HC Deb 21 June 1889 vol 337 cc410-2
DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, at the evictions which took place on the 18th instant at Gurtroe, near Youghal, county Cork, Colonel Caddell ordered the police to break by force, and against the protest of the owner, Canon Keller, into the chapel grounds at Gurtroe, and that the police, in obeying the order, broke the railings surrounding grounds, and refused to leave when requested to do to by Canon Keller; and when he and Mr. Lane, M.P., asked for the names of the members of the police force who had broken into grounds, the officer in charge refused to give them; whether Captain Plunkett, when applied to by Canon Keller to remove the police from the grounds, his private property, refused to comply with the request; whether the conduct on the part of those in charge of the police was sanctioned by the Irish Government; whether there is any legal warrant for the police to so break into private premises in which no illegal act was being at the time committed; and whether he will inquire into the matter, and give such order as will in future prevent the occurrence of such proceedings?


I wish also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether ho is aware that on Tuesday last, the police engaged in the Ponsonby Estate clearances broke into the grounds of the Catholic Church, the property of the parish priest, against his will, expelled people who were there by his leave, and remained there after he directed them to withdraw; that when the parish priest, the Very Rev. Canon Keller, accompanied by Mr. Lane, the Member for the Division, went to where Captain Plunkett, the person in chief control, was standing on the high road, and made a representation to him as to the action of the police, he replied, "Go about your business," and thereupon gave an order which the police executed by pushing Canon Keller and Mr. Lane violently for some distance along the public road, and that a person named Crockett, who had been allowed inside the lines, insulted a young girl, daughter of a widow, an evicted tenant, by asking her to kiss him; whether this insult was also offered to her by Colonel Caddell, R.M., who told her that she must have been kissing the police, the girl having been arrested in her mother's house at the time of the eviction, and kept in custody without any friend to protect her; why Crockett was admitted within the cordon; and, what was his business there?


The Constabulary Authorities report that in connection with the evictions mentioned a disorderly mob had assembled inside the chapel and chapel yard, having been apparently brought together by the ringing of the chapel bell, used as a signal for that purpose. The mob assailed the police and all concerned in the execution of the law with the most filthy language, offering every obstruction to the Sheriff and his party. Canon Keller took no steps whatever to restrain this unlawful assembly. He was joined in a short time by the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane). The police were directed to disperse the unlawful assembly, and in doing so had to climb over the railings. Canon Keller was requested to remove this disorderly mob, but did not do so. If he had done so the police would have been withdrawn from the chapel yard.


Is it the fact that at the time of the attack on the people these persons were assembled in private grounds, and that they did nothing but cheer? If that is so, were the police justified in breaking into a private enclosure against the will of the owner, and in expelling the persons found there? With regard to the assault on ' Canon Keller and Mr. Lane I have received a telegram from my hon. Friend the Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane), in which he states that he and Canon Keller were assaulted and violently pushed along the public road, that Canon Keller protested against the illegality of the police remaining in the chapel grounds, and the danger which might ensue of a collision with the people. As to the assault offered to the young girl, by the man named Crockett, the right hon. Gentleman has passed over that matter altogether. Is it true Colonel Caddell, pointing to something on the girl's breast, said she must have been kissing a policeman inside—meaning something worse? I want to know by whose authority this insult was levelled against this poor girl?


The police have no knowledge whatever of the alleged action of Mr. Crockett, and Colonel Caddell entirely denies that any such language was used by him. I am given to understand that the girl in question and her sister used filthy and obscene language in reference to the police; but I have no information in regard to the matter beyond that which I have already given.


As the right hon. Gentleman has not only denied the assault, but has added a gross and offensive imputation against the girl, who is the daughter of honest and respectable parents, I wish to know if he will authorize an inquiry into the truth of her statement. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the matter will not be allowed to rest where it is without a searching inquiry.


So far as imputations are concerned it hardly becomes the right hon. Gentleman to make any charge against me. I have simply answered the questions put to me. I said that the police have no knowledge of the alleged action of Mr. Crockett, and I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that when he put the question yesterday I told him that I might not be able to give a complete answer to day.


I will repeat the question on Monday, and I will then ask what steps the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take in order to do justice to this insulted girl.

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