§ MR. HEALY
said, that everyone would agree, who had witnessed the exciting scene before the close of the last Sitting, that it was much more decorous to have the reply of the new Chief Secretary today. They were very anxious to know what his view was of recent occurrences in Ireland, and what policy he intended to pursue; or, if he was merely elevated to a higher position on the Treasury Bench, to have Questions fired at him as a kind of Ministerial "Aunt Sally?" The late Chief Secretary made last night a speech which he regarded as very remarkable. The House and the country must remember that it was because of their attack upon the 911 Government in reference to James Ellis French, that the President of the Board of Trade charged them with acting the part of savage warriors, and with making use of "poisoned wells and explosive bullets." He wished for a moment to contrast the attitude of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster last night with his attitude upon the same subject some three months previously. Last night, James Ellis French was "This wretch!" "A fellow!" "One who, if the Government had anything to do with him, would lose them the support of honest and honourable men!" Three months ago, when the Irish Members showed that so far back as September, 1883, James Ellis French committed perjury in swearing in an affidavit that he had not been suspended or removed from office, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster backed him up, had no apology or condemnation of the perjury, and said he hoped he would recover and be able to proceed with his action against the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien). He would quote the right hon. Gentleman's words, so that the next time Irish Members brought forward charges they might be favoured with some better answer than that the Lord Lieutenant was well aware of the distinguished character of the official impugned, and would not listen to the attacks of men like the hon. Member for Mallow. A Motion was made on the 17th of June, last Session, by the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) for a Select Committee to inquire into the conduct of the Government with regard to the criminal charges against James Ellis French, Detective Director and County Inspector, Gustavus Cornwall, Secretary to the General Post Office, Dublin, and George Bolton, Crown Solicitor. The Chief Secretary immediately rose, and how did he meet the allegations?—The hon. Member for Monaghan and the hon. Member for Queen's County have had, I do not hesitate to say, false evidence laid before them, which they are not in the least to be blamed for believing; and I can very well guess whence this evidence comes, because there has been in Dublin for some time past a man of the name of Meiklejohn, who was formerly in the English Detective Force, but who was dismissed from that Force—put upon his trial—a criminal trial—for levying black mail, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. … The House may imagine the terrible danger which Irish officials run when a man of this sort is in Dublin trumping up cases against them."—(3 Hansard,  695.)912 That speech was made on the eve of the Cornwall trial for the purpose of influencing the jury. It was a statement that Irish Members had employed a felon and an odious character for the purpose of trumping up charges. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on—
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. The false charge to which I referred was a charge against myself. My business was with a charge made in the House on the evidence, as I believed, of Meiklejohn.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The hon. Member will find, if he continues to read the speech. It was a personal charge against me of having had interviews with French, which interviews I was able to state and show to the House I never had. [Cheers from the Ministerial side below the Gangway.].
§ MR. HEALY
said, there was no such charge made by any hon. Member. Even if there were, was that a criminal charge? Would it have put the right hon. Gentleman in "a terrible position?" Why, it would not have in the least surprised them if the right hon. Gentleman had interviews with French, and had told him he must clear his character or leave. In fact, it might have been his duty to see him. Now, the right hon. Gentleman attempted to put an ex post facto construction on his words. The words did not bear the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation—The House may imagine the terrible danger which Irish officials run when a man of this sort is in Dublin trumping up cases against them.Where was the terrible danger to the right hon. Gentleman in saying that he had had an official interview with French? It was monstrous for the right hon. Gentleman to pretend that his words had reference to that. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—How can any Irish official be free from most horrible charges"—Horrible charges of having seen Mr. French in an interview!
913when a man of this character is in Dublin, spying about to the right and left. I do not know what charges he has brought against other Irish officials; but if they are of the same value as that which he has brought against me, I must say the House must be very careful before it accepts the outcry with which these charges have been published."—[Ibid.]That speech was practically a statement for the plaintiff in the libel action of "Cornwall v. O'Brien," which was to take place a few days later in Dublin. But in spite of that carefully-prepared statement Cornwall was practically convicted by a jury of his "chums." There were only five or six Catholics on the jury which gave a verdict for the hon. Member for Mallow, and of the others several were Cornwall's brother-Masons. Then look at the conduct of the Government in the case of their other official, French, who had since been dismissed the Service with the question of pension left open, though he was now in Kilmainham Gaol. With the full knowledge that French was then swearing perjury for the purpose of defeating the action of the hon. Member for Mallow, by denying on affidavit the allegation that he had been suspended or in any way officially interfered with, the Government deliberately kept silence; and it was only when driven by the force of public opinion, and when French could not be spurred or kicked into going on with his action, that the right hon. Gentleman admitted he had been suspended long before the date of the affidavit. If the Government had only had the common honesty to acknowledge that French had committed perjury, and to have treated him as a perjurer, some satisfaction would have been given. The Irish Party wanted to know from the new Chief Secretary, was he prepared to back up these wretches in the same way as his Predecessor had done? Would he imitate his Predecessor, and, with the knowledge that wilful perjury had been committed in the interests of the Crown to crush an opponent, would he back up those guilty officials? It was time that the hon Gentleman should speak out. It was time that they should have a distinct statement of the intentions of the Government. Would the hon. Gentleman liberate his soul on the subject? Would he state whether he was prepared to take up the rôle, adopted by his Predecessor? Since the accession to Office by the hon. Gentleman, an an 914 nouncement had been made that George Bolton had been reinstated. In his (Mr. Healy's) opinion, that augured very badly for the future career of the hon. Gentleman. Did the new Chief Secretary know that, on the certificate of an English Judge, George Bolton was declared to be guilty of the most heartless conduct in swindling his own wife of £40,000? He surely knew that an Irish Judge — Judge Walsh — in the Bankruptcy Court, also condemned his conduct in the most emphatic manner as "monstrous." He knew that in the Sligo murder case, Judge Barry commented most strongly, in words of condemnation, on Bolton's conduct in concealing a deposition of the mother of the murdered man. He knew that Judge Barry, in the case of "Bolton v. O'Brien," commented afresh on Bolton's conduct. He knew that in the Maamtrasna case, when the important and vital depositions of the dying boys were withheld, George Bolton was the solicitor for the Crown, and that he also appended to the statement of Patrick Joyce in the Crown brief the statement—"Patrick Joyce survives, but his evidence is worthless." The Irish Party asked the new Chief Secretary whether, with these facts before him — with this swindler and bankrupt and keeper-back of depositions—with this record before his eyes, was it the way to ingratiate himself with the Irish people to protect and reinstate this man after his suspension? In the Sligo murder case, in which Judge Barry commented on the withholding of the important deposition, the Judge had to use the prisoners' counsel's brief to supply the absence of the document, which, as his Lordship said, "should have been in the custody of the Clerk of the Crown;" Judge Barry strongly denounced this at the time; and afterwards in Bolton's action against United Ireland, for its criticisms on it, the same Judge, in his address to the jury, commenting upon the proceeding, said it was—One of the most remarkable episodes in his experience of criminal administration;and further that—It was eminently unsatisfactory, and one with reference to which the feeling of a Judge could not be realized. It was a terrible thing that, in a trial involving human life, a document that should have been in Court was not forthcoming,The Judge also observed upon the fact 915 that "the original document had disappeared." Yet this was the worthy official whom the Government had reinstated after his suspension, because the bankruptcy proceedings were stopped. These bankruptcy proceedings were unduly and illegally postponed, over and over again, contrary to the Statute. And why? To give Bolton an opportunity of waiting for the result of the Belfast trials against Mr. O'Brien, when, as his affidavits declared, he hoped to reckon a verdict among his assets. The section of the Act under which the bankruptcy proceedings took place provided that, "after the granting of an order for protection, the Court shall appoint a private sitting to be held forthwith." That, however, was not done. The Act also provided that the petitioning trader, 10 days before the private sitting, should file a full account of his debts; and yet, from the 1st of May, when George Bolton filed his petition, down to September, nothing was done to give Bolton his chance of getting a verdict against the hon. Member for Mallow. He never could pay the £90,000 he owed, as he only offered his creditors a composition of a few hundreds a-year out of his salary; but, as they knew, if they made him a bankrupt, he would be dismissed, and they would get nothing, they abandoned the proceedings in the hope that they could still recover 6d. in the pound. It was to a transparent transaction of this kind that the new Chief Secretary thought fit to impart his patriarchal blessing. Why did the Government take this extraordinary course in reference to such a man? They made the "arrangement" with him because they were afraid of him. When he put the Question to the Solicitor General for Ireland, whether Bolton would be dismissed or not, the reply was that the matter was of such a serious character and of such importance that it should lie over until the new Chief Secretary took his seat. At that time the Government evidently had not made up their minds. But in the meanwhile a very remarkable letter from James Ellis French came to light—a letter in which he said, referring to Government officials, that if he took a certain course he would "perhaps see some of them in the dock." While the Government were considering what it would do with George Bolton, French wrote his letter from Kilmain 916 ham, not for publication, but it came to light, having been intercepted; the Maamtrasna debate took place, the Irish Members were voted down, and, of course, the Government knew that Bolton could, if he chose, put this House of Commons to shame and turn Lord Spencer out of Ireland, if he told the truth about Maamtrasna, to spite them. George Bolton had only to come forward in the position of a repentant culprit, and, of course, he had Lord Spencer in the hollow of his hand. Bolton knew too much, and therefore he was reinstated—in fact, for the past two months since his suspension he had been going about threatening what he would do if the Government dismissed him. One thing Bolton said he would do was, that he would not oblige Earl Spencer by making a bankrupt of the hon. Member for Mallow. He had been treated badly by the Government, he said. He declared he had performed jury-packing; had had men hanged by the connivance of Earl Spencer; and he would expose the Government if he was thrown over, and so the Government did not throw him over. George Bolton put a pistol to Earl Spencer's head, loaded it — he might use the metaphor—with the blood of innocent men, charged it with the knowledge of unwholesome and fatal secrets, and so the Government put back Bolton—a man branded with the guilt of the most odious crime by English and Irish Judges. This was the man with whose reappointment the new Chief Secretary opened his official career in Ireland, and on which he made his maiden announcement. Did the Chief Secretary think that such a course was a wise one? They knew, however, he was not acting on his own judgment, or acting on the dictates of his own feelings, but was just doing what Lord Spencer ordered him to do. Was it not absurd to have such officials in this House, just like puppets, the strings to be pulled from Dublin Castle or elsewhere, as the case required? When answers were read out in that House, they knew that the answers were not the answers of those who read them, but of those over whom they had no control. It was absurd to suppose that the House was carrying on a Representative Government when the Representatives of the people were confronted by officials with replies 917 dictated by some arbitrary and tyrannical power outside the House. It was a flagrant dereliction of a representative position. When they placed gentlemen in Dublin as Viceroys, with full control over the fortunes of the people, and contented themselves by having in that House a mere whipping boy to answer Questions and receive at tacks, it was a prostitution of the representation. He was surprised that, living as they did in so-called Radical days, when they were pretending to give every man a vote, and pretending that in that House should be voiced the opinions of the people, a system more akin to what was going on in Russia than what would be expected in Her Majesty's Dominions was permitted to prevail. The Irish Members showed that one of the leading instruments of the system was George Bolton, and another, James Ellis French. They asked the House, which had intrusted the Irish authorities with a Crimes Act admitted to be of the most ferocious character, whether it was the way to obtain the confidence of the people to put the administration of that Act into the hands of the most unworthy and the filthiest instruments? Let the Government pass Coercion Acts; but let them give the people coerced the satisfaction of knowing that they would be administered by honourable and impartial men. But were they to be told that when the highest men the Crown had administering the Act, finding out criminals in Ireland and packing juries, were men of tainted character, of loathsome lives, men with whom no one in decent society, or with a shred of self-respect, would be seen, and with reference to one of whom the Chief Secretary said it was a monstrous charge against him to say that he was ever seen with or had spoken to him—
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I rise to Order. This is certainly very strong. The hon. Gentleman refers to French, I presume. Well, French had no more to do with the packing of juries than the police constables at Scotland Yard.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that if he was inclined to comment on that interruption, he should say that that interruption was about as irregular an interruption as ever he heard in the course of his life. As that interruption had been made, however, he would just say something on the point which it had raised 918 —that French had nothing to do with jury packing. He would read an extract from French's letter—You are not up in criminal cases, and Orr has not had practical experience in heavy cases. But I have had, and perhaps there are very few who could work up a case for the Crown or the defence more closely than I could, as John Atkinson and Peter O'Brien said to me in Mary Brosnahan's case, in which I had about 70 witnesses, that they never saw a case worked up closer to the wind than it was.
