§ Mr. DILLON, Member for the Eastern Division of the County of Mayo, rose in 3iis place, and asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House, for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the imminent and daily increasing danger to the public peace by reason of the violent and un-Constitutional action of the police and Magistrates towards the people in the districts of Cashel and Tipperary; but the pleasure of the House not having been signified, Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen:—
§ (4.45.) MR. DILLON
Before I attempt to lay before the House the facts of which we complain in connection with the action of the Magistrates and the police at Cashel and Tipperary, I must briefly allude to the events which led up to those occurrences. The House is probably aware that two meetings were announced to be held at Tipperary and Cashei on the 25th and 27th of last month. These meetings were called by public placard, and full and long notice was given of the object, which was to give me a welcome on my return to Ireland and to hear addresses from Members for the County of Tipperary. As far as I am aware, no other object was stated on the placards, and I must say that I think it still lies with the Chief Secretary to state to the House on what grounds those meetings were proclaimed. As I understand, the law at present in 352 Ireland is precisely the same with regard to putting down meetings as it is in England, and, if that is so, it has been decided over and over again that proclamation by the Executive does not constitute a meeting illegal, but the Executive which issues the proclamation must prove to a Court of Law that it is justified in doing so. The mere ipse dixit of the police is not sufficient justification. But I am informed that the only cause alleged by the Chief Secretary in justification of the proclamation was that in his opinion the holding of those meetings would have a tendency to increase boycotting and intimidation in Tipperary. I may be wrong, but I believe that that forms no justification under the Common Law; on the contrary, the Executive must be furnished with sworn evidence that the holding of the meeting would be sufficient to cause a person of ordinary fortitude to be placed in terror of his life or of bodily danger. For my own part, I am prepared to contend that these meetings were legal all along, even after the proclamation was issued, and that no justification whatever existed for the proclamation. In answer to a question the Chief Secretary, before the Whitsuntide Recess, said that the increase of what he called outrages—things which are easily manufactured in Ireland— during the months of March and Apr was the ground for proclaiming thil meetings. But there was an open-ai public meeting at Tipperary in April last, and the result is that the districlt has been more quiet than it was before it, as far as my information goes. If that is true, it is grossly inconsistent and unfair to fall back upon facts which occurred before those meetings as justification for prohibiting the later meetings. At all events, chough we had this evidence that the previous open-air meeting had not led to an increase pf violence, these two meetings were proclaimed late on the Saturday. That is a custom on the part of the Executive of which we have great cause to complain. The meeting had been placarded a fortnight, yet Dublin Castle delayed issuing the proclamation till a few hours before it was to be held. My hon. Friends and myself, believing the meetings to be legal, and knowing that it had been laid down by the Judges in Blunt's case that the 353 Executive have no power to make a meeting illegal simply by proclaiming it, determined to go clown to Tipperary, and, by way of protest, hold a meeting as far as we prudently could. I have always taken up the position that if a meeting thus proclaimed were illegal it is our duty to go to the spot and address it, but if the Police Force was overwhelming to advise the people to disperse, in order to prevent bloodshed and disturbance. Well, we did go down to Tipperary, with the object of addressing the meeting if we could. At Limerick Junction—the nearest station to which we could get on Sunday morning, about three short miles from Tipperary—we found between 1,000 and 2,000 country people, and, by some oversight of the authorities, who are in the habit of making these mistakes, there were only about 20 policemen present. The police served us with copies of the proclamation, but we said that we did not consider it illegal, and proposed to hold a meeting, which we did. We appointed a Chairman, addresses were delivered, and a resolution was passed. The police very properly refrained from disturbing the peace, and, although they mixed freely with the people, and were rather offensive, no violence was done to them, and they were in no way injured. These 20 men were entirely at the mercy of a large crowd, yet they were in no way injured. After addressing the meeting I drove into Tipperary, leaving Mr. O'Brien and some others. On reaching Tipperary I found the entrance to the new square barred by a heavy cordon of police, who refused to allow us to pass. Two Resident Magistrates were present, and the square was held by about 200 police. While I and four I other Members of Parliament and a local priest, Father Humphreys, were discussing the situation, with no people near us, and with no weapons in our hands, I heard Captain Caddell say first to a heavy body of police, "Draw your batons, men," and then "Charge and clear those fellows out." Twenty policemen then drew their batons and charged upon five unarmed men, but broke their ranks as they came up to us, and did not strike us, although the two Magistrates told them to close their ranks. After passing, the police were re-formed, and the Magistrates seemed to become 354 rather ashamed of their conduct, for they ordered the men to put up their batons. I saw that to attempt a meeting in the square would lead to disturbance and bloodshed, and thought it best to lead a body of people out into the country, so I walked a few miles, followed by a Magistrate and a body of police. We did not get leave to hold our meeting, so we simply had a long walk on a fine summer afternoon. We were not further interfered with. In the interval Mr. O'Brien had arrived on a drag with some friends. I propose to describe what passed from the columns of the Irish Times and the Dublin Daily Express. When Mr. O'Brien drove into Tipperary he was at once stopped by the police, but the latter, when informed that there was an Englishman on the car, allowed it to pass. Then we drove on until we reached the top of the hill leading into the main street—William O'Brien Street. There we found we were not immediately followed by the police, and my hon. Friend stood up to address the people, and a large crowd collected round our drag. Then, according to the description given by the Irish Times, the police, led by County Inspector Stevenson, suddenly rushed upon the crowd and commenced to baton the people. Be it observed that, according to the account of this Tory newspaper, and in accordance with the actual fact, there was no call made upon the crowd to disperse, which is the proper method to pursue. The newspaper account, from which I am quoting, says some members of the police force used the butts of their rifles on the heads of the people, several of whom were knocked down and injured; free fighting was carried on in one corner, while the people fled on the other side. Mr. O'Brien called out to the Inspector not to kill the people, and Mr. Harrington and others cried out to the people to take refuge in the houses. The newspaper correspondent saw one young man, who was standing a mere spectator of the scene, struck on the head by a policeman in a mechanical sort of way, the policeman then passing on to the next man. The mother of this injured young man, a poor deformed boy he was really, uttered a wild yell and rushed after the policeman, whom she clutched by the throat with 355 such vehemence that half choking he fell to the ground. Well, I am bound to say I think the mother did perfectly right. Very likely, if very shame does not deter the police, she will be summoned for assault before Mr. Caddell, who does the double work of batoning the people in the streets and punishing them from 'the Bench. In another instance a respectable young gentleman, well known in the town, received a severe blow and was knocked under a car. I mention these things as showing the scandalous, disgraceful laxity of discipline on the part of the police. Now I turn to an account which, if they will accept any account but that of the police, the Government ought to accept, the report in the Dublin Express. This report says that Mr. O'Brien's remarks were interrupted by the appearance of a break filled with police being driven furiously up the hill, and those of the crowd who saw this Med in all directions. Observe, the people fled, they did not offer resistance. The account goes on to say that, doubtless, others who were listening to Mr. O'Brien would also have fled had escape been possible, but before they could disperse the order to charge was given and the police with drawn batons were upon them, the Government shorthand writer taking part in the chase. There were cheers for Mr. O'Brien, shouts of defiance at the police, and a few stones were thrown, though they injured no one, and some 20 persons were knocked down by the charge. Now recollect that at the moment the batoning commenced there was no resistance to the police. One young man being struck knocked the constable down, and the two rolled over together. Will that man be prosecuted for assault? It is an important point, because, though he lawfully defended himself as any Member of this House might if attacked in the street, if he is brought before this Magistrate he will be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. The people, says the Express, were terror-stricken, but several were wise enough to judge that getting among the newspaper reporters they had the best chance for their skulls. This is the description given by the Unionist newspapers, and before I proceed further, let me say, it is idle for the Chief Secretary or anyone who represents the Government to read 356 us reports concocted by those very policemen whose conduct we stand here to challenge, let the right hon. Gentleman produce independent witnesses as we have. I have given the evidence of two witnesses who certainly are not prejudiced on the Nationalist side. There, is, further, the evidence of Mr. Byles, an English Pressman. He describes the assembling of a crowd of about a thousand persons in the manner I have mentioned. Then he says the police rushed upon the people, batons drawn, and keeping no order, and, filled with a spirit of malice and revenge, began striking at all within reach. It is a peculiarity of the conduct of the Irish police that they invariably pursue and strike the flying people, a mockery and outrage upon keeping order. This correspondent says one stone was thrown, but he was told a policeman threw it, and that is true, it is corroborated by other accounts. Now, is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to defend the action of the police? If he is, he must be prepared to face the adverse opinion of the country. If he denies these facts, he must do so in a very different way to the manner in which he denied the facts of Mitchelstown. Up to this hour the statements he over and over again has repeated, statements to which I have given direct contradiction on the faith of my own eyes, have never had the