§ MR. SEXTON
said, that before the Report of the Address was passed, he would call attention to a very remarkable statement of facts which had just come into his possession. The statement was made by a young Irishman—who, with his father, had been arrested on suspicion of being accessory to the murder known as the Ballyforan murder—and who had been deprived of his means of living by certain agents of the Crown in Ireland. It was the statement of Thomas Nolan, late prisoner in the Ballyforan murder case, and made in Boston, U.S.A., and was as follows:—Statement of Thomas Nolan, late prisoner in the Ballyforan murder case, made at Boston, U.S.A.—I was arrested in connection with the Ballyforan murder case 24th February, 1884, one month after my father was arrested as an accessory to the same murder. I was arrested as I was leaving the Courthouse after the investigation on the evidence of a young man named M'Donnell, who swore he saw me on the road about a half-mile from the supposed scene of the murder. That evidence was false, and the young man who swore it could have no motive for so doing unless he was prompted and paid for it by the Crown. He further swore he saw my father, John Nolan, on the night of the murder speak to Michael Tansey, another prisoner. My father is still in prison on this false evidence. Neither my father nor myself could have any motive for being accessories to that unfortunate man's murder. We were always on the most friendly terms with him. But on account of our house being next to the supposed scene of the murder the police said we must know something about it, and for that reason procured false evidence against us in order to drive us to swear falsely against the other prisoners. On the night I was arrested I was visited by the Governor of the prison, Captain Mason, who asked me how I got into the hobble; he also asked me, if I knew anything, to turn round on the others and liberate myself and my father. I told him I knew nothing at all about it. Three weeks after I was arrested Sergeant O'Brien, of Ballyforan, asked me to give 1023 evidence against the others, and told me I should have the support of the Government. I told him I could give no evidence unless it was perjured evidence. This was in the grand jury room of County Courthouse, Galway. Four weeks after I was arrested (22nd March), the four other prisoners—namely, Tansey, Kennedy, Hannon, and my father, John Nolan, were brought out into the office of the gaol, and Mr. Bolton told them I had turned approver, and Sergeant O'Brien said he expected to get evidence from me. He had no reason whatever for saying it, unless it be to frighten Thomas Kennedy to turn round and swear against all, as they promised to save him if he turned approver. On this day (22nd March) I was taken out by my warder (Simcox) after the other prisoners. He was not in the plot. Just as I was going in on the office door, Sub-Inspector Joyce and the Deputy Governor ran out, and Joyce said 'For God's sake take him back, or the whole thing will be spoiled.' I knew then how the ground lay. Mr. Bolton was at work, others on the inside, tolling them I was an approver. I was taken in and locked in my cell. I asked to be allowed to see Mr. Bowler, the solicitor for the defence; but I was denied the privilege, though he was in the prison office at the time. They told me he was gone. My mother called to see me that day and the next and was denied admission. After Mr. Bowler was gone I was taken out alone, and Mr. Paul, R.M., addressing me, said, 'Consequent on what Sergeant O'Brien has sworn you are remanded for further evidence.' I did not know what he swore: they did not tell me. I did not know what they told the other prisoners. I was hurried away again into the prison without being given time to ask a question. This was the fourth time I was remanded without any evidence being given against me. On the following day (Saturday, 23rd March), Sergeant O'Brien came into the prison, and himself and the Deputy Governor asked me would I not do something for the Crown that was paying me, saying I must know something about the murder. I told him I should have his conduct and that of the Deputy Governor Evans brought before the notice of Parliament in not allowing me to see Mr. Bowler, the solicitor who was employed for me, and making it appear that I turned an approver. Sergeant O'Brien again visited me in the prison on Sunday, 24th March. I asked him would he be satisfied if I swore to the truth. He said I would not be sworn unless I made a statement criminating the prisoners. I then handed him a written statement as follows:—'I know nothing whatever of the circumstances connected with the murder of William M'Mahon pro and con.'I told him to keep that, and that it was the truth, and that I should swear to no other statement. I asked them several times to put the book in my hand, and that I would tell the truth, but they wanted me to give evidence against the other prisoners, and swearing the truth would be only contradicting the witness Thomas M'Donnell. I was brought up by myself on the 5th day (Friday) of my incarceration, about 7 o'clock in the evening, and Mr. Paul, R.M., read a long piece of swearing done by Sergeant O'Brien against me in order to frighten 1024 me, and told me he must again remand me. Mr. Bolton, Crown Solicitor, said I must be sent for trial along with the others, and that I would not be discharged till both myself and my father should go before the judge and jury. During that week and the following I was kept in a cell separate from the other prisoner; though I requested to be allowed to go to exercise with the other prisoners I was denied leave to do so. I was several days without exercise. Now I always told the Crown I had neither hand, act, part, or knowledge in that murder. One of the warders (M'Ardle) used frequently to tell me that he was instructed by Sergeant O'Brien to tell me that I would be kept there until I would be either sent for trial or made a statement criminating the other prisoners. He also told me that it was no harm to swear false, that it was done every day, and the Crown did not care right or wrong. On the 4th of April I was taken out of the prison to the County Courthouse. Sergeant O'Brien came to me and said, 'I suppose you have heard that your school is gone?' 