§ MR. PARNELL
I think, Sir, it would be proper for me, in the commencement of what I have to say upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington), to draw the attention of the House to what that Amendment really asks. One would suppose, from the line of defence which has been taken by the two Government speakers, that we were asking the House here, with all the difficulties attending a Parliamentary investigation into judicial proceedings, for a particular inquiry in order to do away with and annul the verdict under which three men were executed, and under which five men are now suffering penal servitude for life. Neither we nor the Amendment ask for that. We simply ask for an inquiry; and in making out our case for that inquiry, we have 267 brought forward evidence which is evidently too strong for the Government defenders, since they say, or practically admit, or lead us to suppose, that if this inquiry be granted the reversal of that verdict will necessarily follow. Apart from the strength of our case, or the nature of the evidence that we should be prepared to bring before the tribunal or body which we ask this House to appoint for the investigation of this important matter, we claim that if any reliance is to be placed for the future upon the pledged credit of a responsible Minister of the Crown—if, in our debates, we can take the words of a Minister of the Crown to mean what they were evidently intended to moan when uttered, that the Government are bound by all the considerations of honour and of regard for their word, to give that inquiry, or some inquiry of the kind, which we now ask from this House. It is true that the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington), upon the two separate occasions when his promises were made in the late hours of almost the last day of last Session, did guard himself by an "if." He protected himself from pledging himself definitely to any particular inquiry; but he did promise us most definitely some inquiry into this matter, if the allegations which Were made by my hon. Friends in the debate which produced his two speeches turned out to be correct. On the first occasion when the subject was raised, on the Motion for going into Committee on the Appropriation Bill, the noble Marquess wound up his statement to the House by this declaration—If the statements appear to be vouched for in the manner I have described, inquiry will be made."—(3 Hansard,  577.)The only condition was that the statements should be vouched for in the manner the noble Marquess had described, and the manner in which those statements were to be vouched for was that His Grace the Archbishop of Tuam should vouch for the statement of facts as detailed on that evening by my hon. Friends in debate. On the second occasion when my hon. Friends, desirous of having some clearer statement or pledge from the noble Marquess, recurred to the matter on the same evening when the House had gone into Committee, the noble Marquess said— 268He refrained from absolutely promising that an inquiry should be instituted, for it was premature to say what would be the statement vouched for by the Archbishop of Tuam or any other person who might make representations to the Government. All he had ventured to say on the case as presented to him—all he could say was, he would promise that the Irish Government should take any representation made to them into consideration, and if the facts appeared to be as they had been alleged to be that night, then an inquiry should be made."—(Ibid. 589.)The only condition attached to granting some inquiry was, that the facts should be found on inquiry to be as stated by my hon. Friend (Mr. Harrington). These facts had reference to statements made before the Archbishop by one of the informers, and of the confession by this informer, that all he swore on the trial was false, perjured, and dictated by a desire to save his life; and it is impossible for us to believe that the noble Marquess, when making that statement, did not absolutely intend that if it was found that the facts as stated by my hon. Friend were correct, a full, fair, and impartial inquiry would have been granted into this most grave and important question. I believe the issues involved in the matter are more important than any matter ever brought by my hon. Friends before the House; and I feel convinced that the conviction is gaining in strength day by day that some of the Irish Government officials have very good reasons why they consider that this inquiry should not be granted. They know that if the dying depositions of the two guilty men who were executed in Galway Goal two years ago—depositions which admitted their own guilt, and bore the strongest testimony to the innocence of Myles Joyce and of four out of the five who were convicted, and who are now suffering penal servitude—they know that if these depositions were produced, that the House would be unable to resist the granting of this Motion. Why have these depositions been withheld? The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant is very anxious that these depositions should not be produced, and, in fact, he is so anxious that he absolutely stooped to misrepresent the statement of the Prime Minister to this House. He sought, in his speech, to pin the Prime Minister to a statement which that right hon. Gentleman never made. He said that the 269 Prime Minister had refused to grant the depositions. The Prime Minister never did so. He was appealed to in an offhand manner by one of my hon. Friends (Mr. Callan); and he said, in reply, that it was not usual in such cases "to grant them." But he never absolutely refused to grant them; he never did what he was represented to have done by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland—refused to grant them; and until he does absolutely refuse, I will refuse to believe that he will do so. We have a very strong case; that is admitted; and I believe that if it had not been for the apprehension that so great and so good a man as Earl Spencer—if it were not for the apprehension that so great and good a man as Earl Spencer had made a mistake—and a fatal mistake as regarded the life of one of his fellow-creatures—we should have had the production of these depositions. Failing in that, we have had an inquiry into the case of Kilmartin—an inquiry first of all refused to us by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, and which was afterwards granted to us in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, with the result that Kilmartin, who had been sentenced to penal servitude, was released and restored to his family. Now, Sir, I believe we should have had this inquiry, and I must protest against the tone of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland. He almost let the cat out of the bag in an eloquent and powerful passage in his speech, when he gave the House to understand—for no other inference could be derived from that passage — that if the Lord Lieutenant had made a mistake—and the mistakes in question involved the life of one person and the liberties of others—that if the Lord Lieutenant had made such grave mistakes, he (Mr. Trevelyan) would feel "consolation"—that was his expression—for these mistakes, by the fact that crime and outrage in Ireland had been put an end to, and that the majesty of the law had teen vindicated. That is our whole contention — that there are officials in Ireland who consider it is their highest duty to use every means and all means, legitimate and otherwise, to put down crime and outrage, uphold the "majesty of the law," and restore "law and order." 270 I say that, if that is the position of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, no more fatal mistake was ever made by any Predecessor of his, than to suppose that they can ever obtain the respect of the Irish people for law and order, until they thoroughly purify and purge their tribunals from the suspicion of partiality and injustice, which cases like this must throw upon them. Until then it is impossible to suppose that the Irish people can have that confidence in law and order, and can have that desire to uphold law and order in Ireland without which you will never be able to govern—certainly never even with such a Coercion Act as now stains the Statute Book. Now, I wish to say that our case rests not, as represented by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, solely on the testimony of an informer and a murderer, who admitted formerly on the trial that he was a murderer, and now admits again that he is a murderer, and who desires to unsay what he has said. Our case rests not upon this, but upon a vast variety of other facts. It is pure irony of the right hon. Gentleman to say, and it is misleading the House for him to say, that our case rests on the evidence of Casey, the informer. I say, throw away the informer Casey. Put his evidence out of the case altogether; disregard it, as the Lord Lieutenant now wishes to do; put him on one side, and I say we have as strong and unanswerable a case as if we had no Casey at all. We have the evidence of the three "independent witnesses" themselves—its improbable character; its inconsistency with itself and with the evidence of the other informers; the impossibility of the alleged case of identification on the dark night of the murder; the physical impossibility of the story being true. These were amongst the grounds on which they based their cases. The fact is that, in several instances in which those independent witnesses swore that they were in a certain position from which they could identify persons at a considerable distance on a dark night, it was physically impossible for them to do so even in broad daylight, any more than it would be possible for anyone sitting on that side of the House to see a Member in the Division Lobby through the wall. If I say, standing here, that I could see through the wall opposite, no person here would believe me. This 271 trial was held a distance from the locale of the murder. Some 10 days were given for counsel for the accused to prepare the defence. The journey to the place involved a whole day's railway travelling, and portions of the night by horse conveyance, and the same time back. Only 20 guineas were allowed to the counsel, described by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland as one of the most celebrated in Ireland—only 20 guineas were allowed to enable him to travel all that journey and make his investigations in an Irish-speaking district, where the only interpreters were the police, who could not be used for the purpose. Twenty guineas would have been little enough to give a surveyor for making the plans and drawings that were necessary, and one of my charges against the Irish officials is that they deliberately neglected to have the proper plans prepared. No detailed plans were made of the house and the positions which the witnesses swore that they occupied on the night in question. It was, therefore, impossible for the counsel to test the accuracy of the witnesses on those important points. The defence, in fact, was so crippled, that it was impossible for the counsel representing the accused to do their duty by their clients. It was made impossible for the defence to obtain by cross-examination the necessary information with which to rebut the testimony of the informers. Therefore, although four of the men happened to be guilty, the whole trial was a farce and a prostitution of justice, and the conviction was obtained upon perjury of a most infamous character committed by the witnesses, one of whom—the approver—swore that he was standing in the same place where the throe "independent" witnesses swore they were at the time the alleged identification took place. An adjournment for reexamination of the district after the approvers' evidence—which was absolutely new—was refused, nor was leave given to go into a rebutting case. Now, I think I had better explain to the House, as there is considerable confusion as to names, by giving an outline of it, what the Crown case was against the 10 persons charged, and what our case now is by the light of subsequent revelations. The Government case was that the murder was committed by 10 men. Three 272 of these men have been hanged, and the guilt of two out of these three we admit; five of the 10 were sentenced to penal servitude for life, and two of the 10 turned approvers. We also admit the guilt of one of the five who were sent to penal servitude; but we strenuously assert, and can prove on inquiry, the absolute innocence of the remaining four. We also admit the guilt of one of the two approvers; but say that the second, in our opinion, is innocent, and that he was compelled by fear of death to swear to that which was absolutely false. No adequate motive for the commission of the crime was assigned at the trial by the Crown against any of these 10 men. It was partly suggested that the murder was the outcome of a general conspiracy in Ireland, and the result of an order issued from some secret tribunal at a distance, and, for the purpose, the names of two men—Kelly and Nee—were brought into the case by one of the witnesses, who turned approver; but as this addition would have made the supposed number of those who committed the deed 12 instead of 10, and as the other witnesses had sworn that the number was 10, the attempt to impute the motive suggested by the evidence of the approver was not persisted in by the Crown. Therefore, afterwards, all the witnesses, independent and otherwise, swore to 10. Now, on the other hand, we have it in our power to present the strongest motives for the commission of the crime by the persons we can prove guilty. Our case is that seven, and not 10, committed this murder; that of these seven, two have been rightly executed, and are undoubtedly guilty, and that one is in penal servitude who is also guilty, and who admits his guilt, and, strange to say, protests the innocence of the other men. We, however, protest that the other men whom the jury have found guilty are innocent. The Irish Members also hold that one of the two approvers is among the guilty, that two of the guilty men are at large at this moment in the locality where the murder was committed—one of them being the ringleader and paymaster of the local Ribbon Society to which they belonged—and that another of the miscreants is now in England. According to our case, a motive can easily be assigned for the crime. We can prove that the murdered mail was the treasurer of a Ribbon Society, 273 that he had been accused of making away with some of the funds—an accusation which is alway sufficient to insure the murder of the person accused—and that, on more than one occasion, he had attempted to shoot the leader and paymaster of the gang who murdered him. We can also prove that the murdered man was a notoriously bad character, a Ribbon man, and a sheep stealer, and that he was murdered in accordance with the decree of a local Ribbon Society, as a punishment for offences against the Society and against his neighbours. It must also be borne in mind that the independent witnesses who have given testimony against the 10 men who were tried had lived on the worst of terms with the majority of the men whom they accused, and had been involved in litigation with them in consequence of boundary disputes. On one occasion Anthony Joyce, the chief of the independent witnesses, had a fight with Myles Joyce, in which he was worsted. He then had recourse to law, and Myles Joyce was sentenced to be imprisoned for two or three months. In fact, the independent witnesses at the trial formed one faction, and the accused persons another, and the result was that, when the murder was announced, the three independent witnesses held a family council, and agreed among themselves as to who were likely to have desired the death of the murdered man. By guess work they were able to indicate three or four of the assassins, and by implicating the remainder of the prisoners they not only obtained a large reward, but avenged themselves against such of their neighbours as were obnoxious to them. It is a terrible thing to think that murder so atrocious could be deliberately planned for such an object; but, unfortunately, it is but too true that in these wild districts of the country the smallest pretexts are sometimes sufficient for the commission of such crime. I invite the House to put out of consideration altogether for the moment the evidence of the two informers. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland said, in his defence of the Government the other night, that the depositions that were made in the case were all produced. Now, it is a part of the case of the Irish Members, that the depositions of the two young Joyces, the survivors of the massacre, and which would 274 have discredited the evidence of the independent witnesses, were deliberately withheld by the Crown, by Mr. Bolton, who was the solicitor in charge of the Crown proceedings, from the cognizance of the counsel for the defence. That, we contend, was a disadvantage additional to all the other disadvantages with which counsel had to contend. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, first of all, denied point blank that any depositions had been withheld. Then he mended that a little, and said there were no depositions withheld, and that all that had been withheld had been declarations and informations. He said all the depositions were given. However, having a little more time owing to some interruptions on the part of my hon. Friends—interruptions which I very much deprecate, because I think it would have been much better if they had allowed the hon. and learned Gentleman to flounder on, I will not say with his untruthful, but, at any rate, his unfounded statements — he was allowed to collect his thoughts, and, after having done so, he said that all the depositions given at the inquest were supplied to the defenders of the prisoners. But, Sir, these learned gentlemen did not want the depositions given at the inquest, because they had them already. They were matters of notoriety, and had been published in the newspapers; but what these gentlemen had not received, and what should have been given to them, were the two dying depositions that it was impossible for them to get. These were withheld, and that we have on the admission of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman was compelled to renounce his miserable quibbling about the difference between depositions and declarations. He was compelled to admit that the depositions had been withheld, and to enter into his ridiculous explanation of the reasons why they were withheld. Sir, the depositions which I refer to—the depositions of the two boys who were both supposed to be dying, although one afterwards recovered—were duly taken by the stipendiary magistrate having charge of the case. They were duly attested by the magistrate, and they, from the circumstances in which he took them, and the internal evidence in them, show that they were drafted 275 and taken to be used as evidence for the Crown, and that no idea had presented itself to the mind of the magistrate that the two boys were not in a fit position to make depositions. As a matter of fact, one of them was, because he recovered, and having recovered, and having received a good education from the good Christian Brothers at Artane Industrial Schools, contrasting somewhat with the education he had received whilst in the custody of George Bolton, he is able and willing, now he is recovered, to corroborate the testimony he then gave. These depositions had reference to the blackened faces of the assassins. The independent witnesses had sworn as the result of their constant observation of the 10 alleged assassins—that constant observation extending throughout three miles, during which, the witnesses stated, they were close to the assassins—positively to the features of the men, and also that they wore dark clothes. Well, in the suppressed depositions of the two boys, who were themselves amongst the victims of the attack, and it must be remembered that these boys had an opportunity of seeing closely by the light of torches the features of the murderers, it was set forth that the men had blackened faces, and that they wore white jackets. The boys stated this repeatedly, and, first of all, informed the policeman of it—the constable who came to ask about the murder the morning it was discovered. They said the men had their faces blackened, and wore white jackets. Well, such a remarkable discrepancy as that which existed between the evidence of the principal witnesses would, if it had been known to the counsel for the defence at the time of the trial, have been taken hold of, and strongly represented to the jury. But he was absolutely ignorant of these facts. The two depositions were suppressed. This was not evidence given by informers a long time after the massacre, but evidence given by two of the persons attacked a day or two after the occurrence. The depositions were studiously kept from the jury, but not from the Judge, because if he had chosen to look through the brief of the learned counsel for the prosecution—the brief which has fallen into our hands—he might have found these two depositions, and he might also have noticed the 276 remark—"Patrick Joyce has recovered, but his evidence is worthless." Well, these vital documents were withheld from the prisoners' counsel. Why? I really think we should have a more satisfactory attempt at an explanation for the withholding of such documents than we have yet received. