HC Deb 06 March 1885 vol 295 cc278-80

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether two policemen intruded themselves at a meeting held in Cashel on the 22nd February last, which was presided over by the Very Rev. Dean Quirk, Parish Priest of Cashel; whether the Very Rev. Chairman strongly protested against the intrusion; if the policemen still remained, stating they had authority from their superior officer to attend the meeting; and, whether the Government approves of policemen forcing themselves on lawful and peaceful meetings; and, if not, whether they will issue instructions to prevent a repetition of such conduct?


A sergeant and constable were directed to attend this meeting of the local branch of the National League, and request admittance. They entered the meeting without any objection being made, and, therefore, did not formerly request admittance. On the Chairman asking their authority for being present, the sergeant produced the written order, which showed the condition on which he was directed to attend. Although remarks were made on the presence of the two police men, they were not expressly asked to retire, and the sergeant thought he was justified in remaining. I consider that this was an error of judgment, and that they ought to have withdrawn when the meeting objected to their presence.


I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will be good enough to state why he thinks it necessary that policemen should intrude themselves upon these peaceable meetings of the National League?


According to the published report in the newspaper of a previous meeting there was a direct incitement to violence in one of the resolutions.


Arising out of this Question, I have to ask the Chief Secretary if he has received a letter from the Very Rev. Dean Quirk, who presided over the meeting, in which the following occurred:— Now I have to complain of this most un-warrantable and, to us, most offensive proceeding. I am determined that there shall he no violation of the law, and all present are similarly disposed. One of your predecessors, Mr. Trevelyan, said that police should not attend National League meetings unless there was some special reason for their doing so. He would ask whether the Stipendiary, Captain Slacke, had any authority for instituting such a system of espionage over a respectable body of Irishmen; and, whether the English Government believed it would tend to promote the interests of law and order?


Yes, Sir; I have received that letter from the rev. gentleman, to which I have replied. I have given in my answer to the hon. Member, and the other hon. Members who have addressed me to-day, an answer tantamount to that addressed to the rev. gentleman.


I would wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if a warrant in such cases discloses the reason for the intrusion of the police?


No, Sir; it does not disclose the reason.