'Yes' said I. 'Well,' said he, 'the best thing you can do now is to turn round with the Crown. You have no business home.' He was sent to make offers to me by Bolton and Joyce. I repeatedly told him I knew nothing about it. 'Well,' said the magistrate, we are now going to send you for trial.' I was discharged shortly afterwards when they saw all their badgering was of no avail.After coming home from prison the children were being kept at home from school by their parents till I would be reinstalled. My mind was disturbed both while I was in prison and after getting out, and the inspector and manager agreed to reinstate me when I should get better. I was so bad at this time that it was deemed necessary either to send me to the asylum or somewhere; so I resolved to come to America, as I was told the Crown were prompting Kennedy, one of the men in prison, to turn round and swear against me. Shortly before I left a report was circulated that I was going to swear against 100 men in the country for committing outrages, and belonging to secret societies. Four young men secretly left the country at the time. One of them was none other than a Government spy, and never belonged to a secret society, and I believe he was paid by the Crown for running away, and making it appear that it was from me he was running away. I met two of the young men here. They told me they were told by the parish priest to run away. He told them he was informed of all through the Crown. The plot was got up by the Crown in order to prevent me from being reinstated in the school, in order, as Sergeant O'Brien said, of leaving no resource to fall back on but to turn round and become a perjured informer.After the debates which had recently taken place in that House, he should not delay the House by offering a single word of comment on this statement. He left it to the judgment of the public, and he asked the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker), Whether, considering the additional light 1025 thrown by this statement on the character and practices of the person lately restored to the office of Crown Solicitor of Ireland, and considering the inferences it enabled them to draw as to the methods by which convictions were obtained in certain cases in Ireland—whether the Government would at once cause an independent inquiry to be held into the truth of the statement he had read?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
said, as far as he could follow it, the statement read by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) was the statement of the son of a man who was in gaol charged with murder. The statement charged four or five officials with attempting to procure this man's evidence. He had no information as to this statement. The man appeared to have gone to America, whore in his safety he had written a statement which, under the circumstances, would be received with a considerable amount of distrust and suspicion.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
, continuing, said, it was quite open to the hon. Member to send in the statement to the authorities, who would consider the matter.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the reply of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland seemed to him to be an exceedingly lame one. The hon. and learned Gentleman said if the statement was sent in to the Government, they would make an inquiry into the case; but his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) had read charges of a very severe nature, which only corroborated what had been said before with regard to the administration of justice in Ireland. It had been proved, on the most complete evidence, that what passed for administration of justice in Ireland was nothing but a farce, and the Government seemed to be heartily ashamed of it; but, at the same time, did not wish at present to confess their guilt, because they thought it would injure them in the eyes of the English electors, who would shortly have an opportunity of declaring on their character and conduct. His hon. Friend had very clearly pointed out the state of the case—namely, the system of trying to force men to swear falsely. He held 1026 very firmly the opinion that the Government were responsible, morally speaking.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) that it is not regular at this stage to bring on an ordinary debate. The principle of relevancy applies. The Question I have to put to the House is, "That this House do agree with the Committee in the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty;" and it would be contrary to the general principles of relevancy to allow a debate on the administration of justice in Ireland to arise on that Question.
§ MR. BIGGAR
I will not pursue the subject further; but on the question of relevancy to the Address, I am of opinion that the Address does not—
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, he regretted very much that the Government was not in a position to make any more definite declaration than that made by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland with reference to the very serious statement read by his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton). He must say that he heard that statement with feelings of astonishment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) is now repeating what I have ruled to be out of Order in the case of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). I shall put the Question to the House, "That this House do agree with the Committee in the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty."
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 134; Noes 18: Majority 116.—(Div. List, No. 6.)
§ Address agreed to.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors.