HC Deb 22 August 1889 vol 340 cc174-207

7. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £53,910, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland.

MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)

Anyone looking at this Vote must be Struck by the extravagant and monstrous proportions it assumes; indeed, the amount of it would be large even in a very extensive country, and when one has regard to the smallness of Ireland, the amount becomes simply monstrous. But in addition to the smallness of the country, it is a practically crimeless country. Time after time we hear of maiden Assizes. There is in Ireland crime of only one class chiefly, namely, crimes of a political complexion. Nine-tenths of the crime in Ireland springs directly or indirectly from the agrarian movement. In cases of that kind surely it is the duty of the Government and of the Crown Prosecutors, who are the paid agents of the Government, to maintain a scrupulously fair course, to conduct the prosecutions with an even keel—with justice, fairness, and impartiality. The Irish, prosecutions ought to be what prosecutions in England are, or at least used to be—namely, investigations to discover truth. But the Crown Prosecutors in Ireland exert themselves with all their force to procure convictions. Why is that? Because to the Crown Prosecutor convictions mean pay and promotion from the Government. In cases of a political complexion we are taught an object lesson of the cruelty of man to man. We see an opponent of the Government prosecuted by a man who is inspired by Party feeling and mercenary motives. In political hands the Irish Crown Prosecutor pursues his victim with the zeal of the sleuthhound and the low cunning of the fox. I wish to call attention to three cases in particular in which the Crown Prosecutors have endeavoured to secure a verdict against the accused when he was an opponent of the Government or to shield him when he was a friend of the Government. That is a serious and shocking charge to make if I could not prove it up to the hilt. The first case was tried in Dublin early this year; it was the case of Charles Freckleton, a friend of the Government, who was placed on his trial for murder. Freckle-ton was a bailiff and an emergency man on the estate of Captain Guinness. He went into a public house armed with a revolver, and deliberately shot the publican dead. Then he fired on two women, and one of them was in danger of losing her life for many weeks. The man was placed on his trial in Green Street, but I charge that justice was manipulated in order to prevent the death penalty being inflicted. No challenging of jurors proceeded from the Crown. My hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) asked the Chief Secretary this question on the 11th April last— Whether his attention has been drawn to the evidence in the case of Charles Freckleton, an emergency man and gamekeeper, tried in Dublin on Friday and Saturday of last week, for murder, from which it appears that Freckleton, in a public-house at Rathfarnham, in the County of Dublin, deliberately fired three shots at three different persons in succession, killing one man on the spot and wounding one young girl so seriously that for several weeks her life was despaired of; whether he has considered the observations of the presiding Judge, Mr. Justice Murphy "— a kind-hearted man, if ever there was one, a man who was determined to do justice in spite of the Crown— In which he expressed the opinion that the crime of Freckleton was both unprovoked and without any justification whatever, and declared that there was no case in the books that would suggest that in a case of this kind the Judge should suggest that the jury should reduce the crime from murder to manslaughter; whether the jury found Freckleton guilty, not of murder but of manslaughter; whether it is a fact that, in the empannelling of this jury, the representatives of the Crown did not order any jurors to stand aside, while the prisoners challenged 20 jurors, all but four of whom were Catholics, with the result that all the 12 jurors sworn were Protestant landlords or persons connected with the landlord class; and if these allegations are well founded whether he intends to take any notice of the action of the Crown officials in this case? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary replied— I understand that the prisoner, Charles Freckleton, was not an emergency man. He was brought over from Scotland to act as a gamekeeper for Mr. Guinness, of Zibradden, in the County of Dublin, in whose employment he was as such gamekeeper when the offence was committed. The presiding Judge made, in effect, the observations mentioned in the question, and he left it to the jury to determine whether the prisoner was guilty of murder or manslaughter, and they found a verdict of manslaughter. It is a fact that the representatives of the Crown did not ask any juror to stand aside while the prisoner challenged 20 jurors; but the religion of those challenged cannot be given. It is not known what was the religion of the 12 jurors sworn to try the prisoner, but their occupations were as follows:—1 retired officer; 1 bookseller; 1 jeweller; 1 carrier; 2 described as gentlemen; 1 manufacturer's agent; 2 bank clerks; 2 commercial clerks; and 1 farmer. Now I will take the Committee to another case by way of contrast. Let us see how justice was meted out to the tenants of the Olphert estate. There was a crop of hard and shocking evictions in January. The peasantry resisted them. Two of the men who so resisted have now passed beyond the reach of praise or censure. Well, a whole batch of them was arrested and sent to Ennis-killen—to a district in which there was an overwhelming preponderance of Protestants. A special jury under the Crimes Act was empanelled to try them. There was a panel of 200 jurors out of a population of 84,879. There was no Catholic on the special jury panel. The Crown even challenged a number of these Protestant jurors in order to get 12 men who could be relied upon. They obtained convictions, I believe, in every case. I know they challenged, because the Solicitor General for Ireland, on official information on which I can always rely, assured me that that was the case. The Crown Counsel was a Mr. McLaughlin, who saw that the action was a political one, and who took occasion in the course of his opening remarks to compliment the Chief Secretary. The Irish Judges are far less strict to mark "out of order" iniquities than are the Presidents of this House, and it is an extreme case when a Judge interrupts a Crown Counsel in his opening remarks; but the Judge in this case did so, and told Mr. McLaughlin that his praise of the Chief Secretary was out of place and had nothing to do with the case before the Court—in which I think he was quite right. A conviction, as I say, was obtained. But a head constable named Macaneely was arrested for presenting a revolver at the head of one of the tenants on the same occasion as that upon which the events occurred which formed the subject of the trials to which I have referred. In his case, also, the venue was changed, but he was not sent to Enniskillen. He was sent for trial to Londonderry, and the same counsel who prosecuted the Donegal tenants for delending their homes prosecuted, or pretended to prosecute, Macaneely for excess of zeal in defending the emergency men. The Crown did not challenge a single juror in this case, but left that to Macaneely's counsel, who weeded out all the Papists. Is this "Government with an even keel?" Can hon. Members feel surprise that we are not contented with the Chief Secretary's rule and do not regard that right hon. Gentleman as a Heaven-sent gift to afford us peace, prosperity, and even justice? I have another case arising out of the Olphert affair. The Committee will remember the thrill of horror that ran through the breasts of all the loyalists at Inspector Martin's death. Inspector Martin met his death at the hands of people who are supposed to be Mr. Olphert's enemies. Well, will the Committee believe that one of Mr. Olphert's tenants went scot free after committing, so far as we can see, a wilful and unprovoked murder? One of the many accusations we have brought against Mr. Olphert is this—that on his estate there is a most awful system of espionage. It seems that some of those starving creatures—tenants of Mr. Olphert—to whom a handful of meal would be quite as much as a Lord Mayor's feast to some of our friends opposite, got some small employment from a Help Society, for which a man named Beattie was agent. We believe that the moment Beattie paid these poor creatures he told Mr. Olphert, so that he might be down on them like a vulture for the few miserable shillings they received. Between Mr. Olphert and Beattie there existed a friendship—for in Ireland, where identity of interest binds people together, there exist strange friendships. A man named Irwin goes into Beattie's store, and shortly afterwards Irwin is found lying there, dead, Beattie with a smoking revolver in his hand. Of course, we do all things decently in Ireland. Beattie is brought before the Petty Sessions, and amongst the Magistrates on the Bench there is our old friend Mr. Olphert. There were three Magistrates there, one of whom was a removable; and two of these Magistrates, including the removable, said that the case should go on. Mr. Olphert, however, said it should not go on. He remembered the shillings of which this man had advised him and had enabled him to collect from his miserable tenantry. Beattie was sent for trial at the Summer Assizes at Lifford, but on that occasion there were only 17 Grand Jurors present—though the usual number was 23—and they threw out the bill, the foreman stating that there was not a sufficient number of Grand Jurors to find. a bill. It is necessary that there should I be 12 Grand Jurors to find a true bill. Mr. Olphert again appeared on the scene—this time on the Grand Jury to do a good turn for his tenant. This was at the Summer Assizes; but at the Winter Assizes nothing was done in reference to this interesting gentleman, MR. Beattie. The Spring Assizes came round and Beattie was left alone. On the 10th of May I put this question to the Solicitor General for Ireland:— Mr. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.) asked the Solicitor General for Ireland whether a man named Beattie, an agent for the Kelp Company, was returned for trial to the Petty Sessions Bench at Falcarragh, to the Cork Summer Assizes, for the wilful murder of a man named Irwin, by shooting him with a revolver; whether Mr. Wybrant Olphert sat on the Bench, and decided to dismiss the charge, but was overruled by the other Magistrates; whether at the Summer Assizes at Lifford, the Grand Jury, who were only 17 in number, threw out the bill against Beattie, the foreman stating that there was not a sufficient number of Grand Jurors to find a bill; whether, having regard to the fact that a bill to become an indictment must be found to be a true bill by 12 Grand Jurors at least, will the Crown take any, and what, steps to insure a full attendance of the Grand Jury, which should consist of 23 members; was Mr. Wybrant Olphert a member of the Grand Jury by whom this bill was ignored; why was not a fresh bill sent up to the Grand Jury against the said Beattie at the Winter or Spring Assizes; and, do the Crown intend to take any further steps in investigating the circumstances of Irwin's death? The circumstances of the death of a man found weltering in his blood, with Beattie standing over him, holding a revolver with a steaming mouth. The reply of the Solicitor General, as given in Hansard, was in these terms:— Mr. MADDEN: The facts are substantially as stated in the first, second, third, and fifth paragraphs of the question, with thi8 exception, that it is inaccurate to say that there was not a sufficient number of Grand Jorors to find the bill. Mr. Olphert, I openly assert, had canvassed the Grand Jury to shield his friend. The Solicitor General went on to say:— In answer to the remainder of the question, I have to say that, after the bill was thrown out at the last Summer Assizes, the Attorney General"— a gentleman well-known for selecting jurors and unearthing old Acts of Parliament— The Attorney General called for a Special Report from the Crown Solicitor, and after going into the matter fully with him"— —Oh! I should have liked to have heard that consultation!— Came to the conclusion that there was not sufficient evidence against Beattie to justify the Crown in taking any further proceedings. Why did they bring the charge against Beattie in the first place, as there was not sufficient evidence—why did they put him in peril of his life? The fact of the matter is, that the murder was condoned on account of the man Beattie being a friend of Mr. Olpherts. Does not this disclose a pretty state of things in Ireland? Here are three object lessons in the way Ireland is governed. In another place, on the occasion of O'Connell's trial, a gentleman who occupied the position of Lord High Chancellor of England declared that trial by jury in Ireland was "a fraud, a delusion, and a snare." Forty years afterwards I say the same thing. Would it not, I ask, be better to stop trial by jury altogether and to send the hon. Baronet (Sir C. E. Lewis) round like a drum major to hang us all off-hand. Even the organ of the Conservative Party in Ireland—the Daily Express—when what I will call "Pigott's Act," was going through the House, declared that trial by jury in Ireland was a make-believe. It is no longer a make-believe, for we have pushed aside the drapery and have exposed it in all its enormity and imfamy as a part of Irish misgovernment. And now I will go to the inferior Courts. Do hon. Members know what the items are for expenses paid through the Crown Solicitors? I will read them, as they go to show the fox-like ingenuity of Dublin Castle. Under "G," on page 290 of the Estimates, we find these items:— For various expenses paid through the Crown Solicitors, &c, namely:—