§ MR. HEALY
Here was a case in which the official now in custody on a charge of beastly and abominable offences had "worked up" for the Crown, and with reference to which the learned Serjeant, Peter O'Brien, said he never saw a case "worked up closer to the wind" than it was. No wonder they who lived in Ireland should love British rule! No wonder they should be in ecstasies at the gentlemen sent over to them! No wonder they should bow down before those creatures engaged in nameless crimes in high places—men, like French, described as a filthy wretch by the right hon. Gentleman who defended him so long! But he only introduced this digression because of interruption of the ex-Chief Secretary. The Government had clearly no intention of acceding to the proposition before the House, and yet they were told that on occasions like this the conduct of the Irish Members was calculated to alienate the Radicals. Their charge was that, having had a Coercion Act passed, care was taken on the juries under it to exclude every Catholic, especially in murder cases; whilst in grave cases like that of Cornwall, which, according to the statement of Crown counsel, involved the commission of the most odious crimes that could be committed—worse than any agrarian or political crime—they challenged no juror, and connived at an acquittal. This Act gave power to the prisoners to call for a special jury; but no prisoner before Cornwall ever thought of taking that step. The special jury system was invented by the Government in order to exclude Catholics, and if any happened to be on the panel the Crown had an unlimited right of "stand by." The panel was drawn—100 from the city and 100 from the county—consisting of people of high rating. The present panel for Dublin consisted of 155 Protestants, and about 45 Catholics. One might say that 919 that ought to fairly satisfy them. But what did they do when they got these gentlemen into Court on heavy fines? It was admitted by the late Chief Secretary that George Bolton sent the panel a few days in advance to Mr. Welch, the secretary of the Tory Club in Dublin, and he marked off the politics and creed of every juror upon it. In the case of the county panel, the Royal Irish Constabulary did the same; and by this means the Crown made up their minds in advance as to who the persons were who would be on the jury. How did they manipulate their number? In the case of Myles Joyce they challenged 28; in the case of Francis Hynes they challenged 26; in the case of Thomas Higgins, for the Lough Mask murder, they challenged 54; in the case of Pat Higgins, 42; in the case of Pat Joyce, 39; and in the case of Joe Poole, 47. Consequently, all these men were hanged. The jurors ordered to "stand by" were almost invariably Catholics, although in some instances they were Justices of the Peace. That showed that the Crown manipulated the panel, not to get a true finding, but in order to get the type of persons they required to find the verdict they desired. Yet that was called fair play. Would such a system be tolerated for a moment in England? Take the case even of the Claimant. He ventured to say that if the Claimant had been found guilty by a jury so composed, there was not a Magna Charta Association in the land that would not, at the present moment, be alleging that the Claimant was unjustly convicted. How much more would the Irish people entertain this opinion, knowing, as they did, that the panel was unfairly juggled, and that the whole machinery of Government was against them? Contrast this challenge system with what was done by the Crown in the case of French and Cornwall. The jury in French's and Cornwall's case was a special jury. The section of the Crimes Act on that point appeared to have been drawn with a prophetic eye for the benefit of gentlemen like these. Out of a panel of 200 there were only 45 Catholics. It might, therefore, be supposed that the Crown, knowing that French and Cornwall were Freemasons of high rank, would make use of that process of elimination which they practised on other occasions to so unlimited an extent. They did nothing 920 of the kind. At the outset no previous announcement was made from the Bench that the panel would be called over on heavy fines, as was done in every agrarian case. The consequence was that Mr. Cornwall's Freemason friends, in obedience to a whip, came into Court; and the few Catholics on the panel, knowing they would not be fined, remained away in order to avoid being present at a disgusting trial. Mr. Cornwall had the right of 20 challenges, and he was easily enabled to eliminate all the Catholics. What did the Government do? They did not challenge a single person. How admirable! They challenged 54 in the case of Thomas Higgins; 42 in the case of Pat Higgins; 47 in the case of Joe Poole; but none at all in the case of Mr. Cornwall, who was accused of a crime that they were told in Holy Writ cried to Heaven for vengeance. Oh yes, it cried to Heaven for vengeance; but it did not cry to Dublin Castle for vengeance. Were they in that House told by the Crown, as in the case of the poor peasants who were struggling to remain in the homes of their fathers, that as the existing law did not reach these blackguards, the Government would bring in a new Bill? No. Where jurors acquitted or disagreed in agrarian cases, the Irish were told they were in sympathy with crime, and that the Government would take care to provide machinery for putting the proper men into the box; but they had not a single suggestion to make in reference to the escape of these abominable offenders. It was not for him to charge the Freemasons of Dublin with sympathizing with abominable offences; but if he put the same construction upon their acquittal of Cornwall, of French, and of Dr. Fernandez, of the Guards, that the Government did upon the actions of jurors throughout the country on political trials, he would be inclined to say that the 11 Freemasons who acquitted their fellow-Mason in Dublin last week held very peculiar views on the subject of nameless crimes. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) stated last night that "mistakes might have been made," and men might have been hanged in the wrong; but, at least, "the Government had the consolation of knowing that crime and outrage had ceased." He had not a word to say about the crimes which cried to Heaven for vengeance. 921 He had not a single word to say in reprobation of the jury that acquitted these men. The Irish Party alleged that if in the case of French and Cornwall the Government wanted to get evidence, they could have obtained it by the Crimes Act inquisitions. The answer of the late Chief Secretary was that the Crimes Act was a method of getting at the truth, and was not passed for offences of this nature. But, if so, why was Mr. Cornwall tried under the Crimes Act? He had the benefit of a Crimes Act special jury, and he might have suffered the disadvantage of a Crimes Act inquisition into his conduct. The Government, as his hon. Friend the Member for Mallow said, be devilled the entire case. They did not produce a single witness against Cornwall on the felony charge, except those his hon. Friend had declined to call. Was not that disgraceful? They did not bring forward a single one of the witnesses upon whose evidence his hon. Friend obtained his verdict. His hon. Friend was offered the testimony of two wretched creatures named Magrane and Clarke, who alleged that Cornwall had committed felony with them; but he honourably declined to call them, as he was determined that Cornwall should be condemned upon the testimony of men of his own class—men who went to flower shows and social parties with him. The Government did not call one of these men. They called to prove the charge of felony the two wretches Magrane and Clarke, whom nobody would pick out of the gutter except Crown officials, and upon the evidence of these men the case was sent to the jury. Of course, the jury found a verdict of not guilty. They could hardly do otherwise. No man's life would be safe if the testimony of such wretches was accepted. But why did not the Government call Malcolm Johnston, the heir of £40,000? Why did they not call M'Kiernan, the bank clerk? Why did they not call Taylor, or Johnson Little, or the others who moved in the select circles of Castle society? No; they first got him acquitted on the main charge, and having thus got him the benefit of a verdict, they indicted him for conspiracy, and only then produced the witnesses who convinced the jury on the civil action. They refused to challenge one of his friends on that jury—on which the only Catholic was a man who had to leave 922 the Dublin Corporation, because of his refusal to vote the freedom of the City to Parnell and Dillon; but, though they brought him in not guilty, they added the stinging rider to their verdict — "Because the Crown have not brought forward sufficient evidence." What did they do in French's case? French wrote the precious letter already referred to, and the Solicitor General for Ireland made a great point that it was the Crown that produced it. Yes; but the Irish Members first got a copy of it. The gentlemen who gave them Crown briefs also enabled them to have other documents. A fortnight before this letter was produced in Court a statement as to its contents appeared in United Ireland; and they did not, therefore, thank the Government very much for producing it. What did the Government do in French's case? They called the same witnesses who had been disbelieved in Cornwall's case; but not a single man of the scores of policemen with whom French had had guilty practices was called. The Inspector General of Constabulary was called as a witness of character for the accused; but though the Crown knew that he had summoned two Sub-Inspectors by telegraph to find out whether French had committed felony with persons they knew, he was never asked a word about it. What fine, delicate feelings the Crown had! The sub-constable in charge of French, who was assaulted by him two days before he was arrested, and whose deposisition existed, was not called to give evidence; nor were any of the scores of cadets in the Constabulary Depôt who had been feloniously attacked by this wretch brought forward by the Crown. The English Government expected the Irish people to respect the justice so given them. What did they do in the case of Fitzgerald and others, who would be tried in a few days? In that case they kept 11 men in custody for seven months, though repeated applications had been made before the Lower and Superior Courts for their admission to bail; and after having kept them in horrible confinement all that time without trial, they suddenly allowed them out on bail of £18 each the other day, knowing that there was not a single bit of evidence against them. But they kept in a man named Fitzgerald; and on the 923 very week that he was to be tried they had recourse to a scandalous trick to "stampede" the jury, as they would say in America. They arrested at midnight a clerk named Allen, and they produced, in the most melodramatic fashion, a number of papers and documents found in his possession—all in order to get up a panic among the special jurors who were to try Fitzgerald in a day or two. In the same way Mr. Jenkinson scattered a number of rifle cartridges in the Phoenix Park, with green strings and the words, "The impregnable Invincibles will yet have revenge," attached to them, just before the trial of the Barbavilla prisoners, who were, of course, found guilty on evidence which the informer himself now swore to be false. This little scheme of Mr. Jenkinson's operated upon the minds of the jury in the Barbavilla case, and it was hoped that the arrest of this young Methodist gentleman, Mr. Allen—delayed until the eleventh hour, and made with every show of importance at the dead of night — would have