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland left the point to be dealt with by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland; but I venture to say that no one who heard the hon. and learned Gentleman's defence can feel satisfied in his conscience that that defence was satisfactory. But the Irish Members charge other suppressions against the Crown. They charge the Crown with the suppression of the declarations made by Philbin. The first statements made to Mr. Bolton were not furnished to the counsel for the prisoners. The Government, in their defence, rely upon the technical point that these statements were not depositions, but declarations. If the evidence had been the evidence of an approver who was in prison, counsel for the defence would have obtained knowledge of it in the ordinary way, because he would have been present, and would have made application for it. In that case, the depositions could not have been withheld; but, owing to the fact that some of the proceedings took place in the secrecy of the gaol, the Crown thought they might venture upon their suppression. I ask every fair-minded Englishman, whether, trying those ignorant peasants with all the disadvantages that necessarily attend their defence, should evidence of this kind be withheld from the ordinary investigations which the counsel for the defence would, under other circumstances, have made? Sir, I venture to say that the answer will be "No." The answer will be that the Crown officials charged with the prosecution acted unfairly in this matter, and in such a way as to defeat the ends of justice, by withholding these depositions, and that according to the dictates of honour, honesty, and of a desire to secure a fair trial, which must even be present occasionally in the bosom of a Crown Solicitor in Ireland, they must stand condemned in this matter. I do not wish to trouble the House by going into the details again. My hon. Friends have done that for me very fully; 277 but no attempt has been really made by the Government to meet our case. I could go on for another hour if the House would derive any satisfaction from my doing so; but in default of a reply from the Government, I do not think it is necessary to do so. If the House is satisfied with the trial and punishment of these men, nothing that I could say would be of any use; but if, on the other hand, the House is not satisfied, and thinks there has been a defect in these proceedings, that these men were tried under circumstances of great public excitement, when a large section of the public were clamouring for blood, and when the Irish Executive were thirsting eagerly for convictions, and if the House considers that an investigation of the case is desirable—and there has been ample means placed in its hand for making up its mind in the pamphlet which has been circulated by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington)—if the House thinks this, and that there is a considerable discrepancy in the evidence of the witnesses, and that the statements of the approvers in the light of the evidence of independent witnesses is unreliable on many important points—if, on reflection, it is thought that the suppression of the two depositions made by the dying lad and his brother were vitally important to the defence, and that the Crown Prosecutors were culpable in not producing them—then I say the House will vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend. It may be said by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland—it has been said—that the foundations of law and justice in Ireland would be shaken if this inquiry were granted. Well, Sir, I deny it. I believe that if the Irish Executive could show that it was strong enough to grant this inquiry, the result, whatever it might be, would, from the point of view of the Executive itself, be beneficial, because you cannot smother this matter. It is there. It is of such a nature that it will receive attention when it is brought up again and again; and if an unwilling Executive in Ireland, fearful for the stability of its own position, knowing well that there has been injustice done, refuses inquiry to-day, and if the Government supports it in that refusal under a threat of resignation from Lord Spencer, at any rate the day must come when such an inquiry will be 278 instituted, and when the whole truth and nothing but the truth will be known in reference to the Maamtrasna massacre.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that although he was not directly connected with the administration of justice in Ireland, yet the Office which he held was directly concerned with investigations of the same character as the one now at issue; and he should ask the indulgence of the House to say a few words on the subject of that painful debate. He spoke with some responsibility in this matter, because Lord Spencer desired, with regard to the case, that everything should be done in Ireland exactly upon the same principles and precisely in the same manner as a similar case would be dealt with in England. Before he gave his final decision on this subject, and before he sent his answer to the Archbishop of Tuam, Lord Spencer requested him carefully to investigate the case. Of course, he did so with all the care he could. He did it under the same sense of responsibility as he should have done if called upon to decide a case in England or Scotland. He had no hesitation whatever in telling Lord Spencer that he considered there was no justification whatever for interfering with the sentence of the law. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but it was a responsible position to hold, and he felt it his duty to accept his share of that responsibility. He would ask the House to consider what was the exact duty of the Executive Government with reference to criminal cases, and especially criminal cases involving life. It was an entire mistake to suppose that the duty of the Executive Government was to review and retry a case. That was not their business. The responsibility for the verdict and the sentence belong to the judical body—the jury and the Judge. The responsibility of the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland and the Home Secretary in the rest of the United Kingdom was to advise the Crown as to the exercise of the Prerogative of mercy, and to do that by considering carefully, anxiously, and fairly any circumstances which had afterwards supervened which might properly be considered to influence the case and the execution of the sentence passed. It was a very anxious duty for any man. Everybody would feel that. He did not 279 think anybody who had not borne that responsibility could appreciate the whole extent of it. He did not believe that any man who ever had that responsibility had been wanting in a desire to give full and perhaps more than full weight to those considerations which inclined towards mercy. They were not there to retry the case. But what was the original case, and what were the subsequent allegations upon which it was suggested that the sentence should be varied? When this horrible murder took place there came forward three men—Anthony Joyce and two others. He said that he saw these men in the dead of the night, and fearing they were on some secret errand he watched them. This evidence was confirmed by a young woman. [Mr. HARRINGTON: His daughter.] That did not invalidate her evidence. These three men, against whom nothing was alleged, followed these men to the very scene of the murder. That was strong evidence. Then came forward Philbin. Now, in many of these cases they had to get the evidence of approvers corroborated by other evidence, but that was not the case here. The approvers corroborated independent evidence given by the principal witnesses. After Philbin came the approver Thomas Casey, and he also corroborated the principal witnesses. The extraordinary result of the trials was that out of 10 men accused, nine in one form or another, at one time or other, had acknowledged their guilt; and if they were guilty, the tenth could not have been innocent, because the whole story involved his guilt. Was there ever a case in which the evidence was so absolutely overwhelming? It was said that this was a packed jury. The pamphlet which had been issued said—"The jury were packed after the manner of all political and agrarian trials in Ireland." And an hon. Member, reading from the brief, charged the counsel with having marked the names of jurors in order to pack the juries. On the face of it, to say that juries were packed because they found verdicts of murder on such evidence, was to make an unfounded charge; no jury, with such evidence before it, could have done, or ought to have done, anything else but convict. Then, what was the meaning of the charge of packing juries? He did not wish to argue against anything that was 280 admitted; and he implied that it was admitted that there were fair juries. [Mr. PARNELL: Two of them.] But you could not draw any distinction, because the three had the same evidence before them; and thus three juries, independently one of another, found a verdict of guilty. He supposed there was no charge against Lord Spencer or the Executive Government for acting upon verdicts found and sentences passed upon such evidence. So the matter stood till last August. [An hon. MEMBER: No; the dying declarations.] He would speak of them afterwards; but as regarded the evidence, so matters stood.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
In April, 1883, immediately after my release from Galway Gaol, I called the attention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the Solicitor General for Ireland to the facts of this case.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Yes; but there was a difference between a Member doing that and the production of any evidence on which the Executive Government could act in displacing such verdicts and sentences. It was not quite correct to say that there the matter stood, because in the 18 months or thereabouts, between the time when Thomas Casey gave his evidence and last August, he twice repeated the same story upon separate occasions, not under pressure from Mr. Bolton or under fear for his life, which was safe; and upon these two occasions the same informer repeated the evidence. ["No, no!"] The case could not be met by contradiction of this sort; the documents existed; and it was perfectly well known that in the compensation case—["No, no!"] Hon. Members must please not deal with him in that way; they would have plenty of opportunity for correcting him; he would state matters as fairly as he could, according to the information he had. Thomas Casey stated first of all that Philbin was there; upon another occasion that Miles Joyce was present, although he did not enter the house. Then, last August, Thomas Cssey, the informer, came forward to retract all that he had said at the trial, and all that he had said subsequently, and to put forward the story which the hon. Member for Cork had stated so clearly, admitting that he was a murderer, that 281 he was concerned in the murder, only saying that it was done by a different gang from the gang he had previously sworn to. This was the first new evidence that was before Lord Spencer. There was nothing now in the declaration of the son of the murdered man. The first new fact was the declaration on the part of the Casey, the informer. To explain his now having a different story, he said that he had formerly been coerced by Mr. Bolton, the Crown Solicitor, and Mr. Brady, the Resident Magistrate. It was said that this ought to be inquired into; but how could it be inquired into? It rested entirely upon the statement of Thomas Casey on one side, and on the other of Mr. Bolton and of Mr. Brady, and also of the Governor of the gaol, who was said to have been present on some of these occasions. The question was—would you believe Thomas Casey, the twice-perjured murderer, or would you believe Mr. Bolton and Mr. Brady? ["Hear, hear!"] The House would form its own opinion; Irish Members preferred to believe Thomas Casey. They had brought charges against Mr. Bolton; those charges had been submitted to juries, and they had not been sustained. He saw no reason whatever for disbelieving Mr. Bolton, Mr. Brady, and the Governor of the gaol when they said that the statements of Thomas Casey were false. For one, he did not believe Thomas Casey. And what was his story? Casey now said that Anthony and John Joyce were not there at all—it was proved by the daughter that they went out that night—that they never saw anybody at all, and that they had invented the whole story to which he had previously sworn. Casey admitted that Philbin had hit upon four of the right men; he had heard the explanation of the singular circumstance by which making a false charge altogether he had hit upon four of the men. The case was that Philbin, the informer, who first proffered himself under no pressure whatever to give evidence, was never there at all, and that he had no cognizance of the transaction of any kind; and yet one of the men executed, who admitted his own guilt, put the question the moment he was apprehended whether Philbin had been arrested. What an extraordinary circumstance that he should ask about a man who was not 282 there. Was it possible for any purpose whatever that the Lord Lieutenant of the Secretary of State could set aside the verdict of a jury and the sentence of a Judge upon evidence such as this? Consider what Thomas Casey was. He became now a new informer; he was an informer before against one set of men; he was an informer now against another set of men. As a new informer, was there any corroboration of his statement? If his evidence was worth considering for one moment it ought to be such that you could found upon it an indictment against guilty men whom the hon. Member for Cork said were now at large. Who would believe Casey. Who would find a verdict upon such evidence? What Public Prosecutor dare present an indictment upon such evidence? Conceive it done, and Casey put forward; he would be confronted with his own oath proving that he had foresworn himself against others. He would be contradicted by the evidence of Philbin, the other informer, who swore to the men first charged, and by the confessions of the five men who had pleaded guilty. It was absolutely impossible for a Public Prosecutor to undertake to charge men upon such evidence. And yet Lord Spencer was condemned because he had not accepted this evidence of that perjured murderer. Lord Spencer was bound to decide that such evidence as that was of no account. Then there was the question of the depositions, which had been made a very serious charge against the administration of justice in Ireland—not a charge againt Mr. Bolton—hon. Members opposite were aiming at much higher game than that. The charge was that these depositions were taken away and hidden; but it was a strange way of hiding them to put them in a brief. They were submitted to the Crown counsel. It was not for Mr. Bolton to decide whether they should be used or not, but for the Crown counsel to exercise his discretion. But it was said that they were unknown to the counsel for the defence. It was alleged that the children's statement about the blackened faces was kept back, and that if it had been known to the counsel for the defence it would have been brought before the jury. Now, the fact was that the whole of these facts were perfectly well known to the counsel for the defence and to everybody in Ireland. It was notorious 283 that these boys had made this statement, and in proof of that assertion he would refer to The Freeman's Journal of August 21, in the first account of what had taken place. It was therein stated that, according to the evidence, the faces of the men were black. Then there was the evidence of John Collins at the Coroner's inquest, which was also held in the month of August. That statement in The Freeman's Journal, and the evidence of John Collins, embraced in substance, if not in words, all that was conveyed in the depositions of the two boys. The same facts were brought out on the trial by the Attorney General. He had thus conclusively shown that it was perfectly well known that both these boys had stated that the faces of these men were black, and it was perfectly competent for the prisoners' counsel to deal with the matter if they had thought fit. Now, what did the counsel for the Crown do? They came to the conclusion—having regard to that evidence and to the condition of these children, who said they could not identify the persons, and having regard to what was evident upon the face of the depositions, that these children were not witnesses to be vouched in the case—that they could not undertake the responsibility of vouching them as witnesses for the prosecution. But they offered them to the defence as witnesses for the defence. ["No, no!" "One was dead!"] But the one who was living was produced in Court, and the counsel for the defence, with full knowledge of what he had stated, could have questioned him if he had thought proper.
said, he was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman would not intentionally mislead; but he wished to remind him that the child could not have been sworn, because he had not sufficient religious belief.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the child could have been sworn if the counsel for the defence had brought him forward.
