HC Deb 18 February 1884 vol 284 cc1166-7

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, in view of the admission of the leaders of the Orange Party in Derry, on the 1st November, that their action was a protest against certain land policy, and that the man, James Kelly, was shot and deprived of his sight in the pursuance of that action, the outrage comes within the term agrarian (19th sec. Crimes Act, Ireland); and, whether he will, therefore, ask the Lord Lieutenant to have the case investigated; whether Kelly is an artizan, who, by the loss of his eye, will be seriously impeded in the earning of his bread; and, whether, for cases very similar, large compensation have been awarded to individuals and charged upon the districts in the other provinces of Ireland?


Mr. Speaker, I should like to intervene for one moment between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member who has put this Question. I would point out that this Question contains a statement of fact which has, in reality, no foundation whatever. ["Order!"] It states that the leaders of the Orange Party in Derry on the 1st of November admitted that their action was a protest against certain land policy. They have made no such admission. ["Order!"] I stated in the House of Commons in my place that the action of the loyal party in Derry was——


I beg to rise to Order.


The noble Lord has stated that the statement of fact in the Question is inaccurate. He cannot go beyond that.


The Government have been advised that, having regard to the special definition of agrarian crime laid down in the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Act, this is not a case which might lawfully be dealt with as agrarian crime under the Act. I/ am not aware of any case not properly coming under the Act, in which compensation had been awarded.


inquired whether, in order to put down Orange outrages, the Government proposed to amend the Prevention of Crime Act?


I think, from several things that have occurred lately in the North of Ireland, I should be inclined to refer to the Law Officers for their opinion as to the bearing of the clause defining unlawful Societies with regard to this sort of crime. In saying this I am not in any way opening the question as to Orange Societies being illegal Societies.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what question he is opening up?


I am perfectly ready, Sir. I will take another Society than the Orange Society. Suppose a branch of the National League were to plot an outrage. I think it is doubtful whether we should exempt that outrage from the question of compensation, because the branch belonged to a Society that was not illegal. In the same way, if a branch of the Orange Society plotted an outrage, I think it would be a question to be carefully considered by the Law Officers whether the fact of being affiliated for the Orange Society would exempt the district from charge. If it were otherwise, every secret Society might keep itself out of the Act by affiliating itself to the National League or the Orange Society.