HC Deb 10 April 1889 vol 335 cc183-4

I wish to ask the Chief Secretary a question of which I have given private Notice, whether it is a fact that the eviction of Olphert tenants, comprising 70 families, and affecting 350 individuals in the county of Donegal, will be commenced to-morrow; whether in the years 1879, 1881, 1883, and 1884, they were supplied from charitable sources with potatoes and seed; and whether, owing to the failure of the potato crop last autumn, those families are again being supplied from charitable sources with the means of subsistence; and whether, therefore, the Government will promise not to employ the Forces of the Crown to expel them from their homes, to burn the buildings down with petroleum, or demolish their houses with the battering ram?

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W)

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question I would inquire if he has any information as to the occurrences to-day in Judge Curran's Court on the appeal of Mr. William. O'Brien, and if it is true that, in consequence of the refusal of the trustees of the estate to accept the offer to refer the matter to arbitration, the learned Judge has decided that, instead of the sentence of six months' imprisonment passed in the Court below, no punishment shall be inflicted in this case? I would ask him, further, in regard to the tenants on the Olphert Estate, whether it is not a fact that they have been deprived of their main assistance by the committal to prison of Father M'Fadden on a charge of murder, and if he will use his influence, in view of the miserable condition of these seventy families, to prevent the father of one of the aides-de-camps of the Lord Lieutenant of Dublin Castle evicting these poor people, and running the risk of the terrible danger of social disorder in this unfortunate district?


These questions have been given me without notice, and I have been unable to make inquiry into the facts. With regard to the Olphert estate, the reports I have seen on the subject of the condition of these people certainly do not bear out the suggestions which are contained in the question. As to Judge Curran's decision, I cannot believe the version which has reached the right hon. Gentleman is accurate, and I prefer, before expressing any opinion, to await full information.

MR. H. J. WILSON (Holmfirth)

I wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the tenants in Donegal are in a most deplorable condition, even if the official information does not exactly tally with that contained in the question of the hon. Member; and I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman will do something to prevent the newly-purchased battering ram being used in the destruction of their homes.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I am going over to Donegal on Friday night, and if the right hon. Gentleman will entrust his instructions to me I shall be happy to convey them.

MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patricks)

With reference to the evictions on the Olphert estate, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will consider as to whether, in face of the strong opinion expressed by Judge Johnson at the Ulster Assizes, he should allow the Forces of the drown to be used except for the purposes of protecting the Sheriff?


I do not think that version of the learned Judge's remarks is accurate.

House adjourned at three minutes after Six o'clock.