the same influence upon the jury which was to try Fitzgerald. These were the tricks and stratagems employed in political cases by the Crown in Ireland, while they winked at the crimes that cried to Heaven for vengeance. They winked at those crimes, and the Irish people respected them accordingly. Of the 1,000 men arrested by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) on suspicion, how many had they brought to trial under the Crimes Act? Not 2 per cent. What did the Radicals say to that? Of course, they did not care. They had a Government to keep in, and the old saw, Fiat justitia, was no longer included in the list of Radical maxims. The House was expected to believe that the Government were acting very fairly when the late Chief Secretary could also produce a letter from the solicitors of the "unspeakables" complaining of the composition of the juries. It just happened that the letter of Cornwall's solicitor was intended simply to give the Government an excuse. It was written practically for the purpose of intimidating the Crown into not challenging a single man, and to help them with the public if the Nationalists complained of their not doing so. The hon. Gentleman said— 924Mr. Ennis, solicitor, wrote to the Government that the Government were not challenging the Nationalists.Of course, he did. Mr. Ennis would have had the interest of his client very badly at heart if he did not take every means in his power for obtaining for him a sympathetic jury. The Government knew very well that that complaint was utterly unfounded. He stated so himself; and, of course, they could only conclude that the letter of Mr. Ennis was only a plant between himself and the Government for the purpose of an excuse of this kind being made. From the way the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke of the men, it would appear that French was "a mean wretch," and that Cornwall was a respectable party. He was "Mr." Cornwall throughout all his speech. He would like to know, did this "Mr." import a pension? They had heard from the Secretary to the Treasury, in the case of the notorious Corry Connellan, that he was to be paid a pension. He did not know whether Mr. Corry Connellan had applied for this pension since the debates last Session, when it was promised that he would have to apply for it in person at the Treasury, instead of getting it through the Bank of Ireland in foreign parts; that matter would not be lost sight of—they would find out presently all matters connected with it. The excuse of the Secretary to the Treasury for continuing that pension to the infamous Connellan was that a pension was "deferred pay." But would that apply to Mr. Cornwall? The Government had kept him so tenderly and carefully and gingerly in Kilmainham, that they muddled away the evidence against him, and did not get up any themselves, but merely put before the jury the evidence that was put into their hands by the "disreputable" man Meiklejohn. Was this "Mr." Cornwall to be favoured still further with a pension out of regard for his aristocratic relations, Sir Robert Dalyell and others? That was a matter upon which they had no information. He ventured to say that, as the Government had given a pension to Mr. Corry Connellan, they would, in due time, give a pension to Mr. Cornwall. These Questions would be asked, and he trusted they would hear from the Government some better statements on the subject than they had already made. He would 925 say, in conclusion, that, in his opinion, this letter of French looked as if the Government had made no attempt to convict him. It read very like as if the Government before the trial were opening up negotiations with him. His letter was addressed to a confidential friend. He gave it to another confidential friend to take it out of the prison; but the confidential friend handed it over to the Governor. It was never intended to see the light; and some of the expressions in it were of the most remarkable character. He first discussed the morale of the Government. He said—The Crown will not enter a nolle prosequi. They dare not do it in my case. United Ireland and all such papers would be down on them, so that even if anxious they would not do it as a matter of policy.How well he gauged the position and bona fides of the Government, having been in their employment for 30 years. "As a matter of policy they would not do it." Such was the statement of a man whom the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster last night stated was one of the best witnesses that could be produced as to the conduct of the Government. French went on to say—If I take a pension I must also get £5,000 at least and expenses for anxiety of mind. If not they may keep all, and I will put them out of Ireland, and perhaps see some of them in the dock, too. If they want to make terms with me without a pension I must get £20,000.Was Mr. James Ellis French simply liberating his soul to his confidential friend, Mr. Good, by those reflections; or, rather, was he not telling his confidential friend—"You must go to the Government, and say to the Government—'If you wish not to have my statement made you must make this settlement with me?'" Of course, they knew that the Government had entered into one portion of the compact, because French would never suffer one hour of penal servitude, or pick one ounce of oakum, if they could help it. Mr. French would get off, and, of course, they would not know what had been paid him from a Secret Service fund of £30,000 a-year. How could they tell that Lord Spencer or, some of the officials referred to by French, would not make this bargain with that distinguished official? Was there anything to prevent them? They got himself and Cornwall off the felony charge. They 926 knew that they had got £30,000 of Secret Service money, and was it not very easy to stop their mouths? His (Mr. Healy's) interpretation would be, should he escape on the charge of misdemeanour, if French's memoir was not rapidly issued, that he had got his £20,000 as he asked for it; and he warned the Government that that would be the interpretation put upon it by the people of Ireland. The logic of the thing was plain. French must now be more or less at war with the Government. He declared himself that he would put them out of Ireland, and that he might put some of them in the dock unless he got a pension. They would see whether he would put them out of Ireland. They would see also whether he would make a revelation. If he did not make a revelation, he (Mr. Healy) ventured to say that the people of Ireland would be able to draw their own conclusions. There was a remarkable portion of his letter bearing upon the Maamtrasna case. He said — "The Maamtrasna case will be a pain in the side." This was an expression used by a gentleman who had been getting up cases, and sailed so very close to the wind, who had hanged men in the wrong practically according to his own statement. "Though," he says, "I don't know anything about it; but if Reid's letter came out"—Reid was the gentleman who had charge of the Phœnix Park cases, and who was promoted to be Resident Magistrate—"if Reid's letter came out, it would help to support the Nationalist idea about Maamtrasna." Of course, the Government said no such letter existed; but if French was allowed off, and if he was interviewed, not by a correspondent of United Ireland, but of what was called an impartial journal, and if the correspondent asked him what had induced him to hold his tongue, he (Mr. Healy) ventured to think that a discriminating public would be able to understand the reason if a satisfactory explanation was not forthcoming. French went on to give a list of his doings on behalf of good government in Ireland, and remarked—"Got two letters of recommendation from the Treasury for exertions in political case." The letters, mayhap, were signed "L. Courtney;" and he presumed Mr. French would get them framed and hung up in the most distinguished place in his 927 house, if he escaped from Kilmainham. He added—Employed Stephen Noonan for some months, and then discharged him on his handing all my letters to Maurice Healy, solicitor, Cork, who is brother to Tim Healy, M.P., sending him down to watch the proceedings at Mallow election, where the Attorney General and William O'Brien were candidates.He (Mr. Healy) certainly said that these letters were handed over by Stephen Noonan; but, as he appeared to be a disreputable fellow, of course he would have nothing to say to him. He did not believe a word Noonan was saying, and he believed the letters he gave up were forgeries; but it appeared now that they were genuine, and he was sorry that at the time he did not draw the attention of the House to them. Noonan came to his brother and said that he had letters in corroboration of what he stated, that French wrote to him and told him to get up a conspiracy for the Winter Assizes at Cork in 1882–3, and to get Judge Barry attacked on the way from the Court to the Judge's lodgings. He told him to be sure to get all the Nationalists of Cork into it, and that when Judge Barry was attacked, he (French) would be there with the police, and they would save the Judge; but he added, very pleasantly, that it did not matter much whether Barry was killed or not. Of course, if he were killed, the credit of having found out the assassins would be all the greater for Mr. James Ellis French. He could quite understand his taking that view of the matter. But Stephen Noonan, he supposed, either was not supplied with sufficient money by Mr. James Ellis French, or he found that the Nationalists of Cork would have nothing whatever to do with crimes of violence, although they were continually charged with them in that House. They repudiated him, and, of course, as he could get up no plot, Noonan was no longer of use to Mr. James Ellis French. If he (Mr. Healy) had brought forward the letters at the time he could fancy what would be the splendid indignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He would not have much difficulty in anticipating the sort of speech the right hon. Gentleman would make. He would say—"Sir, the hon. Member, on the evidence of a worthless wretch named Noonan, has brought forward the most horrible charges against a most distinguished officer of the Con 928 stabulary. I have the honour of the acquaintance of that distinguished officer. He has been in the service of the Crown now going on 33 years. His record during that time has been of the most stainless character. He has been engaged in matters of the first importance by the Crown. The most weighty and the most delicate cases have been intrusted to his hands; and I say this is simply a piece of revenge on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite in their attempt to take away the character of this meritorious official, because he has been successful in coping with disorder, outrage, and murder." He thought that was pretty like it. If he had not given a fair idea of what his speech would be, he regretted that he had sat at the right hon. Gentleman's feet so long in vain. He would pass from that, and show the accurate views Mr. James Ellis French took of English public opinion, and especially of Radical opinion. In giving instructions to his solicitor for his defence he said—The attacks made on me by United Ireland of bolting with large sums of money, the hire of informers, spies, and setters, and others, all these, which can be easily proved by John Dawe and other Castle officials, will, to my mind, show strong and powerful motive for a conspiracy, and when proved would be taken up strongly by the respectable Press in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, and would, I believe, create a wonderful reaction in my favour outside the United Kingdom.Then he said—This line of defence would have a wonderful reaction. All the Press would