corroboration of any single independent witness. Well, so much for the proceedings at Tipperary on that day. I shall have more to say of the permanent-state of things, and the policy carried on there before I conclude, but I now proceed to allude to what took place at Boherlahan and Cashel. The police have a system of watching the leaders of the Irish Party, and, wherever we go, the police follow us on a car. I have seen them outside my hotel in a car with horses yoked. I have seen them as I went to bed, and I have seen them shivering there in the morning. Yet, so inefficient are they, or so stupid are their officers, that when we want to get away unobserved we do so, quite easily. We evaded the police force, we turned a corner and they lost sight of us, and it is a fact to note, that not a man, woman, or child would give the police a word of information to direct them to our whereabouts. Not all your power and all your secret service money 357 could bribe or bully a Tipperary peasant into telling where we were bidden, behind a hedge. We saw the police gallop by full speed, but we escaped that Monday night, and on the following morning, no doubt, the country was scoured by police and cavalry, telegraphed for from Cahir. The Rock of Cashel was occupied by 10 constables, and from thence and from every eminence around the police swept the country with field glasses and telescopes, and at every cross-road within a circuit of three miles was a picket of mounted police or dragoons—nice work, certainly, for dragoons! In spite of all these elaborate precautions, which must have cost the taxpayers of this country a considerable sum, we held our meeting down by the banks of the Suir, within half a mile of their outposts. Of their movements our scouts gave us all information, but the police were unable to discover us. We held our meeting when we received information from our scouts that the police and cavalry had evacuated Boherlahan, and we drove into the village, where we found a gathering of country people—40 men, perhaps, and some 60 women and children, together with 10 policemen. We undertook to hold a small meeting, a very small one, but still we thought we might as well improve the shining hour. The police declared the meeting illegal, but we said: "You have not sufficient force to disperse the meeting, we consider it legal, and as it is feasible we shall not disperse." The sergeant, who was completely "off his head "—I think I never saw a man in such a fright—did not well know what to do. Ho threatened to break up the meeting by force. I remonstrated with him and said, "You cannot, you have not sufficient force, and your attempt will only lead to a dangerous riot." "Well," ho said, "I shall have a largo force hero in a few minutes." "All right," I said, "when that force comes we will disperse, and you, as a sensible man, if you have any sense, should wait until that force comes and a Magistrate with it, and you will be rid of responsibility." Even while I was giving this advice, with the object of preserving the peace, a policeman gave me a violent push and tried to throw me down. It was an anxious quarter of an 358 hour. I kept between the people and the police, pushing back violently any of our people who were inclined to be noisy or violent; and yet, while I was talking with the sergeant, a policeman struck at me with his baton. These may appear trivial things to some hon. Members, and I only mention them as showing the utter disorganisation of the police. What is to be said of a policeman who, when no violence is offered, strikes at a Member of Parliament who is exerting himself to preserve the peace? Of course, the policeman had no order to strike, and when we remember the conditions of the position we see the utter recklessness and demoralisation of the police; for there is not the slightest doubt that if I had been struck down there would have been a rush of the people and a bloody, terrible riot which the police would have been utterly unable to control. Our people would have suffered severely, for the cavalry would have been on the ground— ns they did come very soon, and very glad I was to see them, for the situation was getting unpleasant. If I had been struck down there would not have been the slightest justification for the action, and the bloodshed which would have followed, the blood of our people, as well as of his comrades, would have been on the head of the police. In England, if such a case had arisen, I would have taken the number of the constable and would have summoned him before a Court. I should have looked for justice, and I have no doubt I should have obtained it. But you will not put any number or mark upon a policeman's uniform in Ireland by which a man may be identified. Why is this, unless you are ashamed of the work they are doing t If there is any class of men who ought to be identified, it is the police in Ireland, who are constantly in situations where the sense of responsibility ought to be pressed upon them, and the knowledge that they could be identified would be a wholesome check. I could not identify the man; and even if I were able to do so, the result of a summons would be that the charge would be heard before the man who is the officer of these police, who was in command of men who committed unprovoked outrages upon Nationalists in Tipperary. This officer (Mr. Caddell) is a kind of Pasha in the district; he distributes justice from 359 the Bench, and he orders baton charges in the streets. So to summon a policeman for assault or for any other offence, is a waste of time and money. At this Boherlahan meeting the police three times tried to break it up, and three times Mr. O'Brien and I interposed between the police and the people; and, but for our exertions, the police 'would have been attacked, and there would have been serious injuries inflicted on either side through the idiotic unprovoked conduct of the police. The next instant a police car was seen approaching, containing four policemen, and the police driver lashed the horse into full speed, and drove right into the crowd composed mainly of women and children. I saw the shaft of the car strike a woman on the breast, and, but for two men striking the horse across the face with blackthorn sticks in order to cause the animal to rear, and then seizing the reins—but for that the car would have been driven into the midst of the people, and there is no knowing how many would have been knocked down and injured. Is that the way to conduce the suppression of a public meeting when the people are excited? I was relieved when a Magistrate and 30 dragoons appeared in sight. The very instant the police saw the dragoons they, in the most cowardly, dastardly, black-guardedly manner, and without any provocation, began striking the people in all directions, to show, I suppose, their courage and energy in the presence of their officer, and feeling safe with the presence of the soldiers. The dragoons rode down to the spot, and the adjutant called on the people to disperse. There was no order to charge. I suppose there was a fear of a remonstrance from the British officer. The people dispersed at once. But hero is another instance of the spirit actuating the police. I was standing behind the dragoons who had ridden past me, and I saw the driver of the car who had tried to drive over the people jump off his car, and, without any order, draw his revolver. He stood like a brave man with a line of soldiers between him and the people who were dispersing, and three times he raised his revolver with his finger on the trigger. I was as near to him as I am now to the hon. Member in front of me. He was in no sort of 360 danger, yet he tried to take aim between the line of horses. Now, this is an indication of the spirit and temper that exists in the force, a dangerous spirit, which, if not checked with strong reprobation, will assuredly lead to serious bloodshed in the future. It is part of the design to goad the people from that peaceful policy which you know will be successful ultimately. After this incident, ending in nothing worse than a few cut heads, we drove on to Cashel. On the road the dragoons rode close behind our cars in order to prevent the people from following. At the entrance to the town of Cashel we were met by the Resident Magistrate in charge of Cashel, Mr. Shannon. This gentleman, I may remark, is a brother to Mr. Shannon, who conducted the case for the Times so successfully, and has now fled to America. This Magistrate, who had been directing baton charges in Cashel during the day, seeing us with our escort of dragoons, shouted in the most aggressive tone, "Bravo, Bruen! We have batoned them like hell in Cashel to-day." Such is the tone and temper of the men in charge of the police. We dismounted from our cars at the hotel, and close by were some dozen people, mostly women, who had taken refuge from baton charges in an archway leading into the hotel yard; and when I stepped off the car these people crowded around me and began shaking hands, crying, "God bless you!" and at that moment the police were ordered to charge and clear the people out. Now, what offence had these people committed? Is it to be laid down as the law in Ireland that for the people to shake hands with a Member of Parliament is a punishable offence? I say, from the evidence of my own eyes, there was no other offence; there was no attempt to hold a meeting; there was not even a cheer. A cheer, we know, is a serious offence; and one man raising a cheer may be subjected to a baton charge and a broken head. I stood before the police and called out, "What is it you want the people to do? Tell me and I will get them to do it. Are they to be bludgeoned because they shake hands with me?" Now, I attribute it not to my appeal, but to the fact that 20 dragoons were looking on that the Magistrate said, "Well, men, put up your batonsand shove 361 them out of that." Now, I ask why, on what ground do Magistrates, entrusted with the delicate duty of preserving the peace, behave in this way? We, whatever our sins may be, are trusted by the people. We may be scoundrels of the deepest dye, but we have more power over the people than you have. Is this the way to preserve the peace, to incite to tumult by insulting every Irish Member who comes among the people? I will give another instance to show the spirit prevailing. After we got into the hotel, Mr. O'Brien went to the telegraph office at the other end of the town to end off a message, and immediately he was followed by 10 dragoons and about 40 policemen in charge of a Magistrate. I, looking out, felt some amusement at the proceeding, and determined to see the result, and followed my hon. Friend. Thereupon, my Magistrate—I say my Magistrate, and I mean the Magistrate specially interesting himself in my movements—and a force of police and dragoons escorted me, and so we had a double procession down the street. We reached the telegraph office, and while we were inside, the imposing force of police and military formed a hollow square in front to prevent an address being delivered from the steps of the house, a thing we had not the slightest intention of doing. Mr. O'Brien went up the street, and I returned to the hotel escorted as before. In the street, at corners and along the walls of the houses, ready to bolt into the houses, a few people were scattered; and, as I passed, these people raised a feeble cheer. Without any warning a charge was ordered by Mr. Shannon. Now, what offence was committed? The people ought to be warned that they are not allowed to shake hands, to cheer Members of Parliament, or to groan for Mr. Balfour on pain of having their heads