  • Clerks of the Crown.
  • Clerks of the Peace.
  • Expenses of Crown Solicitors for Special Duty.
  • Expenses of Crown Solicitors for Winter Assizes
  • Expenses of Crown Solicitors' Assistants for Winter A sizes.
  • Expenses of Sessional Crown Solicitors for Special Duty.
  • Expenses of Juries at Assizes.
  • Printing Briefs, with sanction of Attorney General.
  • Defence of Prisoners in cases of Murder.
  • 181
  • Extra Expenses of Traversers and their Witnesses in cases at Winter Assizes, and in cases of Charge of Venue under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act."
I should have thought that list would have exhausted the ingenuity of the Castle. But, not so. There is one sweeping item that is threefold the amount of any one of the other items, namely, "Miscellaneous Charges, £3,000?" Why is this money spent? It is not spent on stationery or telegrams. They are provided for under different heads. What is to be done for us, or rather against us, by means of this £3,000? I put that to the Solicitor General for Ireland, and I shall insist upon having an answer before the Vote is taken. We have here an item in connection with the Criminal Law and Procedure Act, and I am not exaggerating when I say that every prosecution under that Act has not been for the prevention of crime, or to promote peace and order, or even for the punishment of the new made crimes under the Crimes Act, but has been undertaken for political purposes. I will give seven or eight examples to show that the Coercion Act has been put into active operation for ulterior reasons—first, in the service of the Times; secondly, to punish men who have acted against the Government here in London; thirdly, to destroy the reputation of those who have been helping to win elections in this country; and fourthly—and this is the most serious charge of all—to inflict punishment on the men who have exposed the character of the tribunals in Ireland. I have mentioned the Times, and I think the present Administration might take for their motto, "We go with the Times." Now, I think it is an axiom that will be generally accepted that punishment should follow the commission of a crime as quickly as possible. That arch-heretic, that wicked man, the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) made a speech on the 29th September, of which Lord Salisbury said if the Government did not order a prosecution, they would be accessories to murder. No action was taken at the time, and on October 22 the Special Commission opened. In the middle of November various libels upon the Commission appeared in United Ireland, and the hon. Member for North-East Cork was summoned for contempt. He justified himself, and the Court, though finding he had technically committed a contempt, did not award any punishment. No; but other means of punishment were taken. My hon. Friend was delivered over to the "removables," and received sentence from MR. Roche and another, ostensibly for the speech delivered at Ballyknee four months previously, but really for the blow he had given the Commission and its masters. Take another illustration: In November last the hon. Member for West Kerry, who had been writing articles in his newspaper with reference to the Coercion Act for 12 or 15 months without interference on the part of the Government, was arrested and sentenced to six months' imprisonment because he was actively engaged in getting up evidence for the defence for the purpose of its being laid before the Special Commission. On the other hand, Captain Plunkett had been allowed 59 days leave in London to enable him to get up evidence on behalf of the Times. That is the way in which the Government have worked the Crimes Act against their political opponents. Then, again, it having come to the knowledge of the hon. Member for East Cork that a Government official had been guilty of an abominable crime, he was arrested under the Coercion Act, and, having refused to withdraw the charge for the sake of the man's wife and children, was sent to prison for a month to keep him out of the way, so as to enable a bogus prosecution to be instituted against the accused official. The learned counsel who represented the Crown upon that occasion was none other than MR. Ronan, one of the counsel for the Times, and who has since been honoured for his services by being made a Queen's Counsel. Again, the hon. Member for South Kerry, the hon. Member for South Galway, and the hon. Member for North Kildare have each been prosecuted this year for speeches which they made in the previous November, while the hon. Member for East Clare was prosecuted in February last for speeches delivered in the previous September and October, the charges having been left hanging over his head until it was found convenient to prevent him from bringing about a settlement between the landlord and the tenants on the Vandeleur estate. The result of my hon. Friend's imprisonment is that his eyesight has been ruined. These are a few instances out of many that could be given to indicate how the Government use the Coercion Act simply in the interests of the landlords and of the Times, and for the gratification of mean and petty vindictiveness. The hon. Member for North Monaghan was an object lesson last night, and I think few Members will forget it. I was passing through the corridor, and I heard a gentleman—not a Member of this House—remark to an English Member, "What an indictment against the Government!" I am not the first to make the charge; but I do make it that Lord Ashbourne's Act is manipulated in the interest of a few landlords. My hon. Friend the Member for North- East Cork advised the tenants on Lord Monck's estate not to buy their holdings under Lord Ashbourne's Act at 17 years' purchase, and for that he was given three months' imprisonment. This was not the charge, but this was his actual offence. I say the Ashbourne Act is worked to enable landlords to grab the public money. Under this sub-head H—expenses for the defence of public officials—there are no more scandalous items even in the records of Dublin Castle, showing the worst in connection with the passage of the Act of Union. What do these items mean? They mean that Resident Magistrates are given a free hand to carry out their system of persecution of the Irish people, and you stand by with the public funds to defend them, and to indemnify them against the efforts of the people when those who suffer grievous wrong try to vindicate their just rights. I do not speak in any sense of irritation; I simply state the plain facts; and to anyone with any sense of truth and public virtue the statement carries one of the heaviest indictments made against any Government.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I am anxious to bring before the Committee a matter to which I had occasion to refer in the House a short time ago, but before doing so I will say a few words on the relations between the Attorney General and the Resident Magistrates. I believe that much of the injustice that is perpetrated in Ireland is due far more to the authority directing the prosecutions than to the Resident Magistrates themselves. They are in many cases, if not as a rule, ignorant of the law, while the Crown Solicitors before them are well informed on legal matters and often men of considerable ability. I believe I am right in saying that the consent of the Attorney General is required for all prosecutions. But it is obviously impossible for the Attorney General to go fully into the details of all the cases. Whether it is determined by inferior officials in Dublin or by local authorities what prosecutions shall proceed I know not; but I feel confident that it is upon the inferior authority that many prosecutions are ordered that never ought to take place. When the cases are before the Resident Magistrates, I think only those who have seen the proceedings can understand how completely the Magistrates are overshadowed by the Crown Prosecutor. The Resident Magistrates are ignorant of law, they are inferior in ability and position often to the Crown Prosecutor, who appears with all the prestige of the prosecution having been determined upon by the Attorney General, and the Resident Magistrates have not the courage to withstand the influence of the Crown Prosecutor. I have seen these things going on, and have almost pitied the Resident Magistrates for the subordinate position in which they are placed. Injustice is often done by the arbitrary and capricious selection of persons for prosecution. The prosecutions arising out of public meetings are not directed against those who take the most prominent part in them, but rather against persons present who have made themselves obnoxious to landlords by acting as leaders among their tenants. In the same way, in prosecutions for boycotting, tradesmen are selected with reference to some disputes going on between landlords and tenants. The same I individual is often prosecuted several times with the effect of ruining and, apparently, with the object of doing so. Last year I called attention to the persistent persecution in this way of Mr. John Roche, a respectable tradesman of Woodford, who has since told his story before the Special Commission in such a way as to establish his respectability, and to show that he was prosecuted simply because he was obnoxious to the great landlord of the district. I got no satisfactory answer last year, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that the persecution of Mr. Roche has ceased, though he continues to do exactly as he did before. This leads me to the case with which I now have to deal. It was raised in questions addressed to the Chief Secretary not very long ago, and the answers of the right hon. Gentleman were so unsatisfactory that I then intimated my intention of referring to the subject on the Estimates. Since then I have endeavoured to fully inform myself as to the facts, and I have obtained the depositions in respect to the charges on which this gentleman to whom I am about to allude was connected. Mr. Fitzgibbon is one of the leading tradesmen of Castlerea, one of the most respectable and respected men in the town. A landlord of the district with whom I have some acquaintance has informed me that Mr. Fitzgibbon bears the highest character for probity, that nothing can be said against him in his private capacity, though he added he was a "dangerous politician." Mr. Fitzgibbon, three or four years ago, sympathising with the tenants of the neighbourhood, became a prominent member of the National League, and assisted the tenants in their combination against the landlord. No doubt Mr. Fitzgibbon had a great deal to do with these combinations. No one, however, is more anxious than he is to induce landlord and tenant to come to reasonable terms, and, mainly through his endeavours, agreements have been arrived at and settlements come to. For months past there have been no disputes, and the district has settled down. In one case a landlord asked Mr. Fitzgibbon to name the terms of settlement, and I mention this as indicating the opinion in which Mr. Fitzgibbon is held. In consequence, he has been specially marked by the authorities for prosecution. Three times he has been sent to prison with hard labour, and the first was in April of last year, when he was prosecuted for making a speech in which he was said to have incited persons not to supply the police. He was convicted on the evidence of policemen who had not made a report of his speech at the time, and who spoke of his speech from memory two months afterwards. Upon the evidence of those two policemen, given upon their memory of what had taken place two months previously, Mr. Fitzgibbon was sentenced to a month's hard labour; and, although he asked that the sentence should be increased to six months, in order to allow of appeal, the Resident Magistrates refused the application. On coming out of prison Mr. Fitzgibbon was immediately prosecuted for an offence which had occurred before the first prosecution—namely, for inciting the tenants of the district to combine against the payment of rent. The case lasted 18 days, and eventually a case was stated for the Superior Courts. His conviction, however, was sustained, and he was sent to prison on a sentence of four months' hard labour. Will the House believe that the Crown had the incredible meanness to charge Mr. Fitzgibbon with the costs of this case before the Superior Court, amounting in all to £130? Well, no sooner had Mr. Fitzgibbon come out of prison a second time than he was once more prosecuted, this time for an offence which had occurred 11 months previously. The offence was that of inciting to boycott. There was a farm from which some person had been unjustly evicted, and there was a meeting of the Land League, at which it was determined that this farm should be boycotted. Mr. Wynn was present at that meeting, and made a complaint of the tenant then in possession. Some time afterwards the then tenant gave the farm up, and Mr. Wynn, a member of the Land League, took the farm behind the backs of his friends. Mr. Wynn was questioned about this transaction, and he denied the fact, although it afterwards turned out to be true. The police took Mr. Wynn to Fitzgibbon's, and, being refused supplies by the latter, they prosecuted him in respect of the previous meeting of the Land League. It seems to me that to rake up an occurrence of that kind, which took place seven months before the second prosecution, was monstrous, and would not be tolerated in England, or in any country where trial by jury is in force. When Mr. Fitzgibbon came out of prison at last he was followed constantly by the police. While in prison Mr. Fitzgibbon's business was managed by his brother-in-law, who came from a distance. This gentleman happened to be present at a Land League meeting, and was pounced upon by the police. He was called upon to give bail for good behaviour, and, in default, he was sent to prison. Looking at this case as a whole I think there was a determination shown on the part of the authorities to ruin, persecute, and destroy this man. It was not a case of prosecution, but of persecution. I could give other illustrations of what has taken place, but I will not weary the House. I venture to think that what I have brought forward is worthy of the attention and serious consideration of the House as examples of what is taking place at the present moment under the administration of the Coercion Act.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has called attention to the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon, which he has introduced for the purpose of showing that that person was persistently prosecuted with a view to his ruin. He has also stated that similar things are taking place in other parts of Ireland of a kind that could not possibly take place in England. The best answer I can give to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is to call attention to the successive acts of the man whose case he has cited as a typical one, and to ask the Committee to draw their own conclusions as to whether the proceedings which were instituted against this man were prompted by a desire to ruin and destroy him, or whether it was not really the case of a man who, from whatever motives, had entered upon a course of open, persistent defiance of the law which would not be tolerated in England or in any other civilised country. If hon. Gentlemen argue on the assumption that boycotting and the Plan of Campaign are not crimes but eccentricities, then the prosecutions of this man upon the part of the Government might appear capricious; but if, as the highest Courts in Ireland have laid down, boycotting conspiracies are criminal conspiracies, and the Plan of Campaign is a conspiracy punishable by the common law of the land as being dangerous to the community, then I ask what course could the Executive take other than that of asserting the law, even though the motives actuating the individual might be as excellent as those suggested by the right hon. Gentleman in this case. The first case against Mr. Fitzgibbon was on the 1st of May, 1888, when he was summoned to answer a charge of having incited by a speech in Roscommon to boycott the police. The police were in consequence boycotted, and refused all supplies of provisions, and for that little eccentricity on the part of Mr. Fitzgibbon he was convicted and sentenced to a month's imprisonment. In the district in which Mr. Fitzgibbon himself resided boycotting and intimidation of the grossest character continued to exist. The next prosecution against Mr. Fitzgibbon was for inciting the tenants not to pay their rent. That prosecution followed from an inquiry under the first section of the Crimes Act, which had the happy result of eliciting evidence which had led to the practical suppression of boycotting and intimidation in the neighbourhood. The case was, however, adjourned from time to time in consequence of the difficulty in getting witnesses who had given evidence at the preliminary inquiry to repeat their evidence in open Court. Finally, on August 14, 1888, the Court sentenced Mr. Fitzgibbon to four months' imprisonment. The Magistrates stated a case, which was argued before the Court of Exchequer on November 23, 1888; but it was a remarkable fact that there was no appeal upon the merits. The defendant elected to appeal on a bad point of law.