§ MR. PARNELL
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the fact that these depositions had been made was really brought to the knowledge of the counsel for the defence?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The hon. Member had taken a perfectly fair distinction, but the statement at the 284 Coroner's inquest was perfectly well known; there was no suppression of the fact that these boys had made the statement which was perfectly notorious to the whole world. The hon. Member for Cork City was under the erroneous impression that the fact had been deliberately withheld. The facts contained in these depositions were entirely immaterial to the case in the opinion, not only of the counsel for the Crown, but also in the opinion of the counsel for the defence. There was scarcely any criminal conviction in which there was no room for doubt; but the question for the person who had the responsibility of deciding was, whether the doubt was such as to overweigh and overwhelm the weight of evidence for the prosecution. He ventured to say that no reasonable man in this case could have come to a different conclusion from that which was arrived at. Next, he came to the confession of the men who were executed. He had been asked by an hon. Member the other day what had been done in the case of Peace. He had just looked into that case at the Home Office, and he found that no precedent was to be found in that case for what the Government was asked to do. His Predecessor had refused in that case to produce the confession. A similar refusal was made also in Wainwright's case. There was a very great difference between the confession of a man in respect to himself and a confession which he might choose to make about other people. In a dying confession of this kind a man became an informer; he might accuse one set of people and acquit another set of people as he chose; and if we were to accredit a document of that kind, which could not be examined and tested, we should introduce the most dangerous element it was possible to have into the revision of capital sentences. We should leave it to the man making the confession, who would be in reality an informer, to have the liberty and the lives of other men at his mercy; and for this reason the Executive Government always had refused, and always ought to refuse, to produce confessions of such a character. In regard to the Liddle case, at Durham, it was often stated that the man was let off simply on the confession of the prisoner who had been accused with him. This was not so, for he himself, in consequence of what he had learned, 285 entertained so much suspicion with regard to the case that he instituted an inquiry into it quite independently of the statement of the other prisoner. That was a course which he had always followed, and which Lord Spencer had also followed. It was followed in the case of Kilmartin. The release of Liddle, though afterwards confirmed by the statement of Lowson, was not founded upon that statement.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Such statements sometimes got out by means which were not known to the Home Office; but statements affecting other persons ought not to be published on authority. It was obvious that this should be so. What defence could any man have against a confession of this kind, made by a man who was dead, and who could not be called to account for it? The sort of importance which was attached to these dying declarations was founded upon what one would wish to believe was always the case—namely, that men in that situation told the truth. He was sorry to say he had seen a good many of these declarations which did not bear out that theory. In making such statements men of depraved minds were actuated by mixed motives. It had been alleged that the statements made by these men to their priests were necessarily true; but the circumstances in this case shook that opinion very much. Four or five of these men consulted their priest, who said that although from their statements he believed them to be innocent, yet he advised them to plead guilty.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, their statement was not made in confession, and a dying confession stood upon a different ground. The prisoners refused to plead guilty. Overtures were made to them to the effect that they would not receive capital punishment if they pleaded guilty. The first prisoner, Michael Casey, was ready to plead guilty because he was really guilty; but the Crown Solicitor declined to accept the plea unless the other prisoners pleaded with him. In these circumstances, the priest advised them to plead guilty. It was to be remarked, however, that although they pleaded guilty in Court, on their return to the gaol they still protested their innocence.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was not desirous of condemning the conduct of the priest; that was not his duty; but he must call attention to what the priest did. The reverend gentleman said—The case was laid before me, and in the interest of the prisoners I considered it the wisest course for them to plead guilty. I was by no means clear in my own mind as to whether they were innocent. I was inclined to believe that they were, but I had no ground for such a belief except their own declarations to me.The reverend gentleman added that he argued with himself that if they were guilty their plea of guilty would do them no harm, while, if they were innocent, the truth would be sure to come out. He would not say that the priest had not excellent motives; but he ventured, in the interests of justice and truth, to point out the infinite mischief of such a course as that. If, believing these men to be innocent, he advised them to plead guilty, was it not obvious that he sealed the fate of the men who had been convicted? Was it not also plain that he defeated the course of justice? Even if these men expected to get off, their pleading guilty would set justice off the track of the true criminals. Therefore, he must protest against such a course as being most injurious to the interests of justice. It had been said that his noble Friend the Marquess of Hartington had promised an inquiry. It was not necessary that his noble Friend should have promised an inquiry. An inquiry certainly must and would have taken place. There was no case of murder in which a man came forward with a statement of this character, whether in England or in Ireland, where inquiry would not have taken place. If this case had occurred in England, he should have instituted au inquiry at once into the statements which had been made. If there were any new facts which required investigation, he should have employed agents of his own to make inquiry into those facts. But the responsibility of the decision would have been his own. That was done in Kilmartin's case. Such an inquiry, if held at all, must be made by the person who was responsible for the decision. The Government, however, were asked to grant an independent inquiry. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had said that Lord Spencer, in the inquiry he had made, was deciding in his own case. 287 But who had authority to appoint the independent tribunal indicated by the Amendment? If a Court of Criminal Appeal were to be established, it must be established by legislation, and neither Lord Spencer, the Cabinet, the Queen, nor the House of Commons, could authorize anyone to take upon themselves duties which the Constitution had devolved upon others, and which really had to be discharged by the Judge and the jury, and by the Lord Lieutenant. He had been astonished to hear the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), that the whole subject should be referred to Lord Bramwell, who, he was certain, would decline to enter upon such a task. Whether Lord Bramwell or anyone else were appointed to conduct the inquiry asked for, the House would throw the responsibility for any acts done by the Executive of Ireland, not upon the person so appointed, but upon the proper Executive officer. The hon. Member for Monaghan had suggested that a Select Committee of that House should be appointed to inquire into the matter. It was, however, absurd to suggest that a Select Committee of that House could advise the Crown to exercise the Prerogative of mercy. What hon. Members opposite were seeking to do, and one thing which the House of Commons could do, was to censure the Executive Government of Ireland for the manner in which they had discharged their duties. That was the true Constitutional course, and that was what they were asked to do that night. They could condemn Earl Spencer, and they could condemn the officials for their conduct in these transactions; but he did not think that the House of Commons would do that. That was the proper province of the House of Commons, and that was a very clear and distinct issue. The Resolution proposed to pass a broad and sweeping censure upon the method of administering the law in Ireland. ["Hear, Hear!" from the Irish Members.] Yes; that was the issue before them. Hon. Members opposite asked for a general condemnation of the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland under the Crimes Act. If there had been any doubt upon the point, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had taken care to "dot the i's." The noble Lord had said that 288 if the Government yielded upon this question, they would gain some Irish votes on the Division. Her Majesty's Government did not intend to deal with this question, which involved life and death, with a view to gaining votes. The noble Lord opposite had made himself the endorsee of this charge against the administration of the law in Ireland. The noble Lord had said that no one would condemn the course taken by the Crown counsel in this case more than the Attorney General for England. The noble Lord, however, should have taken the statement of his witness before he called him, because he believed that the witness he called would put him out of court. Why did not the noble Lord appeal to those Attorneys General for Ireland who had been connected with the Administration of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, one of whom sitting opposite (Mr. Gibson) was one of the most distinguished Members of that House, and whose Colleague was absent from his place that night from a cause which they must all deplore? He should be content to call those right hon. and learned Gentlemen as witnesses against the noble Lord. The noble Lord had said that the Crown counsel had kept back important evidence at the trial, and that the officials charged with the administration of the law had shrunk from hardly any process in order to obtain a conviction. He was aware that that was the contention of hon. Members opposite, and of the noble Lord who acted with them. That was the charge made in the presence of men sitting upon the Bench opposite who had been responsible for the government of Ireland, and who might be responsible for it again. They knew these Crown counsel—men who had been the ornaments of the Irish Bar, and many of whom were now upon the Bench—and how they were in the habit of administering the law in Ireland, and what foundation there was for this charge which was made against the honour of the Irish Bar and against the integrity of the Irish Bench. Hon. Members opposite asked the House to believe that the witnesses were perjured, that the juries were packed, and that the Judges, the Crown counsel, the Resident Magistrates, and Lord Spencer were engaged in a common conspiracy to do to death men of whom they knew nothing. ["All but the jury and the 289 Judge?"] Well, then, the Crown counsel, the Resident Magistrates, and Lord Spencer. That was the distinct charge which had been brought by hon. Members opposite. He wished the House to know what the indictment was, in order that it might be met. He believed that the majority of that House would not hold that that charge had been established. If the House were to come to a contrary decision on the question, they would not only make Lord Spencer's position untenable, but the position of his Successor impossible. He believed that such a decision on the part of the House of Commons would be not only unjust, but would be fatal to the administration of the law in Ireland; because if, upon the evidence produced, they were to set aside the Judiciary of Ireland and the decision of the Executive of Ireland, deliberately, and, as he believed, properly arrived at, they would destroy and paralyze justice, and would revive that reign of terror and that immunity of murder which the firm and just administration of Lord Spencer had happily broken down, and had so redeemed Ireland from the stain which had made her a byword among nations.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE
said, he wished to make a few observations as to the considerations upon which he had found himself unwillingly compelled to vote in support of the Motion before the House. There had been, during the past two years, several matters connected with the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland which had caused every lawyer in the House a great deal of concern and anxiety. He had hitherto held his peace from a feeling of the great importance of the considerations which had been addressed to the House from the Treasury Bench—the importance of not interfering at all in the responsibility of those engaged at a difficult time in administering the law. But now they had a clear and distinct issue, and he had listened with the greatest possible attention to the three speeches from the Treasury Bench, and with especial attention to the last speech, which, in the judicial character of its observations, was in striking contrast to the extraordinary delivery of the Solicitor General for Ireland. He did not deny that the speech of the Home Secretary might alter to some extent the decision of the House, for with great chivalry the Home Secretary 290 had come forward and placed his responsibility between the House and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He had known, from personal experience, what great anxiety and care the right hon. and learned Gentleman had shown during the time he had held Office in the administration of the Criminal Law, and he believed he would always be honoured by those who knew anything of the administration of the law for the anxious care he had shown in the performance of his duties; but the speech he had just delivered seemed to him to leave absolutely unanswered some of the gravest considerations connected with this case. Of course, if by supporting this Motion he were called upon to support the speech of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington), or to express a judgment upon the facts as put before the House by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), he would, on that ground, have declined to support it. He could not support it, because he did not see a shadow of evidence that Lord Spencer had been party to any such atrocious conspiracy as had been suggested by some Members below the Gangway. He had, too, the strongest feeling that the late Chief Secretary was perfectly justified in saying that the House of Commons could never be made a Court of Appeal. He believed the House would be the worst possible Court of Appeal that could be used in criminal matters; and for that reason he declined altogether to consider whether the evidence before the jury at the time they gave their verdict was such that the verdict could properly be given. He had no doubt the jury, with the evidence before them, acted honestly, and he did not say they acted mistakenly. There were, however, circumstances connected with the trial which he did not think had been explained in either of the three speeches from the Treasury Bench, and which made it, in his judgment, absolutely imperative, if the Government were anxious to preserve public respect for the administration of justice in Ireland, there should be something more of reasonable and fair inquiry into this case than had yet taken place. He certainly regretted the tone of the speech of the Solicitor General for Ireland, though it was carefully prepared, and delivered from notes. A more violent or partizan speech in 291 dealing with evidence it had never been his misfortune to hear; and he did regret to hear a Law Officer of the Crown deliver in vindication of the verdict of a jury a speech which he scarcely thought would have been allowed by a Judge in this country from a prosecuting counsel. While challenging, and rightly challenging, the competence of the House as a Court of Criminal Appeal, the hon. and learned Gentleman, nevertheless, went back over the evidence as a counsel for one Fide usually did, and asked the House to adopt and act upon his version, or rather his view of the weight of the evidence. And the late Chief Secretary for Ireland took very much the same course, denying the competency of the House as a Court of Criminal Appeal, and yet discussing the evidence before them. As to the case of Thomas Casey, the Home Secretary had put a fallacious test before the House—namely, whether it would be possible now to convict other persons than those previously convicted upon the evidence of Thomas Casey? He should say it would not; but that fact was no reason for allowing the evidence still to prevail against four men who were innocent; and he thought it ought to be tested without reference to a hypothetical prosecution, in which they were all agreed it would have no effect at all. He thought that if the statement prepared for the Lord Lieutenant were carefully examined, it would be found that there was no real conflict between Casey on the one side, and Brady and the Governor of the Gaol on the other. He agreed, however, that there was a conflict between Casey and Mr. George Bolton. Discredited as Casey had been and must be, and infamous as he was as a witness, if it were a conflict of evidence between him and Mr. George Bolton, he did not think the balance would be greatly in favour of Mr. Bolton. He was sorry to have to say it, but his view was that the very gravest misfortune that had befallen the Government in Ireland during the last two years had been the having, as one of its trusted and responsible servants in a position of great responsibility, a man of the antecedents and character they knew George Bolton to be. There was one circumstance—as it seemed to him a most serious one—which had not been greatly dealt with in the course of the debate, 292 and that was with regard to the circumstances under which the jury were empannelled when Myles Joyce was put upon his trial. Two men had been tried and convicted, and then it appeared that the Judge, in the presence of the jurors about to try Myles Joyce, sentenced the men, who, upon the same evidence then to be produced, had been found guilty. He read that the Judge said, in the presence of these jurymen, that the evidence had established the guilt of these men clearly and conclusively, and so as not to leave a doubt on the mind of any sane man. If the Judge used these words before a jury who were about to try another man on the same evidence, he (Mr. E. Clarke) said it was one of the most deplorable incidents that had ever occurred. And it did not stop there, for he found that immediately after these men had been sentenced, those jurors were empannelled to try Myles Joyce, and an application was made by the counsel for the defence—who had probably heard the Judge's words, and must have felt how terrible were the odds against Myles Joyce—for the postponement of the trial. But the application was opposed by the counsel for the Crown, and refused. He now came to the incident of the depositions. They were the declarations of two lads who were attacked that night, made under the belief that they were dying. One lad did die; and it now appeared to be admitted that, although the depositions were formally taken, and taken by a person who knew the importance of the form, and although they were copied into the Crown brief, they were never communicated to the counsel for the defence. The answer now made was that the contents of these depositions were unimportant, and that they were known to the prisoners' counsel. He denied both those assertions. It was clear on the evidence in the case that the persons who identified the prisoners had but slight opportunities of doing so, and they spoke of the men whom they followed being dressed in long, dark clothes. The boys, however, whose dying depositions were taken, stated that the men had blackened faces and white jackets. The Solicitor General for Ireland suggested that the clothes had been white, but must have become black. It was now stated that the facts 293 contained in these depositions were known to counsel for the defence. That was not accurate. The fact that witnesses had at the inquest stated that the boys said the men had blackened faces was no doubt known; but, at the inquest, nothing was said about the white jackets. Counsel for the prisoners did not know that there were in existence dying declarations which they might have claimed to use. They knew that witnesses had, at the inquest, repeated certain conversations. But that was a very different thing. Depositions could be seen, and then put in; but to cross-examine a witness on what someone else had told him was most dangerous. He said deliberately, as one who spoke from no small experience of professional work, that he believed if counsel for the prisoners had known that the depositions were in existence containing those two facts about the colour of the faces and the colour of the coats, they would have taken a different line in the defence, which would, in his judgment, have been extremely likely to alter the verdict of the jury. He regretted to find that the Solicitor General for Ireland, and in a qualified way the Home Secretary, defended the course taken by the Crown counsel. He ventured to say that under no consideration on earth would the late distinguished Attorney General of the Conservative Government, to whom reference had been made, have allowed a verdict of guilty to be returned in a capital case, when he had in his brief depositions which his professional experience told him might have some weight with the jury in the defence of the prisoners. If the hon. and learned Attorney General (Sir Henry James) took part in the debate, he hoped he would remember that he was not only a Member of the Government, but the leader and pattern to the English Bar; and he hoped that he would not allow a sentence to drop which might hereafter be quoted to justify in a trial for murder the exclusion from the knowledge of the jury of matters which might influence their verdict. A strong attack had been made by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland on the priest after consultation with whom these men pleaded guilty. This attack did not appear warranted by the facts. The plea of guilty was not a confession in the sense that it purported to be a statement 294 by the men. Three men had already, one after another, been found guilty and sentenced to be hanged on the same evidence that was to be adduced against these men. The priest, therefore, thought that if they went to trial they would, one after another, be sentenced to death; but that, by pleading guilty, they would, if innocent, have an opportunity of subsequently proving their innocence. Taking all the circumstances of the case—and, though he was inclined to believe them innocent, yet the priest was not clear on the point—he did not think that the attacks made on the priest were justified. Ought there to be an inquiry? It was said that an inquiry had already taken place. But that inquiry was by no means satisfactory. It was held by persons who were, to some extent, implicated in the case, who, at all events, were desirous of maintaining the verdict. They had heard the tone of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland and of the Solicitor General; and what shifts and expedients would not smaller men resort to in order to protect themselves? It was said that the law in Ireland must be vindicated and upheld; but there were different ways of doing this. Justice aimed not merely at the infliction of punishment. Justice was as peremptory in demanding the proclamation of the innocence of a person wrongly charged, as in inflicting punishment on a guilty person. They wanted to punish crime; but they also wanted to give the people the assurance that there should be an honest and fair and careful investigation into the allegations of crime; but if the Government had dealt with the matter in such a way as to leave on the minds of the masses of the people a belief—and that belief not unsupported by reason—that there had been a miscarriage of justice—when they had to deal not with a mere historic inquiry into the innocence or guilt of men who had passed away, but with the responsibility of finding out the innocence or guilt of four men who, if no inquiry was made, might, perhaps, for years to come, be kept in penal servitude—there was an imperative duty resting on administrators to make further inquiry into the matter. He would not have spoken in this debate but for a feeling that a matter of this kind, having been brought before the House of Commons, it was one's duty to look all the 295 facts in the face, and then vote on one's own independent judgment. He regretted to hear the line taken by the Home Secretary at the end of his speech. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the administration of justice in Ireland was a matter in which the Government had the duty of examination with the view of doing the right thing. He quite agreed that it was the duty of the Government to examine; but it made a mistake, and weakened terribly its hold upon the allegiance of the people, if it allowed it for one moment to be supposed that the Judicial Bench was being used as the instrument of the Executive Government. The safeguard of the Government would be to dissociate one from the other. Let the Government say—"We have done our part to the best of our ability—we have investigated into the matter, and we have come to this conclusion;" but if, in spite of that, they found that there was a real desire that further inquiry should be made with the view of obtaining complete justice, surely it would be better for them to stand aside and let the inquiry be made.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE
Let the Government select any person independent enough of the present Party Government. No one asked for a partizan on one side or the other; but there were plenty of men who would do the work which was done in the case of Kilmartin. He believed in Kilmartin's case a distinguished member of the Irish Bar was sent to inquire and report. Let the Government make some inquiry of that kind, and then he believed those who had brought forward this Motion would be satisfied; or, if not satisfied, it might be their animosities—[Cries of "No, no!" from the Home Rule Benches.]—he was not addressing those Gentlemen, but those who had but little sympathy with them—if those hon. Members, from Party spirit or any other motive that was unworthy of them, still pressed their accusations, at all events the matter would have been cleared in the eyes of men who were free from those animosities. Holding those opinions, he should feel it to be his duty to vote for the Amendment placed on the Paper. That Amendment was not a condemnation 296 of the Government. ["Oh, oh!"] If the hon. Gentleman who said "Oh, oh!" would read the Amendment over again, he would see that it did not purport to be a condemnation of the Government. It stated that a number of the Irish people had formed a particular opinion, and then it went on to ask that an inquiry should be made. It was on these grounds that he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought they might dismiss a very great deal of what had been said during the debate as entirely irrelevant to the issue before the House, which was, not whether this man was guilty or whether this man was innocent, but whether a fair case had been made out for inquiry. He paid little attention to the dying declarations of men about to be hanged respecting their own innocence, or to the assertions of such men as Casey, because he made himself a murderer and a liar. There were, however, two clear and prominent facts which had come forward in the course of the debate, and which, he thought, justified them in voting with the hon. Gentleman who had demanded this investigation. One of those facts was connected with the depositions. The men were convicted on the evidence of three persons who had seen them go into the house whore the murder had been committed. Those three persons stated that the men had not blackened faces, and that they had black clothes. It was altogether extraordinary that in what the Solicitor General for Ireland called a bright, starry night it was possible to see whether the men had blackened faces or not, sufficiently clearly to be able to distinguish their features; but it was evident that if these men had had blackened faces, it would have been absolutely impossible for their features to have been distinguished. It was put before the jury that there was no evidence to show that other persons had seen these men, and that they had not blackened faces. What were the real facts of the case? Two persons in this family were boys, one aged 17 and the other nine. The elder boy not only made a statement to the policeman, but he had made a deposition before a magistrate and had sworn to it. That deposition had not been produced, and he said there was a deliberate intention on the part of the counsel for the prosecution 297 to conceal the fact. The younger boy, who had been taken away by the police, and who, therefore, could not have been in collusion with the other boy, made a deposition similar to that of his elder brother, that the men had blackened faces, and that they were white coats. The whole case turned on those depositions, and the jury ought to have had those two facts before them—that the throe men on the one side swore that those men had not blackened faces and recognized them, and that those two boys swore they had blackened faces and did not recognize them. The complaint was that the trial was unfair ab initio from this determination on the part of the prosecuting counsel not to submit this evidence to the jury. There was also the statement of the parish priest that he believed the men were innocent, although he had urged them to plead guilty as the only mode of saving their lives. He thought that in doing so the priest had acted most wrongly; but still the statement ought to be considered. He had not the slightest doubt that if the same circumstances had taken place in this country, and if the facts had been backed up by the English Members in the same way as this case had been by Irish Members, the inquiry would have been granted. If a demand for an investigation had been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was it to be supposed that the Home Secretary would neglect it? It was because they applied one system of justice to Ireland and another to England that they got into all those difficulties about Ireland. They had been told that an investigation had been granted; but what had been the understanding? The Irish Members had been told, during the discussion of the Estimates, that if they would not discuss this matter and allowed certain Estimates to go through earlier than perhaps they otherwise would have done, an investigation would be granted provided the Archbishop of Tuam demanded it. Having got the quid pro quo, Lord Spencer put them off with an inquiry by the officials into the conduct of the officials. He did not know anything about Mr. George Bolton except what he had seen in the newspapers; but that gentleman did not seem to be a likely person to bring himself in guilty if he had to decide the question. The Home Secretary asked who was to be sent to make the inquiry, 298 and said that Lord Spencer could not go himself. Nobody asked that Lord Spencer should go himself; but he could send someone, and could act on the decision of that person. He thought it was a reasonable proposal that some English lawyer connected with no Party should make a fair and impartial inquiry. They had now in prison four men who had been sentenced to penal servitude for life; and the question before the House was—Did they think that the hearing had been fairly conducted, not so much into their innocence, as into the question whether there should be a second trial? On that question he would give his vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend opposite, notwithstanding what had fallen from the Home Secretary as to the aspersion it would east upon Earl Spencer. He thought, however, that his hon. Friend would get a little more support if he were to strike out of the Amendment the earlier part of it, which expressed dissatisfaction with the general administration of the law, and would limit it to the words—This House humbly assures Her Majesty that it would ensure much greater confidence in the administration of the Law in Ireland if a full and public inquiry were granted into the execution of Myles Joyce, and the continued incarceration of Patrick Joyce, Thomas Joyce, Martin Joyce, and John Casey.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he had no objection to amend his proposed Amendment in the manner suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment,
To leave out all the words after the words "and humbly," to the word "innocent," inclusive.—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.
That the words 'and this House humbly assures Her Majesty that it would ensure much greater confidence in the administration of the Law in Ireland if a full and public inquiry were granted into the execution of Myles Joyce and the continued incarceration of Patrick Joyce, Thomas Joyce, Martin Joyce, and John Casey,' be inserted after the word 'us' in paragraph 9.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, that the question before the House was one entirely free from Party character, and resolved itself merely into one of what would be the effect upon the Executive Government 299 in Ireland. They had had a capital conviction before a Judge and jury, or rather three successive convictions, for a crime of no ordinary atrocity, and also verdicts against five other men; and it was now sought practically to disturb those convictions, and to constitute the House of Commons, for that case, a Court of Criminal Appeal. He hardly thought it a very proper tribunal for the purpose; but, as it was sought to impose the duty upon it, it was necessary to examine the case upon which it was founded calmly, dispassionately, and oven judicially. It depended mainly upon a statement made by the informer, Casey, supplemented by some inferences of the hon. Gentleman who originated the Motion, to which he would subsequently advert. Now, Casey was avowedly a principal in one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed. He had, upon oath, on three several trials given his account of the transaction; but he subsequently made a statement involving other persons as the criminals than those against whom his evidence was directed. Now, as a general rule, when a man gave you two different versions of the same transaction you disbelieved both; but, in this instance, the evidence of Casey was not only corroborated by other evidence, but two of the men who were executed confessed their guilt, and five others pleaded guilty to the indictment. As regarded the independent witnesses, the main evidence was that of the three Joyces who followed and tracked the prisoners. Their evidence was wholly unimpeached; there was no allegation against their character, nor any motive or animosity against the accused attributed to them. They followed the prisoners for two miles; they were within about 20 yards of them when the murder was committed; and the prisoners being well known to them it was easy for them to identify them. It was alleged that it was a dark night, and that, the faces of the men being blackened, the Joyces could not recognize them; but it was not always necessary to see a man's face to identify him. You follow a man you know in the street, and you recognize him by his fignre, walk, gait, and bearing. You walk up to him and accost him on the strength of that, and you are generally right. With respect, again, to the blackening of the faces, it was a singular thing that 300 the counsel for the defence had never ventured to ask a single question on the subject. It was admitted that the counsel were informed of the depositions made by the boys, such as they were, and they had four witnesses put into the box by the Crown who could have answered the question. How could the defence have been prejudiced by the answer?—because, if it had been in the negative, it only left the case as it ultimately went to the jury. With regard to Myles Joyce, it would have been a convenience if they could have had the confessions of the two men; but it seemed that there was a rule in the Irish Office which prevented their being produced. They had, however, the statement of Lord Spencer that there was nothing in these declarations which would prevent the inference that Myles Joyce had been a party to the committal of the crime, even if he had not actually struck the blow. It must be remembered that there was a common belief among ignorant men that if a prisoner had not actually struck the blow he was not guilty. As to the five men now under penal servitude, they had deliberately pleaded guilty, and now they sought to withdraw their plea. But if they were totally innocent of the crime, where had they been when it took place? What evidence did they give of their whereabouts on the occasion. Some of them presumably were married men with children, and they might have called their children as witnesses if they had been at their homes. The hon. Member who brought forward this Motion had made great use of the brief of the Crown; but, for himself, he would like to see the brief for the defence as well. If an alibi was a true one it was a complete defence, and it seemed strange that if these men were totally innocent there was no such evidence brought forward by the defence. Why, again, should not Casey have given the right names in the first instance? It was evidence of the crime that was wanting—not evidence against anyone in particular—and there was no reason why he should have given, false evidence. He had deliberately made a statement against these men, and it had been a voluntary one. It had been he himself who had opened negotiations with the Crown. For his own part, under all the circumstances, he could not but look upon this 301 Amendment and the manner in which it had been treated as an attempt to frustrate the maintenance of law and order in Ireland, and as an attack upon the Executive in that country. Although he was opposed to the whole Irish policy of Her Majesty's Government, he considered it his duty to support them on this occasion by voting against the Amendment.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he must complain of the tone of the speeches delivered by Members of the Government in the debate. The desire of the Irish Members was to bring a very doubtful case to a just issue; but, judging from the fierceness and the language of the Home Secretary, one would imagine that they were conspiring together to upset law and order in Ireland. In any remarks he (Mr. W. Redmond) might make he did not expect to alter the determination of the Government. In dealing with the present case they were holding up to view the whole system of the administration of the law in Ireland. The great evil and cause of the failure of the Government of Ireland was that, instead of placing the administration of affairs beyond suspicion, Her Majesty's Government did all they could to fill the minds of the people with suspicious feelings. It should be remembered that when the murder took place, and the trial took place, Ireland was in the midst of a violent agrarian agitation. The Executive were anxious to obtain a conviction, and as a result the trial of the men in question was hurried on in an unsatisfactory manner. The people of Ireland could not understand why such a reasonable thing as an inquiry should be refused. He had travelled throughout Ireland during the Recess, and he could inform the House that the conclusion the people of Ireland arrived at was that the Government, in refusing the inquiry, refused it because it would reveal a most decided and terrible miscarriage of justice, and that Her Majesty's Government wanted to shield Earl Spencer and other Government officials in Dublin Castle from the consequences of their acts. He believed, and Ireland believed, that if that inquiry was still refused, that that was the reason, and the sole reason, for it. It was impossible to deny that there were circumstances connected with the case which threw grave doubts on the correctness of 302 the verdict. When such a reasonable doubt existed it was obviously the duty of the Government to institute an inquiry. He warned the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that there could be nothing more fatal to the future administration of justice in Ireland, and nothing more calculated to intensify the hatred of the Irish people for the English Government, than a refusal to grant a full and fair inquiry into a case which was so admittedly doubtful.
