proved, because it was shown that he was elsewhere at the time the murder was committed. The only pretence for a case against the man was a juggle about the different clocks 333 of the district. Although it was perfectly certain that not one of the clocks in the whole of the locality was accurate, the Crown tried to show that it was possible that the man could have been at two places at the same time, although they were a considerable distance apart; and they sought to establish it by saying that one or two of the clocks in the country villages round about were right, and all the others were incorrect. It was upon such evidence that the man was hanged, although he declared his perfect innocence of the crime with which he was charged. Then, they had the case of Francis Hynes. There was no evidence against Hynes at all. The only person who said anything against him was the man who was shot, and his evidence was of anything but a conclusive nature. The statement made by him was made to a priest, who was attempting to hear his confession at a time when he was in articulus mortis, and could really make no statement whatever upon which reliance could be placed. No doubt, the man did mutter the name of Francis Hynes; but what was passing through the unfortunate man's mind at the time it was impossible to say, and certainly there was not sufficient evidence to convict the prisoner of the crime. In addition to this fact, a gross irregularity took place in regard to the jury which tried Francis Hynes. There could not be the slightest doubt that the jury were playing billiards and drinking at the Imperial Hotel during the time the trial was taking place; and he thought that ought to have been held absolutely fatal to the prosecution. What the Judge should have done was to have quashed the indictment, and put Hynes on his trial before another jury. But, in spite of all the facts laid before the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Spencer had Francis Hynes hanged, and this showed that the Lord Lieutenant was not so much engaged in administering justice as in the endeavour to make political capital out of these unfortunate murders. The informer, James Carey, had been held up to very great odium. Now, he (Mr. Biggar) had never had the pleasure of knowing that gentleman personally, and he had never said anything in his favour. He was disposed, however, now that he had an opportunity of doing so, to express the opinion that James Carey was 334 a rather ill-used man. No doubt, Carey was a blackguard for betraying his comrades; but it must be borne in mind that he was placed under great pressure. Carey turned informer for two reasons—first of all, he did so to save his own life; and, secondly, because he was led to understand that somebody else was going to give evidence against him, and he preferred to be the betrayer rather than the betrayed. Certainly, it was not a very high motive Carey had; but he (Mr. Biggar) contended that the motives of Carey were infinitely superior to those of the men who made use of Carey. The Lord Lieutenant, the Attorney General for Ireland, and the Chief Secretary, and, indeed, everybody connected with the Irish Government, used Carey in order to make political capital out of him. Bad as Carey was, the Irish Government were worse for making use of a man of Carey's stamp, because they used as a witness before packed juries a man whom they knew to be of the most despicable character. Not only did the Government make use of Carey to give evidence before juries whom they had packed, in order to ensure convictions whether the evidence was trustworthy or not; but he would go further and say that the men who were tried for the Phœnix Park murders were convicted by dishonest evidence, and he would tell the Committee why. The evidence of some of the witnesses was that they saw four men drive rapidly by upon an outside car whom they had never seen before, and whom they never saw again until 12 months afterwards. Nevertheless, they identified the whole of the men who were on that car. He contended that it was perfectly impossible, under such circumstances, in a large city like Dublin, to identify men whom the witnesses had never seen before, and whom they did not see again for 12 months. He, therefore, thought he was justified in saying that a jury which would convict on evidence of that sort was not disposed to act honestly. His own personal opinion was that the jury which tried these cases—including Mr. Field—were all of them guilty of deliberate perjury. They were put forward as men who had displayed great courage; whereas, in point of fact, they were acting in their own interest. They were men selected from a class who were under 335 police protection, and who were deriving benefit from the system of coercion adopted by the Government. He concurred that the present system was most dangerous to the administration of what passed for justice, and that it ought to be discouraged by all honest men, and especially by the House of Commons. Before he sat down he wished to refer to a case which took place last Assizes—a case in which a number of men connected with his own constituency in the county of Cavan were brought up and put on their trial at the Belfast Assizes. They were tried by Judge Harrison, a Conservative Judge, who told the jury, after hearing the evidence, that there was no case whatever against the prisoners. Nevertheless, the jury convicted them all the same. The jury had been carefully packed. He believed that Judge Harrison was no party to the packing of the jury; but it had been packed by persons who represented the Crown, and this packed jury found the prisoners guilty, notwithstanding the direction of the learned Judge that there was no ease against them. This case strongly showed that the object of the Crown was not to obtain justice, but to secure convictions. If they could get a conviction by honest means they were prepared to accept it; but rather than not obtain a conviction they were prepared to give enormous bribes to dishonest witnesses, and then to pack the jury in order to obtain a verdict. It was absurd to talk of even-handed justice between the farmer class and the landlord class. Let them take into consideration what occurred at Ballina. He should like to know if equal justice had been done in regard to the murders committed by the police at Ballina as it would have been done if the accused persons had belonged to the farmer class? If the murders had been committed by the people the prisoners would have been put upon their trial and hanged. But instead of taking that course in regard to the police, the Attorney General took good care that they were allowed to go scot-free. He believed that a similar course had been taken in regard to the Wexford case, the police having been "whitewashed," and no prosecution having taken place at all. It was the same at Ballyragget, in the county of Kilkenny, where an agent of Lord Kenmare, who was proved to have presented a pistol at a man's head and to 336 have committed a breach of the Arms Act, was released without a prosecution. If, instead of being the representative of Lord Kenmare, who was a Member of the so-called Liberal Government, he had been a tenant farmer, he would have been in penal servitude at the present moment, and the Government would not have been so hard to satisfy about the evidence. In this case the evidence was perfectly clear. The man was seen with a pistol in his hand presenting it at the breast of the prosecutor; but because the policeman said he had not seen the act committed, the Attorney General took the part of this creature of Lord Kenmare, this so-called Liberal Catholic Member of Her Majesty's Government, and no prosecution took place. In another case which occurred in the county of Kerry, certain innocent men were arrested because a woman, who was called at the inquest and denied strongly that the prisoners who were charged had committed the murder, when she had a prospect of a reward placed before her eyes, afterwards entirely changed her evidence, and said they were the murderers—upon which contradictory evidence the men were hanged. Under such circumstances, he could not consent to a Vote for Law and Justice as it was now administered in Ireland, and he thought that the Vote ought to be struck out of the Estimates altogether.
§ Mr. MAYNE
said, the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) had demanded of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland an explanation of the extraordinary circumstances connected with the recent trials in Dublin, in which there were unmistakable proofs of jury-packing. The hon. Member had received from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the usual answer, or perhaps what might be more properly described the usual answer with a slight difference. The right hon. and learned Gentleman explained that he was not aware of what the religion or politics of any of the persons summoned upon the jury were.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. MAYNE
continued. The Attorney General for Ireland had stated that he would be no party to any such proceeding as the packing of a jury, 337 either in Dublin or elsewhere. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, in another part of his speech, that some of the crimes alluded to were committed by men with blackened faces. The connection between the two statements was peculiar, and he (Mr. Mayne) scarcely knew what argument the right hon. and and learned Gentleman endeavoured to build up upon that fact, unless it was this—the crimes were committed by persons who had blackened their faces, and, therefore, some sort of manipulation was necessary in connection with the jury before whom the criminals were put upon their trial. The natural inference, therefore, was that a jury ought to be selected that might be easily satisfied with the evidence as to identification adduced on behalf of the Crown. There appeared to be no other explanation of the two statements of the Attorney General. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also stated that he was unaware that any juror had ever been struck off from serving on account of his religion or politics. It was not necessary, and he could very well understand why, that Her Majesty's Attorney General for Ireland should be aware of the religion or politics of anybody upon the jury panel; but there were officials under him to manage the business who knew very well. Even if those officials did not feel quite certain about it, special steps were taken to obtain the knowledge from the Conservative Club in Dublin, who had persons connected with them who knew the religion and politics of every man on the rate book; and as the jury panel was made from the rate book, therefore, the religion and polities of every man on the jury panel in Dublin were known. Consequently, when a selection was made by the officials to whom he referred, it could be very easily understood what the grounds were on which they made their selection; but, without any proof at all, the selection absolutely made afforded sufficient evidence of itself. In a city like Dublin, where the vast majority of the inhabitants and a large majority of the gentlemen on the jury panel were Roman Catholics, the fact that a jury panel to try special cases must contain the name of Roman Catholics was a fact which required no explanation. Dublin jurors were more interested than, perhaps, any other body of jurors in the country in the administration 338 of justice, not only in Dublin, but all over the country, and in the preservation of law and order. Their interests, financially and otherwise, extended all over Ireland, and they could have no possible sympathy with crime in any part of the country. Therefore, if criminals against whom satisfactory evidence could be produced were brought before any section of Dublin jurors, no matter what their politics or religion might be, he believed there would be no difficulty in obtaining verdicts if the evidence was satisfactory. It had been a matter of great surprise to find that Roman Catholics had been excluded from the jury panel in the late Dublin trial; and although an explanation had been repeatedly asked for, it had never yet been given. There had been a kind of explanation given by the Attorney General—namely, that Roman Catholic jurors had been set aside not exactly because they were Roman Catholics, but because a large majority of the retail licences in Dublin were held by Roman Catholics, and it became necessary to be very particular in the selection of jurors on that account—in order that persons holding these retail spirit licences should not find their way into the jury box. Now, did the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean to assert that all the Roman Catholic jurors in Dublin were retail grocers; or did he argue on this line—that because the majority of the people dealing in spirits with retail licences happened to be Roman Catholics, that, therefore, all Roman Catholics ought to be kept out of the jury-box? That was the only explanation given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the inquiry made of him by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen); and he (Mr. Mayne) certainly submitted that the matter still required some further explanation. The answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman could not be accepted as a satisfactory reply to the very important question put by the hon. Member for Newcastle. That there was some truth in it was shown by the fact that in the first series of trials, when the juries were manipulated in this manner, the principal newspaper in Ireland alluded, in a strong manner, to the peculiar tactics which were being pursued in Green Street, and, instead of giving an explanation of any kind—retail licence or otherwise—the proprietor 339 of the paper was arrested and put into Richmond Gaol. If a satisfactory explanation could have been given, surely that was a desirable time to have given it, in order to have quieted the angry feeling then growing up against a manipulation of the jury panel which had started into life again, although it was considered to be dead and gone for ever in Ireland. The result of all this was that, perhaps, the greatest misfortune which had been produced out of all their recent troubles in Ireland—namely, want of confidence and want of respect for the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland had sprung up—that want of confidence and respect so ably and so fitly deplored by Lord O'Hagan when he introduced his Juries Act. The recent improper and unfair administration of the law had certainly given the Juries Act its quietus, and all the maladministration much condemned in bygone years had come to the surface again. Indeed, at no time, for a long series of years, had the want of confidence in the due administration of criminal justice in Ireland been so pronounced as it was at present. He was able to make that statement with some sort of authority. He resided in Dublin, and carried on his business there, and he mixed with almost all grades of the population. If Lord O'Hagan would introduce any other measure now to put an end to the present state of feeling that existed, as it did when he introduced his Juries Act, he might repeat almost word for word the speech he made in introducing that Act. At no time had there been a more thorough want of confidence in the administration of criminal justice than that which existed at the present moment; and it would be most unfortunate if someone did not step in now to restore confidence. Describing the manipulation of jury panels in recent times as jury-packing, was describing it by the name by which it was known in old times; but it would be better if some more appropriate name could be invented. Jury-packing was done quietly in an office before the jury were summoned. Lord O'Hagan's Act had rendered it impossible for that procedure to be persevered in any longer; and the result was that a new and ingenious method had been adopted. In a recent Act of Parliament ample provision was made for summoning a sufficient 340 number of jurors to attend in certain cases, and those jurors must be of a special kind, and, according to recent experience, of a very special kind. When a jury was formed in accordance with the provisions of Lord O'Hagan's Act, they were taken in rotation alphabetically, so that it was impossible at that stage to exclude a Roman Catholic, or an advanced Liberal, or persons who had retail licences. Later on, there was another provision in that Act which was intended to put beyond all doubt the impartiality of any jury that might be called to try a case. The name of every one of the 200 jurors had to be written on a separate slip of card, all the slips being of the same size and pattern. These slips were placed in a ballot-box, and drawn out in the presence of the full Court and the public. They were called out one by one; and, generally speaking, any man put on his trial for any crime might feel quite easy in his mind that the first 12 taken out, being so mixed up, would, at all events, be perfectly impartial; but the Crown had, in certain cases, an unlimited discretion as to ordering jurors to stand aside. A Crown official could reject those whom he would not permit to serve by ordering them to stand by, and then he could allow those who were opposed in religion, in politics, and in every other interest to the prisoner, to serve. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had that evening said the prisoner might challenge any jurors he pleased; but what was the use of a prisoner doing that? He could not challenge 200, or 100, or even 50; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman's under-strapper could order the whole 200 to stand by if he chose. A prisoner would be a fool to challenge jurors; it would be far better for him to take his chance, because if he did challenge them the under-strapper of the Government could still get the 12 he wished to have all the same. Was all this necessary? The right hon. and learned Gentleman had sufficient acquaintance with and experience of juries, special and otherwise, in Dublin, to justify the question whether all this was necessary in Dublin? Did he believe that if any jury were taken, even almost at random in Dublin, composed of men of any religion or politics whatever, or even of persons holding retail licences, and 341 that satisfactory evidence was put before them, they would find a verdict which was contrary to the facts, or to what the law and justice of the case demanded? His justification, if it might be called one, about licensed victuallers, did not hold with the persistent putting off of Thomas Leech, of Dame Street, for he was not a licensed victualler, and not even a Roman Catholic. He was one of the religious community known as the Moravian Brethren; and he was not dependent upon any class of the public, for be was a man of considerable wealth. Why was he put off? Was it because he was a conscientious man who would require to be satisfied of the guilt of the prisoners? If the prisoners were men with blackened faces, there might be some reason for keeping Mr. Leech off the jury; but the cases in Dublin were not cases of that kind. They were, in the majority of oases, persons against whom evidence seemed to be fairly clear, and in regard to which an ordinary jury could be trusted. But suppose they could not be trusted, would it not have been better that the men might have got off, and the Jury Law passed by Parliament at the instance of Lord O'Hagan have been left to enjoy the confidence of the people of Ireland which it had earned? In that case, the existing state of things would have been prevented, under which any man called to serve in a criminal case could not help feeling that some taint was put upon him if he was allowed to serve. He knew of men who had refused to go up, and had submitted to penalties rather than run the risk of being placed in the box. He put these views before the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who was responsible for much of what had taken place. He would urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to devote as much of the remainder of his life as might be necessary to restore the confidence of the people of Ireland in the administration of the Criminal Law in that country.