take it up, and I would be a regular hero.So he would. He would probably be knighted, like Sam Anderson. At any rate, his pension would be doubled, and the Lord Lieutenant would ask him to all his parties at the Castle. The Irish Members were attacked from time to time with having referred to Freemasons. He took Mr. French's view of Freemasons, as given in his letter. The hon. Member for Leitrim (Colonel O'Beirne)—whose testimony he was glad to have, as he was not acting with the Irish Members, but gave the Government a thick-and-thin support in and outside the House—stated last night that Freemasonry in Ireland and Freemasonry in England were two totally different things. He (Mr. Healy) was aware that in Ireland Freemasonry was nothing but an odious secret conspiracy got up by 929 the landlords and their officials for the purpose of oppressing the people, getting themselves out of any trouble whenever they got into it, and collaring all the official swag that they could get hold of. In the concluding sentence of his letter there was a very neat commentary on the Order. It began—"The clerk here, a very nice young fellow, is a Mason." Of course he was No clerk would be employed at Kilmainham if he were not a Mason. But how did French happen to know that he was a Mason? He continued—"The head porter told me so to-day, who is a Roman Catholic, in his presence," meaning that the Roman Catholic official knew so much about the operation and influences of Freemasonry, that he was not ashamed to tell the filthy prisoner, who was charged with the most abominable offence that could be committed, that the clerk, an official, was a Mason. "And so," he said—"we have a look at each other. I nearly think the clerk wished me to know it. The head porter is a pensioner from the Royal Irish Constabulary." He (Mr. Healy) nearly thought so too. Now, the Government had admirably succeeded. They had twice acquitted Cornwall; they had acquitted Fernandez; they would acquit French of the misdemeanour as well as they did of the felony, or get the jury to disagree and let him off. They had hanged Poff, they had hanged Barrett, they had hanged Francey Hynes, they had hanged Miles Joyce, Joe Poole, Pat Higgins, Tom Higgins, and Patrick Walsh; they had hanged all the other men whom packed juries had sent to their doom. On the one hand, they pursued with unrelenting persistence and used all the forces of the Crown against a peasant; on the other, their own officials, who knew their deadly secrets, and who were charged with the most abominable offences, were allowed to go scot-free. They were asked from time to time—and they were taunted with the fact by virtuous Liberals—why they gave no support to the excellent Government of Lord Spencer. Why should they not, it was asked, when in the Cabinet they had a number of Radicals, such as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, the President of the Local Government Board, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster? They were told that they were ruled in Ireland by 930 a Viceroy who was one of the most amiable and admirable of men—a man of the greatest attainments, a man of lofty character, of great experience—in fact, a compendium of the virtues. And yet, under this excellent Government of Lord Spencer, this beautiful system of government by archangels, or at least by angels in disguise, these horrible things occurred. On the one hand, the peasant was sent shrieking to his doom, with a cry of agony and a despairing protest of innocence upon his lips; while Government officials, such as French, Cornwall, and Connellan, who were accused of the most abominable offences, might retire to spend their pensions on the Riviera. Look upon that picture and upon this! He asked the people of Ireland, who were judge and jury in this matter, what was to be thought of a Government of this sort? In his opinion, it was a Government of hypocrisy and rottenness, and dead to all principle — a Government which, elected as a Radical Administration, had passed the Coercion Act; which, professing to be Liberal, had kept 1,000 men in prison without trial; a Government whose Head attacked Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria, yet connived at the most oppressive rule in Egypt; a Government which declared that the Press Laws of India were of such a character that no honest man in England or Scotland would venture to reimpose them, and yet which sent Mr. Harrington to a plank bed for six months, and seized his types and machinery, for the fault of an apprentice; a Government which in England talked of "an even keel," but which in Ireland showed its impartiality by acquitting Cornwall and hanging Myles Joyce; a Government composed of men of the highest character, who used tools and instruments of the most loathsome description. Such a Government as this asked for confidence and support from the Irish people; but he asserted that the Irish people would be unworthy of their seven centnries of oppression if they did not continue to offer the most persistent and long-continued resistance.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that a moral assassin had been reinstated to continue to do in the future the work of moral assassination for the Government in Ireland. In listening on the previous evening to the speech of the right hon. 931 Gentleman who bad risen from the dirt of his Trish occupations to the dignity of the Cabinet, he was astonished to hear him say that because the House had passed the Crimes Act they must not inquire into and must not condemn the exercise of these exceptional powers. No one but an Irish official would use such an audacious argument as that. He was surprised at the silence of the Government after the most convincing exposure of the infamous character of the means which they employed for supporting their rule in Ireland. Could there be a more monstrous and horrible spectacle than upon the one side the Administration thrusting into prison the men who had come into their grasp for having adopted desperate means of getting rid of such a Government, whilst upon the other the organs of the Government, in that House were excusing and shielding the infamy of their wretched agents in Ireland? Who was it but the Government who enlisted unfortunate youths in Ireland into desperate courses by their employment of persons of such an infamous character as Bolton? He had no doubt whatever that they were entering upon a new era and a new phase of increased agitation, what was known to British law as treasonable agitation, not only in Ireland, but amongst the Irish race throughout the world. The reason was because the Government, represented upon the Bench opposite by the deliveries of Bulgaria and elsewhere, had continued to invent and keep up a system of hypocrisy unsurpassed in any country in the world. He had little hope of anything until the Government which retained such men as Bolton in their service were reconstituted. He was unable to distinguish the guilt of the moral assassin from the guilt of the employer of the moral assassin. He was unable to distinguish the guilt of the responsible Government from the guilt of the responsible majority which supported the Government. Every act of this kind condoned by the House, and supported by the Ministerial majority in that House, was another of those acts which cut at the root of the Upas tree of British Government in Ireland. He did say that the rule of a direct and outspoken tyrant—call him Cromwell if they wished—would be more endurable, would be more respectable, and would 932 appeal more to the moral sense at least of the people, than the rule of the Government of prevarication, suppression of evidence, and maintenance of rotten officials—that Government which excused and gloried in the retention of the very worst instruments of their policy. Supposing the infamous creature Bolton, who suppressed evidence in the Sligo cases, was sent down to represent the Crown in another case, even though under other circumstances there might be popular readiness to believe and accept the guilt of the accused, must it not be the impulse of every man throughout Ireland to expect foul play where George Bolton was employed? He regretted the conduct of the Government, which was hastening the grave and terrible issues which, if persisted in, would drive the Irish race to despair. If they did so, they must expect the rewards of their conduct in a growing spirit of hatred and hostility to English rule. If the Government chose to be represented in Ireland by villains and scoundrels of the Bolton and French type, upon their own heads must be the responsibility. Every American journal which recorded the carefully managed acquittals of the Castle officials, and recorded the reinstatement of others equally odious, would preach in no unintelligible language an appeal that the Irish nation should have recourse to other means than Parliamentary agitation. He believed that further opportunities would be taken for keeping the Ministerial nose at the Irish grindstone; and though he did not expect his view would be fully accepted, he felt that he had done his duty in protesting on this occasion against the policy which this most hypocritical Government was carrying out in Ireland, and he was very sorry that the Irish Party had no immediate means at hand by which it could testify its sense of the conduct of the Government.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he thought it would be an abuse of the Forms of the House to enter upon the general question of trial by jury in Ireland. He could not in any way concur in the attacks which had been made from the Benches opposite on the conduct of Lord Spencer and of his right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Whatever duties the Lord Lieutenant and the 933 Chief Secretary had had to perform had been intrusted to them by that House. He was sure no more high-minded and generous men could have been found for the discharge of their arduous duties. But, at the same time, he heard with dismay the announcement of the present Chief Secretary that the Government intended to reinstate Mr. Bolton. He would not go into the recent proceedings; but there were already facts ascertained in connection with Mr. Bolton which made it highly improper that he should be employed in a position of such delicacy and responsibility in Ireland. Animadversions had been made upon his character by an English Judge which rendered it improper that he should occupy a Government office. The execution of an Act like the Crimes Act, which he had felt it his duty to support in its passage through that House, ought at least to be placed in the hands of men who were absolutely above reproach. Those Members on his side of the House who supported the Government in the passing of that measure could not shirk the responsibility of their individual action; and if the Crimes Act, in the administration of justice in Ireland, was to be maintained in its present form, it must be carried out, he would not say in accordance with popular opinion, for that was of a somewhat unknown quantity, and certainly, in Ireland, of a very shifty character, but, at least, in such a manner as to command respect, and so long as Mr. Bolton held the office of Crown Solicitor, and had the handling of the Crimes Act, fair and impartial people who were by no means in favour of the extreme National views expressed by hon. Members opposite, felt that there was a very serious ground for complaint. He hoped that when the question of Mr. Bolton's salary came on, it would be challenged by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he believed they would receive a considerable amount of support from Members on his side of the House. He trusted that even at the eleventh hour the Government would discover some way of removing Mr. Bolton from the office of Crown Solicitor.