He could not have appealed on the merits also.


Yes; but if he had a case on the merits, would he have taken an appeal on a bad law point? He took a bad law point and the appeal was decided against him.


The Chief Baron himself said it was a very "narrow shave."


I must say that I consider a point of law upon which an appellant risks his liberty for four month s and which is decided against him a bad law point, and if he felt that he had a good case on the merits he should have appealed to the County Court Judge. Not only did the Exchequer Court decide against Mr. Fitzgibbon, but the Lord Chief Baron went out of his way to compliment the Resident Magistrates upon the remarkable accuracy of their decisions upon all the points which arose in the course of a most complicated case. The third case against Mr. Fitzgibbon was for having taken part in a conspiracy to compel one Wynne to give up a farm which was on an estate where the Plan of Campaign had been established. The offence, it will be observed, was committed under circumstances of aggravation, the Plan of Campaign having been established on the estate. Wynne was summoned on June 17, 1888, to appear before the League, and Mr. Fitzgibbon called upon him to give up the farm, saying that it would be made "hot" for him if he did not do so. Wynne refused to part with the farm, and it was made "hot" for him. He was rigorously boycotted and refused provisions in Castlereagh. When Mrs. Wynne endeavoured to obtain goods at Mr. Fitzgibbon's shop he refused to supply her, and forced a policeman who accompanied her out of the house. He then took Mrs. Wynne by the shoulder and put her out of the shop also. [Opposition cheers from below the Gangway.] Hon. Members cheer. Would they cheer such conduct if it had been manifested in any other circumstances?


Was not Wynne a member of the Land League himself, and had he not joined in supporting every resolution passed by the League?


I must say that I fail to see the relevancy of the right hon. Gentleman's interruption, unless, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman holds a doctrine which I cannot accept, namely—that to turn the wife of a member of the National League out of a shop is defensible conduct. Now, this is a remarkable case, and has been selected by the right hon. Gentleman as a test case. There was an appeal which was heard by the County Court Judge, one whom the right hon. Gentleman, in a book just published by him, has truly described as an able and experienced Judge. Well, the conviction was affirmed on appeal. He has been made a first class misdemeanant, and his sentence was diminished by two months; but, at the same time, he did receive a substantial sentence. As I have just said, this is the case which the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to bring forward as an indictment against the administration of the criminal law in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has devoted a great portion of his time to this matter, and has carefully picked out one particular instance, and it is for the Committee to say how far he has succeeded in making out his proposition. I shall not take up the time of the Committee by discussing cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill), in which he admits that crimes were committed, but attributes the prosecution of those crimes to petty spite on the part of the Government.


Intervening transactions arose which made it convenient for the Government to gratify its petty personal spite. My charge is that offences by individuals under the Crimes Act, having been left unnoticed for three or four months, when other circumstances arose which rendered it convenient to prosecute those individuals the Government meanly took advantage of the old offences upon which to base their prosecution.


That is what I said. I decline to take up the time of the Committee with discussing the imputation of motives of a prosecution when it is admitted that a crime has been committed. The hon. and learned Member referred to the case of the hon. Member for North Monaghan, who, he said, was proceeded against for interfering with applications under the Ashbourne Act.


I said the hon. Member was arrested under a warrant in reference to that very charge, but the Government would not proceed with it, as they had got a double-barrelled charge.