broken on the spot. If any persons, men or women, venture to groan, they are rushed upon and batoned at once; and it is laid down by the police themselves that this is unquestionably an offence. In this case the charge was ordered for the offence of an isolated handful of people. I turned to the Magistrate and said, "Will you be kind enough to inform me what it is you want the people to abstain from doing, and I will tell them and 362 obtain their acquiescence?" And the Magistrate replied, "I will give you no information." I then asked, "Do you decline to give me the information which will enable me to aid you in preserving the peace?" And the Magistrate replied, "That is accurate." He said this in a manner which was grossly offensive. On these facts the following questions arise: First, is it legal to attack a peaceable meeting, even although it has been proclaimed, without due warning sufficient to allow the people to disperse? Secondly, when no attempt has been made to hold a meeting, is it legal to charge and baton small groups of people who are doing nothing but cheering or shaking bands with Members of Parliament? Thirdly, when a crowd of people is charged by the police, when no resistance is offered and people fly as quickly as they can, is it lawful to pursue them, to knock them down, and to baton them? The Executive Government are bound, if they have any degree of care for the peace of the country, or any regard for their own position, to give specific answers to these questions — definite answers that will act as a check upon their officials in Ireland. The unhappy people of Ireland live under conditions which it is almost impossible for the people of England to realise; under a centralised police system such as the English people had never come in contact with, a system so allied with the Magistracy that the people have no hope of remedy in the Courts of Law. This House is the only place to which the people of Tipperary can look for any remedy, and it is because they hope to receive a considerable amount of sympathy and support from a large Party in this House that we do not now hear of those serious and violent outrages which used to be so frequent in Ireland. I now have a word or two to say in regard to the so-called explosives. The Times, evidently determined to keep up its reputation for veracity, speaks of bombs exploded amongst the police for the purpose of clearing a way through them. This is childish nonsense. Let the Chief Secretary produce a single policeman who has received a scratch. With the exception of one or two attempts to injure buildings, which were made a long time before meetings were ad 363 dressed by English Members of Parliament, there has been no use at all of what could be properly described as explosives. What have been used were mere crackers or squibs, which produced a report something like that of a pistol-shot, made of short lengths of gaspipe with a little powder in them, made and thrown for the purpose of creating alarm, by mischievous boys over whom politicians could exercise no control whatever. The police have been good enough to show their museum of explosives to Mr. Byles, of the Bradford Observer, who found that six out of 10 were short lengths of gaspipe, whilst the seventh was a champagne bottle, and the most serious of all was the hub of a wheel which had been exploded in a a narrow street and had brought down some guttering. The tenants knew nothing about these things, which are only such explosives as are let off by boys in the streets of New York every Fourth of July; and that the storm about them was a ridiculus mus is shown by the fact that the Dublin Daily Express concluded its description of a canister that had contained gunpowder by saying that—Of course no danger could accrue from the explosion, but it is evident that it was placed there for the purpose of alarming and causing annoyance to the police.By the very testimony of avowed enemies no harm was intended. A more serious matter is the intolerable practice, continued from day to day, of "shadowing" Members of Parliament. I, Sir, have had an unfortunate experience of being shadowed by the police, and I remember having met in Australia a man who had been engaged in this kind of duty, but who is now happily converted. He described to me the whole process of shadowing a Member of Parliament, and the process is this: The Member is watched from a distance by two or three men employed on this particular duty. They take note of every person who speaks to him or to whom he himself may speak. They watch every house he goes into, and lake down the number of people in that house, or who enter it while he is there. That is the system which is being pursued in Ireland. I think it is a very odious system, but it is one that has been followed in Ireland for many 364 years. The present Government have, in point of fact, invented a system of shadowing which, I venture to think, is not equalled by anything which takes place in Russia. We had a conversation the other day as to some words uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, which had been grossly diverted from their true meaning. The right hon. Gentleman was sneered and scoffed at for saying what he did not say with regard to the condition of things in Ireland, as comparable to what is taking place in Siberia. But I do not hesitate to say that we have in Ireland a state of things which, if they were described as taking place in Odessa or St. Petersburg, would raise a howl throughout this country. Well, what have you done in Ireland? In Tipperary, the parish priest cannot leave his home without being "shadowed" by two officers, one of whom walks by his side and the other close behind him, and insists upon hearing the conversation between the priest and anyone he speaks to in the street. This infamous and unparalleled process is inflicted on the mere ipse dixit of the incompetent, insolent, and most objectionable Magistrate who has been sent down to take charge of the district. Mr. Caddell is inexperienced and incompetent, and yet anybody can be subjected to this intolerable system on Mr. Caddell's mere suspicion. Not every one could submit to such persecution all day long without losing their temper; it is not in human nature to stand such a system. The public peace is daily and hourly put in danger, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is responsible for whatever does occur. There was a case brought before Mr. Caddell where a policeman was charged with assaulting a civilian. Three respectable witnesses swore to the assault, which the policeman denied. Though the policeman's evidence was unsupported, Mr. Caddell dismissed the summons, and fined the complainant £1 costs. Another case decided by Mr. Caddell was that of a man charged with assaulting his "shadow." He was a respectable farmer who had come into town, and was immediately shadowed by the police, and very shortly afterwards was arrested by his shadow on a charge of assault. He was brought before the same Mr. Caddell, and the charge was that he 365 attempted to trip up the policeman and shove him off the path. Three independent witnesses swore that the alleged assault could not have been committed without their seeing it, and that they did not see it. When the case was before him Colonel Caddell said "Why were you following Mr. Hayes that day?" The complainant replied, "I believed he was on the street for the purpose of boycotting some shopmen." Whereupon Colonel Caddell said that the case was one in which he had very little doubt, as he had the sworn testimony of the constable that he had been tripped and nearly fell, and was shoved off the path by the defendant, of whom the police had stated they had information that he was a person taking part in the diabolical business of boycotting. Persons like the defendant, he added, were acting against the rescripts of their Church, and, therefore, he had no hesitation in convicting the defendant. I wish the House to mark this reference to boycotting, about which there never was a tittle of evidence given before the Court. Nevertheless, this gentleman has no hesitation in convicting a defendant against the sworn testimony of three respectable witnesses, because he thinks he was engaged in boycotting, when no such question was really before him. A more glaring instance could not be given of the way in which men like this are in the habit of dispensing justice in Ireland. Mr. Caddell evidently has no idea how to behave in a Court of Law. He is a daily and imminent danger to the peace of the district, where the police are drinking, and acting in the most irregular, undisciplined, and irresponsible fashion. They are encouraged in the belief that, whatever they may do, they will not be held responsible, and that their unsupported story will be accepted without any inquiry by the right hon. Gentleman. Although the Irish Members have used strong language with reference to the late Mr. Forster, and although they felt bound to stuggle against his administration, yet Mr. Forster was not the man who would have gone down to play lawn-tennis in a remote part of England when he had issued orders which, for aught the person who issued them knew or cared, might lead to results infinitely more disastrous and disgraceful than 366 those which stained the square of Mitchelstown with blood. I forget where the right hon. Gentleman was when he heard of the Mitchelstown murders, but he might have been engaged in the same kind of thing, and I say that this is not the way in which the people of Ireland ought to be treated. While this state of things exists in Tipperary, while the police and the people do not speak to each other, there is no hope for the preservation of the law; and the responsibility for all these misfortunes and troubles lies on the head of the Executive, who encourage the police and the Magistrates to pursue these evil courses. The heavy duty lies on the House of securing that the police of Ireland shall not be encouraged to act in the horrible way I have described; that they shall not be taught that they have no responsibility to the people; and that they shall have those wholesome restraints imposed upon them which are applied in every other country of liberty. The police should be made to know that the men who speak in the fullest way the voice of the people of Ireland will at least be listened to when criticising the conduct of the police; and that when the, police resort to violence, an inquiry will follow, at which civilian evidence will be listened to. Until that is done it is idle to hope that either the police or the Magistracy will be able to secure the confidence of the Irish people. I beg to move "That the House do now adjourn."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ (5.58.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has confined himself, for the most part, to an account in detail, which I shall have to traverse, of recent affairs in Tipperary, and he has indulged in none of those general attacks upon the Government which are familiar on occasions of this sort. He did, however, criticise my conduct in not having been present in Dublin at the time the meetings in Tipperary were held. I can only say that I took every possible precaution and made every arrangement for pro- 367 viding that there should be an adequate force of policemen on the spot—[An hon. MEMBER: Murder]—so that if any untoward event occurred at all events the responsibility should not rest upon my shoulders. The hon. Member drew a distinction between the attitude of the present Government and that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite some years ago.