§ MR. DALY
said, he had listened with very great attention to the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland, and he noticed that while the right hon. and learned Gentleman adverted in minute detail to the cases adduced by hon. Members, with the skill of a practised advocate, he avoided the weak points of the cases. While he referred, in great detail, to the observations of the first 342 three or four Members who spoke, when he came to consider the question put before him by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) he skimmed the subject. The right hon. and learned Gentleman imputed to the Irish Members that they gave no assistance to the law, and had no sympathy for the law. He might add that through the way in which the law was administered in Ireland, in respect to criminal juries, it did not command sympathy or respect. When the fate of a man's life was on trial, the Constitution of the United Kingdom gave him the promise of a fair jury; but, from his own personal experience, he could state that in the manner in which the law had been administered in the South of Ireland a prisoner did not get a fair trial. The Attorney General seemed to make a great point of a prisoner being able to challenge jurors, and not doing so. The reason of that was plain upon the surface. A solicitor for the prisoner, although he might do his best to obtain equity for the prisoner, was not bound to ensure an acquittal; but the Attorney General and the Crown were bound to secure a conviction. Therefore, when a man was not known to be very adverse in opinions to the prisoner, and bore a general good character, the solicitor would pass him by; but if a man of the most estimable character as a citizen came forward, and was suspected of the least national proclivities, the Solicitor for the Crown called upon him to stand by. He was familiar with the modus operandi, because he had witnessed the progress of trials in the Court at Cork. The panel was not a long one, and it was printed; but there was attached to it a statement of the proclivities of the persons there named, and any person suspected of unfair or doubtful tendencies was told by the Solicitor for the Crown to stand by. The Crown exercised not only arbitrary power, but a certain kind of unlimited power; because, while a prisoner could only challenge up to a certain time, the Crown could require any citizens actually on the trial to stand by. The Attorney General stated—and he quite acquitted the right hon. and learned Gentleman of having any personal feeling in these matters—that, to his knowledge, no persons were excluded on account of their religion. If he would refer to the complaints made at the time of the sitting 343 of the first Crimes Commission in Cork, he would find that on more than one occasion 40 jurors who had been summoned were ordered to stand by; and that by a singular coincidence 38 of these were Roman Catholics. That, in a panel of little more than 200, was a startling circumstance. So great was the feeling of indignation in Cork that a public meeting was intended to be held even while the Judge was sitting, to complain of the dishonour intended to be put upon Roman Catholic jurors; but by his advice it was not held. He did not think such a feeling of indignation could be excited in Cork without just grounds; and his own personal conviction was that the jurors were selected and manipulated for these trials. The Attorney General had that evening felt himself constrained to make the admission that many of the persons who had been rejected he did not doubt would have made good jurors. He himself had perfect knowledge that many of the men excluded by reason of suspected politics or religion would have given a verdict as truly as the most thorough Orangeman that ever sat in a jury-box. Was the law entitled to respect in the face of these circumstances? He believed that the law ought to be vindicated; but he also considered that by the manipulations practised by the Crown, whilst the law in the minds of some people was vindicated, it fell into very great disrepute with the majority. The Attorney General, seeking to skim over the weak part of his defence, alluded to the fact that a great many of the jurors on the special panel in Dublin were publicans; but he knew that men were excluded in Cork from the jury-box who were not publicans, and no more dependent on the public than any other mercantile men in the Empire. A system was carried on in Ireland which, in the humblest town of England, would have raised a storm of indignation. But he had some other objections to this Vote. For example, he wanted to know what was meant by Miscellaneous Charges in the Law Expenses? It seemed to him that the country was asked to vote £100,235 for what had not vindicated the law, but had brought the law into great disrepute. If it had given advantage to any persons, it had done so to the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, who were down for £9,000; 344 and there was an item of £15,520 for fees to counsel. It was a melancholy fact that the Vote for the administration of the law in Ireland should contain a charge of £53,520 for prosecutors, and that the total should amount to £100,235.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, the hon. Member should take the English Votes 1 and 3, to make a comparison—the Voles for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he would take Criminal Prosecutions and Sheriffs' Expenses, and he found that they amounted to £260,000; but the population of England was six times greater than that of Ireland. He wondered what became of the political economists when this Vote came on. Where were the hon. Members for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) and for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn)? He had expected them upon this Vote to have pointed out that here was Ireland, with few lawyers, and far fewer criminals, charged with this enormous sum. According to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, as regarded ordinary crime, no country was so pure as Ireland, and even agrarian crime was much less now than it had been at any time in the last three years. It seemed to him that political economy in that House had gone to the dogs; and so it was that when charges of this kind were brought before the House, the answer was—"Oh, it is only Ireland;" and the fact that it was Ireland was sufficient explanation of this state of things. He had not heard the whole of the Attorney General's statement; but, as he understood, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's defence was based on the infamous conduct of the Crown. In regard to Nally, his defence was that the Government had since got additional evidence of an important character. His answer to that was the answer that Gambetta made to McMahon—"I do not believe you." He did not apply that to the Attorney General, but to those who had supplied the right hon. and learned Gentleman with that information, because they 345 knew that their statement was to go forward on the wings of the Press; and that The Freeman's Journal, with a copy of that statement, would go into every cell, carrying fear and terror to the unfortunate prisoners. But he would tell these men, in their prison cells, to distrust that statement, even though the Attorney General made it. He did not believe that statement as coming from the Irish officials; and he ventured to say that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not skilful enough to affect the minds of the men who were now lying at his mercy in Castlebar Gaol. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was bound to get up and make statements of this kind. For what else did he draw the £9,000 for which he was asking the Committee? The right hon. and learned Gentleman, when he had to come to the Table to ask for his salary, ought to speak with bated breath when he was meeting the Representatives of the people whom he was oppressing. What was this £9,000 for? How much of it had he got in his pocket at the present moment? He came down to make statements in" order to captivate that House; but it was his own salary that he was defending; and it would be a very surprising thing if, having pocketed £9,000, he did not come prepared to make out a very good case. £9,000 was a very large amount, and he did not know whether anyone on the Irish Benches could realize what it was; but, at all events, it was in addition to another salary which the right hon. and learned Gentleman drew under another portion of these Estimates; and he asserted that it was to this system of inflation of the Votes, under the head of fees, that caused all these bogus, fishing prosecutions. He had just received some information showing what was the action of the Attorney General for Ireland in respect to the prosecution of the men who were bayonetted and bludgeoned at Wexford. The Government, having put the men to the expense of engaging counsel for the defence, and then having postponed the case for three weeks, had now changed their mind, and, believing that they could get a conviction even under the Prevention of Crime Act, and by changing the venue, had brought the prosecution under that Act. A gentleman who was Mayor of Wexford last year stated that the Police had issued 346 fresh summonses under the Prevention of Crime Act, 1881.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, there was no prosecution whatever under the Prevention of Crime Act.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not added that if the prosecution was under the Prevention of Crime Act he would give instructions to have that changed.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he could, of course, hardly undertake to say that; but he believed there was no such prosecution. If there were, it was not with his knowledge; but he was perfectly certain there was not.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but he had been very guarded. These men might to-morrow got from two magistrates six months' hard labour, although the right hon. and learned Gentleman would regret it very much; and perhaps when they had spent three weeks on plank beds he would let them off the remainder. He had, however, risen chiefly to call attention to circumstances connected with his own constituency—in regard to the Crossmaglen case. There were now undergoing penal servitude a number of men of respectable class—several of them tenant farmers, and one a National schoolmaster, and, therefore, a person of intelligence—on the evidence of an informer named Duffy. He would not quote any words of his own; he would quote the words of The Dublin Express, the chief Orange organ of Lord Spencer, and the editor of which was the Irish correspondent of The Times. The Government took these men in the county of Armagh, and placed them on trial before a jury in Belfast. They brought down Judge Lawson, and the only evidence against the men was the evidence of Duffy, and that of a certain book, which he alleged was built into a wall by himself and a man named Hanlon, who had also, at first, turned informer. The Daily Express—the most rabid organ of landlordism—in an article, two months ago, upon the conviction of these men, said that if the jury could have seen their way to any other result the public would have been inclined to quarrel with the verdict. If the evidence on which the Crown relied was not sufficient 347 to convince the rampant editor of The Daily Express, he thought the Government ought to give it up. But in spite of the dictum of the editor of The Daily Express, those unfortunate men were then undergoing a sentence of 10 years' penal servitude, and one of them, the schoolmaster, was dying of consumption in Mountjoy Prison; and it was notorious in the district that he was not the man implicated in this matter, but that it was the uncle of the man, who was away in America. Now, he often wished that the magistrates who sent men to prison, and the Judges who gave sentences of penal servitude and plank beds, could be sent for two or three days to endure that torture themselves, as a preliminary to their taking office; and if those persons who drew large salaries—the Chief Secretaries and Attorney Generals—for preserving law and order in Ireland could get a taste of prison regimen, they would be more merciful. But of all the horrible tortures to which a man could be subject, that of being convicted on false evidence, when he knew himself to be innocent, was the worst. With regard to these Crossmaglen people, as a matter of fact the Government offered a number of them, if they would plead guilty, that they should be released on their own recognizances. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND dissented.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman shook his head; he might shake it off if he liked. He asserted in that House that something was done to convey to these men that if they pleaded guilty they would be released on their own recognizances, and that the men, who preferred to throw themselves on their country—the Orange jury—were now undergoing penal servitude.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, the facts were these. After the conviction of the first prisoner the counsel for the defence asked the Crown Prosecutor to deal leniently with the others, on condition of their pleading guilty. The Crown said that they would, and the matter was to stand over until instructions came. But a person connected with the defence would not consent to no fee being taken, and said the case must go on. The result was that the unfortunate men were tried and convicted.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was correct as far as it went; but the circumstances he referred to were antecedent. But he accepted the statement, and, taking it for what it was worth, he asked what did it prove? It proved that the first batch of men were convicted by Orange juries, and the second as he had described. The Government put forward a certain set of men; they made a vague charge against them; they were found guilty; then they came to another set of men, and said to them—"Your predecessors were found guilty." And to justify what was done to the preceding lot the subsequent batch of men were to be induced to plead guilty. He was so suspicious of anything that the ordinary Crown officials said, that if Mr. Bolton and Mr. Anderson made a statement on oath of the facts in connection with this case he would disbelieve them. Hon. Members looked shocked; but who was Mr. Bolton? A most blackguard and profligate ruffian. The right hon. and learned Gentleman could not contradict him now. Let him get up and say at that Table that Mr. George Bolton was not the most blackguard and profligate ruffian in the service of the Crown.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
rose to Order. He asked whether the hon. Member was right in using the words "blackguard and profligate ruffian" in regard to any gentleman connected with the Government of Ireland?