§ MR. MELLOR
said, that an inquiry had already been made by Earl Spencer himself; he had not left it to any subordinate, but had made every inquiry himself, and had consulted the Judge who tried the case. The Judge was perfectly satisfied with the verdict, and to grant a fresh inquiry, when no fresh facts had been brought to light, would be to cast a most unjust reflection on the conduct of the highest officials in the country. There was no ground for casting such a reflection upon them; and though, if any fresh evidence had been brought forward, he would support an examination into the whole case, he saw no grounds for asking the Government to reconsider their attitude in the matter. By granting the inquiry asked for, the House would be declaring that there was reason to believe that the independent witnesses had committed perjury for the purpose of obtaining the conviction of innocent men. It was impossible, after reading the evidence in the case and considering all the facts, to adopt the views of hon. Members who supported the Amendment. The Lord Lieutenant and the Irish officials could have had no possible interest in this case but to see that justice was done. This was in no sense a political crime. What could it matter to the Lord Lieutenant or the other officials whether Myles Joyce was convicted or not? Therefore, they ought not to be censured for the action which they took. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) said it was the duty of the Crown to put the two dying declarations, of which so much had been said, in evidence; but the House should remember that the prosecuting counsel had to exercise his discretion in the matter. It was known to the counsel for the defence, and to everybody in Court at the time of the 303 trials, that at the Coroner's inquest Police-constable Johnson said that the boys had stated that the persons who came into the house had blackened faces. The prisoners' counsel might have satisfied themselves on that point by cross-examining Johnson; but this they did not do, although Johnson was called by the Attorney General, so that they could put any question to him. It was unfair, under such circumstances, to say that the counsel for the Crown failed in his duty in not putting in these statements, or in not communicating them to the counsel for the defence. Inquiry had been made by the highest officials, and the result was that the Lord Lieutenant and everyone else were satisfied that it would be dangerous to reopen this case; and if they did so, case after case might similarly be reopened.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, it was admitted on both sides that the case had been stated with great power and fulness, and his excuse for interposing for a few moments must rest on this—he was not aware that any Member from Ireland had expressed himself adverse to the Amendment; and he took the opportunity of saying he felt bound to disagree from the course most unfortunately taken by the three hon. Members who had spoken from the Conservative side. Looking at the Amendment as it stood, it pointed to a new inquiry; whereas what was really meant was a new trial. There had been a great confusion of terms throughout the debate; and when they spoke about a new trial, as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) did, although that hon. Member might think such a thing possible, yet they knew that the law permitted no such thing to be done. He (Mr. Lewis) supposed that what was meant was that the Lord Lieutenant was to act as if it were a new trial, and be playing the part of Judge and jury, going over, as if he were a Judge, each case tried and decided by Judge and jury under proper process of law. Now, if that was so, he must say, taking the matter as it was supported, there was no case. The beginning and the end of it was the recantation of the evidence of the approver, Thomas Casey. The Home Secretary, in his very able speech, pointed out—and, as it was a point not to be forgotten, it might be repeated—Casey was not an informer on whose evidence conviction of the prisoners 304 rested. He was merely a redundant witness, brought in for the purpose of supplementing the mass of evidence that supported the prosecution, and was introduced solely for the purpose of removing all possible doubt. It seemed to him that in calling this approver the Crown counsel rather overdid his case than supported it. But, putting his evidence aside, if the verdict was not to be supported, then no verdict in the United Kingdom in a murder trial could be sustained. On the other hand, if this verdict could justifiably be attacked, how could the administration of justice be carried on in any Court in the United Kingdom? Complaint was made that the test the Home Secretary put as to the mode of investigation was not a proper one; but it was a very proper one. If this man's new evidence was right, then other men ought to be put on their trial who had not been tried, for he pointed to A. and B. as guilty; and, therefore, if his evidence was to be credited, they ought to be put on trial; and, if they were, would any jury deliberate for a second in coming to a conclusion? The Crown would be told hereafter—"The witnesses you brought forward on a former occasion are now convicted of perjury, and you produce them for convicting in the present trial. Here was a kind of composite case. Was the informer to be credited as regarded half the prisoners, but perjured as regarded the other half? That seemed to him an impossible position to take; and when they raised the question of identification there was the same trouble as regarded the five who acknowledged themselves guilty as the five who did not. With regard to what had been said about the blackened faces, all he could say was that he could just as much identify a man from his back as from his face. As the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) had pointed out, if they saw a man whose gait, whose manner, whose dress was perfectly well known to them, they did not want to see his face to identify him in the street many yards off. He was startled and grievously disappointed to find the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke), with his reputation, condescend to such puerilities as he did. What did he think of most importance? He, with his knowledge of the law, asked for an inquiry; 305 and two things he put forward in support of his view—first, that after the two first prisoners were convicted, and before the jury were sworn for the next case, the Judge made some observations on their guilt. But if the Judge did so, was that any reason for attacking a verdict arrived at by any independent jury? Another objection was that an adjournment of the trial was refused. Now, assuming that was an improper or unwise exercise of discretion, was it a reason why the solemnity of the administration of justice should be despised and condemned, and Judge, jury, and counsel be accused of being engaged in a conspiracy? He would venture to say, if the House were for a moment to attempt to interfere in this case, they must not expect to have law and order abiding in Ireland. The Opposition in that House had frequently to complain of the in action of the present Government in Ireland; and he would ask hon. Gentlemen around him how they could consistently turn round upon the Administration, now that they were supporting the due administration of law in that country? How could they now censure Her Majesty's Government for the legitimate performance of their duty? He would not be representing the opinion of his constituents if he were to join in this attack on the Government. All he could say, with great humility, was, he deeply regretted to find the Amendment had any support amongst Conservative Members. It was greatly to be regretted that they, who had so often had to support the Government in protecting life and property, should, in reference to the punishment of one of the most dreadful butcheries that ever disgraced a civilized country, be called upon to cast stones at a Government standing by a Judge and jury in the due administration of the law. He sincerely hoped the House would not entertain the Motion.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
observed, that the more this case was discussed in the House the more painful it became. It had gone beyond the question of administration of justice in Ireland, and touched vital points in the administration of justice in England also. The question of the propriety of withholding from a jury the dying declarations that were made by two men—one of whom was fatally injured, and the other only recovered after a protracted illness—was 306 a question that had been debated by lawyers on both sides of the House; but he was surprised to hear his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Mellor) contend that a prosecutor's counsel was right in not placing these dying declarations before the Judge and jury. Personally, he had always thought it was the duty of counsel in England to put everything before the jury that could conduce to the elucidation of the truth. Did anyone mean to say that the great discrepancies shown by these depositions, as compared with the statements made by the witnesses, would have had no influence on the minds of the jury who had heard the case? He had reason to believe, from what he had heard stated, that the Judge was aware of the existence of these depositions; and yet was it possible that the Judge should have known, and yet should have stopped one of the jurymen from asking a question respecting them? It was said that the boy who made them was raving; but, if so, why did Mr. Brady take them? Why was that declaration made in which Michael Joyce stated, among other things, that the men had black upon their faces? The young brother of that witness, when he was supposed to be dying, though he recovered after many months, also made a statement to the same effect. When he was put on the table to be examined he was asked whether he understood the nature of an oath, and when he answered that he did not he was told to stand down. Where was that boy during the three or four months before the trial? [Mr. CALLAN: At George Bolton's.] He (Mr. Mitchell Henry) knew where the boy was, and he did not need hon. Gentlemen to interrupt him in that way. Why was not the boy, in the meantime, instructed in the value of an oath, in order that his evidence could have been admitted? He had read over and over again that a Judge had postponed a trial for the express purpose of allowing an important witness to be instructed in the nature of an oath. This murder was undoubtedly the most atrocious crime that had come under the notice of civilized Ireland or England during the present century, and was committed within 25 miles of his own house. Such a concatenation of depravity and wickedness as had attended the circumstances of this murder—the perjury 307 committed admittedly by the approver; the perjury admitted in the confession to the clergy; the utter absence of knowledge of even the existence of a God on the part of some of the witnesses, filled his mind with perfect horror. As to the condition of Ireland, no one was doing good service to the Irish nation who excited the minds of the Irish people to believe that the Lord Lieutenant was himself personally criminal in this matter. ["Oh, oh!" from the Home Rule Benches.] Did anyone, then, think that the Lord Lieutenant was personally criminal in this matter? [Mr. BIGGAR: Yes, yes.] Any Member who made such accusations was only exciting prejudices against the best case that could be brought forward, that would be fatal to its calm consideration by that House. Personally, he made no charge against the Executive, he made no charge against the jury, and he made no charge against the Judge. As to making a charge against the Chief Secretary or the Lord Lieutenant, suggesting that they were actually thirsting for blood, it was too disgusting and too horrible to be even tittered in that House. But there was something more than this. The depositions in question did not touch the guilt of other persons. He could quite understand such declarations not being easy to cross-examine upon when they affected the guilt of other people; but, in this instance, they did nothing more than say that they were unable to accuse anybody, because the faces of the murderers were blackened. He asked how could counsel for the Crown think he was doing his duty when he kept back those declarations, and thus concealed a material fact, which, if believed, would have negatived the evidence on which these men were hanged? The two stories were incompatible. Either the independent witnesses swore truly, or the two young Joyces stated that which was false to the magistrate who took their depositions. His claim was that it should have been left to the jury to see whether those discrepancies could be reconciled. He quite agreed with the Home Secretary that too much reliance should not be placed upon dying confessions; but in the case of Myles Joyce it should be remembered that he was acquitted by his fellow-prisoners even when they admitted their own guilt. But there was 308 one important question he desired to I have answered. To whom did these men make the declaration? It was said it was a statement not made to the Governor of the prison, but a solemn statement made to the Resident Magistrate engaged in the case, and that it was made upon oath in the form of a deposition. Was that true, or was it false? Was it possible that in the administration of justice in Ireland a deposition on oath could be taken from a criminal previous to death exculpating himself and inculpating anyone else, and for an official of the Crown to take it? If it was not true that the statement was taken upon oath, why did not some official of the Crown say so? If there was anything in that deposition which would throw light on any part of the affair, why, in the name of the God of justice, was it not produced? It was with the greatest pain that he had come forward in this matter. Everybody knew that he was not in perfect accord with hon. Gentlemen opposite; everybody knew also that his voice had not been silent in denouncing those crimes that were a disgrace to the country during the time they prevailed, and that he endeavoured to put the saddle upon the right horse in such cases if he could; but he could not remain silent there after reading the pamphlet of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington). The questions were few and simple, and if they were not more satisfactorily answered than they had hitherto boon, all he could say was this—that the conclusion which would be come to, not only in Ireland, but in every country where they took the trouble to read these proceedings, was that there was something to conceal. If anyone wanted to know what feeling had been excited in Ireland on this subject, he had only to read the article in The Times of to-day from their own correspondent. It should be remembered that the Archbishop of Tuam had hitherto been a strenuous supporter of law and order, and had acted with a courage that was deserving of the highest honour. Did the Government think they did well to discourage such men? The question would not only be debated in Ireland now, but would go on to be debated, and it would be heard of again in that House. By refusing an inquiry they would greatly embitter the hatred of the Irish people in regard to 309 the manner in which justice was administered. Considering that there were four men now lying under sentence of penal servitude for life who were alleged to be innocent, he saw no good reason why the Lord Lieutenant should not follow the precedent he had set in Kilmartin's case, and send down a Queen's Counsel to investigate the matter. If an inquiry were refused, he should say that justice had been frustrated in Ireland, and not for the first time.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
explained that it would have been very difficult for him to have voted for the Amendment as it originally stood. He should have been obliged to explain that his vote went only in favour of an inquiry, and not as endorsing in the smallest degree the aspersions that had been cast upon many of the officials of the Crown in Ireland. He was sorry such a charge was made against Lord Spencer, because he could not believe that any Nobleman would lend himself to such a thing. There were three reasons which should induce the Government to grant an inquiry. The first was the possibility that there had been a miscarriage of justice; the second, and the most important one, was that the public was convinced, rightly or wrongly—a very large mass of the public—that injustice had been done. That was not desirable in any country, and least of all in Ireland. But there was another reason, and that was the possibility that an inquiry might enable them to deal with this perjured villain, Thomas Casey. Let him be asked to swear to the truth of the statement which he now made in contradiction of the statement he had previously made, and then it would be in the power of the Government to prosecute Mr. Casey for perjury, and that of itself would be a great advantage, because a greater villain never walked the earth, by his own confession. It was very much to be regretted that the dying deposition included in the brief for the Crown had been withheld from the counsel for the defence. No one had noticed the particular point that Michael Joyce never said that he did not recognize the men; on the contrary, there was a distinct statement that he did. The reason why the Government, as he understood it, refused an inquiry was that it would discredit justice in Ireland. But he did not think that justice could be further discredited 310 than it was in Ireland, He was sorry the Government had made such a determined stand, because he thought they had made a mistake. He trusted the Government would reconsider the question and grant this inquiry.
§ MR. ROUNDELL
said, he had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) with extreme regret, because he considered that the question of the administration of justice was one far too sacred and too important to be made a matter of Party politics. He was content to express his strong conviction of the utter groundlessness of the charges which had been brought against the Irish Government, to protest against this attempt to impeach the administration of justice in connection with these murders, and to rest the vindication of the conduct of these trials and of the action of the Lord Lieutenant upon the speeches which had been delivered by various Members of the Government. His object in rising was to express his strong and very deep sense of the utter mischievousness and the wicked recklessness of these charges, which had been brought upon the flimsiest foundation, and which had been trumped up for Party purposes in order to discredit the administration of justice.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
rose to Order. He wished to know from the Speaker whether the hon. Member was in Order in asserting that he and those hon. Members who supported his Amendment had trumped up charges for political purposes?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not in Order in stating that hon. Members have trumped up charges with that motive. The hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will withdraw that expression.
§ MR. ROUNDELL
begged to withdraw the expression, with an expression of regret for having used it. He would say that these charges struck at the very root of the administration of justice in Ireland; and if the Resolution were carried it would render government impossible in that country. It was impossible to reprobate too strongly the conduct of those who were dealing this blow at the administration of justice in Ireland, or the political profligacy of those who were willing to play ducks and drakes with such a sacred subject for Party purposes. Some hon. Members appeared to be content to cast 311 common honesty, patriotism, and national interests to the winds as long as they could embarrass the Government. The object of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington), and of those who acted with him, was evidently to discredit the administration of justice in Ireland.
§ MR. CALLAN
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the hon. Member was justified in saying that the object of any Member of that House was to discredit the administration of justice?
§ MR. ROUNDELL
said, he had observed that the object of the hon. Member for Westmeath, and of those who acted with him, was evidently to discredit the administration of justice in Ireland.
rose to Order. The language of the hon. Member was quite clear; and he wished to know whether the hon. Member was in Order in using it? The statement made by the hon. Member was that the object of the Mover of the Amendment to the Address, and of those who acted with him, was to discredit the administration of justice.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member did not appear to have finished his sentence. He used some words which did not reach my ear. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will repeat those words?
§ MR. ROUNDELL
What I said was that their object was to discredit the administration of justice in Ireland.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I cannot say that the hon. Member, in attributing motives of that kind to hon. Members of this House, is regular, or is using Parliamentary language. After that expression of opinion, I have no doubt that the hon. Member will withdraw the observation.
§ MR. ROUNDELL
said, that after the ruling of the Chair he would at once withdraw the expression. The object of the hon. Member for Westmeath, and of those who acted with him, was to prevent, if possible, the renewal of the 312 Prevention of Crime Act—an Act which, in his judgment, alone answered for such measure of law and order as now—outwardly at least—prevailed in Ireland. Of this he was sure—that he spoke with the full assent of the great majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House when he said, deliberately, with the strongest emphasis and with the deepest conviction, that the renewal of that Act, in its main provisions at least, and possibly with an extension of some of its provisions to the United Kingdom, was a vital necessity, paramount in importance overall minor considerations of its possible effect upon the fortunes of this or that Ministry.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, that a Motion like that now before the House was one which would always receive the attention and anxious consideration of all Parties; and, therefore, he was not surprised to find that hon. Members had given great attention to this question. For the purposes of argument, he was content to pass by the magnitude and the atrocity of these murders. It was conceded that there was no reflection on the Judge who presided at the trial. It was also conceded that the juries, upon the evidence submitted to them, were within their rights in the way in which they had performed their duties; and it was further admitted, and not to be denied, that the prisoners had the advantage of the defence of the Queen's Counsel and junior counsel they themselves had selected. These being matters of great importance, and out of the controversy, what remained? It was sought to set aside trials that were had before that Judge and before those juries, and with the advantage of that defence, and also to repeal judicial proceedings in which four men, now alleged to be innocent, had themselves elected in open Court to plead guilty. Of course, he need hardly say that propositions of that immense breadth required the most close and jealous examination when they were gravely submitted to any tribunal, or to any assembly; and it was obvious that a proposition to set aside or impeach or invalidate proceedings of that nature could not be gravely entertained without very powerful arguments, and without almost overwhelming proofs. He would not go at all into the details of the evidence; but he would take the three chief, broad facts which 313 stood out in conspicuous relief—first, that of the 10 men who were charged with being parties to this murder, nine of them, at some time or other, openly admitted their guilt. That was a great and important fact. The next great fact by which he had been struck was that three independent witnesses, not mixed up or involved in the crime, had given evidence, and given it at once, two days after the offence, from which they had never varied or swerved. That evidence was supported by the fact that nine out of the 10 had admitted their guilt. The other fact to which he would refer was of less importance—namely, that there were two approvers; and he put that last, because he thought it the least important. It merely accentuated facts which had, in reality, an independent existence. Those being the broad, essential facts that struck the mind, what was it that first started this inquiry, and put it within the purview of examination? It was the fact that these approvers had made a statement inconsistent with their previous evidence. He would, however, pass by the approvers with the observation that at one time they admitted—and one of them still admitted—that they were guilty of murder; and they now asked to be credited with implicit belief in their recent statements, because they had now added the further admission that they had been guilty of a perjury which assisted in the conviction and execution of a man whom they knew at the time to be innocent. The approvers' case was that they were suborned by the officers of the Crown, who possessed full knowledge of the facts, deliberately to come forward and swear away the life of an innocent man. He could only say that that was a most terrific charge, and, just as it was a terrific charge, so it rendered them bound to examine it closely, and to see that they were not carried by their feelings to a hurried conclusion—one which they were not coerced to by other cogent evidence. When they were asked to assume such a state of unheard-of crimes the question occurred to them, what was the motive that drove these men to such an appalling state of crime and wickedness? This was not a case of loyalty and disloyalty, or landlord and tenant; it was not a case of class hatreds or sectarian animosities; it was a case of peasants 314 against peasants. He felt bound to say, with the advantage of his professional training as a barrister, that, looking at the matter as closely as he could, he was unable to arrive at the conclusion at which they were asked to arrive. The Archbishop of Tuam had made himself the medium of communication in regard to this extraordinary statement of the approvers; and he had no doubt that when the Archbishop found himself the depository of it, he thought it his duty to communicate it to the Head of the Executive in Ireland. That was the state of facts presented to the House of Commons last August; but he would make neither observation nor criticism on the way in which the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War undertook that the matter should be examined into. At any rate, Earl Spencer had felt himself bound to examine into the question; and the letter of Sir Robert Hamilton, with the Memorandum attached, embodied the result of that examination. That letter was not the isolated work of the Viceroy himself. He had able advisers, and no doubt the Lord Chancellor of Ireland himself, a most able and capable man, assisted in every step of the examination. That being so, they were asked to regard that inquiry as naught, because the three officials, whose names had been referred to, were heard in the matter and took some part in it. He failed to find anything to lead to the conclusion that, beyond supplying the Executive with such information as they were asked for, those officials took any more active part in the inquiry. It was impossible to make an inquiry into the matter without inquiring of those three men what their acts had been, and the only other persons who could possibly be mixed up in the matter were the two informers. The statement of the informers was, of course, known to the Executive; for it was contained in the letter which the Executive received from the Archbishop. With all the information thus before him, Earl Spencer had exercised the grave responsibility of deciding on the case. It was, however, urged that apart altogether from the question of the informers, in consequence of certain evidence having been kept back at the time of the trial, which had been given at the Coroner's inquest, in reference to the statements by the two boys Joyce that the murderers 315 had their faces blackened, an inquiry should now be granted. It was asserted that this evidence was kept back, not through carelessness or neglect, but deliberately, as a piece of malpractice, knowing that such evidence would advance the case of the prisoners. That was the charge which was now made. But where was the motive on the part of those who were thus charged with such malpractices? This was not a case between class and class, but between Galway peasants on the one hand, and Galway peasants on the other; and several convictions, admittedly just, had already taken place in regard to the murders. Where was the motive to induce the Crown counsel to be guilty of such a malpractice? A great deal had been said with regard to depositions; but there were two depositions in the possession of the prisoners' counsel—namely, the depositions of Collins and Johnson, made at the inquest, in which they said that the two boys had told them the men had blackened faces. [Mr. HARRINGTON: No.] He was dealing with the debate as it had gone on; and the Solicitor General for Ireland had made that statement in the House on the responsibility of his position. He confined himself to the declaration of the Solicitor General, who pledged himself to the fact that the depositions of Collins and Constable Johnson substantially embodied the declarations of these two boys, which were made on the morning after the murder, and were in the hands of prisoners' counsel. The case of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) was that the depositions of the two boys were not in the possession of the prisoners' counsel. He (Mr. Gibson) had no means of examining these matters any more than other hon. Gentlemen; but he accepted the statements that were made on the responsibility of the Solicitor General for Ireland. The two depositions purported to be dying declarations; but it was quite certain that the declaration of Patrick Joyce could not, from any aspect of the case, be made evidence as a dying declaration. [Mr. HARRINGTON: Why not?] The person who made the declaration was not dead. On the contrary, he was produced in Court on the trial, and it had been pointed out by hon. Members 316 that he was unable to be examined owing to the circumstance that he was not sufficiently informed to understand the nature of an oath. Therefore he assumed that, whatever that particular declaration might be called, it could not be made evidence in any shape or form in itself, or by the persons to whom it was given. Of course, that left the case of Michael Joyce untouched; but the declarations of both boys were noticed by Collins and Constable Johnson, and the reference to them would be found in their depositions. He was glad that the fact had been stated, because, no doubt, it was perfectly right that the prisoners' counsel should be fully seized and possessed of every topic that might be ultimately urged, and that could throw light upon the transaction, leaving them to the exercise of their own judgment whether they would use it in the elucidation of the trial from their point of view. He quite agreed with that proposal, especially in a case of this sort, where identification was of such extreme importance. It was manifest to anyone who read the statements of Collins and Johnson that, although they were only giving what might be called hearsay evidence, they had furnished the prisoners' counsel with materials which they might use if they thought proper by means of cross-examination or otherwise. Of course, it was always possible to raise an argument upon questions in connection with trials which had taken place by suggesting that something might have happened differently, or that greater or less force ought to have been given to particular points. He did not think that any inquiry whatever could be upheld if that class of reasoning were to have too much weight attached to it. All they had to see was that the prisoners had been fairly tried, and that those who defended them had been fully and fairly instructed. If that were done it ought to go far to satisfy the House that the trial was one which ought not to be lightly set aside or impeached. There was only one other topic he desired to make a comment upon, and it had reference to the four men who were now undergoing penal servitude, and who were alleged to be innocent. If that were really so, it was a serious matter. Myles Joyce was dead, and, of course, this discussion could not have any effect upon 317 his case. But these four men were alive, and there might be an urgent desire to have the case examined into fully in their interests. But the men themselves deliberately pleaded guilty in open Court. There was no question of jury or prosecutor at all; but in open Court they pleaded guilty before the Judge. There was no question that the Judge took any improper steps in the case; and it would require an overwhelming case to his mind to induce him to arrive at the conclusion that any inquiry should be granted as to whether men were innocent who themselves had deliberately pleaded guilty in open Court. He made no reflection on the action of the clergyman. He had read the letter written by that gentleman, and it seemed to him that the rev. gentleman was anxious to do that which he considered wisest and best for those who were, perhaps, members of his congregation. If he had erred, no doubt it was from a desire to do what he thought was for their good; but he (Mr. Gibson) was certainly unable to arrive at the conclusion that the House of Commons, acting judicially upon the facts as disclosed at present, could arrive at the conclusion that four men were innocent who had deliberately admitted their guilt. He found that afterwards—some days afterwards—they presented a Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant asking for the clemency of the Crown on the ground, not that they were innocent, for they did not assert their innocence, but because they had not taken the same part, and that their guilt was of a less degree than that of others.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken. Where was the Memorial? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman produce the Memorial?
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he was quite aware that it was not in the pamphlet published by the hon. Member (Mr. Harrington); but the Solicitor General for Ireland had openly made that statement in the House on the responsibility of his position. As he had stated before, he had no more opportunity of examining 318 these statements than any other hon. Member; but he accepted them on the responsibility of the Solicitor General. What the Solicitor General said was, that in a Memorial presented some time after these men had admitted their guilt they asked for the clemency of the Lord Lieutenant, not on the ground that they were innocent, but that they had not taken the same part, and were not present in the same degree, as others. In this case, in order to establish the right of inquiry, it seemed to him necessary to arrive at the conclusion that three witnesses, actuated by some petty and private malice, had knowingly sworn away the lives of innocent men. That was certainly one of the propositions made; and the second was that the Government officials, with full knowledge of the facts of the case, conspired to get the conviction of innocent men by the subornation of perjury and the suppression of evidence. That was putting the matter in a form of precision, and these were certainly two enormous charges. He had heard the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), in the course of his very able and closely argued speech, and he assumed that the debate would not close without some indication from the Law Officers of England as to what their opinion in the matter was. It was not desirable that an important matter, involving so many grave issues, should close without a full expression of their views; and he believed the House would await the opinions of the Law Officers of England with much interest. They could never relieve any Executive of the responsibility of their position. If men were in Office carrying on the details of the Executive Government, possessing the right of making examination into these cases, and wielding also the Prerogative of mercy, upon them must always rest the enormous responsibility of the just and fair discharge of their duties. In this case, as far as he could see, all the facts had been before the Executive, and were before them now; and with a full knowledge of the facts, for the reasons they had given in the Memorandum, and for the reasons which they had given since, they had arrived at the conclusion that this was not a case in which any further inquiry should be granted. Under those circumstances, he was unable to support the Amendment which had been moved.