I merely drew a distinction between the conduct of Mr. Forster, who attended personally in Dublin when a great crisis took place, and the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman apparently does not draw any distinction between the conduct of the present Government and the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and in that he is, I think, strictly in accordance with historical accuracy. Though I do not in the least wish to go back upon the unhappy incidents which occurred in Ireland between 1880 and 1885, I could, if it were worth while, read extracts from the contemporaneous criticisms of Nationalist Members—criticisms not cheered by the Liberal Party when they were sitting on this side of the House, precisely parallel to, though couched in more violent language than, the criticisms passed upon us and upon the police in Ireland by the hon. Gentleman to-night. Now, Sir, this question necessarily divides itself into two branches. In the first place, we have to ask whether the general arrangements of the Government for suppressing the meeting were prudent, and whether the police acted with judgment and moderation; and, in the second place, we have to inquire whether the Government were justified in proclaiming the meetings to be held in Tipperary and Cashel? The questions are entirely distinct. I deal with them in their order. The hon. Member for Mayo said that if we meant to proclaim the meeting at Tipperary we ought to have proclaimed it sooner. He said we had ample notice of the character of the meeting, and that, nevertheless, we did not post our placard till the day before the meeting was to be held. He farther told us that the objects of the meeting were defined as being to 368 welcome him and his Colleague the hon. Member for North-East Cork, and to hear addresses from the Members of Parliament for the county. On all these points the hon. Member is, I believe, in error. I recollect that in the Debate just before we separated for the Whitsuntide holidays much stress was laid by hon. Members from.' Ireland on the fact that we proposed to interfere with a meeting to be held by Members for the purpose of addressing their constituents. But there was not a word, as far as I am informed, in the placards posted in Tipperary about the Members for Tipperary or any other-Members of Parliament except the two Members whom I have just alluded to. The placard, which was posted OK Friday, May 23, was as follows:—Great meeting at Tipperary on Sunday next, the 2oth inst., Messrs. J. Dillon, M.P., and W, O'Brien, M.P., will deliver addresses.[An hon. MEMBER: IS that all?] That is all, according to the copy of the placard which has been furnished to me, and if that be correct, as I believe it is, even the flimsy pretext of an address-to constituents has been abandoned, and judiciously abandoned, by those who were responsible for the arrangements on that occasion. The hon. Gentleman says that long notice was given to us of the intention to hold the meeting, and that we gave no notice to him, to his Colleagues, or to the people of Tipperary, that we were going to stop, it As far as I can make out no> placard was posted in Tipperary announcing the meeting until the Friday afternoon, at the earliest. Questions on the subject were put to me in this House on the Thursday by the hon. Member for West Belfast and the right hon Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and I then made the following statement:—I have no very full details of the objects of the meeting before me, but certainly if an, open-air meeting is to be held in Tipperary in-its present condition, and if inflammatory speeches are likely to be made, it would undoubtedly lead to intimidation, and any such, meeting must be stopped.That was very fair notice given on the Thursday, and more explicit notice still was given on the Friday. So much for the first accusation brought against the Government by the hon. Gentleman, that we, in accordance, as he was 369 good enough to say, with our habitual practice, had delayed proclaiming the meeting, in order, if possible, to provoke a conflict between the police and the people. Although it was known that no meeting would be permitted, nevertheless, knowing that, and knowing the character of the scenes which experience, and, unhappily, long experience, in Ireland, has shown attend these abortive attempts to hold proclaimed meetings, the hon. Gentleman and his Friends took upon themselves the grave responsibility, in the face of the proclamation, of engaging in a course of conduct which might have led, though happily it did not lead, to a serious, nay, a dangerous conflict between the police and the people. The hon. Gentleman has given us, in great detail, a narrative of the events in Tipperary and Cashel. I will frankly admit, and I dare say he expects, that the account I have received of these transactions differs vitally and fundamentally from that which he has thought it his duty to lay before the House. I am informed that the meeting at Limerick Junction did not exceed 300 or 400 persons, and that it consisted almost entirely of those who came by special train, with the addition of a few of the leaders of the hon. Gentleman's Party resident in Tipperary; and I think probably the police were well advised, in these circumstances, not to interfere with the meeting. Then the hon. Gentleman has given us an account of what happened to himself and his friends in Tipperary. Judging by what he states, it would seem that the police entertained themselves during the day in pursuing flying men, women, and children, into their shops and houses, that baton charges were resorted to without provocation, and that no attempts were made by the people to injure the police. According to the picture drawn by the hon. Gentleman the whole transaction consisted of the hon. Gentleman on one side attempting to preserve order, and the police on the other attempting to disturb it. Well, Sir, I do not think that picture has even the elements of plausibility about it. The hon. Gentleman must have been perfectly aware that his presence in Tipperary, under the circumstances, was the very worst way of keeping the peace and protecting the people that 370 could well be devised. I do not believe that any baton charge took place unprovoked on that occasion. Stones were thrown at the police, and then they undoubtedly——
§ MR. DILLON
I understood it was customary in this House to accept an hon. Member's word. I stated that I was charged myself while standing with live Colleagues in conversation, and while we were doing nothing. Yet the right hon. Gentleman, without quoting any witness, deliberately gives me the lie across the floor of the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I gather from your not rising, Sir, that you are of opinion, as I think wall be obvious to every man listening to me, that in giving my version of what I believe to be the facts I am contradicting the hon. Gentleman, but I am in no Parliamentary sense giving him the lie. I believe he has given to the House statements which he believes to be true. At all events, I am entitled to hold that opinion.
§ MR. DILLON
On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be of opinion that he is entitled to say that what I have stated as an eye-witness he does not believe. I have only stated that which came under my own eyes; yet the right hon. Gentleman says he does not believe it, and quotes no evidence and no authority in support of his assertions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman appears to me to put a curious construction upon that rule of courtesy which forbids one Member of the House to give the lie to another. I had not the slightest intention of doing so. I do not believe the hon. Member meant to mislead the House, although I do believe that, as a matter of fact, he has done so. There is nothing unparliamentary or offensive in saying that. I am but stating my own personal convictions, based upon such a study as I have been able to give to the subject. If that statement be in opposition to that of the hon. Gentleman, I want to know why I should be precluded from giving it to the House. The hon. Gentleman referred to a baton charge, as I understood him, when he and five other persons alone occupied the square in the Market Place at Tipperary. I have not the least doubt that the hon. Gentleman had no concern 371 whatever in stone-throwing, but I believe I am right in saying that every charge of the police in Tipperary that day was provoked by some outrage of the character of stone-throwing. I desire to conduct this controversy with courtesy towards hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I am bound to state to the House what I believe to be the truth. The hon. Gentleman has given what he believes to be the truth.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And when the whole case has been surveyed the House will be in a position to judge between us. We have had some sensational accounts given of police charges, in which it is said a woman was struck by a baton, and in which a cripple was knocked over the head by a policeman. I saw these statements in the newspaper, and I have done my best to inquire what foundation there is for them. There was a woman struck, not by the police, but by a stone thrown by the crowd, but as to the cripple I can find nothing whatever about him, and I believe him to be imaginary. I do not think the hon. Member gave, us this statement as an eye witness. Then the hon. Gentleman gave us an account of what happened at Cashel in very much the same strain as his narrative of what happened at Tipperary. So far as I can make out, no meeting was held in Cashel itself. There was a meeting held at a place about 11 miles off, called Barrys-ford, and a meeting which was attempted to be held between that place and Cashel was at once dispers3d. The hon. Gentleman has told us that the police charged before any provocation was given, but he is misinformed on a very material point.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not assert that the hon. Gentleman had not been struck. As I understand, the police did not charge till one of them had been struck with a blackthorn. The police were a small body, and they were quite right in taking the initiative; but there does not appear to have been on that occasion any serious injury inflicted on the crowd, nor, I am happy to say, on the hon. Gentleman himself. Then the hon. Gentleman was good enough to prophecy that my defence would, chiefly rest upon the bombs, and 372 he gave us an account of these bombs, which throws a strong light on the very peculiar condition of Tipperary.
§ MR. DILLON
I said that I had gone into the museum in which the police had collected what they called the explosives which had been thrown in nine months, and of these there were only two which had been thrown since the month of April, and they were nearly all of a perfectly innocent character.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What I said was that in the course of the agitation conducted by the hon. Gentleman and his friends a practice had grown up of throwing bombs, or, as he is pleased to describe them, squibs; some of them of a character, according to the hon. Gentleman's own confession, capable of seriously injuring houses, and therefore presumably capable of injuring any person in them. I have looked at some of these interesting implements for securing the freedom of Ireland, and the most innocent of them can hardly be described as a squib. Any Member of this House—for instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, who should find himself in the position of having one of these interesting instruments thrown across his path by boys, if boys they were—would think that they were exceeding the licence usually allowed to boys in England or Scotland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
So far as I know, nobody has been hurt. If the criterion of innocence in method be the absence of fatal results, I can point with satisfaction to the fact that in the transactions of Sunday and Tuesday last no one was seriously hurt, and claim, on the hon. Member's own showing, that the action of the police is not open to serious adverse criticism. But let me tell the House what these so-called squibs are. The most innocent of them were those thrown at the police on Sunday week last, and against which, so far as I know, no public remonstrance was offered by the hon. Gentleman or his friends.
§ MR. DILLON
The right hon. Gentle-makes a direct charge against me. I had been driven off the square by a police charge, and I could not open my mouth. In the name of Heaven, how could I remonstrate in these circum- 373 stances? When I offered to keep the peace they would not allow me to do so.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman has declared he has great influence with the people, and is prepared to tell them what to do. These bombs were not thrown for the first time on Monday week, but three or four months ago, and I have heard no protest——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member will pardon me. He has already interrupted me a good deal. I say these bombs were not thrown for the first time on Monday week. Upon the hon. Gentleman's own showing, some of them, and the most dangerous, were thrown many weeks, and some of them many months ago. Has any word of public remonstrance come at any period from any of the Irish Members as to the use of these weapons in Tipperary? The most innocent of them, those, namely, which were used on Monday week, and which were then thrown in the direction of the police, were composed of two or three inches of lead pipe fastened up at one end, filled with powder, and plugged at the other end. I do not say that these weapons would necessarily prove of a very destructive character, but I still think that very few Members of this House would regard with equanimity that the streets through which they had to pass were strewed with them. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" "Strewed."] Hon. Members do not do me the honour to listen to what I say. I did not say Tipperary streets were strewed with such thing's; but if these are innocent things why should the streets not be strewed with them? As a matter of fact, I believe hon. Members would take a very different estimate of the character of these bombs were they the persons against whom the instruments were directed. But much more formidable weapons than these lead pipes have been used. I have seen another of these implements was the axle box of a cart wheel with the two ends closed by thick iron plates and screwed together with a long rivet. This was filled with powder, and a fuse was placed in it. The hon. Gentleman tells us that this was done with the object of injuring buildings, and not in- 374 dividuals. Was ever such an extraordinary excuse made for a diabolical outrage? This was placed at the rent office window of my hon. Friend the Member for South Hunts, and another instrument of a similar construction was put near to the house of a Mr. Fitzgerald, who had purchased the interest of his holding at a Sheriff's sale. The hon. Member admits that transactions of this kind have several times occurred, and yet he comes down here as a champion of the cause of law and order without having used the great influence which ho possesses in Tipperary to prevent these things from being used.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then as to shadowing. I do not think the practice of shadowing persons suspected of illegal proceedings can be an agreeable one, or upon which we in this House can look with any satisfaction; but which are we to prefer—shadowed criminals or committed crimes? There is no one who can point out any individual who has been subjected to this system of shadowing who is not concerned in the criminal offence of boycotting.
THE EARL OF CAVAN (Somerset, S.)
