HC Deb 31 March 1885 vol 296 cc1144-5

said, he wished to draw attention to the prohibition by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of a public meeting which was to have been held on the 18th of February at Burroughtown, in Wexford. The result of that prohibition had been to increase the feeling of hatred towards the Government of the Castle. The county was a remarkably peaceful and Constitutional one, and there had been no crime or outrage of any kind committed in the district. The only reason assigned for suppressing the meeting was that the placard calling it together had been somewhat hotly worded, though, in his opinion, it was not more so than the character of the case had required. The conduct of the Government in thus in- terfering with the liberty of the people was most infamous. He wished also to complain of the manner in which the Government had treated Mr. John Boyle O'Reilly by refusing him permission to revisit Ireland. Such an act of tyranny would serve to embitter the feeling of the Irish race in America against England.


said, that meetings were prohibited on two grounds—either that the meetings would lead to a breach of the peace, or that they would lead to a fresh outbreak of outrages or intimidation. In this case there had been no apprehension of a breach of the peace; but the meeting was prohibited because it was feared the placard would lead to an outbreak of outrages.


But we never had any outrages.


The placard convening the meeting was of the most mischievous character. It denounced the payment of rent of any kind under any terms whatever; and, having regard to that fact, there was no course open to the Lord Lieutenant but to proclaim the meeting.

MR. WILLIAM REDMOND rose to speak.


The hon. Gentleman has no right of reply.


Of course, it is very hard to get fair play here.


said, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had entirely misled the House regarding the character of the placard referred to. There was a single reference in the placard to rent, and that reference did not amount to anything more than the opinion that had been expressed more than once by the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain). It simply referred to rent in very general terms, and did not denounce the payment of rent under any circumstances whatever. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, he would not say deliberately, but he did undoubtedly misrepresent the character of the placard. If the placard was illegal, surely they had a Crimes Act in Ireland; and why did they not prosecute those who issued it? The placard, on the contrary, was perfectly legal and perfectly justifiable; and if occasion demanded it such placards would be issued again.