remarked, that the speech announced early in the evening by the Home Secretary had now been delivered; but he did not know that it added a great deal to the debate, except in enabling hon. Members to draw a contrast, which was somewhat humiliating to Irishmen, between the Irish Tory officials and those English Tory Gentlemen who, one after another, had got up in the House and evinced a desire for inquiry in a case where the life of one innocent man and the liberty of four other innocent men had been sacrificed. A great portion of the debate had been diverted by the Representatives of the Government into a perfectly needless defence of what the Judge, the jury, and Earl Spencer had done in reference to the case as it was presented on the trial in Green Street. But that was not the question before the House. The question was whether the evidence in this case was falsely and fraudulently presented at Green Street. The question was whether the Government knew very well, or the officials had realized very well, that everything in the case depended upon the evidence of the three Joyces not being discredited; whether, knowing that they did not deliberately suppress two vital depositions which were in their printed briefs before them, and keep them from the knowledge of the prisoners' counsel; and whether Earl Spencer had not up to that hour suppressed two other dying declarations which still further discredited, and altogether shattered, the story of these three witnesses. He did not propose to waste the time of the House in discussing the improbability or the impossibility of the story told by the three Joyces. He had himself gone over the ground, and he could hardly imagine anybody, except an Irish Solicitor General with a handsome fee in his pocket, going over that ground, and coming to any other conclusion than that the story of the Joyces was, from beginning to end, as wild and as impudent a fabrication as was ever made. It was not necessary to dwell upon that. He would not even follow hon. Members into the question whether the two boys were right or wrong in saying that the murderers had blackened faces and wore white jackets. All he would point out was that, although the Government now raised the question that the boy Michael 320 Joyce was raving when his statement was taken, yet Mr. Newton Brady administered to him an oath believing him to be capable of understanding it, and took down his sworn deposition with the knowledge that he was dying. He would only make one other remark, and it was that in a somewhat similar case in the County Clare a few disjointed words were heard from a dying man—Doherty—and upon those few words gurgling in a dying man's throat Francis Hynes was hanged. The question was not whether this was right or wrong, but whether it was within the province of the Crown Solicitor to pronounce these boys' depositions worthless, and to smother them up. Was it the province of Mr. Peter O'Brien, who had the depositions in his brief before him, and who knew that the prisoners' counsel had not seen them, to conceal them? He did not know where the line was to be drawn if a Crown Solicitor was to have a discretion in a matter of this sort. Was it to be tolerated, when the Crown opened a case upon a particular theory, that a Government official was to be at liberty to hide away every bit of evidence that conflicted with, or utterly destroyed and shattered, that theory? He thought the way in which the case had been presented to the House by the various Members of the Government who had spoken in the debate was not much more creditable than the way in which it had been presented to the jury in Green Street. The Home Secretary, to some extent, had adopted a more judicial and a fairer tone; but the speeches, both of the Irish Solicitor General and of the ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland, were speeches adapted for English Members who were ready to listen to them, but who would not listen to the arguments of Irish Members. The Government had the hardihood to assort, and it had been re-asserted that night, that the whole of the case of those who desired inquiry was founded upon the statement of the informer Casey; the fact being that Casey's statement might be struck out of the case altogether, and their claim for inquiry would not be injured. The ex-Chief Secretary, in particular, did all he could to spoil the perspective of the case by labouring on certain little discrepancies between the statement of Casey to the police, and to the Archbishop of Tuam, and he had 321 eloquently denounced Casey as a murderer and a perjurer. Undoubtedly, Casey was a murderer and a perjurer of the deepest dye; but so was Patrick Delaney, the Phœnix Park murderer; and he wondered that the Crown did not remember, when they put him on the witness table in Dublin that day, that the object this murderer of Lord Frederick Cavendish now had was not to bring other murderers to justice, but to swear away the liberties of political offenders. Her Majesty's Government had thought Casey worth paying £1 a-week to until he went to confession, and they had thought it worth making more than one attempt to bribe him to leave the country. Let them deny that if they could. He thought he should be able to show, by simply reading the Memorandum, that the discrepancies and contradictions were in Earl Spencer's own statement, and not in Casey's testimony. He would give the House one specimen. Earl Spencer said, speaking of an interview between Mr. Brady and Casey—It is to be remembered that this happened on Saturday, the trials being fixed to commence on the following Monday, and that the case was considered by the Crown as being perfectly complete and conclusive against all the prisoners.If it had been so considered, why should the Government allow a man to go free who was admittedly one of the murderers?The nature of Casey's evidence having been reported to the Attorney General, it was determined to accept him as an approver. On the following Monday all the prisoners were brought down to Green Street. Immediately on their arrival Casey sent a message to Mr. Bolton by the Governor, saying he was anxious to see him. Mr. Bolton thereupon went down to the passage below the Court, into which the cells open, accompanied by the Governor and Mr. Brady, R.M.Why should Mr. Bolton have gone at all if it had been agreed that Casey was to be accepted as an approver? The Memorandum went on to say—The Governor called Casey out, and Casey was then informed by Mr. Bolton that his evidence would be accepted, provided he told the entire truth.It was quite evident that Casey's first statement to Mr. Bolton was not accepted as satisfactory. And why? Because Casey refused to name Myles Joyce among the guilty party; and they 322 had it now admitted in the Memorandum of Earl Spencer that it was not until the men were actually brought down for trial to the Court House that, in a second interview with Mr. Bolton, Casey was accepted as Crown witness. As a matter of fact, with a rope round his neck, he had mended his hand, and made his story tally with that of the three Joyces. It was Mr. Bolton's intention, from the beginning of the case, to have nothing that would conflict or would not exactly square with the testimony of the three Joyces. Hence Casey's first statement was refused, because he would not implicate Myles Joyce. It was for the same reason that Mr. Bolton suppressed the declaration of the dying boys. Why did he suppress them? Because they conflicted with the story of the three Joyces. Upon another and important element in the case, the Government went on the theory—and the whole defence of the Government seemed to go on that theory, for the House had now before it nothing or very little that was not before the jury in Green Street—that everything was clearly brought out at the trial; and, therefore, the House had been favoured with a long defence of the Judge and jury, and the pages of the national journals had been searched for expressions of approval in regard to the conduct of the jury. He wondered the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chief Secretary, as he made his quotations, did not wince when he referred to journals which he had not hesitated or scrupled in that House to calumniate and to hold up when it suited his purpose to do so as sympathizing with crime. He (Mr. O'Brien) left the House to infer what a pass things had come to with regard to justice in Ireland, when the mere fact that a couple of Catholics had been admitted upon the jury, and a Judge had conducted himself like a gentleman, had to be celebrated as a phenomenon in the national journals. Among other brilliant points made by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, there was this one—that for full two years after this trial happened there was no complaint of it in Ireland. He would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that the scene on the scaffold was hardly known, and it was not supposed that Earl Spencer had in his possession two dying declarations of Myles Joyce's innocence. 323 He would further remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that he himself (Mr. O'Brien) was prosecuted for denouncing the execution as a judicial murder, and such was the state of public feeling in Dublin at the time that the Government were only saved by a majority of one from having the bill thrown out by the Grand Jury. His hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had openly denounced Earl Spencer for having hanged an innocent man. He was prosecuted for it, but the Government dared not go on with that prosecution. Why was that? It was because they knew very well that the Grand Jury of the City of Waterford would have thrown out their bill. There was something to say in defence of the Judge who tried the Maamtrasna prisoners. The Irish Members did not impugn the Judge or jury in this matter. He was unable to guess what the learned Judge might say now, if he were charging a jury with all that had been discovered since in his possession. It must be remembered that much had been discovered since Mr. Justice Barry was consulted by Earl Spencer in reference to the Memorandum. He (Mr. O'Brien) was anxious to quote to the House what the same learned Judge, Mr. Justice Barry, said in the Clonbur murder case, when he discovered that a dying declaration of vital importance to the prisoner, but not of more vital importance than the two declarations of the dying boys in this case, had been withheld. He had been anxious to quote the language of the learned Judge when he discovered that that dying declaration had been withheld by the representative of the Crown. Unfortunately, he had not the learned Judge's words by him; but he knew that Mr. Justice Barry denounced the conduct of whoever was responsible for the disappearance of that affidavit in language of the gravest censure. The Judge in that case was the same as in this. The Crown Solicitor was the same—it was Mr. George Bolton, who, by an unfortunate coincidence, was in both cases the victim. He (Mr. O'Brien) had heard the same Judge, Mr. Justice Barry, declare at Belfast later, when trying an action against him (Mr. O'Brien) by Mr. Bolton for libel, after hearing Mr. Bolton's evidence, that the disappearance of the affidavit in the Clonbur murder case had never yet been 324 explained. The Home Secretary had taunted him that night with the fact that Mr. George Bolton had been enabled to obtain a certificate of character from an Orange jury in Belfast. No doubt, he had done so. For the only thing he (Mr. O'Brien) had charged Mr. Bolton with—namely, swindling and subornation of perjury, Mr. Bolton had obtained a verdict of £50 from a Belfast jury. He would like now to say a few words about the inquiry. The ex-Chief Secretary had taken upon himself to quote a most misleading report of the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War in reference to the inquiry that was really promised. He thought the right hon. Gentleman might have left the noble Marquess, whose straight-forwardness most of them were disposed to recognize, to answer for himself, and to throw some light upon the matter in the course of the discussion. He thought that the ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland might have entitled himself to the charity that was due to defunct politicians, and have allowed the Irish people to forget the peculiar characteristics of his career in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman had judged differently; he had thought it necessary to remind them that he still lived. Certainly, he had upon this parting occasion left upon record a speech which was a perfect specimen and epitome of all the qualities that had earned for him the indignation of the people he was supposed to rule, although most likely they had earned for him also the cheers of his Friends in that House. When he had heard the right hon. Gentleman the other night discussing in the most lofty manner the mundane motives that were attributed to the Government in this matter by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), he could not help wishing that the right hon. Gentleman had given them a little less of his preaching, and had exemplified a little more in practice the virtues he professed. When the right hon. Gentleman was complimenting the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) on his ability and sincerity—qualities which the House would readily recognize without the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman—he might have remembered that he had put the subject of his compliments on a plank bed; had seized his newspaper and plant; that he had defended 325 his action in the House of Commons by imputations which might have ruined the hon. Member's good name, and that he had never yet had the generosity to acknowledge the mistake he had made. This was not the only test the House possessed of the right hon. Gentleman's judgment in Irish affairs. There was not a single case of this kind which had been brought forward by the Irish Members in which the right hon. Gentleman had turned out to be right, and in which the Irish Members had turned out to be wrong. Let them take Kilmartin's case. The right hon. Gentleman exerted himself just as strenuously in that case to prove that the law could do no wrong in Ireland; that Kilmartin was rightly sentenced to penal servitude, and that he ought to remain there. And Kilmartin would have remained there if the view of the right hon. Gentleman had been taken; but an independent investigation was made into that case, such as was asked for now. Mr. Carton was sent down to investigate it on the spot, and the consequence was that Kilmartin was now free. Earl Spencer did not deserve very much credit for liberating him, for he had been mean enough, in discharging the man, to continue the wrong by insinuating that he was guilty after all, and declaring that the remission of the sentence was an exercise of mercy and not of justice. Did any sane man believe that the release of Kilmartin would over have entered into Earl Spencer's head or heart if it had not been that the opinion of the House of Commons had forced him to liberate an innocent man? As to the quotation from the noble Marquess's speech, the noble Marquess unquestionably did make a general promise only at first; but after the stress of another hour's debate, he made another and a satisfactory promise of a full inquiry; and he (Mr. O'Brien) would put it to the noble Marquess himself whether any man in that House could have dreamt that the inquiry he promised to make was to take the form of a secret conclave in a private room in the Castle conducted by Castle officials? Who was the principal witness in that inquiry—the vital witness in that inquiry? It was Mr. George Bolton, who simply passed a verdict upon himself. Mr. George Bolton was officially suspended, and in disgrace, and it must be said for 326 him that he was in suspension under false pretences. He was suspended on the ground that he was a bankrupt. He was not a bankrupt at all; but, nevertheless, the Government did not venture to reinstate him. Upon the certificate of an English Judge—Mr. Justice Fry—he was declared to be a convicted swindler of a most heartless type, and he was the person who was responsible for the disappearance of a vital affidavit of the Clonbur murder case. He was a man who held two situations, and whose chance of obtaining a pension depended on his finding some reply to Casey's confessions. And this was the sort of man who was practically asked to present a Report upon his own conduct. The Home Secretary, in the earlier part of the evening, hinted that the Irish Members were flying at higher game than George Bolton. He agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman most thoroughly. He believed George Bolton to be altogether of the third or fourth order. Earl Spencer said that he had satisfied himself that no inquiry was necessary. He (Mr. O'Brien) thought it would be much more to the point if the noble Earl had satisfied the Irish people as well. Earl Spencer was just as deeply involved in responsibility for these transactions as anybody else. It was a notorious fact that Earl Spencer wrote Mr. George Bolton an autograph letter, thanking him in terms of the highest commendation as a public benefactor for his efforts in the cause of justice. If the Government would lay that autograph letter from Earl Spencer on the Table, and contrast it with the achievements of Mr. Bolton, he was not at all sure that Earl Spencer would derive much advantage from the correspondence. The Government had the power, and the majority of the House apparently would probably go with them, to refuse an inquiry into this case, just as they had the power to hang innocent men; but what would be the opinion of the Irish people all over the world about it? It would be this—that Myles Joyce was murdered, and that Earl Spencer was afraid to face an honest inquiry. The noble Earl was afraid, perhaps, that it might be found that other men had been murdered as well by the same legal machinery. The opinion among the Irish people would 327 be that Her Majesty's Government had found out that they could not rule Ireland except by perjured informers and infamous officials of this kind, and that they had made up their mind to resort to acts in Ireland that would drive the people to revolution if they were tried in England. The only foundations for so-called justice in Ireland were the bayonets of the military and police. One of the most extraordinary and perverse notions which ever entered English heads about Ireland was that Earl Spencer had produced tranquillity in Ireland. On the contrary, he believed Earl Spencer had done more than any other man in their time to interrupt and destroy that process of tranquillity. The ex-Chief Secretary the other night, when he paraded the reduced statistics of undetected crime in Ireland, abstained from referring to the secret statistics of murder under Earl Spencer's rule, and the hankering desire for immolating victims, so that it might be said that there was no undetected crime in Ireland. George Bolton knew his business, and his business was to enable his masters to boast in the House of Commons that there was no undetected crime which had not been unavenged. In this particular case Bolton knew that his best trump was the story of the three Joyces. He determined to stick to it through thick and thin, he destroyed every bit of evidence that collided in any way with it, and he did all he could to tout for information in support of it. In conclusion, he (Mr. O'Brien) would only refer for an instant to the miserable attempts which had been made to explain the vital point in this case—why the two depositions which were before the eyes of Crown counsel were withheld from the eyes of the prisoner's counsel. It had been stated that the subject of those depositions was hinted at in the information of Collins and Constable Johnson at the inquest; but did anybody assert that any full report of that inquest appeared in any newspaper? The prisoners were not represented at the inquest by counsel, and they were not even produced there themselves. Even if they had been present they spoke Irish, and would not have been able to understand what was going on. Then, was it necessary to say that the depositions of these men, Collins and Policeman 328 Johnson, were handed over to the prisoners' counsel? The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) had most learnedly and ably pointed out the difference between the dying declarations before Mr. Brady and the statements of Collins and Johnson. It was almost a farce for the Irish Members to argue with the majority of that House; and he was sorry to say that they were not in a position to threaten. But he warned the House that, whatever the vote of the House might be, an adverse vote would only exasperate the feeling of the Irish public about Myles Joyce's fate, and sooner or later Earl Spencer, and the Government which harboured him, would repent of the way in which they had dealt with this question.