I beg to say that a deputation that I sent over, consisting of three men who were perfectly innocent of boycotting, were shadowed all the time they were in Ireland.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I was never charged with boycotting, and yet I was shadowed all the time I was in Ireland.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that about me, because he has admitted in this House that I was followed about.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not think that I have misrepresented the hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. Member for East Mayo drew a perfectly legitimate distinction between that observation by the police, which he truly says has long been found necessary in Ireland—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And the system of shadowing of which he complained. Hon. Gentlemen who have interrupted me may have in some sense 375 been under police observation, but they were not shadowed in the sense of which the hon. Member complains.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The people who are shadowed in this way are those who make themselves responsible for cattle boycotting at fairs and other transactions of a similar character. I do not believe the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare) would be of the least use as an agent for cattle boycotting, and I am sure, therefore, that the police would not take the slightest notice of him. Now, I should like the House to consider who are on their trial in this Debate. [Opposition cheers, and cries of "You are."] The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and hon. Members behind him, who so vociferously cheered my question, are clearly of opinion that Her Majesty's Government are on their trial. I do not take that view. In my opinion, when the responsible Government of the day has proclaimed a meeting, it may and ought to be asked on what grounds they did so; but I do not think that any man, be he who he may, knowing the results that must follow from his action, is justified in doing at Tipperary and at Cashel what the hon. Member for East Mayo and his friends have done. If there has been any violence consequent upon their operations, they are to blame, and not the Government. It is impossible to disperse a crowd without some degree of violence; but I do not believe that the degree of violence used at Tipperary and Cashel was excessive. Though we have heard vague statements about injuries received by this man and that man in the crowd, and while the estimate of the number of wounded persons has been put at 43, I cannot discover that any serious injury has been inflicted by the police upon any human being, except, perhaps, in the case of the boy Heffernan. I believe the most serious injuries that have occurred during these troubled months in Tipperary have been injuries inflicted, not by the police on the people but by the people on the police. I have seen it stated in an article in the Speaker, written by some felicitous imitator of the style of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), that no police were injured. [An hon. 376 MEMBER: He signed the article.] Did he? Well, if he did make that statement he made it under grave misapprehension, because I am informed that two policemen have been so seriously injured that they have had to leave the Force, and have received as compensation £300 and £500 respectively, awarded by the Grand Jury. ["They were bogus cases."] The cases, came before the Grand Jury. ["When?"] Since these transactions occurred. I believe that no injuries were inflicted upon any one of the people comparable with those injuries, and I think that there is no evidence that those inflicted in the case of last Sunday week and Tuesday week were in any way of a serious character. Now I come to what I think a more important question than the action of the police; I come to the action of the Government. Was the Government justified, or was it not, in the course which it took in proclaiming this meeting? The hon. Member for East Mayo is under a grave misapprehension as to the law under which we act in Ire-laud. The law under which our action is taken is precisely the same as the law in England, and under that law, as I fully admit, a meeting is not rendered illegal by the proclamation of the Government. It was rendered illegal under the Coercion Act of 1882, but, under the Crimes Act now in operation, it is not in the power of the Government to make a meeting illegal by its mere fiat; but what the Government can do by its fiat is to throw grave responsibility upon those who, in the face of such a proclamation, persist in holding a meeting. A meeting is rendered illegal by the circumstances which surround it. If it is likely to lead to intimidation or boycotting, outrage, or crime of any sort, the meeting is, ipso facto, an illegal meeting. Does the hon. Member, or do any of his friends, deny that the meeting which he and his friends attempted or desired to hold last Sunday week was not an illegal meeting under the definition which I have given? Some parallel has been attempted to be drawn between the meeting which was proclaimed and the meeting which was permitted a month or two before. I admit that, in the then circumstances at Tipperary, it may be doubtful, and it was doubtful, whether we should have allowed even the banquet of April 10 377 to take place; but, on the whole, we decided that, taking into account the circumstances of the case, it was permissible. But those circumstances were perfectly different from the circumstances of Sunday week. The programme of the meeting in the case of the banquet was made public, and the managers were approached by the authorities and told that if the programme was not departed from they might hold the meeting. There is an account of the order of proceedings in the Freeman's Journal of April 10, stating that the hon. Members would arrive in such and such a way, and there would be a luncheon, a dinner, the reading of some original poetry by the hon. Member for Dublin, and so on—the usual thing. There was nothing serious in the programme. I have been asked whether the fact that English Members were to be present had any influence upon me. It had great influence upon me: I do not in the least degree deny it. I know that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are on their best behaviour before English Members; I know that they would be reluctant to make those speeches, which I am justified in calling criminal speeches, which they have too often made in Ireland—speeches which produce the consequences in Tipperary and elsewhere which we so much deplore. We know, also, what kind of things these public banquets are. One gentleman gets up and congratulates another upon all the great things he has done, and the other gentleman then gets up and returns all the compliments with interest. I have taken part in these things myself. They are all the same; a great deal of champagne is drunk, and a great many speeches—some bad some good—are made without any serious consequences occurring to any one. Now, compare that with the meeting announced to be held the other day. The time chosen was a period when the tenants of the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry) had to redeem or lose their right to redeem. It was known perfectly well that they desired to redeem; it was regarded as essential to the Nationalist cause that they should not redeem; it was thought that the patriotism with which they had been credited for making sacrifices to the National cause 378 would be the better for receiving a jog in the shape of a great demonstration held among them, presided over by the two Members of this House who, more than any others, are responsible for the Plan of Campaign and boycotting. Was that to be tolerated by any responsible Government? Those who say that it was must, I think, be in ignorance of the state to which the policy of hon. Members has reduced Tipperary since September last. Since that time Tipperary has been given up to a mob, who were the instruments for carrying out the policy of intimidation to which too many of these unfortunate shopkeepers have had to succumb. Boycotting was rife throughout the town; crime of all sorts had largely increased. On this point I have been challenged by the hon. Member opposite in the course of his speech. Before the recess, I gave the figures for the last four months of last year, as compared with the figures of the last four months of the two preceding years. The House will recollect that in 1887 the total of crimes of' drunkenness and assault and other crimes affecting the public peace amounted' to 143. In 1888 the number was 162, while in 1889 it rose to 269, so that in the two years preceding last year the total of the four months but little exceeded the number for the corresponding four months of one year under the régime of hon. Members opposite. I was challenged whether I would continue these figures. I said I would make inquiry. I have made inquiry, and I find that during the first four months of 1888 the figures were 118. In the first four months of 1889 they were 110, while in the first four months of 1890 they rose to 258. So that there has been, as I have said, a startling increase of crime.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Drunkenness, assaults, and other crimes affecting the public peace—showing that concurrently with this attempt at mob rule, this system of boycotting and intimidation, these outrages with explosives, we have a general increase of other crimes connected with the public peace. That is a matter which should be carefully considered by hon. Gentlemen when they consider the action of the Government. They must remember that the houses of those persons who attempted to redeem were 379 wrecked by the mob. I stated before that a Member of this House had boasted that these things had occurred. I believe he controverts the fact—he has stated in the Freeman's Journal that he never made any speech of the kind. What he did, or what he was reported to have done in a newspaper the editor of which is, I understand, a personal friend of his, was to give to the reporter of the newspaper the account which I quoted accurately. In addition to the wrecking of houses Ave have had the destruction of goods sold by a boycotted shopkeeper. If a boycotted shopkeeper is fortunate enough to find a customer the customer has to send the goods back or have them destroyed by being publicly burnt. We have had riots and assaults, and only the other day the family of a Protestant minister who had lived in Tipperary in peace with his neighbours for many years was attacked by some ruffians whom, unfortunately, we have not been able to identify. These are the methods by which the people of Tipperary are "brought into line." These are the methods by which they are induced to present a united front to my hon. Friend the Member for South Hunts. If anybody desires to know what the methods of Irish agitation are, let them go to Tipperary—[Opposition cheers, and an IRISH MEMBER: Let them go, and welcome]—and study, as they easily may—[Opposition cheers, and a VOICE: It is above board.]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And study the action which, under inspiration from hon. Gentlemen, has made that town a disgrace to civilisation in order to carry out political objects or satisfy the personal ambition of some gentlemen who regard themselves as leaders of their people. A quarrel has been picked with a man who, by the admission of his own tenants, is one of the best landlords in Ireland, and the result of that quarrel is that demoralisation has spread over the whole community. Desolation will undoubtedly follow the crime. I do not think that hon. Gentlemen will succeed in ruining the hon. Member for South Hunts, but I think it is more than possible they will succeed in ruining Tipperary. [An hon. MEMBER: Come and try it.] It is because we have these facts in view, because we 380 have surveyed the whole course of this controversy, because we observe that intimidation dogs the heels of the agitators of the Irish Party, that we thought that, when they went down to Tipperary and declared their intention of holding a demonstration at this critical period, we should be cowards, and utterly unworthy of carrying out the duties with which we are entrusted if we had refrained from proclaiming it, and from effectually preventing it being held.