The hon. and learned Gentleman said the Government were using the Crimes Act to facilitate purchases under the Ashbourne Act. Now, the fact is that this portion of the charge was withdrawn by the prosecution, and the hon. Member was charged and sentenced for taking part in the Plan of Campaign. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to the case of Captain Guinness's bailiff. Now, in that ease there was nothing of a political, sectarian, or agrarian nature. It only came to this. The able and experienced Judge no doubt charged for a conviction for murder. There was not an acquittal, but a conviction on the minor charge of manslaughter. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman with his experience cannot say that there is anything extraordinary in that. No doubt the skilful defence of the prisoner's counsel induced the jury to bring in the verdict for the lesser crime. Then there is the case of the man Irwin, who was shot. There is absolutely no evidence of murder beyond the fact that the man met his death in Bestley's house. There again there was nothing of a sectarian or political or agrarian character in the case, and not only the Bench of Magistrates on which Mr. Olphert sat, but the Grand Jury were unable to find a true Bill. The Attorney General called for a special Report of the case, for the Crown Solicitor was unable to find any evidence which would justify him in sending the case again before a Grand Jury.


What about Sergeant Mac neill?


I regret to say I am unable to deal with that case without notice. I cannot carry all the details of these cases in my head. If I had had notice I would willingly have made every inquiry into the case. I now ask what foundation is laid by the cases brought under the notice of the Committee for a grave impeachment of the administration of the law in Ireland? And if these cases are not a foundation for such an impeachment, why has the time of the Committee been taken up in discussing them?