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that in rising at that hour of the night he felt called upon to protest, in the first place, against the most extraordinary manner in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had misrepresented the essential points of the case. What could be less fair, as a representation of the reality, than when the right hon. and learned Gentleman again and again laid stress on the fact that four men, whose innocence seemed now so clearly established, had pleaded guilty on their trial at Dublin? Surely, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman made that imputation, he ought to have called the attention of the House to the circumstances under which these unfortunate country peasants, ignorant of the English language, surrounded by everything that could terrify their inexperience and deepen their despair, and in the company of informers who had received every inducement to swear to anything that seemed to suit the case of the Crown, were induced to plead guilty as the only chance of escape from the rope prepared for them by the hands of perjured witnesses. He had been deeply sorry to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman indulge in such clap-trap in behalf of the case; and he must also protest against that other argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he put to the House that stale fallacy—where was the motive of the prosecution for accusing these men, rather than any other men, in the case of peasant against peasant? If the 329 case before the House were not the case of Irish peasants done to death by the zeal of the Crown Prosecutors in Ireland, the House would find no difficulty, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman would find no difficulty, in explaining how, under this system of preparation, a case for the Crown under the Third Empire was made out. In the first place, the prosecuting counsel formed a theory, and in too many cases they went to any length in order to shape their facts so that they might fit in with that theory. Having once seemed to convince themselves by an examination of the facts, that they bore a certain interpretation, thenceforward their official minds were bent not upon a careful and impartial sifting of the evidence, but upon a careful packing of the evidence in order to suit the theory they had preconceived in their minds. There would be no difficulty in suggesting such an explanation if it were an English case; but as it was an Irish case, the right hon. and learned Gentleman harped upon the theme—"Where was the motive?" He (Mr. O'Donnell) thought that whatever might be the conclusion drawn from the course of the debate, as far as it had proceeded—and he was afraid that that conclusion would be fortified by the subsequent stages—an unsatisfactory result would be substantiated by the way the facts of the case had been met by a Liberal Administration. Great interest had been excited by the case in the mind and heart of every Irishman who had observed the action of Her Majesty's Government, from the first moment the matter was brought before them, and at last one of the most law-abiding and order-loving ecclesiastics in Ireland presented the facts of the case to Her Majesty's Government. But the Archbishop of Tuam had been met in a manner that could only tend to exasperate the Irish people, and which was not only an outrage upon justice, but an insult to the intelligence of the Irish people. Certainly, the Government were to be congratulated on the discrimination their officials had displayed in the course of the inquiry. It would be found that, with the exception of the evidence which saved the perjured murderers, they had suppressed the evidence even of the victims themselves, which might have saved an 330 innocent man from the scaffold and others from the horrors of penal servitude. The Government and the Government officials were safe in the House of Commons, in the presence of their majority, and were safe also even when that majority was absent. As had been observed already that evening, it was very easy for Liberal Members to stand up and make speeches in support of the Government, when those Members had abstained from listening to nine-tenths of the Irish case. One after another the supporters of Her Majesty's Government had risen in their places to maintain that the whole of the Irish case rested on Casey's evidence—those Gentlemen who came forward as the advocates of Her Majesty's Government having carefully absented themselves from the House while the most telling and most essential portions of the case were being made known, portions in no way dependent on the repentant admissions of Casey, the perjured Crown witness. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), in the most eloquent and convincing speech which he had just delivered, had laid great stress upon the not very creditable manœuvre of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, who did not hesitate to quote from the columns of the national organs expressions of thankful approval of what, at the time, was believed to be the just punishment of a dastardly crime. If it had not been to suit his own purposes, the opinions expressed by the national journals would not have come so glibly from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, but, on the contrary, he would never have permitted his supporters to know that the national journals had ever condemned outrage, or expressed their approval of the punishment of crime. He (Mr. O'Donnell) asked the House to contrast the present action of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland with his studied reticence for years—his studied suppression of evidence of the most important character with regard to the Irish people and the Irish journals—and he asked the House to judge, when such had been the conduct of the late Chief Secretary under their very eyes, whether it was difficult to understand how it was that inferior officials in another arena resorted to the same shameful system of suppressing evidence? The late Chief Secretary had deliberately 331 stated that even if Earl Spencer had committed a mistake—and by a mistake he meant euphemistically to cover more than what ordinary people called a mistake—that even if Earl Spencer had committed a mistake, it ought to be overlooked in consideration of the success of his administration. Was there ever a more dreadful application of the horrible doctrine that the end justified the means? Was ever such a lesson preached from the most demoralized pulpit inside or outside Christianity? These were the official morals—the governing morals—of the best specimens of Ireland, headed by a Scotch Regenerator of Ireland sent over to administer their affairs. Was it, then, a matter of surprise to find the Boltons, and the Lee Andersons, and all the rest of the official tribe ready to carry out the same official doctrine that the end justified the means? The Irish Members now came to that House to ask for an inquiry into Earl Spencer's mistakes. One of the chief organizers of Earl Spencer's mistakes was Sir Samuel Lee Anderson, for, as if to throw ridicule upon the dignities conferred by the Crown, upon that very day, Anderson, the jury-packer, had received the honour of Knighthood—rising up from his bended knee with all the blushing honours of British chivalry upon him. Her Majesty's Government left uncleared the reputation of the man who had been judicially murdered, and they preferred to leave in life-long slavery innocent men who had been unjustly condemned, rather than run the risk of exposing that which, after all, was probably only one of the minor mistakes of Earl Spencer. Surely, the Prime Minister would not take unkindly a suggestion on this matter which had just occurred to him. He believed that the works of that eminent politician (Mr. Gladstone) had been for some time in preparation for republication, and in due course, no doubt, his famous disquisitions upon King Bomba and the Neapolitan system of government would again be issued to an admiring public. He would suggest to the Premier that it might complete the European idea of his consistency if he would add to the work an Appendix in the form of a Vote under this heading—"The Suppression of Evidence, and the Execution of Innocent Persons, under my Administration of Ireland." If the right hon. Gentleman 332 would do that, he (Mr. O'Donnell) would promise him an European success. He confessed that he was curious to observe the intervention of the English Law Officers in this most important discussion. He should observe with great interest by what process the English Law Officers would be able to reconcile their English countrymen to the possible application in England of those theories in regard to the suppression of evidence by the Grown on which the Crown was so dependent in Ireland. Not only had the depositions of the victims of the murder been suppressed at the trial, but, as had been again and again pointed out, Earl Spencer still continued to suppress the dying depositions of the two criminals who, while acknowledging the justice of their own punishment with their dying breath, and knowing that they were about to be launched into eternity, protested the innocence of Myles Joyce, wh.0, by the mistake of Earl Spencer, was sent to die by their side. The other day, in the North of England, two men were sentenced to death for the murder of a police-constable. One of the men acknowledged his guilt, and emphatically declared the innocence of the other man who had been legally convicted, and who stood, just as he did, condemned to death. In that case, the Crown respited and pardoned the innocent man—the man whose innocence was testified to by the real murderer. They acknowledged his innocence, and it was notorious from one end of the country to the other that it was the solemn dying declaration of the real culprit that was the determining evidence which produced the pardon and liberation of this unoffending man. In the face of that case, which was of public notoriety, was Earl Spencer to be permitted to keep back from the public of this country these dying depositions? He told Her Majesty's Government that they might refuse 10 times, 50 times, or 100 times to produce the depositions; but the Irish Members would in the end drag them from them. Her Majesty's Government must not suppose that a debate that night, or next week, or a month hence, would exhaust the question. The determination of the Irish Members would last as long as the resistance of the Government. They were determined to drag this matter out into the full light of day, and, in the end, 333 Earl Spencer, with all his mistakes and all his official admirers, would be obliged to give up the depositions. The Irish Members would hunt up the present Government until they rendered full satisfaction, and would even follow the matter up with their Successors—an eventuality which might not be far distant. He expected no practical result from the present proceedings; but he believed that in the minds of a vast majority of the English people there was a very strong suspicion that Earl Spencer had very good reasons for avoiding inquiry. Furthermore, he was satisfied of this—that the action of Her Majesty's Government afforded a conclusive argument to justify the Representatives of Ireland in treating that Government as one of the most unscrupulous, one of the most hypocritical, and one of the most cruel Administrations which had ever represented English usurpation in Ireland.
§ MR. DEASY
said, he had not intended to take part in the debate at that late hour; but he had risen to express a hope, with his hon. Friend who had just sat down, that the Attorney General for England would give the House his opinion on the points which had been put forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who had spoken in favour of the view of the Irish Members. In order to give the Law Officers of the Crown an opportunity of making up their minds, he would venture to occupy the attention of the House for a very short time indeed. In doing so, he did not propose to go into the evidence which had been laid before the House in much detail by many hon. Members from those Benches, and from all quarters of the House. He merely wished to say that he did not believe the Members from Ireland would be discharging their duty to their countryman were they to allow this question to remain without being adequately sifted to the bottom. It had been over and over again stated that it was the opinion of 99 out of every 100 persons in Ireland that Myles Joyce was murdered, and that four men were now detained in penal servitude for a crime of which they were innocent. He believed that no Gentleman who had listened to the discussion for the last night or two, if he were not altogether blinded by Party 334 prejudices, could come to any other conclusion than that the case put forward by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) was irresistible and conclusive. He (Mr. Deasy) could very easily show, he thought, that the points put forward in favour of his hon. Friend's view of the case had not been met by those hon. Gentlemen who had endeavoured to argue against them. One point which struck him as very powerful, and one upon which very little stress had been laid, except by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), was the identification by the so-called independent witnesses of the assassins on a dark night at a distance of 150 or 200 yards. His attention had been directed to this particular point in reading over the very able pamphlet of the hon. Member for Westmeath. In that pamphlet his hon. Friend stated, and the statement could not be contradicted, that, in the daytime, he took a policeman with him from the road to a distance of nearly 200 yards from the point at which the alleged assassins were said to have been identified, to the exact place where they were alleged to have been seen by the so-called independent witnesses. Meantime another constable walked along the road to the spot where those witnesses swore they were standing at the time of the identifications. His hon. Friend asked the policeman who accompanied him whether he could tell him which of the constables was standing on the road facing him; the constable to whom he put the question was unable to say, although it was then the middle of a clear and bright day in broad daylight. After considerable hesitation the man said he thought that it was Constable Murphy, for he was the stoutest of the men in the hut. Now, it was notorious that the Government were slow to keep men in the Constabulary unless they had good eyesight; and if it was impossible for a constable, in the middle of the day, to recognize a companion at that distance, how much more impossible was it for these three independent witnesses to have been able to distinguish the assassins at the same distance on a dark night! The thing was utterly absurd. No one would believe it; and it was only because the Lord Lieutenant and his underlings were afraid of an investigation, that one had not been granted long 335 before this. The speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland was one of the most extraordinary he had ever heard in his life. He did not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman attempted at all to combat the arguments of hon. Members on that side of the House. On the contrary, he kept altogether wide of the main issue raised by them, and argued no point to which they attached importance. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted from United Ireland, and also from The Freeman's Journal, to show that at the trial of Myles Joyce no serious complaint was made against the composition of the jury or against the conduct of the Judge. It had been stated over and over again during the debate that the conduct of the Judge and the verdict of the jury were not at all impugned by hon. Members on those Benches, and they had very little fault to find with the manner in which the learned Judge discharged his duty on that occasion. It had been alleged that one jury was packed, and the number of Catholics who were challenged was sufficient to prove that it was packed. He had no doubt, however, that if it had been fairly constituted it would have given exactly the same verdict which the other two juries had given on the same evidence. What the Irish Members alleged was that the evidence had not been fairly put before the jury, and that most important evidence had been suppressed. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had pointed out that in the case of Francis Hynes there was no scruple on the part of George Bolton to put in evidence the dying depositions made by a man who was admittedly raving, and almost unconscious at the time it was made. Nevertheless, in this case, on the very same ground, the Crown carefully abstained from putting in evidence the dying deposition of the murdered boy. They said it was because he was raving, and almost unconscious, and that it would have been unfair for them to place that deposition at the disposal of the counsel for the prisoners. But in the case of Francis Hynes no consideration of that kind was allowed to stand in the way, and because the dying man in that case merely mentioned the the name of Francis Hynes, Hynes was convicted and died on the scaffold. He (Mr. Deasy) did not see why the Crown should not have acted in a similar manner 336 in the case of the Maamtrasna prisoners, except that they were determined at all cost and at all hazards to get a conviction against these men. They were also told by the hon. and learned Solicitor General that the House of Commons could not be converted into a Court of Appeal. He knew it was extremely inconvenient to the Government that Irish Members should be pursuing the course which they felt it their duty to take on the present occasion; but there was no other way open to them, and if the Government undertook the responsibility of legislating for Ireland, and devised for that purpose machinery which in this case had, resulted in the execution of an innocent man, and imprisonment of four innocent men, they must take the consequences. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also told them that to grant an inquiry would be to discredit the cause of justice in Ireland. But the hon. and learned Gentleman must know very little of the country which he represented in that House, because if he had kept his eyes and ears open he would have been convinced that there was no respect for the law as administered in Ireland; indeed, the only persons who at the present time were taking a course likely to bring about some respect for the law there were those who were backing up Irish Members in their demand for this inquiry, and the Irish Members themselves, for he believed that nothing would be more conducive to the re-establishment of law and order than an investigation of the circumstances attending the trial and execution of Myles Joyce, and the sentences on the men now in penal servitude. But if only for the sake of their families, if only for the sake of the unfortunate individuals who were disgraced by reason of their father's death on the scaffold, he believed that House was bound to grant this application if they were not positively reckless of what was done in Ireland in the name of law and order. But the best proof he could give of the insufficiency of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman was that after a short time the late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland got up to speak also on the same side. One of the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman was that many hon. Gentlemen who had not the advantage of hearing the Solicitor General for Ireland might rest assured that he had fully 337 met the arguments of his opponents. He said this lest hon. Members who had heard his speech as well as the two speeches made subsequently by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) and the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) might think that the Solicitor General for Ireland had utterly failed to prove the case to which he had addressed himself, and the right hon. Gentleman accordingly seriously told the House that the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was convincing. He believed that statement was made for the benefit of those hon. Members who had heard the hon. and learned Gentleman, but who remained unconvinced, and were more disposed to take the word of the right hon. Gentleman than to place confidence in the arguments of the Solicitor General for Ireland. The late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had also taken upon himself the responsibility of explaining away the statement of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War; but he (Mr. Deasy) was at a loss to understand why the noble Marquess was not able to defend himself. He had often seen him in a more difficult position than that in which he was placed by the speeches delivered on Friday last. And yet he appeared to be unable himself to explain why it was that the inquiry which he promised had not been granted. Perhaps he felt that the right hon. Gentleman was more conversant with the art of Parliamentary debate, and was a better hand at proving that black was white; at any rate, it was a strange thing that the noble Marquess would not take the trouble to get up in his place and explain why it was that the promise made had not been carried out; because it was useless for him, or any right hon. Gentleman, to endeavour to put an interpretation on his words which they would not bear. It was evident that the noble Marquess intended seriously to have the inquiry held when he I gave the pledge. That pledge, however, had been broken, and Irish Members would not in future be disposed to rely upon any promise that might come from the Treasury Bench. If there was one person on that Bench upon whose promises Irish Members were willing to rely, it was the noble Marquess the Secretary for War; but he regretted that in future his word could not be 338 seriously taken by them. But the true explanation of the conduct of the Executive in Ireland and of the conduct of the late Chief Secretary was to be found in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that up to the time of the murder of Francis Hynes, 61 murders had been committed in Ireland. The Orange Party there—Mr. George Bolton, and those who acted with him, and whose position depended upon the goodwill of the English journals, and upon English far more than upon Irish public opinion—found it necessary to prove that the Criminal Department in Ireland had not completely broken down. Accordingly, having confined 10 or 12 men in prison, although they might have reason to suppose that one or two were innocent, they did not scruple to take the lives of three of them, and, on a plea of "guilty," sent the others to penal servitude. He was not surprised at all at the course taken by Mr. Bolton and Mr. O'Brien—men described by the occupants of the Treasury Bench as persons of the highest honour. Well, Mr. Bolton's honour had been impeached in that House; and he (Mr. Deasy) had experience of the way in which Mr. O'Brien managed to get convictions from juries, for, in the City which he had the honour to represent (Cork), a trial, in which the latter was engaged, of some prisoners charged with political offences at the last Winter Assizes, was brought under his notice. He was inclined to believe that no political trial could go on in Ireland without the aid of Mr. O'Brien. At the trial in question the jury disagreed, and Mr. O'Brien followed certain of those who tried the prisoners into the street and demanded the names of those high-minded and honourable men who refused to agree to a verdict against the prisoners. It was thus that justice was administered in Ireland, and thus that Mr. O'Brien conducted prosecutions. He would not detain the House at greater length, because he believed that many hon. Gentlemen wished to speak on this question after what they had heard from the learned Solicitor General for England; but he would add, in conclusion, that no case for a full and fair investigation had ever been more completely proved or better made out than this, and he agreed with those who said that if the Government did not accede to the request of Irish Members, they would not hear the last of it during the 339 present Session, but would be troubled with it for many a long day.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Justin M'Carthy.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.