§ MR. CALLAN
rose to Order. Before the question was answered he wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman was not in Order in repeating, in emphatic language, the dictum of an English Judge?
said, he was not aware of the status of the gentleman of whom the hon. Member was speaking; but he must say that such language applied to anyone was very strong.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, the Chairman had stated that he was not aware of the status of Mr. Bolton. He was a public servant of the Crown, and one who had no connection whatever 349 with the circumstance mentioned by the hon. Member for Monaghan.
said, if the hon. Member made the observation with respect to an officer of the Crown, he thought the language was indecorous, and should be recalled.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he would do so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland stated that Mr. Bolton was a public servant in Ireland. He regretted to say that he was; but he would not have been so long if an English Judge could have had his way—an English Judge who accused him of having, by means of a marriage settlement, cheated his wife, and of having committed adultery with an other woman, and of having had a series of illegitimate children by two different women. That was the man——
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
rose to Order. He asked whether it was in Order that such a charge should be brought in that House against a gentleman in the Public Service?
said, he had already stated his opinion that if the language of the hon. Member applied to a gentleman in a responsible position under the Crown, it was highly indecorous. He thought the hon. Member was going beyond the Question before the Committee in entering into such matters.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
asked whether it was not in Order for an hon. Member to discuss the conduct of officers of the Crown?
§ MR. HEALY
said, the gentleman, or rather the official, in question—for he could not call him a gentleman—got his salary as Crown Prosecutor under this Vote, and acted as Crown Prosecutor in many places; in fact, he was almost ubiquitous when there was any dirty work to be done. He could not consider his official position apart from his private capacity, This was the man whom an English Judge described as a person unworthy to be kept on the Rolls as a 350 solicitor—as unworthy to be kept in the service of the Crown. It might be that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman) was not aware of these facts; but there was a great deal that he did not know, and he would learn a great deal in his career in that House, if he remained in it, especially if he attended carefully to what was said by Members below the Gangway. In discussing the conduct of Mr. Bolton, he wished to show that the convictions, obtained through the instrumentality of a man to whom an English Judge had applied language perhaps the strongest ever uttered on the Judicial Bench, were not clear. It was an unfortunate thing for persons of the high character of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite to have to rub shoulders with a person like Mr. Bolton, and to have to defend him in that House. If the actions of a person of such repute in this country were involved, they would not find the English Attorney General defending those actions. English officials always tried to keep clean hands; but Irish officials were willing to steep their hands in anything in defence of the system they were obliged to maintain. It was upon these grounds that he impeached the Vote. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had given no explanation of the jury-packing and changes of venue; he had not explained why men from Monaghan and Armagh were brought to Belfast, where a "true-blue" or Orange jury could be obtained.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
It was not a special jury. A common jury was empannelled in every case tried at Belfast.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would, perhaps, deny the change of venue? The right hon. and learned Gentleman must have a very weak case indeed if he could not turn his flank on some point; he tried to do it in this instance by the statement that no cases were tried at Belfast by special juries. Very well; then he would give him another case—the case of the Emergency men who were tried for the Morroe outrages, and they were not convicted. Why? Because Mr. Peter O'Brien, who ought to have been earning his salary in Green Street, was brought down specially to 351 Cork, where he had no right to be at all, and he would not challenge a single individual, though these men, having the right, challenged all the Catholics of the jury, and were acquitted after a disagreement. When the prejudices of the ruling classes were concerned a special jury was empannelled; but when Emergency men went round with arms and blackened faces, and committed acts for which they were brought up, then, either by means of the Grand Jury or some other machinery, they were sure to get off. He asserted this as an axiom with reference to Ireland—that the Chief Secretary might shoot a man in the street, simply for amusement, and he would not be convicted, because, in the first place, as was done in the case of a policeman, if a Coroner's Jury returned a verdict of wilful murder the Attorney General would put his power into operation and quash the inquisition; and, secondly, if it were not quashed, and the Crown sent up the case, as his hon. Friend had pointed out, the Grand Jury would ignore the Bill. Thus, against that numerous class of men in Ireland—namely, the Emergency men and bailiffs who strayed about the country with revolvers in their hands—no justice was to be had. This state of thing was the realization of the old proverb that one man might steal a horse, but another might not look over a hedge. The Emergency men and the bailiffs might do what they liked, and no one seemed to have any power or control over them. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who replied to his Question of Friday last, said that the men convicted in the Castleisland case were not convicted by direction of the Judge. Now, he presumed the right hon. and learned Gentleman would accept upon that point the reports from The Cork Daily Herald of the 21st, 23rd, and 24th of July last, to which he would ask his attention. Seven or eight men were charged, and two were convicted; the prosecutor swore he could not recognize a single one of the men who fired at him. The right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that these men were not found guilty by direction of the Judge. Now, the report of the case with which he had fortified himself said the jury were about to retire when a juror, Mr. Harris, asked for a printed copy of the depositions, and asked if upon that they might find 352 a verdict. His Lordship (Judge O'Brien) replied—" Most certainly; and I so advise and direct you." And yet the right hon. and learned Gentleman got up and said at the Table of the House that the men were not convicted by direction of the Judge.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
The Question was as to whether the Judge directed a verdict, which anyone who knows anything of legal procedure must be aware means the withdrawal of the case from the jury.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he would make the right hon. and learned Gentleman a present of the cheerful ambiguity of the Judge's remarks. But what was the effect of that language upon the minds of the jurymen? With trained lawyers in the House the right hon. and learned Gentleman might make good his plea; everyone who had studied works on special pleading would know that. If the Judge had not said what he meant, why did he not make it clear what his language was intended to convey? Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made an excuse with regard to the date of the adjournment of the trial. He (Mr. Healy) made the charge that at Cork these cases were adjourned on the fourth day of the trial, whereupon up jumped the right hon. and learned Gentleman and said it was not the fourth day, but the eighth day of the trial. Technically, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was correct; but, strictly, he (Mr. Healy) was right, because, although it was the eighth day of the Assize, it was only the fourth day of the criminal business. No doubt, the right hon. and learned Gentleman felt uncomfortable under these statements; but he regretted to say that they were plain and unvarnished truths. He would call the attention of the Committee to the character of the evidence on which the men were found guilty. Seven men were brought up from the county of Kerry to Cork, which might be called a change of venue, for Cork was not in Kerry, nor was Kerry in Cork. They were brought up on the evidence of a man named Walsh, who made a deposition identifying some of them. This man was cross-examined by Mr. Atkinson, and he then said he did not know the man who shot him; he had never seen him before that morning. Mr. Atkinson then asked him to look 353 round and say if he could see him then; and the witness, looking at the dock for the third time, said—"I do not, my Lord." The man who was shot was sitting on the witness table, and, being asked if he could recognize the men, said, "No." If he were disposed to trouble the Committee he would read the report of the case in The Cork Herald; but he would simply say that a more flagitious case in the annals of criminal procedure in Ireland was not to be found. The men were found guilty; but did the Judge believe they were found guilty properly? If he did, what sentence ought he to have passed on them? Castleisland, it should be remembered, was the most disturbed district in Ireland; let it be remembered that a series of outrages had taken place in that district, and that the Crown had strained every nerve to strike terror into the population. The men were convicted, and one would have thought they would have been sentenced to penal servitude for life, or, at least, to a term of 20 years' imprisonment; but how much did they get? Two years' imprisonment with hard labour; clearly showing that the Judge who tried them, and who directed the jury to find them guilty, did not believe in the verdict which he directed the jury to find. Mr. Justice O'Brien, too, it should be remembered, was not believed to be a very tender Judge who looked to the side of the prisoner. He put it to the Attorney General for Ireland whether, if he were a Judge on the Bench, and a number of men were brought before him charged with shooting a caretaker on a farm, he would believe that two years' hard labour was an adequate sentence? Why, even in England, if you kicked your wife to death you got two years' hard labour, although here that was thought to be the smallest offence known to the law. But granted that, he said that two years' hard labour was an extremely lenient sentence, clearly showing that the Judge did not believe the men guilty. Two were found guilty; but what became of the other live? The adjournment took place, as they knew, on the fourth day of the criminal business in Cork. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it was the eighth day of the Assize. He (Mr. Healy) did not believe that more than 36 men had been put in the jury box out of a panel of 200. Well, the trials were adjourned, and the 354 men were sent back to Tralee and allowed to remain in gaol for 12 days, certainly not because they were believed to be guilty, for in that case they would have been tried in Cork. They remained in Tralee Gaol until he put a Question in the House of Commons, and then they were released. A Question in that House made Irish officials jump. He said that life would be intolerable in Ireland if Irish Members had not a certain amount of check on the proceedings in Ireland through the discussions on the Estimates, owing to which they were able to let some light into the souls and consciences of English Members. Even though they might march into the Division Lobby to support the Vote, he ventured to say there were few of them who had not their doubts on the subject.
§ MR. MAGNIAC
rose to Order. He asked whether it was in Order that a Member should make personal charges against hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House as to the conscientious discharge of their duties?
§ MR. HEALY
said, the hon. Member was mistaken; he had made no personal charge on hon. Gentlemen opposite. He simply said they had souls and consciences. If the hon. Member did not belong to that category he would be happy to except him. However, having concluded his remarks when the hon. Gentleman interrupted him, he had only to thank the Committee for having so kindly listened to what he had to say.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, it was one of the most painful incidents of recent occurrences in Ireland that those who, in a difficult crisis, had endeavoured to discharge responsible duties as Judges, prosecutors, and witnesses, which many of them had done with great danger to their lives, should, in addition, have to listen to their conduct being aspersed and their motives impugned. The hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Healy), availing himself to the full of the freedom which the House accorded to its Members, had used the strongest adjectives and the most vigorous form of invective against those whose arduous task it had been to assert the law, in a great crisis, against persons, whom everyone who had studied the cases knew to be guilty. [" Oh, oh!"] If hon. Members below the Gangway objected, they could wait until he had finished what he intended to say. Within the limits 355 of moderation, which his own self respect suggested, he should make use of that right which belonged to him, to occupy the time of the Committee for a limited period, while he expressed, upon the present subject, those feelings which he believed to be just and proper. The hon. Member had said something about letting in a gleam of light upon the consciences and souls of hon. Members. That was a very nice expression for the curious form of light which the hon. Gentleman introduced; but he (Mr. Gibson) thought the attitude of the hon. Member might very well be judged from another expression which he used—that of making the Crown officials jump. One of the Crown officials selected by the hon. Member for attack was Mr. Bolton. He (Mr. Gibson) would be entirely cowardly, and utterly unworthy of standing in that House, knowing, as he did, Mr. Bolton perhaps longer than did anyone present, if he listened in silence to the charges made against him. Long before he had anything to say in that House, long before he had any connection with official life, his experience of Mr. Bolton on the Leinster Circuit was that he was firm in his prosecutions, but also fair. That was his (Mr. Gibson's) opinion, when he was engaged with all the energy and ability he possessed in defence of the prisoners. Later on, when circumstances placed him in official relation with Mr. Bolton, it became his duty to review his prosecutions—during the three and-a-half years he was in the Office which his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland now held with such conspicuous advantage to the public service, he had never known a single case in which Mr. Bolton had not conducted the prosecutions in a way which might stand review and criticism by any impartial tribunal. Now, the case selected by the hon. Member for special reference with regard to Mr. Bolton occurred in 1879. At that time none of the occurrences had taken place which had brought his name into prominence.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he was perfectly familiar with the entire matter. The trial in England was about a will; and that will, and the incidents that took place, were only important to the hon. 356 Member's point of view in so far as they referred to what took place in 1879. All those incidents were brought to the notice of the Lord Chancellor, that distinguished man, Dr. Ball, who calmly and impartially, as befitted his habit of mind and the high position which he filled, and after consulting with his Colleagues, arrived at the conclusion that there was nothing in the facts brought to his knowledge which required interference on the part of the Executive Government. But the crime of Mr. Bolton was more recent than that; it was within the last two years that it had developed. When the troubles in Ireland increased, and the services of a man of exceptional ability were required, the Executive appealed to Mr. Bolton, and gained his assistance; and the exercise of his ability; his nerve, and his experience was to be found in very many of the recent trials in Ireland. So that really the most conspicuous offence of Mr. Bolton was that he had efficiently and vigorously served the Crown at the time when the Crown needed efficient and vigorous assistance. Now, passing away from Mr. Bolton, the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Attorney General for Ireland had answered several questions on the subject of these trials, and had answered them fully and completely. The Attorney General for Ireland, who fulfilled the difficult and arduous position of Public Prosecutor in Ireland, and who, it must be clear, was directly responsible for such a charge, had answered the questions openly, frankly, and fearlessly; his appearance was not that of a; man desirous of keeping back anything; and he (Mr. Gibson) ventured to think that, later on, he would be prepared to give full and detailed information with respect to any specific trial brought under the notice of the House. But when the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), in no way deficient in acuteness, was brought to task for the recklessness and boldness of his charges, when he was going on making charges in the hope that he would presently hit upon something, he (Mr. Gibson) noted that, on three occasions, he rushed rashly into a position from which he had at once to recede. In the Crossmaglen case, he insisted that special juries were summoned, until the Attorney General for Ireland rose in 357 his place, and showed that the matter was past argument, because there were no special juries summoned, whereupon the hon. Member for Monaghan, with au indifference that reached the point of sublimity, said it was a matter of no consequence. If the Attorney General for Ireland had not been in his place to insist upon the denial, in spite of the assertion of the hon. Member, he (Mr. Gibson) should like to know whether his statement would not have gone forth to the country as constituting a grave charge against the Government which could not be refuted? the hon. Member had another point—namely, that one of the Judges in Ireland directed a conviction in a criminal case—[Mr. HEALY: I will read the report again.] No; he would not trouble the hon. Member; he had a fair recollection of his clear and vigorous language in making his statement. The charge was that a Judge in Ireland had so far forgotten his duty as to direct a conviction in a criminal case; that was stated specifically; and when the charge was grappled with, as it was at once, the hon. Member said it was a very small matter. The point of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's reply was that the Judge had not directed a conviction; that he used certain words, simply directing the jury on a matter of law. He said that, on particular evidence, if they believed it, on which they asked guidance, they were entitled, as a matter of law, to convict. There was no room for doubt about the matter, which was as clear as crystal; and the Judge who would not have given that answer would have been considered fitted to sit on the Bench but for a very short time. He ventured to say there was not a single hon. Member in that House who could not see with absolute distinctness what it was the Judge was asked by the jury, and what was the legal guidance given by the Judge to the jury. He (Mr. Gibson) could not help thinking that the gleam of light the hon. Member had spoken of was a little deficient in strength; because, in respect of this charge, the hon. Member again fell back on an excuse which they were familiar with in the ordinary transactions of life—he said it was a very small matter. The final charge was one more remarkable still; it related to a very important case that came before Mr. Justice O'Brien. At the risk of winning an easy cheer from a certain 358 quarter of the House, he was glad to say that Mr. Justice O'Brien was a friend of his, and he would add that he believed him to be as able and upright a man as ever adorned the Irish Bench. The charge was, that when he had the power of inflicting a sentence of penal servitude for 20 years, or for life, he could only bring his courage to the point of inflicting two years' imprisonment with hard labour. Let it be remembered that the charge now was, that the trials in Ireland had been conducted with such a ruthless spirit, and with so little regard to justice, that the poor innocent prisoners, instead of getting a maximum sentence of penal servitude, were let off with a very much smaller punishment. The Judges being given by law a wise discretion, which enabled them to give a sentence, either of penal servitude, or of imprisonment, it was certainly rather hard to complain that the Judge who tried the case, and who was acquainted with all the facts and with all the evidence, should have dispensed with the graver punishment. He was bound to recognize the great acuteness of the hon. Member; he failed to see how the specific points which he brought up, and which he subsequently had to abandon, justified the harsh language which he used. The hon. Member spoke of crimes against law and order, as if he were entitled to command cheers from the Committee. He (Mr. Gibson) would like to know what would become of civil society if there were no punishment for crimes against law and order, which the hon. Member paraphrased as crimes against the prejudices of that House? What did the prejudices of that House mean in the mouth of the hon. Member? Did he mean by that what the House of Commons had, by overwhelming majorities, declared to be the law of the land? Did he mean that the laws passed in that House, and by the House of Lords, and sanctioned by the Queen, were prejudices when they were used to assert law and order? [Mr. HEALY rose in his place.] He did not wish to be catechized by the hon. Member; if he had mis-stated his words, or misrepresented his meaning, he would yield to him at once; but if the hon. Member wanted only to interpolate an extremely brilliant reply, he must leave him to sum up when he had finished speaking. The next case referred to struck him as being 359 the most remarkable of all. There were two men charged with going about disguised at night, and demanding arms and money. When the case came before the magistrates it was dismissed; the attention of the Crown being directed to it, the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and his right hon. and learned Friend desired the matter to be further investigated; they sent up two Special Magistrates, and by their action the men were returned for trial at the Cork Assizes, where the Crown Counsel, not satisfied with the result of the first trial, which was due to the disagreement of the jury, put the men forward for a second trial. He could see no case against the Crown that they had not held the balance fairly with respect to the trial of these persons charged with a violation of the law. There were other points which he could refer to; but he did not think it necessary to go into them at that moment. He did not for a moment dispute the right of any hon. Members from Ireland to institute a searching criticism into the way in which prosecutions in Ireland were conducted. He had never objected to that, and he was certain no one in that House would object to the fullest and most ample criticism of the circumstances of all the trials which had taken place. But he said that such an examination should be conducted in a calm, reasonable, and judicial manner. He felt sure that hereafter the impartial verdict would be that, in a time of great danger and unexampled crime, when a vigorous and just administration of the law was absolutely necessary, the officials of the Government, both in Ireland and in that House, had been actuated by an anxious desire to do right, and to avoid, even in appearance, injustice and unfairness.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had no desire to discuss these matters in anything but the calm spirit which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had recommended to the Committee; but he was bound to say that, if he were the Liberal Secretary of State for the Home Department or the Liberal Attorney General, he should have some suspicion that his administration was conspicuously a failure from the generous eulogies poured upon it by the Conservative speakers. There was 360 not a single Conservative gathering which took place in Ireland, whether it were an Orange display in Ulster, or a Conservative banquet in Dublin, but the names of the Chief Secretary and Earl Spencer, the Viceroy, were received with prolonged cheering, which contrasted strangely with the pronounced hisses with which the name of the Prime Minister was received. He had lately been reading a report of a Conservative gathering in Ireland—namely, a meeting of the Constitutional Club; and he found that the highest encomium that they were able to bestow upon the Lord Lieutenant was that he was an Orange Viceroy, doing Orange work in spite of the Liberal Administration. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had made light of some of the statements of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy); and he would take one or two of the right hon. and learned. Gentleman's points in passing, though they did not seem to bear very much upon the matter before the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the Murroe outrage, though he had not referred to the fact that the Government did not enter upon that prosecution until they had been driven into it by Questions put in the House of Commons. The prisoners in that case were tried in Cork. They were Emergency men; but were they tried by Catholic tenants? No; Catholic tenants who were accused of crime and tried in Dublin had their cases submitted, in almost every instance, to 12 Emergency jurors; but what was sauce for the Catholic goose was not sauce for the Emergency gander. Seeing that Catholic prisoners were tried by persons of a different life, of different creed, and of a different class, it was only just that, when Emergency men were to be tried, the juries should have been composed of 12 Catholic tenants. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken had paid a high compliment to the demeanour of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) acknowledged at once the right hon. and learned Gentleman's qualities in that direction; but he would go from his manner to his matter, and say that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been guilty of as unfair—he would not say dishonourable—a piece of strategy 361 against the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) as had ever been witnessed in that House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted two extracts from the paper edited by the hon. Member for Mallow, referring to James Carey. Being interrupted by the hon. Member for Mallow, the right hon. and learned Gentleman added that these things were written and published long before Carey's connection with the Phœnix Park murders was known or thought of. Why, then, had the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted these extracts, unless it were to excite prejudice and hatred against his hon. Friend (Mr. O'Brien), by recalling statements which were made when, so far as the people of Dublin knew, the murder was not dreamt of? The forgiveness of Carey, and Carey's being put in the witness-box, was one of the grossest acts of infamy on record; and he would tell the Committee why Carey was put in the box. It was not that his evidence was required to convict the other prisoners—they could have been convicted without his evidence; but the fact was, Carey was wanted to besmirch the Party who sat on those (the Home Rule) Benches. What had happened when Carey was put into the witness-box? Why, he had said, in his evidence, that the Invincible Society was started at a time when all Constitutional liberty was at an end in Ireland, when the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), Mr. Dillon, and other Leaders of the Constitutional movement were in prison; he had said the Society had its origin in a feeling of something like despair at the non-success attending Constitutional efforts to improve the condition of the country; he had said that the Invincible Society was created by Mr. Forster's policy. It was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford who ought to have been put upon his trial upon the evidence of Carey. For a fortnight every newspaper article, and every speech made in the country by Members of the Government, even by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington), who sometimes occupied the position of Leader of that House, rung with the insinuation that the hon. Member for the City of Cork was connected with these vile assassins; and, to his (Mr. T. P. O'Connor's) mind, 362 never was there a more atrocious, a more cowardly, or a more wicked set of tactics adopted by one class of political politicians against another. What were the admissions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman? Why, he had had to admit that some of the persons whom the Government had put upon their trial for murder had been acquitted by the juries. The right hon. and learned Gentleman got up and said—"Thank God for that," and asked what could be a more reasonable action than for a common prosecutor to bring a charge of murder against a man if there was evidence upon which to found that charge. But the Committee must remember that a charge of that kind, even if rebutted, left a stigma upon a man all his life. Had not the Irish Members, therefore, a right to charge the Government with neglect of duty; with not having more carefully sifted the evidence, before putting such stigmas upon the character of Irishmen? The man M'Carthy, and his wife, had been brought up on a charge of murder and remanded time after time—three Assizes were allowed to pass over, and at the end of a year's imprisonment the Government were unable to bring home the charge. At that very moment two other persons were in custody charged with the murder; and what were they doing with these two persons? They were adopting a similar course, remanding them as they had remanded M'Carthy and his companions. Eight times they were remanded, the evidence on the eighth remand being the same as on the first. Why did they remand prisoners like this? The rational explanation was that when a remand was asked for, additional evidence would be forthcoming on the next hearing; but here they remanded men week after week, and month after month; at the end of that time having no further evidence to bring forward than was produced at the first hearing. The Government had a perfect right to track out crime and punish it, and no Member of the Irish Party denied them that right. So far as he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was concerned, he heartily wished the Government success in any legitimate efforts to bring malefactors to justice. He would congratulate the Government, and cheer them on in work of that kind; but in the matter to which he was referring, 363 their conduct was what it ought not to be. They had no right, he maintained, to obtain convictions by torturing prisoners. When they had these men in solitary confinement, month after month, with these terrible charges hanging over them, unproved, when they had them interviewed by their policemen and their doctors—if they did employ doctors, as his hon. Friend said they did, for the purpose of putting the prisoners through a daily torture—they could not be surprised at the Government being able to get persons to swear against people who were innocent. The Executive, by their mode of conducting these prosecutions, were reviving the torture of the Dark Ages—or, rather, were introducing an ancient principle in a modern form. They were torturing untried prisoners in the face of one of the most solemn declarations ever embodied in the Statute Law. The 39th section of the Prisons' Act of 1877 emphatically declared that a clear difference should be made between the treatment of persons unconvicted of crime, and in law presumably innocent, during the period of their detention in prison for their safe custody, and the treatment of prisoners convicted of crime, during the period of their detention for the purpose of punishment. That Act provided for the making of Prison Rules for the treatment of untried prisoners. In spite of that Act, they had kept prisoners unconvicted of crime for 12 months in prison, and deprived them of the privileges conferred upon them by both Houses of Parliament, and all that in the name of law and order. What would the hon. Gentleman the Member for the County of Clare (Mr. O'Shea) say to that? He was not a Member of the Party to which he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) belonged. He was not remarkable for vehement hostility to the present Government, and yet what did he say? Why, he said that the country was getting sick of the "fishing prosecutions." That was a most apt description of the policy of the Government; they first imprisoned the man, and then defined his offence. The presumption of law used to be that a man was innocent until he was proved to be guilty; but the Government had reversed the whole process, and their officials presumed people to be guilty before they had one jot of evidence against them, and kept them in gaol 364 until they had induced some miserable wretch, by fear of death, or by offer of bribery, to give evidence against someone else. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had attempted to answer the charge brought by Members of the Irish Party with regard to the packing of juries. In common with the right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Gibson), he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), must compliment the right hon. and learned Gentleman on his demeanour in reference to this question. It did seem rather strange—but his candour had allowed him to go that far—that he should have admitted that the juries were taken from the same religion. On this matter, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had given a grudging testimony of the truth. It was not the complaint of the Irish Members that all these persons were taken from the same religion. Some Protestants had been asked to stand aside, it might be thought for decency's sake; but it was nothing of the kind—it was not for decency's sake; but because these people did not belong to the Orange Party. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had given two reasons in support of the method on which juries had been formed. In the first place, he had said they had been bound to exclude from the panels licensed victuallers, the large majority of whom were Catholics. Could anyone in his senses believe that because a man sold whisky he should not be allowed to act as a juryman, and to try a case? There was a distiller on four of these juries, so that the new moral code of the Irish Attorney General was, that a man who sold whisky by retail could not be safely trusted to act upon a jury, while a man who sold it wholesale was an excellent man to act upon a jury—so excellent, indeed, that he could sit upon the trial of four cases. What was the second reason of the right hon. and learned Gentleman? Why, that prisoners had not exhausted their right of challenge. Was there ever a more unfair statement, even for an Irish Attorney General, speaking in reference to State trials? What was the use of a prisoner, or his representative, challenging 20 jurors, when, if they were challenged, the Government had 20 more; or when, if they were challenged, they still had another 20 out 365 of the 80, 90, or 100 jurors at their disposal? What would have been the use of exercising the right of challenge, even had they the right of ordering 40 or 60 to stand aside, instead of 20? What state of things was it, when a Law Officer, responsible for the peace of Ireland, could get up, without a feeling of shame, and without a blush, and present so flimsy, and so miserable, and so false au excuse as that? What was the impression that they produced in Ireland by these trials?—because, after all, the object of punishment was to produce a state of permanent peaceful-ness in the country. What was the impression produced upon the people, when these miserable, unfortunate creatures—many of them unable to speak English—were brought up before Judges and juries, such as were appointed to try them—when they were brought up before four members of Orange institutions, or the "Boycotted" landlords associations? What did the people think? Why, that these unfortunate prisoners had just as much chance of justice and mercy at the hands of those who tried them as a cow had in the shambles. The Executive had degraded the Court of Justice to the level of an Orange lodge. When Lord Spencer took up the task of governing Ireland, he had before him a task of great difficulty; and his right hand, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, had then a splendid opportunity of establishing law and order on the sure basis of popular feeling. The noble Earl had shown a most commendable public spirit and great bravery by taking the position he did; and he and the Chief Secretary for Ireland had a splendid opportunity of giving Ireland permanent peace and permanent tranquillity, and of establishing law and order on the secure basis of popular elements. The country was in a state of horror and disgust over crime. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) knew there was a large premium put upon crime in Ireland, especially when there was a Liberal Administration in power, because it always seemed necessary, according to the dicta of their own statesmen, that a certain amount of horrible crime should precede any measure of reform. He said, therefore, that in spite of the large premium upon crime, the heart of Ireland was full of disgust with crime, and especially with some of 366 its recent and most wicked examples. Did not the Prime Minister himself acknowledge the unanimity of horror with which the people of Ireland regarded the Phœnix Park tragedy? Were not the people horrified and disgusted at the Maamtrasna murders—had not these terrible occurrences wrung the feelings of those who had the welfare of their country at heart? Lord Spencer, therefore, had public sympathy on his side; and what did he do? He said that crime should be put down; that was the first thing he said; but then he also stated that it should be put down anyhow—he said—"We must not choose our means; but we must put it down." Packed juries had been resorted to. He did not bring the charge of such injustice against Lord Spencer of having ordered that method of proceeding; but, certainly, his Lordship would not hold his ear too wide open to cries of mercy, and not only to cries of mercy, but to cries for justice. He was determined to obtain convictions anyhow; and having obtained convictions, no amount of entreaty, no amount of representation—aye, and no amount of proof—would induce him to spare the life of a man who had been declared to be guilty, and by this means the noble Lord was believed by some to have succeeded in producing an appearance of tranquillity in Ireland. To his (Mr. T. P. O'Connor's) mind, it was the operation of the Land Act, and the feeling of horror and disgust of the Irish people, to which he had alluded, which had a great deal more to do with tranquillity in Ireland than the efforts adopted by Lord Spencer. It was one of the gravest charges against English rule in Ireland that they had always governed the people by dividing them, by setting class against class, and religion against religion. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had thought that that awful and terrible system had been done away with; but he was wrong; they had revived all these old sentiments, all these old differences; and what was the result? They had revived in Ireland a system of torture which was abolished in every other civilized country, a system of torture on a par with the mediaeval practice of the Star Chamber. They had revived the very worst system of jury-packing, which had never had a more earnest or a more eloquent denunciator than the uncle of 367 the present Chief Secretary for Ireland; above all things they had postponed indefinitely the advent of that day when people, regarding justice as their safeguard and protector, would give it the strength of their confidence and their support.