The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken is always courteous and endeavours to state his case fairly; but I desire to put to him one or two questions in regard to matters which have been referred to in the course of the Debate. I will take, first, the case of John Fitzgibbon, in reference to the facts of which I do know something. John Fitzgibbon was prosecuted for the crime of "inciting to conspiracy," and this was a phrase which was not known to the law until the Coercion Act was passed. He was given no opportunity for appeal. He was sentenced to a month's imprisonment, and I subsequently asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to inform the House what terrible thing it was he said, but the Solicitor General very cautiously, and no doubt wisely, declined to give that information. The charge of inciting to conspiracy arose in connection with the proceedings on Lord De-Freyne's estate. That was not the only charge brought against John Fitzgibbon. The second was that he had taken part in a criminal conspiracy, and for that he was sentenced to four months' imprisonment. It has been suggested that he acted unwisely in appealing against this sentence on two bad points of law. But what were these points of law? It was admitted that the prosecution in this case was preceded by a Star Chamber inquiry, and the Act provided that in all these cases the person accused of crime respecting which the inquiry had been held under that section should be supplied with copies of the depositions taken. But Johns Fitzgibbon was denied these depositions, and this refusal formed one of the legal points which was raised in the Court of Appeal. The question was whether or not he was entitled to the depositions, and his appeal was defeated on the ground that the Petty Sessions Act was incorporated with the Coercion Act; that the word "trial" was used, and that the proceedings in Petty Sessions were only a hearing, and, that, therefore, this special provision did not apply in this case. Surely it was the intention of Parliament when this Act was passed that if there was a Star Chamber inquiry the accused should be entitled to the depositions which were taken. That was, undoubtedly, the plain intention of Parliament; but the Court decided against the appellant on a purely technical point, and he not only had to undergo his term of imprisonment, but he was fined £131 in addition, in the shape of the costs incurred in the appeal. I think it is a monstrous thing that the Government, instead of being satisfied with the terms of imprisonment to which Mr. Fitzgibbon was sentenced, should also press for the payment of the costs in connection with the appeals. Now what was the second point of law? It was that in order to prove the case against the defendant it was necessary to produce a copy of United Ireland published in the year 1886, which contained the promulgation of the Plan of Campaign. Under Section 10 Sub-section 4 it was necessary that the prosecution should take place within six months of the conspiracy, and as this prosecution occurred in 1888, whereas the Plan of Campaign was promulgated in United Ireland in 1886, and as it was necessary, in order to prove the cases against the defendant, that the promulgation in 1886 should be proved, it was argued that the case did not come within the section. I think that that was a very good point, and that a barrister who failed to raise it on an appeal would not in the future get a brief which was worth a glass of whisky. Well, the result of the appeal was that we settled the law for the right hon. Gentleman, and for doing that we are fined £131 in the shape of costs; and we have also since learned that the case was decided against us by "the very narrowest shave." I admit that in appealing on points of law we imperilled the liberty of the defendant; but I think it is better to appeal on two difficult law points than on other grounds which we know from past experience to be hopeless. Now remember that this conspiracy was in connection with the proceedings on Lord De-Freyne's estate, and it is a remarkable thing that, Fitzgibbon having acted as paymaster under the Plan of Campaign, the receipts given by him to the tenants were afterwards accepted by Lord De-Freyne's agent as cash. Now what was the third case brought against Mr. Fitzgibbon? He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour for refusing to supply a woman named Wynn with what were stated to be the necessaries of life. But what were the facts? The woman's husband was formerly a prominent member of the Land League, but he left that organization and went over to the police. He took an evicted farm, and it seems that he had some difficulty in purchasing goods from his neighbours. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said a good deal about the woman having been deprived of the necessaries of life, but what were the facts? This woman, accompanied by a policeman, went into Fitzgibbon's drapery shop, and asked for—what? She asked for an ostrich feather! The land grabbers evidently want their wives to be dressed in ostrich feathers; they swear that these are "necessaries of life," and they get policeman to prove the allegation. Now, John Fitzgibbon, seeing that this was an attempt to "bull-dose" him, put the policemen out of the shop by the shoulders, and also put the woman outside. The Government thereupon prosecuted him and got him sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and not only was this man imprisoned over and over again because he took the side of his fellow-countrymen, but that did not satisfy the Government. They thought to secure his ruin. He had a good business in the town of Castlereagh; and by sending him to gaol his business was, of course, abandoned to the mercy of his clerks, and while he was so imprisoned the Government took another step and arrested and imprisoned his manager. English Members, who know nothing about these cases, cheer the right hon. Gentleman when he attacks the Irish Representatives, and I must say they ought to be ashamed of themselves for doing so. I invite the smiling Member for Dover to write a few letters on the basis of the Epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians. He can describe "St. George" wrestling with the "Dragon" of the Land League, and he can go into the subject of "ostrich feathers," considered as "necessaries of life." What was done when the ease came on for appeal? The counsel for the prosecution made a terrible speech about boycotting. He suggested that the defendant was a terror to the neighbourhood, and consequently the County Court Judge, in the interests of what is called law and order, gave a decision confirming the conviction, but reducing the sentence to two months' imprisonment without hard labour. I am not going to quarrel with the learned County Court Judge. I believe he was the first County Court Judge in Ireland who directed that Coercion Act prisoners should be treated as first-class misdemeanants. These cases are not infrequent. They are like snow-flakes—one overlaps the other, and the dirtiest is always seen at the top. The hon. Member for the Holderness Division of York approves of the action of the Government in this matter. I should like to know what the working men in his constituency would say if he went down to them and endeavoured to justify the imprisonment of a man for refusing to sell ostrich feathers, which were asked for on the ground that they were necessaries of life. What would be done even in an English village if a man left the Primrose League? Would the Primrose dames patronise his shop? And now I come to another case, and that is that of Miss Cusack, who was deprived of her licence by two resident bravos about two years ago, because she refused to serve some emergency men with porter. Well, we took her case on a technical point to the Queen's Bench, and we got her back the license, but will it be believed that in this case it was sworn that porter was a "necessary of life"? I should have thought that the hon. Member for South Tyrone, instead of condemning, would have approved of the conduct of Miss Cusack in refusing to supply porter to these men, and would have commended her self-denial and her efforts in the cause of temperance. They got her license put back. She applied for it next year, but they went at her again, and she was deprived of her licence by Magistrates of the type of poor old Colonel Carew, who I do not think has intellect enough to know how to sweep a street crossing clean. Instead of appealing from Philip drunk to Philip drunker, namely, the Court of Quarter Sessions, we took the case to the Queen's Bench, and again we got Miss Cusack back her license. This went on for three years. Her brother was