§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
On Tuesday I asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether his attention had been directed to the burning of a house during the evictions on the Brooke estate? I wish, as a further Question on the same matter, to ask him, Whether his attention has been directed to a paragraph in the letter of a correspondent in The Pall Mall Gazette this evening, that—Pat Grennell, the tenant, swore that he was concealed in his own house when he heard a voice say three times, 'Put the match to it,' and that, being then in fear of being burnt alive, 797 he cried 'Police,' and that police came and dragged him out. Robert Hart swore that while concealed in the orchard, 12 yards from the house, he saw Captain Hamilton go through the motion of rubbing a match upon his leg, then step upon some old timber, lift the edge of the thatch, insert something, press the thatch down again, and that a few seconds afterwards fire burst out from the place. Matthew Curran swore the same, so did Bartholomew Kavanagh, and several witnesses heard a constable exclaim with an oath, 'Hamilton has set fire to the house;'whether these facts occurred before the Sheriff had taken possession of the house; and whether, in spite of this testimony, Captain Slacke, R.M., said the Government would not prosecute, and would not issue a warrant for the arrest of Captain Hamilton?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
If the hon. Gentleman had given me any Notice of this Question I would have brought down the actual words of the information in the telegram I have received on this subject. I understand there wag no injury done and no hardship inflicted by the burning of the house on any individual; and it was not known whether the burning was the result of accident or not. With regard to the authority which the hon. Gentleman has quoted, if the correspondent is the same gentleman who was correspondent for The Pall Mall Gazette at Bodyke, the fact of his holding a certain opinion is no ground why it should be entertained by anybody else.
§ MR. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman says there was no hardship inflicted on any individual by the burning of the house. He has not answered my Question, whether the house burned was the tenant's house, and whether the Sheriff had taken possession? He has cast doubt on the credibility of my witness; but he has abstained from answering the Question. ["Order!"] Surely I am entitled to an answer to a Question on a very important matter. I ask him whether it is true, as stated by this correspondent, that these men came forward, and are prepared to swear to the facts I have read; and that the Resident Magistrate refused to give an opportunity to investigate the matter, and stated the Government would not prosecute?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I gave the hon. Member all the information in my power; he gave me no Notice, and, 798 therefore, I cannot supplement the answer. I must point out, however, that, as in the case of Bodyke, a large number of pure fabrications were sent over to this country—[Mr. T. M. HEALY: What were they?]—and Questions asked about them in the House of Commons, and as even the most ingenious Resident Magistrate cannot foresee what particular story will be the subject of inquiry, it is impossible, without Notice, for those responsible in this House for the conduct of Irish affairs to keep themselves abreast of every Question which hon. Gentlemen may ask. But if the hon. Member will put down his Question I will endeavour to make myself acquainted with the facts.
§ MR. COX (Clare, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman has said the reports that came from Bodyke were fabrications. I wish to say that I was all through the eviction campaign and that every one of them was true.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether the stories were more a fabrication than the story of the Galway midwife?