§ MR. COMMINS
hoped the wise word spoken by the noble Viscount would be the beginning of wiser counsels among those with whom his Lordship usually voted. Nearly every one of the broad facts ad 934 duced in support of the Amendment were now admitted. In supporting the Amendment, he did not pledge himself to maintain the accuracy of every statement made by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), but there were certain broad facts which nobody seemed to dispute. In face of the facts relating to the Maamtrasna and the other trials, it would be futile to deny that juries had been systematically packed by omission on the one side and by commission on the other. The jury-packing system took away all confidence in the administration of law in Ireland. For years and years it had been regularly brought before the House, and it was a significant fact that none of the speakers who defended the Government attempted to deny for one moment that the practice prevailed. The arguments of the Solicitor General were in reality the strongest condemnation of their policy, for if, as he asserted, the Catholics were incapable of doing a prisoner an injustice, how came it that the Government ordered them from time to time to stand down? It had been admitted that 11 members of a jury of 12 selected to try a Freemason were themselves Freemasons. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought it was a remarkable thing to suggest that a jury of Freemasons would try a Freemason as impartially as an ordinary jury, and he was surprised that a gentleman of his experience and abilities should have made such an assertion. He was no Freemason; but the fact was, it was an open secret that Freemasons were a body sworn to defend and support one another, and that, therefore, a Freemason would stand a far better chance when tried by his brethren than when tried by an ordinary jury. The information on which a large number of the "suspects" were committed to prison was derived from French, and, therefore, according to the admission of the late Chief Secretary, it came from a foul and corrupted source. He was afraid that the latest reappointment of the Government hardly gave very much earnest of their intention to change the existing system. He denied that there had been any necessity for the exercise of the power conferred by the Prevention of Crime Act of changing the venue and striking special juries. Why had not the Government used the other machinery which was at their disposal, and 935 tried some cases before three Judges? Personally, he should prefer three Judges—with. Mr. Justice Lawson and Mr. Justice O'Brien among them—to a special jury manipulated by the Government's agents. He hoped the House would clearly understand that the Irish. Members had no sympathy whatever with genuine crime, but they did sincerely sympathize with, the poor who were oppressed by infamously unjust criminal charges.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
said, the law as administered in Ireland was used against the people and in favour of those who took sides against them. The charge was a sweeping one, but it was supported by the unanimous voice of the people of Ireland, who were naturally indignant at the system of jury-packing by which Roman Catholics were ordered to stand aside. In proof of this he would remind the House that the late Chief Secretary, in refusing to produce a Memorial sent to him on this subject from the town of Wicklow, said that it "belongs to a class of communications of which they receive many hundreds in the year."
§ MR. O'KELLY
thought that any impartial person who had listened to the course of this debate must come to the conclusion that the Government had no good defence to offer. He congratulated the noble Viscount (Viscount Lymington), who was the only man on the other side of the House whose conscience had been touched to the extent that he protested at least against the reappointment of Mr. Bolton. He thought that reappointment, in view of the evidence lately produced against his character in that House, was the strongest condemnation that could be offered of the character of the Government and of their methods of carrying out the law in Ireland. The defence made of jury-packing seemed to him at once shifty and hypocritical. In the trials of Cornwall and French, the Government took care that there were in the box 11 men who were open to the suspicion of sympathizing with the prisoners. That was called "fair" trial. Suppose Mr. French or Mr. Cornwall had been Fenians or Ribbonmen, would that House have selected 11 Fenians to try them? If not, how then could the Government claim to have done substantial justice in choosing men to try French and Cornwall, who, he would not say sympathized with the 936 crimes for which they were charged, but were, from their social and political relations with the prisoners before the bar, open to the gravest suspicion of having that sympathy which would try to shield the men from punishment, because they felt that any punishment inflicted on those men would involve a loss of indignity and ascendancy to the class which they all represented. The juries were packed with Protestants, and, therefore, anti-Nationalists, and these men were set to try prisoners belonging to a different religion and to a different class—a class they regarded with feelings of hostility. But this was not all; in agrarian and political cases the Crown Solicitors, not content with striking a panel on which nearly all the jurors were Protestants, sifted this list still further, and ordered all Catholics and Liberal Protestants to stand aside. When people saw this contrast in the administration of justice, could it be wondered at that they were obliged to call constantly the attention of the people of England to the subject? This system of jury-packing was one of the most infamous signs and accompaniments of the Government in Ireland. It was one of the attendant consequences of the English Government, which made it most determinedly hated by the Irish race everywhere. It was one of the things the Irish people could never forgive England for. The masses of the people of Ireland were Catholic, and they were reminded everyday when they went into court that they were foreigners in their own land. They had the old Penal Code thrown in their faces every day when the Crown counsel told them to stand aside in their own country, and refused to permit them to go into the jury-box to try cases on the virtue of their oaths. The Government played in the Courts of Justice with loaded dice; they selected an Orange jury to convict their enemies or acquit their friends. In the opinion of the people of Ireland many of the death sentences inflicted had been little better than assassination by law, and that opinion he himself shared. As long as the system under which they went to trial continued, the carrying on of English law would always be open to the grave suspicion that they were juggling with justice. This was a very serious charge; but it was one, he thought, that no honourable man who would impar 937 tially examine the evidence which had been brought before the House would even affect to disbelieve. This House by its majority might support the Government in the course which it had been pursuing. All he had to say was, so much the worse for this House and so much the worse for this Government. Their large majorities would not settle this question; and if the Irish people could not get justice, they would find a method of making it very uncomfortable for England in the government of her own country and in the government of Ireland. They should certainly protest in the strongest possible way, and bring the opinion of Europe to bear upon it, and the opinion of every honest man to bear upon the system, which was as infamous as any that had existed in any country. Worse even than jury-packing was the organization of crime by the Government. The special Crimes Act constable was a spy of the old Rody the Rover type. With regard to Freemasonry, it was used more or less for political purposes in all countries where it existed, and in Ireland it was notorious that it was synonymous with Orangeism. Another point to which he would refer was the organization of crime by the spies of the Government under the Prevention of Crime Act. Then with regard to the change of venue, which they had been told was necessary in the cases against poor peasants, why had it not been resorted to in the case of French and Cornwall? Why had not their trial been removed out of the influence of the social and political circle with which they were connected? With regard to the case of Mr. George Bolton, there was but one conclusion in the minds of the people of Ireland—that the Government were afraid of Mr. Bolton. They dared not dismiss him. He knew too much about them. He might put some of them in the dock. They had reinstated him in order that he might not be put to the trouble, probably feeling that it might be difficult for some of them to plead. If the Irish Members had the manipulation of the jury to try the Government in the same way that the Government had manipulated the juries to try Irishmen, they could, indeed, make it pretty warm for the Irish Government
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he thought that the question of the admi 938 nistration of justice in Ireland had been treated too much from the point of view of two or three isolated cases of crime, instead of being treated generally. With regard to the condition of things in Ireland, it was not true, as hon. Members opposite suggested, that nothing had been done in that country except during the last four years. Gentlemen of the Party sitting on that side of the House had for the last 60 years been struggling to procure relief for the wrongs of Ireland. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had been thrown into official connection with Mr. Cornwall; further than that he knew but little of that gentleman. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] He knew absolutely nothing of Mr. French, and was unacquainted with Captain Kirwan, though he did know his father, who was a high-minded, honourable gentleman. He had been accused of being a place hunter. ["No, no!"] Well, not, perhaps, within the memory of the hon. Gentleman opposite, who the other day, in the King's County, did him the honour of comparing him to Shakespeare's "Yorick." He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) should have been happy to return him the compliment, and call him "Young Hamlet," were it not that the application of the name might be attributed to his knowledge of the hon. Member's eccentricities. The extreme purism of hon. Gentlemen opposite might condemn him, when he avowed that he concurred in the universal practice of the Irish Law Room in Dublin, to his knowledge for over 30 years past, of hunting out of the country, under the threat of instant prosecution, those few—he was happy to say—atrocious ruffians who were discovered as having committed unnameable offences, thus preserving the purity of Ireland from being offended by acquaintance with abominable practices. The question was, whether Cornwall, French, and other persons who had been mentioned, had received a fair trial? The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) admitted that they had; but the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) attacked the jury-packing system in regard to these trials. Why did not the hon. Member for Sligo pull down the hon. Member for Mallow, and tell him that he had forgotted his mandate when he said the trials had been fair? His idea was that if Ireland was the Ireland of 10 years ago, and if the people were left free to express their opinions, 939 it would be a disgrace to any Government to refuse, on the grounds of either religion or politics, any respectable man duly qualified to act as a juror. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] He believed that in his time—to use a well-known Irish phrase—he had "got more fellows out of the jug" than all the hon. Members of the Irish Party put together. But he did not do it for himself while they did it for a bit of business.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Baronet that he is not dealing with the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he submitted at once to the Chairman's ruling, and he hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would submit as readily when called to Order.