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that after the eloquent speech which they had just heard from the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), he would wish to recall the attention of the Committee to a more sober style of argument, and—he spoke with all respect for the opinions of hon. Members—one more befitting the nature of the question before the Committee. He had come down to the House to-day prepared for a very different style of discussion to that which had taken place. However, it had been for hon. Gentlemen who raised the discussion to dictate the manner in which it should be conducted. He had followed, with the greatest interest, the arguments of hon. Members, and he thought the debate had turned into one upon crime. They had heard from several hon. Members that they were anxious that criminals should be punished; but he had yet to learn that any individual criminal, whom the Irish Members thought ought to have been punished, had not been punished. Their remarks upon crime had consisted entirely of one long palliation of everyone who had been accused of crime, except the comparatively small number of accused persons who had eventually given evidence against others—palliation, in fact, of everyone who had been convicted of crime; and accusations couched in very severe, and he thought very unjust, terms against everyone who had been concerned in bringing criminals to justice, from the Judge to the jurymen in the box, and to all the counsel and witnesses who had been concerned. He had not been able to sit for 15 months opposite to those hon. Members without being very much interested in watching the direction of their thoughts, and without obtaining some sort of personal insight into the views of the different hon. Members to whom he was sometimes opposed, and with whom he sometimes agreed. He had listened to this debate with, he must own, a rather melancholy interest, and had endeavoured to extract from it what were the opinions of hon. Gentlemen on 368 the question of crime. He wanted to know why they were so very angry with the efforts of the Irish Executive to put down crime? The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had made two speeches to-night; and, in the second, he gave expression to one or two sentences which he (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) must confess rather took his breath away, upon the subject of crime; for if the hon. Member really held the opinions he had then put forward, he did not wonder that the hon. Member was angry, and irreconcilably angry, with the Government. The hon. Member said that whenever a man committed a crime, the Irish Government were very severe upon him; and he described a crime against law and order as a crime against the prejudices of the ruling classes. That sentence hardly required comment; but a few minutes afterwards the hon. Member, in an incidental way, referred to the outrages that had been committed in the South of Ireland, and said they might be described as having been occasioned by Amendments to the Land Act brought forward by Whigs below the Gangway. If the hon. Member seriously thought that any Amendment whatever to the Land Act could be any justification, or even a tenable excuse, for crime or outrage, all he (Mr. Trevelyan) could say was that he felt that all common ground of argument was gone. In his first speech, the hon. Member put forward a very simple theory, but still a theory. He said crime had practically ceased throughout Ireland. He allowed that the old crimes had not been punished to any great extent—at any rate, that a large number of them had not been punished; but then he went on to say that in every civilized country after a war was over an amnesty was granted. Did the hon. Member seriously reflect upon what this argument led him to? He (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) could just conceive, although he was not sure that he was justified in saying so, a state of things in which a civil war should take the form of a desperate conflict between the masses of the people in some districts and the police and military; and that, although there might be no battle in the field, there might be raids.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the hon. Member did not give that case as an instance at the time; but he gave as an instance what was much more like a civil war. He gave as an instance the American War, and said there was a good deal of killing and burning in that war. But that war was conducted according to the ordinary principles of warfare, and between two Parties who were recognized belligerents; but in regard to this warfare in Ireland, even though it was an irregular warfare between landlords and tenants, and the landlords were backed up by the police, he should have a great deal to say before assenting to a general amnesty. He could not forget that the first 10 men who were punished capitally for murder were punished not for killing landlords or policemen, but for killing poor peasants. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) talked of Lord Spencer setting class against class, and religion against religion. It was to protect the homes of the small farmers and peasants that Lord Spencer had exercised severity—severity very much exaggerated; because, wherever there was opportunity without danger to the State and to the personal safety of the individual, Lord Spencer on every occasion remitted capital punishment. Setting class against class, and religion against religion! Not only were those persons for whose death punishment was exacted on the gallows poor peasants, but they were likewise Roman Catholics; and it happened that the very first Protestant whose death was made the subject of inquiry under the new Act was a farmer named East, and for his death a Roman Catholic of his own rank was arraigned, but was acquitted. The hon. Member for Monaghan, referring to himself, had said he pitied any hon. Member of humane mind who took part in such a system. It might, or it might not, be a pleasant duty to hold the place he (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) now occupied. He believed hon. Members could imagine what it had been to have to sit next to a trusted Colleague like his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, and hear him attacked as he had been that night. It was not so pleasant a 370 place as one in which one had to make arrangements for the military and naval defences of the country, or conduct the administration of the Colonies or India; but he could not imagine a service which a man of honour and humanity would consider it more his duty to take up than, in spite of all this abuse, to make the life of a poor Irishman who was at variance with the people around him a life of comparative security, compared with what it had been. The Government were charged by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) with having used exceptional means to bring Myles Joyce to justice. What earthly political or religious motive could they have had to bring him to justice? The hon. Member for Monaghan cheered that statement in a very marked manner; but Myles Joyce had not taken any part in this civil war. He was accused of having killed a peasant like himself The hon. Member for Westmeath said the motives of the person who he admitted had committed that murder were unknown to that day, and were probably not agrarian; but, in spite of that, he thought it necessary to try that case over again in the House of Commons, and when he had done so, and when he had brought forward and analyzed the evidence given by witnesses whom they had never seen, and whom they could not cross-examine—evidence which they had to take on the ipse dixit of the hon. Member—an ipse dixit given, no doubt, with every desire to be fair——
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that still it was evidence brought forward without the possibility of cross-examination; and, after all this was stated in a manner in which no judicial case ought to be stated, the Committee learned that the Government had absolutely no motive in that case whatever, except to protect the lives of the poorest Irishmen. The hon. Member had tried that case over again, and other hon. Members who followed him had tried it over again, and had tried other cases over again, in the House of Commons. He must say he thought that a very dangerous precedent. He knew it was strictly Parliamentary, and that no hon. Member, however strong his language, had exceeded the bounds of what was strictly 371 Parliamentary; but, on the other hand, he could not think it tended to the credit of Parliament, and he was quite sure it was not to the advantage of justice, that in that Assembly, which was not a Court of Law at all where men sat judicially, where witnesses were not present to be heard, and where nobody knew anything except such fragments of the case as hon. Members might choose to put forward, and where they never heard anything except ex parte statements on judicial cases. Under those circumstances, how could they undertake to hear over again all these cases that had been tried by Courts of Law, on the flimsy pretext of deciding whether or not they should vote certain judicial salaries? He must refer to some remarks made by the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), because, if they were justified, then the Government would have very little to say as to what had been taking place during the last few months. He had not the Returns of outrages at hand; but the remarks he would make would be borne out by the Returns, and hon. Members would find that those general remarks were substantially correct. The hon. Member for Mallow said the outrages had diminished throughout May, June, and July—through the months that followed the Phœnix Park massacre. To show the hon. Gentleman that he did not wish to be unfair, he would not only concede that, but he would tell him the exact proportions. In March last year there were 531 outrages; in July there were 231, They had diminished by an exact series of 75 per month. Crime generally had diminished; but the hon. Member for Mallow was quite mistaken in thinking that murder was diminishing. So far from that, it was increasing. He could recall at this moment two terrible murders at that period—the murder of Mr. Bourke, and of Mr. Lane and his protector. But the general fact was that murders not only had not diminished, but had increased up to a certain date. They increased up to August last year. In the first eight months of last year there were 25 agrarian murders; since August there had been only two; and in August the first man was capitally punished for murder. Now, he would tell the hon. Member for Mallow the general drift of the figures. Since August the outrages had 372 gone on steadily falling; and the general result was that, whereas at the time the hon. Member had mentioned there were 200 outrages a month, for several months the average had been very much less than 100. In the first six months of this year there had been fewer outrages than there were in the month of January last year. Last year, up to October there were 25 murders; since October there had been only one. Last year there were 56 cases of firing at the person; in the first six months of this year there were only 3. Last August there were about 200 outrages; but this month, in the first 12 days, there had been 24 outrages, of which 16 were threatening letters. The machinery by which that had been brought about—in great part he was proud to allow that it had been brought about by healing measures—but this result had been effected by machinery which might be represented in that House as cruel, and the people who had worked it might be represented in an odious light, but which he was satisfied the country at large regarded as, on the whole, for the public advantage. They believed that life was now safer in Ireland than it was 12 months ago; that persons were very much less liable to outrage and to the tyranny of their more violent neighbours; that people were now allowed to follow what vocation they liked, to labour for anybody who paid them, and to take any farm that was vacant much more freely and with less fear of consequences than in the old days. These were the objects of the Government—these were the objects they believed they had attained; and although occasionally mistakes might have been made, though in such a large field and with such a number of agents there might have been occasional severities, and there might have been occasional injustice, and, perhaps, more inconvenience to individuals, still, taking Ireland as a whole, he did not believe anything had been done beyond what was absolutely necessary for the purpose of punishing crime and outrage, and restoring peace to the country.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he regretted to perceive that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had copied almost exactly the phrases and method of approaching Irish questions which used to belong to the right 373 hon. Gentleman his Predecessor (Mr. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Member for Bradford would have stated just as well—perhaps not quite so eloquently—but with just as much appearance of belief in what he was saying as the right hon. Gentleman had now done, that the objects of the Government had been, so far as the administration of the Prevention of Crime Act went, to protect the humbler people—the peasantry of Ireland—in their every day pursuits and in their legal rights. He (Mr. Parnell) did not believe that that Act was enacted, or ever would have been enacted, for the purpose of protecting the humbler classes in Ireland, and he did not believe that it had been used for their protection. He believed that that Act had been used, in an unexampled way, for the oppression of the humbler classes of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman accused Irish Members of always denouncing everybody who had been instrumental in bringing anyone to justice. He (Mr. Parnell) denied that statement; and the right hon. Gentleman, instead of making such a sweeping assertion, would, he thought, have occupied his time a little better, if he (Mr. Parnell) might venture to express his opinion, by bringing forward some proof of that sweeping statement. Irish Members that day brought forward cases of hardship to individuals of a most extraordinary character. They had pointed out examples of people in Ireland who had been kept month after month in solitary confinement awaiting their trial, all the while subject to horrible mental torture by the hints and innuendoes of their gaolers of evidence, in many cases false, that was being given behind their backs, which would result in their execution, or sentence to long terms of imprisonment. He (Mr. Parnell) could not imagine any description of torture worse than the mental torture which he knew many innocent people who had been awaiting their trial had been subject to during the last 12 months. His hon. Friend (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had mentioned the case of a man who had spent the last four years of his life in Irish prisons awaiting his trial, and who had been acquitted by the jury on the only occasion on which the Government thought fit to bring him to trial. Many other cases had been mentioned; but no reply had been given—no reply had 374 been attempted, either by the Chief Secretary for Ireland or the Attorney General for Ireland. He (Mr. Parnell) wanted to know what was the defence of the Government in regard to the cases of conspiracy to murder in Clare, in Galway, in Mayo, and in King's County? In every single case large numbers of men had been arrested. The reporters of the newspapers were instructed to say that one of the number had turned informer. Rumours of a most extraordinary character had been sedulously promulgated by the Press, and these had been laid before the prisoners themselves; and yet, notwithstanding this, and all the power of the Crown and the vast resources which, under the Prevention of Crime Act, and all the extraordinary machinery for the prevention of crime which they were able to bring to bear to that end in Ireland, the case for the Crown had practically broken down, although the men charged were bandied about from one Petty Sessions to another, remanded time after time, and when their cases reached the Assize Court they were postponed to some future time which, in all probability, would never arrive. The right hon. Member for Bradford imprisoned 1,000 persons in Ireland, whom he did not intend to bring to trial, under the late Coercion Act. Public opinion in this country rose up and revolted against the use made of that Act; and he (Mr. Parnell) asserted deliberately that the use which had been made of that Act, in his judgment, was not one-tenth part so atrocious as the use which the Government were making of the ordinary law at that moment, by holding large numbers of men in prison against whom they had no evidence, and whom they did not intend to bring to trial, thus practically suspending the Habeas Corpus Act. He wanted to know what was going to be done in the case of the men who had been committed for trial recently in Ireland; who were brought up at the last Assizes, with reference to whom no evidence had been brought forward, and who had been for months suffering all the horrors of solitary confinement as prisoners—in the words of the Act of 1877—the law presumed to be innocent; whom the officials of the Crown in Ireland were treating as if they were guilty, and whom they were striving to make 375 the public mind believe they were guilty of the crimes alleged against them. What was going to be done in the case of the King's County prisoners, who were arrested many months ago? Was not the only evidence the Government had against them the evidence of a woman who was well known to the police as a prostitute? Was not the only evidence they had against the persons charged with conspiracy in Mayo the evidence of a wretched informer, who admitted that he had been hired to commit several assassinations? He wanted to know if the only evidence the Government had in the case of the Clare prisoners was the evidence of another informer, who had been convicted and who was sentenced to penal servitude for life for taking part in a disgraceful moonlight attack against an unoffending farmer, and who got a charge of buckshot as he ran away? These were questions which arose in the administration of law in Ireland. Irish Members had shown that the Act, great as it was and extensive as were its powers, was being grossly misused, and that the Government, not satisfied with all the machinery of packed jury panels and secret inquiries, had actually re-enacted in its worst form, and without the sanction of Parliament, the old provisions of the Peace Preservation Act, the administration of which, in a much milder and more lenient way, brought discredit upon, and caused the loss of Office by, the right hon. Member for Bradford. The Irish Members were acting on behalf of the poorer and the humbler classes in Ireland. He had carefully watched the administration of justice under Lord Spencer, and he did not believe that any person in a humble position who was not well known to the English public, and the public abroad, was at present safe against unfounded and false accusations, if the local police or other local authorities in Ireland chose to bring false accusations against him. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had asked them why they attacked the administration of the Government in Ireland. They did not attack the administration of the Irish Government because criminals had been detected and brought to justice. Many criminals had been detected and most properly brought to justice and punished. But they attacked 376 that administration because public opinion in Ireland perfectly well knew that more than one innocent person had been condemned to death, and actually executed; and because they knew that, at the present moment, there were many persons suffering the horrible penalties of penal servitude for offences which they no more committed than the right hon. Gentleman himself. It was because they felt that there was no protection for individuals in Ireland who were obscure—who were weak and defenceless. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the case of Careen, and prided himself upon the fact that Careen's was the first case in which a man was brought to trial for murdering a Protestant. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to mention that Careen was twice tried before a special jury in Dublin; that he was kept in gaol for nine or ten months before he received his second trial and his eventual acquittal; that, at the first trial, 80 jurors, out of a panel of 200, were ordered to stand aside; that the jury then disagreed; that, at the next trial, so convinced were the Crown of the guilt of the unfortunate man, 40 jurors—special jurors drawn from the select special panels of Dublin—and the lawyers of the Crown did their very best to hang the man; but, notwithstanding that, because the man had a fair Judge, who put the case fairly and with impartiality before the jury, as an. English Judge would have done, the man was acquitted and was now at large. There were, perhaps, other reasons also why the man was able to present his case to the mind of the jury in such a way as to enable bettor justice to be done to himself. He (Mr. Parnell) might, perhaps, be allowed to mention that this was one of the very few cases in which he advanced money out of the fund that was under his control for the defence of prisoners. But he was so convinced of Careen's innocence that he not only fed him while he was in gaol, but advanced money to a solicitor to work up his case, and to collect evidence which could not have been collected otherwise, owing to the change of venue, and to the poverty of the man. He believed it was owing to that fact that Careen had an advantage which many other prisoners, who were without funds, and on whose behalf the disposers of the prisoners' fund did not interfere, did not possess, and 377 consequently Careen was able to obtain his acquittal. Had it not been that the particular Judge who tried the case put the matter fairly before the jury—had it not been for that, and for the other circumstances which he (Mr. Parnell) had mentioned, he believed that Careen would have been strangled to death within the walls of a prison. There was an old maxim that it was better that 99 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should be executed; but last year—at the close of the Session of 1882—he could not help seeing that there was a feeling in this country that it would be far better that two or three innocent persons should be executed, rather than that any more guilty persons should escape. He believed that public opinion in this country was so alarmed by the assassinations in the Phœnix Park and the attempt to murder the juror Field, that a feeling got abroad that even though it were necessary to execute an innocent man some person should be executed, in order to strike terror into the hearts of evildoers in Ireland. Now, he (Mr. Parnell) did not believe that the execution of innocent persons at all intimidated the guilty—he thought, on the contrary, that the guilty person, when he saw that an innocent man had been executed for what he had really clone, would be so much the more emboldened to go on and repeat his crime. He would ask the Government one question. Did they think that by the passing of the Prevention of Crime Act, or by its administration, they had advanced one single inch nearer to that which ought to be the endeavour of all Governments in any country—did they think they had advanced one single step nearer to gaining the respect and assistance of the Irish people in the maintenance of law and order? He felt convinced that it was to the administration of the Land Act, to the Arrears Act, to the good harvests, that they had been having for the last year or two, and very much also to the good prices which had been obtained for cattle, that in a largo degree was to be attributed the comparative restoration of law and order in Ireland. But as to the respect and reverence of the people for the law—the respect which sprung from the belief that the law was being justly administered, and that it was as much on the side of the great mass of 378 the people as it was on the side of the minority of the country—he believed that the present Irish Administration had done more to retard that respect which he had hoped would have commenced, and, therefore, more to bring about the assassinations in Phœnix Park than any Government would be able to undo for a great many years to come. In past times they had tried coercion over and over again. It was true that this was the only time in which they had not depended entirely upon coercion for the results which they hoped to obtain; they had also made certain concessions. It was true that coercion might intimidate for awhile; but they could not govern by intimidation. The examples which were being set over all the country—the unjust accusations which were being brought against individuals—the unjust and cruel sentences which were being inflicted upon innocent persons—all this would, undoubtedly, do very much to discredit the good results which were dependent on the measures of concession. He submitted that the Committee ought to have some definite reply to the distinct charges which had been brought against the Irish Government in respect of the individual cases which had now been brought under notice, and that it would be neither fitting nor proper to pass this Vote until the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had explained why the Habeas Corpus Act had been disregarded in Ireland, and why the cruelties and horrors which had been described had been daily inflicted upon many persons.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he had listened with very great surprise to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; for he had thought, after the very grave charges which had been made against the right hon. Gentleman there that evening, and after the long and, he would venture to say, convincing array of facts that had been laid before the Committee—he had thought that the right hon. Gentleman would, at least, have made some effort to meet separately the charges which had been made against the Administration in Ireland. There was one very remarkable omission from the observations which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to the Committee in reply to those charges, and that was 379 with respect to that system of jury-packing which was going on in Ireland under the right hon. Gentleman's administration. When the right hon. Gentleman appealed to hon. Members to assist him in upholding the law, he was very careful to ride over, as quickly as he could, the machinery which he had put in force in Ireland for the administration of the law. The right hon. Gentleman's memory might be short upon those points; but, fortunately, there were other hon. Members whose memories were not so short, and they were determined that, before the House rose, the Committee should be placed in possession of some of the iniquities which were perpetrated in Ireland in the name of law, and, as was declared, for the purpose, forsooth, of making the law respected there. Upon one of the cases that attention had been drawn to that evening the statements of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland and those of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary were completely at variance—he referred to the case of that unfortunate man, Myles Joyce. When he (Mr. Harrington) stated that the Lord Lieutenant had in his possession evidence which, if he had perused it, would have borne to him convincing proof of the innocence of the man who was executed, the Attorney General for Ireland said that those statements, not given in Court, but handed in afterwards, were such as the Lord Lieutenant should not act upon. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, when questioned some time since in that House with regard to those very statements, made quite a different assertion about them, for he said that those statements did not set forth the innocence of the man Myles Joyce. That evening, in reply to his (Mr. Harrington's) observations, the right hon. Gentleman had got up and told the Committee—" We have not the evidence before us; we have not the facts with regard to this case." The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, declared that it was impossible for the Committee to form an opinion upon the case. But why had they not the evidence before them? Simply because the right hon. Gentleman, or his Colleague in Dublin Castle, was determined to keep it back, and would not allow the House to have the means of forming 380 an opinion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had declared that the statements made were such as could not be acted upon. But they were not mere newspaper reports or verbal statements—they were authentic depositions made upon oath by men who, the next day, were going to face their God; and such depositions would have infinitely more weight with the masses of the people in Ireland than any denial of a right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had told them that the Crown was especially careful, in the case of this unfortunate man, and of the others who were tried with him, that they should have a fair trial. But how was the Crown particularly careful when, two days before the trial, two of the men who were charged with the murder became informers, and when that unfortunate man, who did not know a word of English, and had no one in Court to interpret the evidence, except a policeman employed by the Crown as interpreter—when that unfortunate man applied by counsel for an adjournment of his trial, that adjournment which the Crown so frequently applied for themselves, even when the evidence was complete, was denied him, and he was hurried on to trial and to execution. One of the sets of cases tried by the Special Commission in Dublin was particularly deserving of the notice of the House, as it showed something of the system of jury-packing employed by the Crown in Ireland; and he might mention in passing, with reference to the very high character which the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had given to the Judge who presided over those trials, that almost every newspaper in Great Britain of Liberal views condemned the language which that Judge used on an occasion when one man had been found guilty, and—some other prisoners being set on their trial—he declared that the man who had been found guilty was the least guilty of them all. He (Mr. Harrington) would now give a list of the jury who were empannelled to try these cases. The jury was selected from the special jury, and here were the names and religions of the men who tried the cases during that Special Commission. Seven cases were placed before the Commission, and some of them were more and 381 some less important and serious. The names and religions of the jurors were these:—
Frederick Blood, Protestant; Henry C. Bloxam, Protestant; John F. Boake, Protestant; Henry Booth, Methodist; George Booth, Methodist; Richard Booth, Methodist; Joshua Bewley, Protestant; Samuel H. Close, Protestant; Francis J. Coghlan, Protestant; John Colclough, Protestant; George J. Cockle, Protestant; William Glen, Protestant; W. R. F. Godloy, Protestant; John Hatchell, Protestant; Robert Hatton, Protestant; Henry Hayes, Protestant; Alfred G. Jones, Protestant; James King, Catholic; Charles King, Protestant; Charles Kendall, Protestant; John Logue, Protestant; W. F. Lennon, Catholic; Charles Martelli, Protestant; Robert C. Mason, Protestant; Frederick Maple, Protestant; Joseph Manly, Protestant; John Martin, Protestant; John Millar, Protestant; David North, Protestant; Joseph R. O'Reilly, Catholic; James P. O'Reilly, Catholic; William Owen, Protestant; Francis Ormsby, Protestant; George O'Neill, Catholic; William B. Prescott, Protestant; H. A. Phillipson, Protestant; Thomas J. Plunket, Catholic; Patrick J. Plunket, Catholic; James Talbot Power, Catholic; John Rigby, Protestant; Michael Roe, Catholic; Thomas W. Russell, Protestant; Henry Shaw, Protestant; Robert Shaw, Protestant; Henry Smith, Protestant; Isaac J. Small-man, Protestant; Arthur Rotheram, Protestant; William G. Sloane, Protestant; Charles Uniacke Townsend, Protestant; R. S. Tresillian, Protestant; John Alfred Trench, Protestant; Benjamin Warren, Protestant; Robert Whyte, Protestant; William Whyte, Junior, Protestant; Captain Kearney White, Protestant; and Henry Warren, Protestant.