§ (6.51.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I have no doubt that this Debate will proceed to some considerable length from the grave nature of the matters which have been laid before the House; but I have no hesitation in asking to intervene at this time, because I think we have reached ground that is perfectly clear and definite. We have heard the able statement of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon). I have no doubt the case he stated will be supported by his friends who were eyewitnesses, but I assume that the substantial matters in the case have been produced in the speech of the hon. Member. In that speech, I observed, he commenced by taking objection in mild terms to the Proclamation issued by the Government against certain meetings in Ireland; but everyone who heard him must have seen that his charge on that ground was perfectly secondary. It was not upon that that he made his principal appeal either to the understanding or the feelings of the House. But we are in this predicament, that while the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has made a careful, detailed, argumentative reply on the part of the Government to the impeachment of their conduct as to the issuing of the Proclamation, to the more grave and serious portions of the charges on which the hon. Member laid stress, as the gist and bulk of his complaint, the right hon. Gentleman has not referred at all. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman thinks he has made a reply, and I do not consider that the assertion I make is to be accepted without proof. I think it is very easy to show by reference to the particulars that the proof will be forthcoming. I do not intend to detain the House at any length, and I will mention at once the course I should recommend 381 to the hon. Member and his friends to pursue. In my opinion, the allegations made by the hon. Member are of the gravest nature. The Government no doubt dispute those allegations and think they have met them. In my opinion, they have not been met at all. The matters are of such gravity that, in my opinion, we cannot leave them suspended in the air between the strong, broad, numerous, pointed, and definite statements of the hon. Member, and the vague, thin, irrelevant, general, intangible statements made by the right hon. Gentleman. It appears to me that we cannot allow this subject to pass by with the charge and the reply. It deserves, it requires, and it ought to command a public inquiry. Hon. Gentlemen are quite competent to judge of their own course, but that is the course I should recommend and suggest to them. If they make such a proposal it shall have my support, and I believe it will receive the support of all those with whom I have the honour to act. Three questions were put to the Chief Secretary, of which he has taken no notice whatever The first of them was this: the hon. Member alleged that the meeting was dispersed with no sort of notice. Is it right that public meetings should be attacked with no sort of notice and with no warning to the people? Is that the value we set on the right of public meeting? I say that no meeting could be dispersed in England without notice given.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I said that the meeting was proclaimed by a notice put up on the Saturday. Everybody knew of the notice.
§ MR W. E. GLADSTONE
That is not it. I do not mean that; I mean notice at the time the meeting was dispersed. The position I lay down is that it is not right, I believe it is not legal, I am certain it is not customary, I am confident also it is fatal to public liberty, if public assemblies not engaged in acts that involve violence and breach of the peace are to be dispersed by the use of violent means, without previous notice to them that they ought to disperse and that it is the intention of the agents of the law to disperse them. The right hon. Gentleman made no statement whatever on that point showing whether notice was given. He said nothing 382 which would lead us to believe that notice was to be given, or to allow us to assume that in future notice will be given. The second question was whether it was right that parties of police should charge with their batons upon small and peaceable groups of persons—upon groups such as that in which the hon. Member himself stood, upon groups of women and children. As to the group in which he stood, the hon. Member made a clear, striking, significant and definite statement; and what was the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? I accept his statement that he had no intention of giving the lie to the hon. Member for Mayo. He made this vague and general answer. First of all he tried to trap him into a statement which he had not made, and then he said he did not believe there was on that occasion any batoning at all, except in answer to the stone-throwing at the police. Where were those stones thrown at the police if not from the group of which the hon. Member formed a part? Were there any stones thrown at the time of the charges and the batoning? Has the right hon. Gentleman ventured upon a single definite allegation? No. It is a general presumption that he entertains, and he apparently believes it to to be his duty to have absolute faith in his agents in Ireland, and I am sorry to see that they are endeavouring to copy the spirit of many of the right hon. Gentleman's own speeches. No answer has been given to this definite statement of an hon. Member's personal experience. The right hon. Gentleman says that he does not believe, and, so far as he is informed, he does not know, that there was any charge by batons by the police except when stones wore thrown.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
When the hon. Member accused me of having given him the lie, what I did was to contradict him precisely and categorically.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Now we will see how the matter stands. We must endeavour to draw the right hon. Gentleman out of the darkness. The hon. Member for Mayo says that he was standing in a group of six or seven persons, with, I think, five Parliamentary Colleagues and a priest, when an order was given to the police first to draw their batons and then to charge the group. 383 That statement the right hon. Gentleman says he categorically denies.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Then we must go to a Committee to see what is the truth. I do not want to fasten upon the right hon. Gentleman more than he is responsible for, but I now understand him to say that from some hallucination or other, the very precise statement of facts made by the hon. Member for Mayo is not true, that the hon. Member was not the object of an attack by the police, who were first ordered to draw their batons and then to charge the group of six or seven persons. That is categorically denied by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What is categorically denied is that the charge in question was made by the police upon the hon. Member.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I must say that the interpretation that I put upon the very clear statement of the hon. Member for Mayo was this, that whatever may have been the intention—I do not say ferocious intention, but certainly violent and an intemperate intention—of the person who gave the order, there was humanity and compunction on the part of the police—that, in fact, the police did not give full effect to their orders and did not charge.
§ MR. DILLON
They did charge, and passed clean through us, with batons drawn; but the humanity of the police was greater than that of their officers; for, when they came abreast of us, they broke rank and passed us without batoning us, and re-formed on the other side. While the police were charging, their officers kept shouting, "Close your ranks and drive them before you."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Upon a matter affecting his personal experience as to what came within his own view and almost within his arm's length, an hon. Member receives a categorical denial. Is it possible, in these circumstances, to refuse a Parliamentary inquiry? Nor was that the only case of batoning mentioned by the hon. Member. The hon. Member gave in careful detail no fewer than four instances in which batons wore drawn and charges were made. And then, upon these facts, the hon. Member raised three general questions which have not 384 received an answer. The first question was, Are meetings to be dispersed by violence without any notice or invitation to the people to disperse? The second question is, Is it right that the police should be ordered to draw their batons and to charge groups of six or seven individuals engaged in no communication with others, or in anything that bears the semblance of an illegal act—groups incapable of violence, and consisting in some instances almost entirely of women and children? And there is the third question, Is it right, when a charge has been made, and when the people are running and are overtaken in escaping from the meeting, that they should be knocked down by the police and vindictively punished? To none of these questions has an answer been given. The third question is as important as the others, but I cannot overrate the importance of every one of them. I cannot conceive what is a case for inquiry if this is not. What says the right hon. Gentleman? He says that we ought not to take any notice of this case, because no one has been seriously injured. Sir, I say that the liberties of this country are to be vindicated when the exercise of those liberties is interfered with, even if you cannot prove that serious injury has taken place. But, what is meant by serious injury? I say that heads broken by the batons of the police are very serious affairs. It is idle to talk of maintaining law and order if you make light of such matters. The whole tendency of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on any of the points on which any reply has been made has been to exhibit the Government of the Queen and the agents of the Queen in Ireland as the principal upholders of law and order. Is it possible to conceive a graver issue for inquiry? The Chief Secretary says that the hon. Member for Mayo is upon his trial. I agree with him. Unquestionably that is so. If the hon. Member has deceived the House upon a statement of fact, the character and honour which the hon. Member has always maintained intact, and which he values, I apprehend, as much as any Member of this House, would grievously suffer. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says that he thinks that the principal injuries have been those inflicted upon the police. How does he show that? 385 He shows it by stating that two policemen have been obliged to leave the force, and have received compensation from the Grand Juries of £300 and £500. But when wore those injuries inflicted? We are speaking now of the treatment of the people at Tipperary and Cashel a fortnight ago, and the right hon. Gentleman says that these policemen retired at some period, which he thinks was last September. What has that to do with the proceedings at Tipperary and Cashel a fortnight ago? I must say that I do not pretend to enter upon the question on which the right hon. Gentleman based the principal part of his speech—whether the proclnmation issued by the Irish Government deserves the approval or the censure of the House. That is a large and difficult question. If Ireland were being governed under laws breathing the spirit of freedom I should have no difficulty in condemning that proclamation. But when I consider what is the spirit of the Coercion Act of 1887 I feel that the Government are justified in drawing from such an Act rather large conclusions. Until I have more information on the subject I will not undertake to say whether the Government, in issuing the proclamation, have acted beyond the spirit of the Coercion Act, or merely in accordance with the spirit of that Act. As I have said, this is the main question before the House. An accusation has been made upon one set of questions, and a defence has been made upon another set of questions. I do not say that we are to draw irrevocable conclusions from these matters. I think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to have an opportunity of producing witnesses. My position is this. This is a case in which the strongest and the most imperative grounds have been made out for an inquiry. And now let me say one word about the system of espionage known as "shadowing." We have, first of all, the assertion, which is, at any rate, tacitly admitted even in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that a certain system of espionage, conducted with a certain amount of consideration and regard to decency, has long been in force in Ireland. But that is not the invention of the present Government. A new system has been introduced under the name of "shadowing." Under that system of 386 espionage a gentleman walking peaceably in the street has a policeman in plain clothes placed beside him, shoulder to shoulder.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I meant in uniform, for that is a very large part of the charge. The policeman marches along with the gentleman wherever he goes, and whoever he accosts that policeman is the confidant of his conversation—conversation that the policeman has to report to a Resident Magistrate, under whose orders he is performing executive duties, and if a prosecution arises it is likely that the Resident Magistrate will hear the case. I must say on this state of things that, in my opinion, it is impossible to conceive a system of more outrageous tyranny combined with Constitutional freedom. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether there is one of them who would endure it. Is there any man in this House—even the feeblest—who would not use such means as Nature has given him to put an end to such abominable outrages, which are all the worse because they are inflicted in the name of law? What was the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? He asked, Which is the greater evil—to watch a criminal or to allow the commission of crime? Observe, that because some police officer suspects that somebody may have an intention of committing one of those offences which have been made crime by your legislation, on that account he is to be watched as a criminal and to be described as a criminal in this House. The priest of the parish is one of the gentlemen thus shadowed—he is accompanied by the police shoulder to shoulder along the footpath. There are not words strong enough to describe such abominations. Is there a single man sitting on the Benches behind the Chief Secretary who will get up and defend this new-fangled system of shadowing—an invention of the present Government and a symbol of firm government in Ireland? I think too well of them to believe they will take upon themselves the responsibility of such a defence. Knowing these things as we now know them, if the hon. Members for Cork and Mayo and the other Representatives of Ireland make a demand for inquiry, I ca not for a moment believe the first Lord of the 387 Treasury will refuse a serious and responsible inquiry by a Committee of this House into the allegations of the Mover of the Motion and the defence made on the part of the Government.
