HC Deb 27 February 1883 vol 276 cc1020-2

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If Mr. Timothy Harrington, who was on Saturday elected, without opposition, to represent the county of Westmeath in Parliament (and whose friends handed in for him four nomination papers, three of which were signed by farmers exclusively, amongst whom were some of the largest farmers in the county), is now undergoing a term of two months' imprisonment in the chief town of Westmeath, on a charge of having attempted to intimidate the farmers of that county; and, whether, if that be the case, he will direct the speedy release of Mr. Harrington?


Sir, Mr. Harrington is undergoing imprisonment under the charge to which the hon. Member refers. The newspapers report, doubtless truly, that he has been returned under the circumstances to which the hon. Member refers. The papers likewise state that on the occasion of Mr. Harrington's return, his nominator made a speech, in which, among other very strong observations, he stated his belief that the Government had supplied Carey with the daggers for the Phœnix Park murders. If hon. Gentlemen will read the speech, I think they will be satisfied that the circumstances attending the election of Mr. Harrington were not such as to call on the Government to take the very unusual step of remitting a sentence passed on account of a charge by the Crown.


In reference to that answer, I beg leave to ask the right hon. Gentleman, if Mr. Harrington, a prisoner in Mullingar Gaol, is to be held responsible, not only for language alleged to have been delivered by himself on a former occasion, but for speeches delivered by his nominee at an election?


The burden of the proof rests with others, not with us, to show that there was in the circumstances of the election of Mr. Harrington anything to cause the Government to take the step of letting him out of prison, where he is confined on a charge of intimidation, and where he now lies in common with a certain number of other people who are not Members of Parliament. I do not think that any such cause has arisen.


I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the opinion of the Government, there may not be ground for repudiating the charge of intimidation, in the fact that the person charged with intimidation had been unanimously elected a Member of this House by a constituency of the very class he was alleged to have intimidated?

[No reply was given.]


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary, whether Mr. Harrington, the Member of Parliament for the County of Westmeath, and convicted of a political offence, is compelled to associate with ordinary felons and criminals, and to do the same work, and subjected to the same treatment?


I will answer that question on Notice. I cannot admit that Mr. Harrington has been convicted of a political offence.