arrested and sent to gaol, as also were a number of other people from the village in which she resides. Colonel Carew, having been instructed by two solemn decisions of the Court of Queen's Bench as to how to deprive a publican of his license, shot at Miss Cusack once more, and again deprived her of her license. Miss Cusack and her friends, however, took heart and determined upon starting a club. They opened a club in the village, and Miss Cusack's brother was made manager, whilst she herself had a position in it. I read in the newspaper to-day—and I am sure it will gratify the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see how the revenue can be enhanced—only members are admitted to the club, and they can, of course, go in every time they want a pint of porter. Emergency men cannot go in, and because of that I see that Mr. Cusack is being prosecuted for, probably, the 27th time, this time by Mr. George Bolton. Fancy Mr. George Bolton prosecuting any body—the saintly George Bolton, whom an English Judge said ought to have been struck off the Rolls for fraud and infamy of every kind. The man is creeping with infamy, but he is good enough at all times to prosecute for the Crown. Miss Cusack this time was prosecuted for selling drink on unlicensed premises; but as it was shown that the club was regularly established, the Magistrates—and Colonel Carew was amongst them—what a bitter morsel it must have been for him—were obliged to dismiss the charge on the ground that the club was a legal institution, because drink was only sold to members, and all the necessary precautions had been taken to avoid a breach of the law. An application was made to the Magistrates to state a case, and, though such applications are almost invariably refused in the case of poor unfortunate prisoners, as a salve to Mr. George Bolton, Colonel Carew stated a case to the Court of Queen's Bench. Look at the cost of this proceeding to Miss Cusack. Supposing she succeeds, I venture to say these proceedings will cost her £30 or £40. Bye the way, I forgot to mention that last May Miss Cusack was sentenced to four months' imprisonment for refusing to sell a box of matches to an emergency man, and she is still under that sentence. And you tell us, for sooth! that cases of this kind are not cases of persecution. I ask, "What else are they?" And you talk of the sordidness of the publicans of Ireland! When we find people—even women—willing to go to gaol and to lose their licences, which means the loss of their livings in cases of this kind, I say that we, on our part, will never allow it to be said that the Irish publicans are sordid and money-grubbing, and animated only by one consideration, that of battening on the ruin of other people without standing up for them and defending them. There are a great many more cases. Like the Arabian Nights Entertainments, they are endless. But so far as the cases before the Magistrates are concerned, I did not intend to recite them. What I intended when I rose to-night to go into was the question of the specific promise of the Chief Secretary that we should have an appeal in all these cases. The right hon. Gentleman is very sick, no doubt, of hearing of this promise of his of 17th May, 1887. He has told us that he has dealt with this matter over and over again. Well, I have been a diligent student of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman in this House, and out of it. I consider that his speeches always repay perusal; but I have never been able to find that he has "dealt" with his refusal to carry out his pledge. If I were a person drawing £4,000 a year, and very ticklish on the point of honour, and always standing up for morality and law and order, and laying down the necessity for conscientious dealings as between man and man, I think I should try to get out of this statement in Hansard. He has never answered it. In the words of the celebrated miner spoken of by Bret Harte, in the Lucie of Roaring Camp, when the miner gave the baby his thumb, "he wrastled with it, the little cuss." Here is his statement—and so long as he is in office, and so long as there is no Bill passed, I shall repeat it over and over again, like the beads of a rosary—and I would suggest to the hon. Member for Dover that he should write his next letter about it:— The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the law of conspiracy is an obscure law. It is said that it is a difficult law, which is capable of dangerous extension, and that we are leaving its administration to men who are not learned in the law—namely, the .Resident Magistrates. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to say that the Resident Magistrates' decision is not final. Mr. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.): He may give two months' imprisonment. Mr. A. J. BALFOUR; I do not complain of the interruption. The hon. and learned Member is quite correct in saying that under the Bill, as we have drafted it, we may have followed too closely, "Too closely" are the words in Hansard, but this is a corrected speech, and I believe the word used was "servilely" or "slavishly," the Act of 1882, and that by the existing law of Ireland there is no appeal if the imprisonment is for less than a month. But we propose to give an appeal in every case. Mr. T. M. HEALY: With no accumulative sentences? Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: There will be an appeal in every case to a County Court Judge, and if, on legal technicalities, the County Court Judge is objected to, the Government will be prepared to consider a plan for giving an appeal in cases in which a legal difficulty may be involved to a still higher tribunal. This statement remains on record. It has never been explained. He says he has "dealt" with it, but will he deal with it in a manner that our intellects can grasp? He has promised us an appeal, but no appeal has been granted, and no attempt made to carry out the pledge which was given, and I say unfulfilled is shamed by its non-fulfilment. But this law has obtained a new extension; the Government are now proceeding almost entirely under the Statute of Edward III., and are giving six months' imprisonment under it. Under that Statute there is no appeal of any kind. But not only that; they proceed under the Statute of Edward III. and the Crimes Act at the same that a Minister whose pledge stands time, thereby ousting the jurisdiction of the local magistrates. Take the case of Mr. Stack. On the 12th February, at Tralee, he was charged with conduct calculated to lead to a breach of the peace by cheering Mr. W. O'Brien when he was being conveyed as a prisoner to the station. Now, observe—this is the deposition of Cecil Roche; and who is it made before? Cecil Roche is a Resident Magistrate, and the deposition was made before another Resident Magistrate, Captain Welsh. Was it made in a Court of Justice? No; it was made in Tralee Police Barracks. They dragged Mr. Stack into the nearest police barracks; they got one puppet to try the case and another puppet to give evidence. Having ousted the ordinary Petty Sessions jurisdiction they tried him summarily before this Resident Magistrate. At the ordinary Petty Sessions Mr. Latchford would have sat on the Bench, to whom Mr. Cecil Roche had given a sentence of a month's imprisonment, which was quashed, and also Mr. H. St. John Donovan, a Catholic Magistrate and a Nationalist. For this reason Mr. Stack was brought before a puppet of the Government and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. In his depositions Mr. Cecil Roche said that he was aware that the town was proclaimed. That was an illegal way of giving evidence with regard to a printed document; such evidence would not have been given by the Attorney General at the Commission. The deposition then continued— I arrived from Tralee Petty Sessions and proceeded with a body of police"— fancy Sir J. Hannen proceeding down Fleet Street with a body of police— and military in command of Colonel Turner) Colonel Turner being the genius who selects Mr. Cecil Roche for the trials. Mr. Roche proceeded to say that there was a large and disorderly crowd cheering and booing on the street. God help the people who are batoned! When the police make a baton charge you can hear the batons go through the skull just as a spoon goes through an egg shell. A man, not knowing what is going on, may come round the corner of a street and be met by a policeman, who will strike him with his baton, and down he goes. Then Mr. Roche went on to say— They booed for Balfour and myself. I saw Stack standing at the door of the house among a group of persons. When the car conveying Mr. O'Brien passed I saw the defendant take off his hat and waive it over his head. At that moment there