(7.18.) MR. W. O'BRIEN" (Cork Co., N. E.)
The right hon. Gentleman has made an unanswerable reply to the speech of the Chief Secretary, and because it is unanswerable it remains unanswered from the Treasury Bench. We on these Benches most cordially reecho that reply. If the Chief Secretary has the courage of his convictions, if he believes the horrid imputations he has thrown upon the people of Tipperary, now is his chance, he asked Englishmen to go to Tipperary if they wanted to study the methods of the Irish Government. We say yes. We ask him to send, not a stranger, not an individual, but a Select Committee of this House to Tipperary. The Chief Secretary says he has received accounts of these transactions fundamentally different from those of the Irish Members. The issue is whether it is the officials who are lying or the Irish Members. We invite and we challenge you to have the question probed to the bottom by a full public investigation, and let the English people see just once for all on which side is the truth and on which side is the lying and blackguardism. There are two great dangers to the public peace in Ireland. One is the conduct of the police on such occasions as that in question; and the other, and the far greater danger, is the delivery by the Chief Secretary of speeches such as that he has just made. The recklessness of statement exhibited by the right hon. Gentleman in the House of Commons is the main cause of the recklessness and ruffianism of his subordinates in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman wants Englishmen to go to Ireland. Oh, yes, but while they are there, the police are on their best behaviour. It is idle for the right hon. Gentleman to object to inquiry by saying there are no matters of fact in dispute. Was there, or was there not, on the 12th of April an open public meeting in the town of Tipperary, attended by thousands, addressed by eight Members of Parliament, and attended also by two English Members? According to the Chief Secretary, up to this hour it is still in doubt whether all this is imaginary, like 388 the batoning by the police of the poor cripple, whom I myself saw, and whom many of my friends beside me saw, batoned by the police. After to-night's Debate, at all events, he can be in no doubt that there are some matters of fact in dispute between us. Let the Government enable the English people, once for all, to ascertain the truth of this matter by some tribunal of a less absurd character than one in which Colonel Caddell, the Magistrate, passes judgment upon the conduct of Colonel Caddell, the policeman—the Lord High Chancellor of Tittipoo passes judgment upon the Lord High Executioner. On dozens of points we are prepared to prove that the statements put into the right hon. Gentleman's mouth are either misleading half-truths, or are unvarnished, unadulterated falsehoods. Let me give one instance. While the right hon. Gentleman speaks of there being 400 people at Limerick Junction, even the Times gives the number as 2,000. We traverse also, as a simple unadulterated lie, the information supplied to the right hon. Gentleman that no baton charges were made in Tipperary that day. I have friends by me who were present on the occasion, and I can speak of the meeting I was myself addressing. The policemen came up at a gallop, and, without a stone being thrown, without any provocation beyond that of cheering, the police rushed like maniacs upon the unfortunate people. Although this was witnessed by several Members of the House, we are to be told it was all purely imaginary. Let me deal now with the Chief Secretary's references to the all important portion of my right hon. Friend's indictment. It is practically undisputed that at the Limerick Junction meeting a handful of police were for over an hour absolutely at the mercy of the meeting, which the Times estimated at 2,000 people, and not a single hair on a policeman's head was injured. In Tipperary town, an hour afterwards, the police were in overwhelming force. Did they use their strength as the people at Limerick Junction used theirs? No, they instantly and savagely attacked the people, right, left, and centre—people who were doing nothing except cheering. The same thing happened at Boherlahan, and again there were the same results. At Cashel 389 the game thing happened. Again, at the first, the people were the stronger, and not one policeman was hurt; but the moment the police were reinforced they attacked the people. There was no disorder, violence, or injury while the people had the police at their mercy. What follows? The Government have instituted, I believe, 44 prosecutions against the men who were wantonly and brutally assaulted that day. They are prosecuting the rank and file, but up to the present moment they have not thought proper to grapple at all with the Members of Parliament who were responsible for the meeting, and that is the sort of thing that Lord Salisbury tells you is to go on in Ireland for 20 years. That is your brave and resolute Government. We have heard to-night something of the melancholy system of shadowing. I defy any impartial tribunal to study the statistics of Tipperary without coming to the conclusion that the police and the Removable Magistrates are acting with the deliberate intention of goading the people into a breach of the peace, because neither by fair means nor foul have they been able to smash their meetings up. I despair of giving any idea of the miserable petty police espionage that is exercised every day in Ireland. I do not speak particularly of these special occasions, although the conduct of the police at Cashel has been horrible and cowardly; but the far and away worse is the system of persecution which is exercised daily upon local men and local leaders. There is the case of Father Humphreys, one of the most revered and respected priests in Ireland. The picture of Father Humphreys alone passing through the streets, with a policeman in uniform on either side of him, and another at his heel, like a burglar in custody, would alone raise the gorge of any Englishman who could see it. Let me tell you what a mean, cowardly, tyrannical system it is. Upon the day my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan and myself were in Tipperary a man crossed the street and suddenly stood in front of Father Hnmphreys with a detective camera, and took his photograph. I afterwards joined him and went for a walk with him down the main street of Tipperary. The two policemen who attached themselves to us attempted to 390 do the very same thing with us both. I asked if they had orders? I wanted to fight the question out, as they were not allowed to molest us. What did they do? The Head Constable behind cried out, "Fall back," and the policeman after my threat did fall back, and did not molest me again the whole time. Did they resume their march by the side of Father Humphreys? No, they knew that this photograph was taken, and that it would be seen throughout England. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester several times raised the question in the House of the treatment of Father Humphreya, and it has been defended and championed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. But the camera did what the Chief Secretary's conscience did not do. I had a letter from Father Humphreys a few days ago stating that the shadowing system had been dropped, but they continue it in the case of humbler men, of most respectable men, in Ireland, everyone as respectable as myself or the right hon. Gentleman himself. The police dog them from morn to night, and listen to what they say. They jostle them, make most offensive remarks to them, and do all that men can do to inveigle them into doing something to give them a pretext for a charge of assault, so as to throw them into gaol. Now that is the system of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in Ireland. The police yield when they must, and when England is looking, but when nobody is looking on the persecution goes on as before. The right hon. Gentleman has been beaten in the prosecution of the leaders, and is now engaged in the still more dastardly, and I venture to say equally futile, policy of persecuting their followers. The Irish police are being used as took, and we, their countrymen, are driven with shame and anguish to recognise the condition to which they are falling. It is not they we blame, it is you (the Government). You have driven the Irish policeman to distinguish himself by hatred of his fellow-countrymen. The consequence is a fatal demoralisation of the Force which is simply incredible. The cowardice of the conduct of the police was really pitiful that day. They made three wretched attempts to suppress the meeting. They were put back with no single injury, and were 391 obliged to yield. The moment the cavalry came up they made the brutal charge which has been described. The people had spared them when their lives were in their hands; but I never saw anything more horrible than the conduct of the force in return. They were literally growling like wild animals in a cage, muttering threats and using filthy language. Directly people attempted to raise a cheer they were attacked by infuriated policemen, who bludgeoned men right and left. The savage section of the force have got the upper hand. They are too strong even for their own officers—they hunger for promotion, and they know it can be got in no other way than this. I believe that our people are the most enduring people in the world; and unless their hearts were buoyed up with unshakeable confidence in the British people, I tell you that your Irish officials would long ago have maddened our people into some desperate acts of violence. The right hon. Gentleman had the courage to go back on the miserable story of the explosives in Tipperary. Two exploded while my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo was speaking to the police, and if they could have done any injury to anyone they would have injured him. There is in Tipperary as old a custom as that of exploding squibs in England on Guy Fawkes Day. It is a harmless stupid custom. I remember it myself in Tipperary for 20 years. I defy anybody to point to any injury resulting from it; and if you referred this matter to a Select Committee, you would find the story of the bombs to be as ridiculous as Serjeant Buzfuz's explanation of the famous "chops and tomatoes" in the Pickwick breach of promise case. The Irish people can no longer be blinded to the fact that while we can point to murder after murder committed by the police in Ireland, they cannot, on the other hand, point to a single policeman (except the unfortunate Inspector Martin, who lost his life through his own folly), who has been killed there for years past. The right hon. Gentleman has trotted out again his miserable statistics of drunkenness in Tipperary, contributed largely to, of course, by the Emergencymen. Why does he quote statistics of drunkenness? He has nothing else to depend upon. Where can he point to one single policeman in the whole County of Tipperary 392 who has lost his life or limbs? Where is his list of killed and wounded? In the 10 years preceding the Land League agitation there were 18 landlords and agents shot dead. In all the years that followed the Land League there was not a single landlord or agent or policeman shot. Not one. They can quote no other outrage than the one I deplore, and which took place in an empty house eight months ago when we were in gaol. That we deplored and described as a piece of blackguardism. In all that time there has been no single outrage of any sort or kind. The Chief Secretary blows hot and cold. One moment he declares that there is no crime in Ireland, and then he says that Tipperary is given up to the mob—that it has become a disgrace to civilisation; that he is obliged to have 150 policemen and 700 soldiers to take care of it. If there is legitimate boycotting—and I say there is—the people of Tipperary claim the right the people of England have to choose their own interests and to deal with their own friends; and all I can say is that they have done it, and will continue to do it, and you will be just as powerless in the end as you were in the beginning. In what you are doing you are fighting against the instincts of a whole community and against the instincts of human nature itself. This is not a question of enthusiasm for law and order. The hon. Member for South Hunts has got his town. He has got his land and his houses without a single act of resistance to the law. He can have the remainder as soon as he wants it. But still he is not happy, and his advisors and backers in Dublin Castle are not happy. They know that their united force fails utterly to stay by one hair's breadth the tenants' combination. Let the Government submit this whole question in its entirety to a Select Committee, for we believe that if the whole truth were fully known the people of England, instead of being shocked, would say that never in the history of the world had there been in the face of so much provocation so much forbearance and unselfishness as the Irish people had shown. It is our business to court inquiry. Englishmen would be horrified at the length to which policemen and Magistrates go in Ireland, and the recklessness and criminality with which they 393 used their weapons when there was no shadow of danger to them, and it is made a thousand times worse by speeches like that of the Chief Secretary. We invite this investigation. It would strengthen our cause. We bring these things forward because we are determined to bring them into the light, and to condemn the Government in regard to them. We believe that when you have before you the whole facts of this case, you will come to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman's exploit in Tipperary is as vindictive an act of tyranny, and as ignominious a failure, as ever disgraced the name of an English statesman.