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had recently read a book having reference to military tactics and operations, and he found that resort was had, in some cases, when iron, steel, and stone failed, to sandbags. A sandbag was described as solid, impenetrable, or irresponsible; and if he were to describe the present Chief Secretary, he would apply just such a description to him. Member after Member had got up and had arraigned the conduct of the Government, yet no Member of the Government appeared to have a word to say. Last night he was induced to make a statement, certainly not under the impression that they would get no defence from the Government. They would have allowed the debate to close after the unanswerable speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), or almost immediately after, if there had been something like an attempt made to meet the case; but that had not been done, and the policy of obstinate silence had been resorted to. He now wished to call the attention of the House to a matter that had come to his knowledge. He heard the President of the Board of Trade speak with considerable bitterness of the attempt made by his foes to injure him as a political opponent; and he (Mr. O'Connor) wished to draw attention to the efforts made against the Members of the Party to which he belonged. One hon. Member received a card with the name of a lady, who, it was stated, was waiting outside the House to see him. He went to her, and found her seated in a carriage, attended by servants and 940 every sign of wealth. The lady requested his hon. Friend to take her to the Strangers' Gallery, and subsequently came again, wrote him letters, invited him to her house, and ultimately made to him a most odious suggestion. That lady turned out to be an agent of the present Ministry. He was very glad that the late Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) had just come in to hear what he was saying. That lady was a spy, employed by the Ministry of which the Prime Minister was the Head, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland a chief official. That woman was a police spy, employed by the Irish Government to entrap Irish Members. Were these proper tactics for Members of the Government to resort to in dealing with their political opponents? ["Hear hear!"] The House might well be astonished at hearing such a statement made from those Benches; but he challenged the Government to contradict him, or to deny that they had made use of women spies against hon. Members of that House. He was not sure that he ought not to call upon the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair to say whether such conduct on the part of the Ministers of the Crown was compatible with the honour and dignity of Members of that House; and whether it was befitting that the halls and corridors of that House should be infested with women police spies? This lady had employed towards the hon. Member in question all the provocative arts which used to distinguish the latter part of the Reign of Napoleon III., and she had endeavoured to incite him into the commission of odious and detestable crimes. She, however, failed in her object, and those upon whom she was exerting her fascinations fooled her to the top of her bent, and she was allowed to subscribe £15 towards the Dynamite Fund, and that £15 was the money of the English Government. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland had reminded hon. Members that, if he was Chief Secretary for Ireland, he was also an English gentleman. Was this the conduct of an English gentleman to allow money to be spent in this manner for the purpose of provoking the worst of criminal offences? He did not propose to go over the ground which had already been gone over by others, but would leave the Ministry to answer that point.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that the hon Member who had just sat down had complained that the Members of the Government had not spoken sufficiently in this debate; but it was perfectly obvious that it was only those Members of the Ministry who had actually been engaged in the administration of Ireland who could answer the charges that had been brought against the Irish Executive. Those charges had been fully met by his right hon. Friend the late Chief Secretary for Ireland and by the Solicitor General for Ireland; and it would be worse than useless for other Members of the Ministry to pretend to enter into the details of the Government defence, and to repeat in a weaker form the arguments which had already been laid before the House. The hon. Member also said that when he and his Friends promised last night not to abuse the adjournment of the debate, it was on the assumption that the Government was to speak. He (Sir William Harcourt) derived an entirely different impression from the demand that was made—namely, that the adjournment was in order to allow the principal speakers of the Irish Party an opportunity to reply to the speech of the Solicitor General for Ireland. The hon. Member had called his right hon Friend the new Chief Secretary a stolid sandbag. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] That was a cheerful way for a man to be received on entering upon a new Office; but he knew of no man less likely than his right hon. Friend to be affected by epithets of that description, or who was more likely to show his quality of a "sand bag" in receiving the barbs of the hon. Member. Was it reasonable, or sensible, that his right hon. Friend, who had just entered upon his Department, should be asked to answer to an indictment of the past administration, of which he could only have an imperfect, or, at all events, a second - hand acquaintance? For his own part, he knew just as much on the subject as his right hon. Friend did. Charges had been made against the Government of jury-packing; was it meant by that that the Crown had carried their power of challenge to an unlimited point? [Irish cheers.] Well, he had heard no facts adduced in support of that charge. Even if that were the charge, only those responsible for the 942 administration of Ireland could answer matters of that description. Another thing which surprised him was the charge that Freemasons could not possibly be faithful jurors if the prisoner charged with crime were himself a Freemason. Nothing could be more absurd. He did not, however, intend to go into the details of the indictment which had been brought by the Irish Members. People against whom charges were made must be the best judges of their own defence. The Government had made their defence, and they were satisfied to allow it to remain there. If it were inadequate, hon. Members would profit by it. He had listened with almost thrilling interest to the romantic history given by the hon. Member of a mysterious lady. They were all aware of the literary faculty of the hon. Member; but he did not think the hon. Member had ever displayed it to more advantage than on the present occasion. The picture of the confiding gentleman, who was summoned to go downstairs, and meet a lady outside with every display of wealth, and then with that confidence which "is a stranger to aged bosoms" immediately offered his arm to this unknown fair one, and conducted her to the Strangers' Gallery, was a picture of innocence which he could hardly believe existed, even on the opposite Benches. All he could say was, neither the late Chief Secretary nor himself had ever heard of this mysterious person.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The hon. Gentleman says that he asked me a Question on the matter; but this is the first I have heard of it.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I did not ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself, but the late Chief Secretary.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
My right hon. Friend tells me that he seems to have been almost more fortunate than the hon. Member who conducted the lady to the Strangers' Gallery, because my right hon. Friend received £15 anonymously in an envelope.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to explain. This lady sent £15 to some gentlemen in Dublin, whom she supposed to be connected with a dynamite conspiracy. Those gentlemen were not 943 going to keep the money, and they therefore remitted it to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, returnit, as they supposed, to the fountain head.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he could assure the House that his right hon. Friend never heard anything about the transaction beyond receiving this £15, Did hon. Members opposite really think that his right hon. Friend or anybody else connected with the Irish Government had been engaged in such a transaction? If they did, all he could say was that hon. Members would believe anything. It was rather too much to be called upon to disavow such a transaction; but, if necessary, it was disavowed. They had listened patiently to what had fallen from hon. Members below the Gangway — to the charges which they had preferred—sometimes in rather strong language—against the Government; and having made their defence through the mouths of their Colleagues, who were responsible for the Government of Ireland, they were prepared to stand by it before the country.
MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he was a little surprised to hear from the Home Secretary that the Government had now closed their Irish case. The whole of the Irish policy of the Government was now submitted to the House, and he did not know that the Irish Members had any reason to be displeased at the announcement. They understood now that Ministers had nothing to say in defence of the reappointment of Mr. George Bolton. The Government had not said one single word in vindication of their policy in reappointing that man—a man who had been branded by an English Judge in language sufficient to drive him out of the society of decent individuals. They had made no reply to many of the charges brought against them by the Irish Members, and they had not cleared up several points in French's letter. That document reminded him of a passage in Romeo and Juliet—The letter was not nice, but full of charge,Of dear import; and the neglecting itMay do much danger.This letter was not nice, and was full of charge and of deep import to Her Majesty's Government.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
, resuming, said, that an entirely novel statement had been made in the course of the debate, of which he thought some notice should have been taken by the Government. Mr. French stated in his letter that he had employed a man named Stephen Noonan, and then discharged him because of his handing all his letters to Mr. Maurice Healy, a brother of Mr. T. Healy, M.P. That did not seem in itself a very important matter; but a new light was thrown on it by the hon. Member for Monaghan, who said that at the time referred to certain letters were shown to him by a person named Noonan as written by French, but that they disclosed so abominable a plot that he did not think French could have written them, and believing Noonan to be a man of infamous character, he thought them beneath contempt, and did not call attention to them even by a Question in that House. Now, however, that French acknowledged the letters, the case was different. The hon. Member for Monaghan stated that the letters contained proposals to get up a sham plot for the assassination of one of the Irish Judges, and during the attempt French's emissaries were to come forward and make an heroic rescue of the Judge. The letter said something to the effect that if in the course of the attempt Mr. Justice Barry got shot, it would not matter in the least. Had the Government nothing to say with regard to that? Did they consider it a matter of such insignificance that they would not put up some of their number to state whether they believed the story or not? He supposed that the Government would say that their views with regard to certain Castle officials were not in the least affected, notwithstanding those letters. The Home Secretary thought that he had disposed of another statement with regard to the employment of a lady stated to have exercised a subtle influence over certain Members of that House. As a professional romancist, he was, perhaps, more familiar with stories of that sort than many other Members; but they all knew that the employment of female spies was at one time common in Ireland. At all events, the story was believed by a great many intelligent Members of that House, who said that they had the best reasons for believing it. He was quite con 945 vinced that the Home Secretary never had anything to do with such a plot. He did not suppose that any man in high Office had anything to do with such things; they were always left to the lower class of officials. But now that the charge had been brought forward, he would not have been surprised if the new Chief Secretary had said that he would make inquiry, and that if such things were going on, he was not the man to endure their continuance. Such a declaration would have tended to smooth the serious task now before the right hon. Gentleman. The Home Secretary had asked—Was not the Crown to exercise its right of challenge? That would depend on the conditions of the case. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said—"If you do not like the law, you must get it changed." He would like to know how Irish Members in that House were to get the law changed? The right hon. Gentleman knew that there were certain privileges given to the Crown on condition that it did not abuse them; but if in every case, agrarian or political, Roman Catholics were to be excluded, that was jury-packing of as disgraceful a sort as if it had been done under Jeffreys or Scroggs. Then as to the charge with respect to Freemasons. There was no question of politics being joined with Freemasonry in England; but in Ireland it was different. One of the supporters of the Ministry—he might say one of its most servile supporters—the hon. and gallant Member for Leitrim (Colonel O'Beirne), told the House from his own experience that Freemasonry in Ireland was regarded everywhere as mixed up with politics, and as opposed to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. When, therefore, a Freemason was to be tried in Ireland, to manipulate the Jury List so as to give him a jury of Freemasons, was jury-packing of the worst order known to them. Then, as to another point, he never before heard that it was anything extraordinary to ask a Minister newly come into power for some general expression of his policy. When the late Chief Secretary came into Office, he was subjected to something that in the Border Burghs would be called "a heckling;" and he remembered warning the right hon. Gentleman not to be led away by the counsels or practices of his more experienced Predecessor. 946 He would like now to warn the new Chief Secretary not to be led away by the policy of those who had gone before him. His great anxiety was that this debate should be kept up to allow the right hon. Gentleman a chance of speaking, in the vain hope that he might show some disposition to deal with Irishmen more fairly—he was going to say more honestly—than some of those who had gone before him; but the right hon. Gentleman's only place in that debate was to act the part of a mute at the funeral of his Predecessor's career.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
rose to Order. The only Members of the Government present were the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. Evelyn Ashley and Mr. J. K. Cross), and therefore he would draw attention to the fact that there were not 40 Members present.