was mingled cheering and booing from the people in the street. From my knowledge of the town of Tralee, as Resident Magistrate, I think such conduct is extremely likely to lead to a breach of the peace. I hoped the hon. and gallant Commander opposite (Colonel Saunderson) is satisfied with the deposition of his friend the Resident Magistrate. For that Mr. Stack was bound over to be of good behaviour or to go to gaol for six months. Mr. Stack gave bail, but how does that affect the question? He has no appeal. Is it not a monstrous thing, as the Lord Chief Baron said, that a man has to humiliate himself by giving bail in a matter of this kind? You must write yourself down a coward or go to gaol, without appeal, for the space of six months. And that is the law of Ireland. I say that such a state of things is shocking and appalling. If this went on in any other country in the world except Ireland numberless indignation meetings would be convened. Look at the row you are creating at this moment over a wretched adulteress, because she is one of yourselves—a respectable person so-called. But everybody who is brought up in the Divorce Court now is a respectable person. The whole English nation is throbbing and thrilling to know what will happen in this case of Mrs. Maybrick, but many are the men who have been hanged in Ireland upon evidence upon which you would not hang a dog in this country. Ireland might be sweltering in blood, and you would have no indignation meetings. You are easily excited by events in Bulgaria and Armenia, but you regard Ireland as a British possession. Ireland is only four hours from your shores, and, therefore, you do not feel called upon to show her any consideration. When your own Minister promises an appeal in all cases under a certain Act, and breaks his word, he is regarded as the greatest statesman of the age. I brought in a Bill giving appeal, but it was objected to by followers of the right hon. Gentleman. I should have thought the Government would have looked upon me as a saviour. I took the trouble to draft the Bill. The Government had a measure ready to their hands if they had liked to pass it. But the Government cling to the system whereby the Catholic and the Nationalist is tried by a packed jury of his enemies, and whereby the Protestant and the Orangeman is tried by a jury of his friends. When the clause permitting the empanelling of a special jury was before the House in 1877, and we got up to expose the nature of it, the only answer we got from the Treasury Bench was: "I beg to move that the question be now put." The qualification for a special juror is so restricted that, in a county where there are only 10,000 voters, there will only be about 200 jurors. You may take it that the special jury class is the Orange class, the agent class, the Magistrate class, I assert this proposition—that I firmly believe that if a Nationalist Member of Parliament were shot in cold blood in the streets of Dublin nobody would be punished for the offence. If I were shot in my constituency by an Orangeman there would be no more chance of the man being brought to justice than there is of grasping at the stars. With the single exception of Dr. Cross, who by the most overwhelming evidence was hanged for poisoning his wife, there has been no Protestant hanged for murder in Ireland for years upon years; and I say, further more—for plenty of murders have been committed by Protestants—that, when Protestants are convicted, they escape without adequate punishment. There was a blackguard called Lloyd, a landlord in Tipperary, who, with his bailiff, got drunk in the town of Templemore. A man spoke to him and advised him to go home. Lloyd pulled out his pistol and fired "at large," as the Americans say, and the unfortunate man was killed, while another man was wounded almost mortally. Lloyd was returned for trial, but the Crown Solicitor, Mr. George Bolton, was with Mr. Soames in Lincoln's Inn, and the Sheriff did not return the Special Jury panel. So the whole county was inconvenienced, and a Special Assize was held, when Mr. George Bolton returned from the O'Donnell trial. Lloyd was proved to have murdered the man in cold blood; but every Catholic was challenged off the jury. A verdict of manslaughter was brought in, and the Judge gave him 10 years' penal servitude. Was the murder of Inspector Martin worse than this? Inspector Martin, at any rate, met his death in a tumult that he himself did much to provoke by seizing a priest as he was returning from the celebration of the most sacred rite of the Church, and brandishing a sword over the priest's head; at least, Inspector Martin was killed in hot blood. Then there was the case of the Walkers in Belfast, who killed a policeman and a soldier, and wounded almost mortally another policeman. They were tried by a Judge and jury, and the Judge said that the jury must convict or violate their oaths. They did violate their oaths. One man was acquitted, the other was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude. Was the murder of Inspector Martin worse than that? Take another case, that of John Kinsella, killed by a gang of emergency men, who had no more title to come upon his land than a stranger has to walk into this House. A verdict of wilful murder was returned; but the Grand Jury ignored the Bill. The venue was changed, and a Special Jury, off which every Catholic was challenged, unanimously acquitted the prisoner, and the blood of John Kinsella at this hour cries to heaven for vengeance. Was the body and soul of Inspector Martin more precious in the sight of man than the body and soul of John Kinsella? Then there was the case of the man Frackleton, a gamekeeper to one of the Guinnesses, and who, drinking at a counter and being spoken to by a man, drew his revolver, and, without justification or quarrel of any kind, shot the man through the head. Not content with that, this man fired at the woman behind the counter, wounding her so that she has not yet left her bed; and yet a third shot Frackleton fired and wounded another woman who entered. Did you change the venue for Frackleton's trial? No, you had a jury of stalwarts in Dublin, who, on the plainest evidence of murder, brought in a verdict of manslaughter. The learned Judge was appalled at the verdict which the jury returned. The Chief Secretary was asked at the time to give some compensation to the widow of the murdered man, as was done in the case of a man murdered in Monaghan by some Orangemen as they were returning from some of their religious exercises, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian made the widow of Philip Maguire a compassion able allowance of £100; but in this case, when application was made on behalf of the unfortunate widow of Kennedy, there was a refusal. She and her children may go to the poor house for aught the right hon. Gentleman opposite cares, and the two poor women lie on their beds of pain in a Dublin hospital, and nobody cares. No, it is not like the case of Mrs. Maybrick. That does not exhaust my list. Take the case of Mrs. Lucas, the wife of a Magistrate in County Cork, whose husband was under police protection because he was boycotted. Mrs. Lucas was caught in her chemise at 2 o'clock in the morning by a policeman on duty with a can of petroleum in her hand, pouring the petroleum over the window-curtains and about to apply a match to them. The husband was drunk and might have been smothered, and the children might have been burned to death. Mrs. Lucas was found guilty and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. But she did not serve her time; she was put somewhere where there were sympathetic doctors; her health became bad, and the Lord Lieutenant, returning from some English race meeting, signed the warrant for her release. There was a case tried a year ago at Kerry Assizes of an emergency man who killed his paramour. He was brought before the same Judge who let off Mrs. Lucas, and because he was an emergency man the police allowed it to be stated that the man's paramour was his sister, of whom he was very fond. Having been found guilty of manslaughter, the man was released on his own recognizances. The men convicted under the Home Rule Government for the Belfast riots were sentenced to five years' penal servitude; but directly the Tory Government came in they were released. Then there was the case of the Belfast frauds, which was tried by the same learned Judge who tried Mrs. Lucas and the men charged with the murder of Kinsella. In the murder of Kinsella the chief evidence for the Crown was that of a cousin of the deceased, who proved the shooting, and the Judge having ascertained that this man was a farmer actually said to him, "Don't you think you would be better minding your farm?"


The remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman have been for some time far removed from the Vote under consideration. The hon. Member is now discussing the conduct of a Judge. That should be done in quite another fashion.


I will pass from the conduct of the Judge, Sir, and go to the action of the Crown in regard to the Belfast frauds. The Crown called upon the New York Assurance Company to make a Report as to who were the persons guilty of fraud. I challenge the Government to lay that Report on the Table. I have seen it, and I find that deepest in the fraud is Mr. Henderson, the Government's chief backer and prop in Belfast, the proprietor of the Belfast News Letter, and a Magistrate for the county. They were the meanest and most murderous frauds ever exposed in a Court of Justice. Confirmed drunkards, whose livers-were found afterwards to have been in a most astonishing condition, were plied with liquor and then set to climb up ladders. The doctors who signed the certificates and the men engaged in the frauds ought all to have been sentenced to penal servitude for life; for theirs was a dietinct conspiracy to murder. Who were the men chiefly involved? The chief man was Chestnut Smith, Secretary to the Chamberlain demonstration in Belfast. "What was done with him? The Government accepted him as an informer, although they had ample evidence without that aid; and the action of the Crown in taking this man's evidence simply to get him off because he was on their side was as petty, as mean, and as contemptible as any action which a Crown counsel ever engaged in. Robert Dunlop, worth £80,000, and some others were convicted, and the Judge passed sentence of nine months' imprisonment, and in relation to one of them he stated a case. The curious thing about this was that the Lord Chief Justice said he could not find out what was the point of the case which had been stated, and the upshot was that the man got six months' imprisonment; and when in gaol those prisoners got back their own clothes and paraded up and down Derry Gaol in silk hats. There was also the case of Kirwin, who murdered his wife, but being a Freemason he was not hanged, and was set free by the present Government; there were also the cases of Matthews and Beatty, but I will not enter further into these cases; time will not allow of it. All I will say is this—while on the one hand the Coercion Act is used as a mesh to entrap every Catholic brought before the Court constituted under it and to convict him, right or wrong, on the other hand it guarantees absolute immunity to the Tory or the Orangeman who commits a crime. I assert again, if I should be murdered in Dublin to-morrow, supposing I were there, not a soul would be brought to justice for the deed, though possibly the murderer might receive a Government appointment as prison warder or perhaps Resident Magistrate. You ask us to respect your law. I pointed out when the Crimes Act was passing in 1882 that there was a clause in the Act which would enable unnatural offenders to escape. Cornwall and Fernandez escaped, having been acquitted by their "pals" on the jury without a stain on their character. Ffrench, it is true, was convicted. The only answer I got to my objection was closure, and now we see the use to which this section is being put. The Crown changed the venue in the case of the Donegal peasants down to a man, and after those prisoners have been convicted and turned out of gaol to die, the right hon. Gentleman says that those were not Crimes Act cases at all. The venue in cases like that of Father M'Fadden is changed. You bring this Catholic priest to Queen's County, and you are going to try him by the descendants of those men who, in '98, stirred their punch with Father Murphy's finger. Why, you might as well expect a runaway slave to be fairly tried by a jury of southern planters. And this is the great Government which is upholding law and order. The people despise your law and hate your order. Your order is that of the highwayman; your law is the law of the strongest—"Your money or your life." No one could entertain any feeling but that of holy horror and loathing for your system of law; and the Irishman who does not hate and despise it is the unworthy son of a great country which has always loved liberty and which will yet maintain it when those who are now persecuting it are only remembered to be accursed.

SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

Before the Vote is taken I should like to call attention to the position of the Donegal peasants, who have been brought some 120 miles to Maryborough to be tried for complicity in the murder of Sub-Inspector Martin, who are to be tried on the 16th or 17th of October next. Why was the venue changed in such a case? The Chief Secretary has said that these men were able to meet the change of venue, but it should be remembered that these people in Donegal were starving, and had no means of bringing their witnesses or their legal advisers to the Court to which the venue had been changed. With regard to the practice of the Crown Prosecutor selecting the Jury, about 350 years ago a prisoner had the right to challenge the names of 30 jurors, but that has been reduced to 20, so that the prisoner is no w in a worse position than before; but the Crown still retains its right of unlimited challenge. In Wexford, in the year 1887, a number of poor peasants had been fired on by an Orange mob, and the victims were tried for taking part in a riot; at the trial which took place no fewer than 65 jurors were ordered on the part of the Crown to "stand aside." In Wicklow last March no fewer than 35 jurors were similarly ordered to stand aside. In these cases the Judge remonstrated; but they have no power to alter the law; and only a few weeks ago Mr. Justice Andrews and Mr. Justice O'Brien said they could not interfere with the right possessed by the Crown in this respect. When, however, we ask whether the Crown intends to continue the exercise of this right, we are told that the Attorney General will exercise his discretion; and yet in the same breath we are told that the law of England and Ireland is the same. I can only say that if these 10 men are tried by a jury selected by the Crown, men who have no feeling in common with the class to which the prisoners belong, they will not be tried, as in the theory of the law they ought to be, by their Peers. When the trial is removed to-such a distance that the witnesses have to go 150 miles, and when the jury are selected in this way, I say that these men will not have a fair trial according to the law. I might go on citing cases. Not long ago there was a man called Hickey tried for murder in County Kerry, and when a number of jurors were ordered to stand aside, one of the special jury, to use his own expression, declared that the jury-was packed. The Chief Secretary has denied that packing; but there was another case in which every Roman Catholic who happened to be summoned on the jury was ordered to stand aside. Protestants and Catholics alike protest against the number of jurors ordered to stand aside. I ask whether the Government intend to carry on this system of selecting juries on the principle that men may be set aside until the Crown Prosecutor is assured of a jury that will convict the prisoner.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 61.—(Div. List, No. 338.)

8. £7,273, to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy, Ireland.

9. £885, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Court Registry, Ireland.

10. £10,243, to complete the sum for the Registry of Deeds, Ireland.


I should like to have an assurance from the Government that in any re-arrangement and re-construction of the Registry of Deeds Office the existing clerks will not be damnified. The clerks feel grave apprehensions on the subject. I also wish to know whether the Report of the Departmental inquiry that has been held can be made public?


In connection with any changes that may be effected in the office there will, of course, be every desire to preserve the rights of the existing servants. I will endeavour, as far as possible, to satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman that justice will be done, and I will make inquiries as to the feasibility of publishing the Report.

Vote agreed to.

11. £1,297, to complete the sum for the Registry of Judgments, Ireland.

Forward to