Those were the jurors selected by the Crown to try the cases at one of the Special Commissions in Dublin; and in the face of that state of facts, which he defied the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to contradict, the right hon. Gentleman stood up and did not offer to the Committee one single word in justification or defence of such a system of jury-packing. Nay, more; when such a state of things was arraigned by the Irish papers, which declared 382 that, instead of winning respect for law, it was weakening the administration of the law and demoralizing the people of Ireland, the authorities sent into prison the hon. Member for Carlow, the proprietor of The Freeman's Journal (Mr. Gray), and put upon his trial, for a criminal libel, the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien). And when the hon. Member for Mallow was put upon his trial, even though he declared that, as he had challenged the system of jury-packing, he would not challenge a single juror, or do anything to give his sanction to the system—though he challenged no juror, however hostile, the Crown packed the jury until they succeeded in getting into the jury box 10 Protestants and two Catholics, one of those two being a Catholic who had found a verdict of guilty for them on the preceding day. There was one other fact which had been mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) to which he (Mr. Harrington wished to draw attention. He always found that when lawyers were attacked other lawyers were sure to be lying around to take their part—it was so in that House and everywhere else; they were highly gregarious, and they rushed to assist each other. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in referring to an observation made by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), with regard to the direction of a jury in a case on trial, gave the Committee a glimpse of what was done in these cases. The hon. Member for Monaghan pointed out that the Judge directed a verdict of guilty virtually by the direction which he gave to the jury; and the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin drew attention, in his own legal manner, to the fact that that direction was in accordance with the usual custom when such a question was asked by a jury. But he (Mr. Harrington) would point out that the question asked in the case was this—whether they were justified in the verdict upon the depositions? It was necessary for the Committee to know that the deposition with regard to which the jury asked the question in this case was a contradiction of the evidence given by the man on the trial who had originally made the deposition. Here, then, was the point and force of the criticism made by the hon. 383 Member for Monaghan. This man had originally made a deposition incriminating the prisoner who was on his trial; but when the case was actually tried in Court at the Assizes, the man went back in that deposition, and stated that he could not recognize the man who fired; and when the jury asked—"Are we to disregard the evidence given before us here now, and to find a verdict on the deposition alone?" the Judge answered, "Yes;" and a verdict of guilty was returned. It was impossible, therefore, for the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin or anybody else to say that this was anything other than a simple direction to the jury to find a verdict of guilty against the poor man who was on his trial.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he wished to explain the reason why he was unwilling to give the Government the money they asked for. The Government gave him, practically, no influence whatever in the administration of affairs in Ireland. He knew that in one case, about four months ago, he and certain other hon. Members were listened to, when they sent a Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant in the interests of three or four prisoners; but, with that exception, he had been perfectly helpless as a Member of Parliament, and he was anxious to say that, because he wished his constituents to know it, and he thought other hon. Members could say the same. If they stopped the Supplies until they got proper treatment, that would have a very powerful effect. That point had not been sufficiently attended to by many Irish Members in Parliament, and that was his reason for voting in the present case against this grant of money. The whole reason for that want of influence was to be found in the constitution of the Irish Government. Instead of having a Chief Secretary here with full powers, they were really governed from the House of Lords. If they went to speak to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that right hon. Gentleman paid the greatest attention to them; but they could soon see that the central power was elsewhere, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, not being in the Cabinet, had no sufficient influence or authority. The Irish Members ought to have considerable influence, if not in the administration of justice, at all events in the revision of sentences. When it was found 384 that they recommended any good cases to the mercy of the Crown, their representations should be attended to. He was sorry that more Irish Members would not vote against this. He knew there were dozens of men who would not vote there to-night, but who had been treated just as he had been, and whose views had not been a bit attended to, although they had done their best to bring them forward.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he deeply regretted that a debate on a Vote for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions should have developed into a discussion on crimes in Ireland, as he thought it was better to keep the charges connected with the administration of the Irish Executive apart, and not mix them up with other matters. He did not wish to refer to any of the trials or to any of the Judges, except to pay a tribute of respect to a firm, conscientious, just, and honourable man, Mr. Justice O'Brien. He would only refer to one trial, which he wished to have cleared up, as it seemed to him to be a most infamous transaction, which had reflected more disgrace and discredit upon Earl Spencer than any other act of which he had ever been the known author—the acceptance of information from James Carey, the Crown informer. It was well known that the Phœnix Park murderers could have been brought to justice without the intervention of Mr. James Carey. Why, then, was his evidence accepted by the Lord Lieutenant? There was a rumour, and he hoped it was a true one, that this step was forced on the Irish Executive by a Sub-Committee of the Cabinet; and he must say it was the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to whom all such things were attributed, who got, and perhaps who deserved, the credit of selecting James Carey as an informer, for the purpose of endeavouring to bring into the mesh, as the right hon. Gentleman thought, certain Members of that House. But he (Mr. Callan) wished principally to refer to the packing of juries, of which he knew something, and he would give an instance which occurred in his own presence at the Assizes this year in County Louth. A Catholic was ordered to stand aside; a licensed vintner, who was a Protestant and who lived four doors off, was sworn. That was a fact, and nothing had been 385 done about it. Would the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland say that he would not be a party to packing juries by excluding Catholics? The right hon. and learned Gentleman bad been present at some of the most infamous cases of exclusion of Catholics from juries. He was present when a most infamous case occurred, and be (Mr. Callan) would speak of the matter in very moderate language; because, just 12 months ago, when he referred to it, a Member of the Government asserted that one of the first signs of the return of peace in Ireland was that it was possible to form juries who, when the evidence was plain and without contradiction, returned verdicts in accordance with the facts. He said—As soon, however, as that took place, a certain section of the Irish Press and certain Members from Ireland set to work to renew the agitation against the administration of justice, in order to secure for crime that immunity it had previously enjoyed.He (Mr. Callan) gave, at the time, to that statement the proper term it deserved. He was suspended from the service of the House for doing so; and, when attention was called to his language, the Chairman (Sir Lyon Playfair) said it did not deserve censure. Having, however, in view what occurred 12 months ago, he would not do otherwise, on the present occasion, than employ Parliamentary language. The first trial to which he wished to direct attention was that of John O'Connell and three others on the 10th of August. At that trial a number of Catholics were ordered to stand aside. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was present.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
I was present; but I had nothing to do with the empannelling of the jury.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that 20 men were ordered to stand aside—18 Catholics and two Protestants. One of the men was Thomas Phillips, tailor, of Dame Street. The next day the Hynes' trial took place, and The Freeman's Journal wrote—Yesterday, at the Commission Court, the first jury trial took place. John O'Connell and three others, all natives of Kerry, were placed in the dock, charged with having attacked a house on the 17th of March. Under the ordinary law, the men would have to be tried in Kerry; but the Attorney General removed all the cases to Dublin, and the Crown exercised their right to 386 challenge on a wholesale scale; and no less than 19 persons, some amongst our most respectable citizens, were ordered to stand aside. The facts of the case are reported in another column. All the prisoners were acquitted.In that article there was no reference to religion. Speaking of the article, the right hon. and learned Attorney General said it was a most improper interference with the administration of justice; and he added, stamping his foot, that it was intolerable it should be permitted. The very day that article was published, the Hynes' case was tried; and what took place at that trial? There were 26 jurors ordered to stand aside, 22 of whom were Catholics, and the jury sworn was constituted exclusively of Protestants. On the next day The Freeman's Journal said they were unwilling to credit the rumour that the Crown had resolved that juries exclusively, or almost exclusively Protestant, should determine, in some cases the liberty, and in other cases the lives, of the prisoners on trial in Green Street; but they could not understand the fact that in the Hynes' trial 22 Catholics were ordered to stand aside, and that the jury was composed of Protestants only. He (Mr. Callan) believed, as firmly as be believed that God was in Heaven, that the men were shunted aside simply and solely because they were Roman Catholics, and such was the opinion of the Irish people. The action of the Crown in this case very naturally caused considerable indignation in Catholic circles. The matter certainly required explanation. On Monday, the 14th of August—the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) having on the Saturday drawn attention in The Freeman's Journal to the wholesale exclusion of Catholics from the juries—Kelly was tried for shooting at a man at Mullingar, and upon his jury were empannelled five Catholics, who had been ordered to stand aside on the Thursday and Friday before. These men were considered by the Law Officers of the Crown unfit to try a case of midnight marauding and murder; but they were thought competent to try a case of attempt to murder. He believed the jury found a verdict of guilty, and that the prisoner was sentenced to imprisonment for life. The next trial took place on the 18th of August, and, again, five Catholics were permitted to serve on the jury. At the following trial, on the 19th 387 of August, four Catholics were allowed to sit on the jury. But by this time the owner of The Freeman's Journal, the hon. Member for Carlow, had been sent to Richmond Prison for the part he had played in criticizing the action of the Law Officers of the Crown. Then came Patrick "Walsh's first trial, and they heard, for the first time, something about retail licences. The holder of one retail licence, however, was allowed to go on the jury, although Catholics were ordered to stand aside. On Walsh's trial he could not say who was ordered to stand aside, because the names were not called over. To what he was now going to say he requested the attention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in whom he had some confidence, and of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, in whom he had no confidence at all. Now, Patrick Walsh's trial took place, and Mr. George Bolton was the Crown Solicitor in charge of the empannelling of the jury. There were two men sitting together—Thomas Phillips, tailor, of Dame Street, and Michael O'Laughlin, butcher, of South Richmond Street. O'Laughlin was first called, and he was ordered to stand by. "Lucky fellow," said Phillips to O'Laughlin, "there is no chance of my getting off." Phillips, however, was astonished when he was ordered to stand by. Immediately one of the clerks of the Conservative Association in Dublin rushed over to Bolton, and said something to him. It was evident a mistake had been made; indeed, he (Mr. Callan) believed Phillips had been mistaken for someone else. Mr. Bolton took care to rectify the mistake, for, at the next trial, Michael O'Laughlin was ordered to stand by; but Thomas Phillips, who had been three times challenged, was sworn a good man and true, George Bolton having discovered his error. Well, they were told that at Walsh's first trial there were no licensed victuallers on the jury. The reason alleged by the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland was that a large number of Catholics were publicans. It was a common thing in Ireland to call a licensed victualler, who happened to be a Catholic, a publican; but if a licensed victualler was a sound and respectable Protestant, he was called a merchant. It was amusing 388 to find that Edward Johnson, of 43, Grafton Street, hotel keeper and Protestant, was allowed to go on the jury; while Michael Callan, an hotel keeper and a Roman Catholic, was ordered to stand by. Both were the holders of retail licences, and they were equally respectable. At the next trial a Protestant grocer was sworn on the jury; but nine Catholic grocers were ordered to stand by. Could that be a mere accident? The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland came down to the House and asserted he would be no party to packing a jury. He (Mr. Callan) supposed the right hon. and learned Gentleman's chaste and virtuous friend, George Bolton, would say exactly the same thing. Why was not the same system pursued in the Phœnix Park trials? Because the Judge, William O'Brien, was a Catholic, and he knew the tendency there was to pack juries. The learned Judge himself had said that the greatest difficulty he had to contend with in Green Street, whenever a Party trial came on, was to prevent the Crown Solicitors from endeavouring to pack the jury. It was all very well for the right hon. and learned Attorney General and the Crown officials to say they would not be parties to jury packing; but there had been jury-packing, and they were responsible, because they had not tried to prevent it, although it took place in their presence. The infamous case of jury-packing in which Phillips and O'Laughlin were concerned took place in the presence of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, and the man at fault was George Bolton, the chaste and virtuous friend of the Irish Executive; but not one word of censure had ever been passed upon him. He (Mr. Callan) never would believe, so long as Catholics were systematically excluded by the under-strappers of the Government, that the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland was not a party to the packing of juries. In spite of the protestations of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he was firmly of opinion that he could prevent these malpractices, if he so desired.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that, as a protest against the Vote, and in consequence of the entire absence of any defence by the Government against the charges 389 brought by the Irish Members in reference to the administration of justice in Ireland, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £9,000 under Sub-head E, being the fees to the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, and the Law Advisers in Ireland for directing Crown prosecutions and other contentious Business.
Motion made, and Question put,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,235, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland, including certain Allowances under the Act 15 and 16 Vic. c. 83."—(Mr parnell.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 93: Majority 69.—(Div. List, No. 287.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £55,651, to complete the sum for the Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland.
§ (3.) £6,813, to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy, Ireland.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he should like to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the first item under Sub-head "A" with respect to salaries. During the past few weeks they had had their attention very closely drawn to Bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland; and some of them, himself amongst the number, had studied the question very carefully. As the result of his investigation, he had found that at present the business of the Court was so small that it was insufficient to occupy the time of one Judge. It was a matter of surprise to everyone who possessed any knowledge of the Irish Bar that the Hon. Frederick Walsh should have accepted the office of Judge of this Court, though, no doubt, the acceptance had been in anticipation of a better appointment, such as that of Mr. Justice Harrison, who, having given evidence of his capacity in the Court of Bankruptcy, had been promoted to the Supreme Court. No doubt, the example set in the one case would be followed in the other. Mr. Walsh had shown ample capacity, and was a trained Equity lawyer. As there was no prospect of an increase of business in the Court, and as, if the Bankruptcy Bill was found to work well in England, it would, in all 390 probability, be extended to Ireland in the course of a few years, and there would only be business in the Bankruptcy Court of Ireland for one Judge one day a-week, he (Mr. Callan) would ask whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would take into consideration—and he would appeal to the magnanimity of the right hon. and learned Gentleman—the desirability of recommending for the next vacancy on the Irish Bench one of the Judges of the Bankruptcy Court in Ireland. In this way some thousands a-year might be saved to Her Majesty's Exchequer.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he would not appeal to the right hon. and learned Gentleman under the circumstances, as it would be invidious to expect him to relinquish his natural promotion. He would appeal to the Prime Minister.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, he had some experience of the Bankruptcy Court in Ireland; and he could assure hon. Members that it would be impossible to do without two Judges.
§ MR. FINDLATER
said, he agreed with what had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland with regard to the necessity of having two Judges in the Court of Bankruptcy in Ireland. They could not do without them.
§ Vote agreed to.
- (4.) £815, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Court Registry, Ireland.
- (5.) £10,927, to complete the sum for the Registry of Deeds, Ireland.
- (6.) £1,464, to complete the sum for the Registry of Judgments, Ireland.
- (7.) £60,720, to complete the sum for County Court Officers, &c. Ireland.
- (8.) £72,498, to complete the sum for the Dublin Metropolitan Police.
- (9.) £51,968, to complete the sum for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Ireland.
- (10.) £4,345, to complete the sum for the Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Ireland.