§ House counted, and, 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
contended that the charges which the Irish Members had brought against the Government had not been met by the speech of the Home Secretary. The right hon. and learned Gentleman denounced them because, in his opinion, they dealt in their speeches with vague generalities; but the fact remained that the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) that evening had given specific cases. As to the Freemasons, he would never have objected to their presence on the juries if the Government had not been the first to attach a stigma to a particular class in Ireland. With regard to jury-packing, he wished to point out that, although a prisoner had a right to make 20 challenges, the right to challenge on the part of the Crown was unlimited. The Government, therefore, had the power of packing juries, and that power was exercised by men like Mr. Bolton. Reference had been made to a female detective, and he quite believed that the Home Secretary and the late Chief Secretary for Ireland had no knowledge of the woman. These things were done by underlings in Ireland; and he appealed to the Chief Secretary to make a searching inquiry into the employment of this spy, and to announce to the House the result of his inquiries. That was a very moderate demand; but 947 the right hon. Gentleman would not venture to reply before consulting his masters at Dublin Castle. Doubtless the right hon. Gentleman had brought an open mind to the consideration of Irish affairs; but, unfortunately, he would only go to the permanent officials, and not to the Representatives of the Irish people, for instruction. The debate was a popular protest against the reappointment of Mr. George Bolton, who was one of the most characteristic instruments of the law in Ireland under which the people groaned. He assured the Government that their action in the administration of justice in Ireland, and their reappointment of the one man who was the embodiment to the Irish people of everything unfair, underhand, and infamous in the system of rule, could have no other effect but that of multiplying the difficulties of the new Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. The first to denounce Mr. Bolton was an English Judge, who designated him a swindler and a scoundrel, and reported him to the Irish Lord Chancellor. Therefore, it was not true to say that the Irish Members denounced him for doing his duty. His conduct in the discharge of his duty in Ireland had been infamous. In the Boyd murder case he took three girls to Dublin and lodged them in an informer's den. In vain did Members of the House urge their release, which was effected only by legal process, when it came out what means he had resorted to in order to extort evidence from them. The Home Secretary openly admitted that his information on Irish affairs was imperfect and second-hand, and the general body of the English and Scotch Members did not trouble themselves to do more than vote the way the Chief Secretary told them. On one occasion an English Member of Parliament was convinced by himself that the Irish Party were in the right, and that English Member promised to vote with them and against the Government; but, to his astonishment, he saw that Member, in spite of his pledge, veto with the Government. This was an illustration of the difficulties of Irish Members in obtaining fair and independent judgment from Members who rushed into the House, on the ringing of the Division Bell, in order to support their Party, without reference to the merits of the grievance which had been brought forward. The govern 948 ment of Ireland by Parliament was based upon culpable ignorance and mistaken Party loyalty, under which hon. Members evaded their responsibility. The conduct of the scandal trials in Dublin had led to a strong public opinion that justice was not done. The ringleaders were allowed to escape; but their moral guilt was unquestioned. The verdict of the jury in the Cornwall case—that the Government had not brought forward sufficient evidence, was alone enough to cause the gravest dissatisfaction in the minds of the Irish people.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that he had spoken last night in favour of the prolongation of the debate, because he was of opinion that complaints of that character ought to have a patient hearing, and that Ministers ought to be present while they were being made. Moreover, though Ministers complained of the undue extension of debate on the Address, that extension was mainly due to their persistence in avoiding discnssions on the questions so raised on every other occasion. He regretted, however, to note a certain want of generosity in the references made by a certain section of the House to the new Chief Secretary. That Gentleman had, in the Office he previously filled, displayed the utmost courtesy in answering Questions; he had been up to his business; had stated his facts carefully and impartially, and had never tried to hide or conceal anything. That being so, he thought they ought to trust him for the future, and not make attacks on him immediately he assumed a position of considerable difficulty and trial. But it would have been more graceful on the part of the Government if the announcement of Mr. Bolton's reappointment had been left to some other Member of the Government, or had been made by the Prime Minister himself. It was scarcely kind to leave the odium of that announcement to the newly-appointed Minister. He wished also to protest against the constant calculations made with respect to the constitution of juries. It was fallacious reasoning to argue that the composition of the jury panel in the matter of religious belief should exactly correspond with the proportion existing between the Catholic and the Protestant populations. He was sure that, when once the jury was constituted, every member of it did his duty without regard to the religious convictions of his colleagues. Such con 949 siderations should, in all cases, he studiously ignored.
§ MR. CALLAN
, referring to the denial by the Home Secretary of jury-packing in Ireland, said, that he distinctly remembered several cases in which there was an obvious resort to the practice. Two of those cases occurred at the April Assize at Dublin. One was at the trial of an Orangeman for the murder of a Catholic in County Cavan, in which not a single Protestant was ordered to stand by, and the jury, composed exclusively of Protestants, acquitted the prisoner. In the other, which was a trial for conspiracy to murder, heard by the same Judge, and coming before the same Commission, including a magistrate, 32 Catholics were ordered to stand by, and not a single Protestant; and the jury contained only three Catholics, although the prisoners were Catholics. He had seen the jury panels of Dublin manipulated by the Whig Government officials for 20 years, and the feeling among the Catholic population in Ireland was that trial by jury under the present system was, to use the words of Lord Denman in reference to the trial of O'Connell, "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare."
§ MR. PARNELL
Some considerable disinclination was evinced last night to give us permission to carry on this debate during a portion of another evening, and it was suggested that affairs of weighty importance were for consideration, of greater importance than those which we had to discuss tonight. Well, of course, that may be altogether a matter of opinion; but my own opinion is very clear and defined on this question, and it is, that the right of the Irish peasant to live in his own land, free from the constant dread of penal proceedings, of imprisonment, of penal servitude, nay, even of death itself, as the result of the hired testimony of informers, as the result of that judicial system which you have erected into law by the Act of 1882, under which you have established a system—a so-called system—of trial by jury, and of secret examinations, and of public and private terrorism such as has never been equalled, I believe, in any country for its infamy—I say I consider that the right of the Irish peasant to live free from this constant terror and constant dread is a more important and a higher one to him and to us than that pretended 950 extension of a sham Constitutional right to a section of the people of Ireland. Certain charges have been made in this discussion, and on the present occasion the Government have not pursued the course which they adopted on the Maamtrasna Amendment. They then felt the force of what was said so much that they took the case out of the hands of the ordinary defenders of the proceedings of the Irish Executive. It was felt that the matter could not be allowed to go to a vote while it rested solely on the defence of the Solicitor General for Ireland and the late Chief Secretary, and accordingly we had, in addition, the advantage of hearing the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Attorney General for England, and, I believe, another Cabinet Minister, all of whom devoted their enormous power and influence with the House to secure that the Irish Executive should not be condemned as a consequence of the Amendment on the Maamtrasna question. On the present occasion, however, the Irish Government have sought refuge almost in silence, and we have had to contend with that great difficulty in all debates where, trusting to the insurmountable prejudice which seems to exist on every Irish subject, the Government leaves the Irish Members to carry on the debate, and have, practically speaking, made no defence against the very serious accusations which have been adduced. That may be a very satisfactory result to the Government, but it certainly is not satisfactory to the Members from Ireland, and I doubt whether it will be satisfactory to the Irish people. The charge is that juries have been packed in Ireland by the selection almost exclusively of Protestants, who constitute a small minority—one sixth—of the whole population. I do not think any previous Government have in so barefaced a manner selected Protestant jurors for the trial of cases of a political or semi-political character. It is one of the gravest charges which historians have to make against your dealings with Ireland in times past that you tried persons in Ireland and took away their lives by means of trial by jury—juries selected from the Protestant garrison of Ireland, and your historians do not pretend now to defend that course. On the contrary, in debates on Irish questions it is the habit with English statesmen to turn up 951 their eyes with holy horror at the actions of their Predecessors in times long gone by, and to point to the weighty debt of gratitude which is due to the statesmen of to-day as a recompense for the misdeeds of those who went before them. Yet when fresh from the consideration of the iniquity of their Predecessors they go and do exactly the same things themselves. I believe I speak with historical accuracy when I say that no injustice which ever has been committed in the name of England in Ireland has sunk more deeply in the minds of the Irish people, and has produced worse or more rankling recollections of this period, than the treatment of persons belonging to the Catholic majority of the country, the original inhabitants of the country—if you like, the natives of the country—by members of the Protestant community, whom you sent there some few hundred years ago to act as the garrison of Ireland. Well, that course has been repeated by the present Irish Executive in such a way as I could never have believed to be possible if it had not fallen to my lot to live during the past two years. Trials have been held in Ireland in which, from the constitution of the juries and the proceedings, I am sorry to say, of the Judges in many cases themselves, and the nature of the political excitement of the time, it was absolutely certain that it was utterly impossible that the accused persons could get that fair and impartial trial which your laws and your Constitution require for the people of England, and which has never been admitted to the people of Ireland. We have repeatedly brought forward instances of this. It is a matter which cannot be denied that the juries which tried the prisoners who were accused of agrarian crimes during the last two years were almost entirely composed of Protestants, who were placed on a special panel struck under the Coercion Act of 1882. Those special jurors belong to a class almost exclusively Protestant. Unhappily, owing to the long continuance of the Penal Laws, one can in Ireland draw a line between persons above and below a certain valuation, and those above it will be found to be almost all Protestants. That is just the line that the Government have taken, and the special jurors belong to the Protestant landlord class. It has been thought that the Govern 952 ment obtained that power of striking a special panel, in order that they might avoid the obnoxious task of selecting the juries by ordering persons to stand by. But that is by no means so. The jury packing goes on as much as ever. In several instances, no fewer than 47, and, I think, in one case 49, persons were directed to stand aside out of a panel of 200 taken from this special class; and in every case the Government did not scruple unblushingly to select persons from this panel of 200 whom they might rely upon for a conviction. It may be that the Executive considered at that time that everybody who was brought to trial before these selected juries was guilty, and that no harm would result; but I deny that it is possible for the Irish Executive to think so now. The result of recent disclosures has been to show that many miscarriages of justice have taken place; that there are many persons in penal servitude now who are as innocent as hon. Members sitting opposite of the crimes of which they were accused; and that more than one unfortunate person has been hurried into the presence of his Maker by the cruel death of the gallows for the commission of no crime whatever. That indicates the terrible danger of reversing the judicial principle that it is better that 99 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent man should be convicted. The Government have reversed that, and they cannot deny it. They cannot deny that among some of their subordinate crime-hunters in Ireland, the wish does not exist that somebody should be executed as soon as possible after the manufacture of the newfangled Coercion Act two years ago, even if guilt was not proved. The risk and peril to many persons in Ireland is very great, owing to the fact that by the operation of the law, and by the course pursued often by the Executive officers of the Crown in Ireland, juries are empannelled for the purpose of trying persons accused of crimes arising out of the late semi-political and semi-agrarian movement, juries chosen entirely from the class which suffered in pocket by the movement—suffered not only in pocket, but in prestige—and who bring with them into the jury-box bitter animosities against the rest of the Irish people, chosen from a class which never wished well to the Irish people. They will 953 admit it to you. They will say it is a great mistake that Ireland should be peopled by any other persons than those of their own persuasion; that it is better fitted for the rearing of sheep and bullocks than for rearing men and women. Now, I say, without hesitation, that if I were accused of a crime of which I was innocent, I would very much prefer to be tried by a tribunal of three Judges, which the Prevention of Crime Act authorizes the Government to institute, than by the excited partizans who would be herded into the jury-box for my condemnation. We have now stated what the foundation of our complaint is—that no person accused of crime in Ireland can feel any assurance that they would have anything but the most foul trial by jury in Ireland if they should be brought before the tribunals of the country. We have had very important evidence to bring before the House in support of our contention. We have had the history of Mr. Bolton, who has been restored to his bank-books, as a sop, I suppose, to Earl Spencer. We have had the history of Chief Detective French, whom the late Chief Secretary for Ireland sheltered so long. The trials were conducted in such a way that it was absolutely certain that they could not be convicted. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) admitted as much in his speech last night. Cornwall and French were charged with felony; but if they had been charged with conspiracy, the evidence of seven persons would have been forthcoming against them. What steps, I would like to know, were taken by the Crown to hunt up evidence? Last year we called attention to the conduct of the Government for the way in which they met the Orange riots. Large counter-meetings were summoned for the purpose of opposing and breaking up by violence meetings of Nationalists in the North, and when this was pointed out to the Government they made the plea that they had no power to stop them. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had asked for large forces of military and armed police for the purpose of quelling disorder, and stated that it was necessary to proclaim both meetings. The right of public meeting was, therefore, taken away from the Nationalists of the North. When we asked why the Prevention of Crime Act 954 was not put in force, we were informed that the Act had not been passed for that purpose. Yet finally it was, after repeated representations by us, put in force against the Orangemen, and their opposition immediately melted away. Ever since meetings have neen held free and unmolested. In the conspiracy in Dublin it was perfectly obvious that they had a much higher reason for putting the Act in force; but, again, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster stated that the Act had not been framed for that purpose. Why was it that the resources of the Prevention of Crime Act were not pat in force for the purpose of stemming the conspiracy, the ramifications of which had acted like a cancer—I will not say upon the people of Dublin, for it has not affected them much, but upon certain officials is Dublin Castle? We have never heard of its being employed for the production of evidence in that conspiracy; on the contrary, it was left to my hon. Friend the Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) at vast expense and almost ruin to himself, to save himself from an action which the Government had hounded on Mr. Cornwall to take. It was left to my hon. Friend to discover all the evidence that has been used against Cornwall and French. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Act of Edward III., under which he imprisoned the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), was passed for that purpose? In the days of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), the Prevention of Crime Act was used against ladies on account of their political acts. I am not, however, going back to that time; I am now only referring to the misdeeds of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and I will ask him whether he recollects certain proceedings that were instituted, not against the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) himself, but against his printing press, against his means of living? There is a section in the Prevention of Crime Act that empowers the Government to seize implements which it may be suspected are to be used for illegal purposes; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, in defending that Act in this House, explained that that meant machinery for murder—daggers, revolvers, and so 955 forth. But it was under this section that the printing press of the hon. Member for Westmeath was seized. Did Parliament have any idea when it passed the Act that this section was going to be used for the purpose of allowing the Irish Executive to steal other people's printing presses? That disposes of the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that he was unable to use the Prevention of Crime Act in the detection of a conspiracy that has sapped the foundations of a considerable section of Castle society, because it was not passed for the purpose of dealing with such an offence. In following out the contention which we have been endeavouring to establish—namely, that persons in Ireland are in danger of their lives owing to the infamous system that has been pursued, at all events by the underlings who are charged with the detection of crime—I wish to call the attention of the House to a letter from French, that has recently come to light. In that letter he threatened the Irish Government that—If they did not come to terms with him he would make them very uncomfortable. He would expose them as much as he possibly could. If he got a pension he must get £5,000 at least expenses for anxiety of mind. If they did not he would get the Government put out, and perhaps some of their Members put in the dock. Fitzgerald was there, and would be tried at the Commission, and he would see what evidence would come out. If the Maamtrasna case and Reid's letter came out, it would be serious for the Government.Well, we asked for Reid's letter, and were first of all told that it did not exist, and again that it had no reference to the case. I should be very glad if Reid's letter could be placed upon the Table, and it will form another portion of the suppressed evidence. As well as the allusion to the Maamtrasna case there is an allusion to a man of the name of M'Dermott. That allusion requires some explanation, which I am now able to give. M'Dermott was a secret agent of the police in Ireland employed by French. He had come over from America to get up a dynamite conspiracy among a few misguided men in Cork, and he had taught them to manufacture a sort of sawdust powder, the composition of which is best known to the Home Secretary. When this dynamite had been manufactured it was packed in a box and sent over to Liver 956 pool by two young men. On the arrival of these two men, Fitzgerald had had men ready for them; they were arrested, and after being tried were sentenced to penal servitude for life, while M'Dermott was tried and acquitted in the same way as Cornwall. The Irish Members have evidence of that, and they believe that this man M'Dermott is at present in the keeping and pay of the authorities. It is known that in carrying out this Government concocted plot, French actually threatened seven persons in Court with assassination because they refused to have anything to do with him, and he was only saved from being handed over to the police at the time because he was discovered to be an agent of the Government. That will explain the allusion in the letter to M'Dermott. He says—"There is M'Dermott and many others," showing that this hellish work has been going on in the cases of many people. Not satisfied with the unexampled facility which the Prevention of Crime Act gave you for the detection of Crime, you set secret agents to work to manufacture and to get up other crime. He alludes to Connell, the informer, who he says had a revolver to shoot him once. Connell, the informer, was a notorious murderer in the county of Cork, whose evidence was accepted by the Government against persons whom they charged with very much lesser offences than murder; and upon that evidence they were convicted, although the Government knew at the time that he had been guilty of the brutal murder of a young man named Leary. He got up, he says, all the Royal Irish Constabulary for the State Trials. He had 200 policemen from different parts of the country as witnesses against my Friends and myself; but, fortunately, the Government did not possess the Prevention of Crime Act in those days, and they were unable to convict us—I employed (he says) Stephen Noonan for some months, and then discharged him, as he was handing all my letters to Maurice Healy, brother of Tim Healy, M.P. I sent him to watch the proceedings at the Mallow election.Nothing was too high for this Detective Director of the Royal Irish Constabulary, so he has a shy at politics occasionally—I suppose for diversion. We know, Sir, more about Stephen Noonan. We have letters in our possession from French to 957 Noonan, and from French's orderly, "John;" and Noonan asserted to us long ago, before French's letter, that he was employed by French to get up outrages in the county and city of Cork, and to endeavour to implicate leading Nationalists of Cork, and that he received money for this purpose. The letters mention remittances of money. He specifies one particular outrage and plot which he was engaged in, and the men whom it was intended to implicate. Noonan attempted to get up during the Commission at Cork an attack upon Judge Barry, for the purpose of assassinating that eminent and clear-minded Judge. His directions were that he was to endeavour to implicate Mr. John O'Connor, of Cork. The attempt, of course, was to be an abortive one; but it would have had its result. John O'Connor, of Cork, is known as one of my prominent supporters, and the prospect of implicating such a person was very present to the mind of Detective Director French. Of course, all these things are to be bidden. No inquiry would be given in the Maamtrasna case. Will you give us an inquiry into this case? Noonan is in Ireland. His evidence is to be had. Now, I have a word to say to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. That right hon. Gentleman I consider to have a heavier responsibility to bear than ever had his Predecessor. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) went to Ireland at a most diffculttime. He was not provided with a Prevention of Crime Act for the purpose of stemming the semi-revolutionary movement which was going on in that country at the time. He had a real movement to contend with; and it is not to the discredit of that right hon. Gentleman, as a man of ability, and as a statesman, that that movement swept him off his legs. But the position of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was entirely different. He went to Ireland when that movement was practically over, when as the result of the passing of the Land Act the natural reaction had set in after a lengthened period of excitement and exertion, and with the pirovisions of a Prevention of Crime Act, his path and his task were very easy. Well, I say that this blame is to be attributed to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, from the Eng 958 lish point of view, not from our point of view—that instead of using the Prevention of Crime Act in such a way as to insure that at its termination at the end of three years it might be possible for the English Government in Ireland to resume the government of the country under the Constitution, he used it in such a way—and continued to use it, and it is being used to this day—as to insure and make it absolutely necessary that you should renew that Act, and indefinitely postpone the time when it will be possible to govern Ireland by Constitutional means. That is my charge against the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether he or Earl Spencer were tempted by the desire to pose as great men—that they wished to impress onlookers with the notion that they had to contend with a great crisis. That was the impression they spread by their public utterances, and by the way in which the exceptional powers placed at their disposal by this House were used. I took very great risk, personal and otherwise, for the purpose of preventing the passing of the Coercion Act of 1882. There is a section of men in Ireland who think that the more coercion Ireland gets the better. That was the opinion of the late John Mitchel, a man whose name is reverenced by the Irish people, whatever part of the world they may be found in, as a pure and single-hearted man, who honestly desired the advantage of his country, and sacrificed his prospects, his liberty, and we must also think his life, to attain that end. The action of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was the very thing to meet the views of men who think like the late John Mitchel. However, I did not think at that time it would have been for the advantage of either England or Ireland that that Coercion Act should be passed. It was passed; but even then it might have been possible for the Irish Executive to have used it in such a way as to have rendered its subsequent enactment unnecessary; but that does not appear to have been their wish. Of course, such powers are very tempting to retain; but I do not pretend to guess motives. I can only deal wiih the facts as they stand; and I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think now he would be a greater man in his own estimation, and in the estimation of history, if, instead of being compelled to lay 959 down his Office before two-thirds of that Act had expired, he had been in a position at the end of that Coercion Act to come to the House and say—"I have governed Ireland so that coercive legislation is no longer necessary?" But from the peeps we have been able to make behind the curtain, that is not the view of the right hon. Gentleman, or of Earl Spencer; and we are threatened with the prospect of the re-enactment of the Act of 1882, in all its barbarity and severity. I do not pretend to say that we have formed any opinion yet as to how we are to meet this position. It is a very serious position for Ireland, undoubtedly; and I think, Sir, in all probability the result will show that it will be a still more serious position for this country. Can you say you have succeeded in your mission in Ireland, so long as from your point of view such an enactment is necessary in order to save yourselves from being driven into the sea? You have now governed Ireland for the space of 84 years, under the United Parliament, and can you honestly say that you are any nearer the end than you were at the beginning? Is there any greater recorded failure in history? You are much cleverer, of course, than Irishmen are. You have a greater capacity for government. Therefore, you must govern the Irish, because they are not able to govern themselves. But I say—and I think the vast majority of the Irish people will say with me—that if, after seven centuries, you have failed in the first elements of government; if your greatest statesmen sent to Ireland, one after another, come back and hold out no hope for that country, except a continuance of these stern and drastic measures, I say, in the words of Wendell Phillips—For seven centuries you have failed in your task of governing Ireland—you had better give it up.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 140: Majority 106.—(Div. List, No. 5.)
§ Main Question again proposed.