§ (8.32.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (8.35.) MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
The suggestion made some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was one which I think required an answer from some Member of the Government. Specific statements have been made by the Mover of the Motion for the Adjournment. These statements have beer, contradicted by the Chief Secretary, for Ireland. The statements made by the hon. Member were made in great part upon his own personal knowledge, and they were contradicted, at the best, on information supplied by the Chief Secretary; and I think it would have been only courteous to the House if in a matter of this kind the Chief Secretary, in contradicting statements, had supplied us with the authority from whom he obtained his information.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course, Sir, I made my statement upon information supplied through the official Reports, as every Chief Secretary is obliged to do.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I think the House is also entitled to know the position of the person making the Report on which the Chief Secretary contradicts the statements of the hon. Member for Mayo, especially when the statements of that hon. Member are specific, and the denial exceedingly general. The specific charges—and I will draw attention to some of them that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian did not refer to—seemed to me to be callable of such explicit proof or disproof that I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has left the House or himself in a worthy 394 position by a mere denial. There was not only the police charge on the hon. Member and half-a dozen friends in the square, but there was a charge upon the people who shook hands with these gentlemen, and a charge en the people who cheered them, and the specific boast of Mr. Shannon of the batoning of the people by the police. All these statements are covered by the general denial that the police charged the people in any case until first subject to stone-throwing.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I made my statement upon the official Reports, and I referred only to Tipperary. I do not think I dealt at all with the alleged charge at Cashel.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Then I take it that there is no denial of the charging by the police at Cashel; and, that being so, there is no "specific and categorical denial" of the case submitted by the hon. Member for Mayo this evening.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I am sure I am indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for any correction of my speech. I always try to make my facts as fair as I can, and in this case I desire to make them as hard as I can. I want to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that as I understand his corrected defence——
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
My impression is that the right hon. Gentleman said he had given a categorical denial to all the charges made by the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I thought so; and if I am right in that, then I should also be right in speaking of his corrected form of answer.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What occurred was this: The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian distinctly stated that I had not traversed the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo with regard to the occurrences at Tipperary. I said that I had traversed them, and I also asserted, and I adhere to the statement that no baton charge was made by the police until stones had been thrown. That has no reference in one way or the other to the occurrences at Cashel.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
The right hon. Gentleman will pardon my giving my version of the matter, even though, in his opinion, it may not be correct. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, adopting, from his view of the veracity of the hon. Member for Mayo, the statements he made, urged that they had not been coutradicted, and I understood the Chief Secretary to say that he had categorically contradicted those statements. It now appears this was wrong, and that the right hon. Gentleman only contradicted one of the matters to which allusion was made, and that, instead of saying that the police had never charged except when stoned, he meant to say that they Sid not charge on one occasion in the square until they were stoned, and that of everything else he was ignorant.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman to agree with me, but I now think there is higher ground for inquiry still, and that the Motion for Adjournment has been clearly justified, for the larger portion of the case, upon the statement of the Chief Secretary himself, now remains without contradiction. Although the Chief Secretary has taken care to have Reports, his subordinates, who ought to have furnished him with the means of stating the truth to the House, have neglected to do so. Somebody who is responsible for giving him information has not thought it right to let him know the facts. I submit that the adjournment has been justly moved, and that the answer to it is utterly incomplete. I think that the few hon. Members on the other side of the House who have heard the corrected answer of the Chief Secretary will be bound to vote for the adjournment on the ground that the bulk of the facts remain as stated by the hon. Member for Mayo, utterly uncontradicted by the Chief Secretary. I am bound to say that, knowing the ability of the Chief Secretary, I was disappointed with his speech. Of course, it is clever tactics to make an able speech and pass by the most important matter of challenge, but I am disappointed to find that any one claiming to represent the Government, and desiring to bring about a better affection 396 for law and order in Ireland should have avoided the bulk of the questions raised to-night, as the right hon. Gentleman has done. There are Members of the Government whom I might have suspected of not answering, on account of incapacity, but the Chief Secretary is not one of these; and the other horn of the dilemma is quite as unpleasant. The right hon. Gentleman himself said that two questions were involved in this Debate, the first being, "Did the police act without moderation and with want of judgment," and the second, "Had the Government just ground for proclaiming the meeting." With the first question the right hon. Gentleman has not attempted to deal. Is then, the case affecting the police abandoned? No attempt has been made to meet the grave allegations against the police in respect of their batoning and charging the people outside the town of Tipperary. If the law relating to public meetings is the same in Ireland as in England, then the uncontradicted case of the hon. Member for East Mayo shows that an extraordinary series of illegalities have been committed by the Executive and the police. In regard to the uncontradicted case, it certainly appears to me that there is ground for the inquiry asked for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. As to the occurrences in Tipperary, I am bound to say that the corrected denial of the Chief Secretary, or the corrected avoidance of denial, appears to me a little awkward, because, unless my memory fails me, I think I heard the right hon. Gentleman say he had read about these things in the papers—and that it was upon his full examination of the matter that he felt capable of giving an explicit denial. Now, it is clear that that cannot be true. I do not mean that anything the Chief Secretary said was not true, but that the right hon. Gentleman must have misled himself. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman was unintentionally totally inaccurate, and that he unintentionally utterly deceived the House when he said there were versions which contradicted each other. The right hon. Gentleman and myself are agreed, if I may say so, that the proclamation of a meeting does not make it illegal. If it be illegal otherwise, the proclamation neither decreases nor increases the 397 illegality. How can you know whether a meeting will be illegal or not? You may know it will be illegal if it be avowedly called for an illegal object. The proclamation issued on the 23rd merely announced that John Dillon, M.P., and William O'Brien, M.P., would deliver addresses. You cannot import into these addresses what they are likely to be in order to give the meeting the character of illegality. Primâ facie the addresses would be lawful. There was nothing on the face of the placard to entitle you to say that the meeting would be illegal. But you dealt with it before anything happened at the meeting. You began to break heads before the meeting commenced. At Limerick Junction, according to the right hon. Gentleman, there were only 300 or 400 people. But that was 20 times as big a meeting as one of those that was charged upon. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) says there were 2,000 persons present at the Junction.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
The Times. But you will not expect me to accept the authority of the Times in any matter in which there is any divergence of opinion between any two Members of this House. I know from experience that public speakers have sometimes adisposition, like fishermen as to catch, to increase in their own minds—without any intention of being untruthful—the size of the meetings they address. But if, in the opinion of the Chief Secretary, the police did well in letting alone a meeting of 300 or 400, why did they not do better in letting the smaller alone? I should fall under the censure of the House if, in any spirit of meanness, I said the police could be justified in batoning the people at a meeting when they were strong enough to do so, and were not justified in doing it when they were too weak. If that position were not taken up by a Member of the Government it would be a mean and contemptible position. If the police charged on the people who came to shake hands with the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) at the gateway, they not only displayed great want of tact and moderation, but were guilty of great brutality. That they did so is uncontradicted, and it is presumably true. I say that the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves for the 398 attitude they have taken up on this point. The Chief Secretary's language puzzled me. He said that the account of the transaction given by the hon. Member for East Mayo and his own account were vitally different. I find that, instead of the two accounts being vitally different, there is only a very small portion on which there is any difference. The Government have let judgment go by default against them. Who are on their trial? That is a question the Chief Secretary for Ireland answers, but which we shall not get fully answered until an election takes place. I will however, venture to anticipate one or two of the issues on which the English people will be asked to pronounce a verdict. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said that very little damage was done. But is it no damage, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said, to drive a police car into a crowd so that the shafts catch a poor woman on the breasts, and the horses are only turned aside by the blackthorns of the men? Is it a trifle to charge among the people with batons and to use the butts of rifles? It used not to be a trifle in England, and we must have got into a degraded state indeed when an English Government can defend this in the House of Commons. Again, I find that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary pledged himself to a personal conviction based upon his complete examination of the matters which had been submitted to the House. But how could he have a personal conviction on matters which he had not examined at all? We are told it was a dangerous thing for the two hon. Members who have spoken this evening to be allowed to address a meeting in Tipperary. Why more dangerous for them to do so than at the Junction? The conduct of the police in permitting those addresses there has been approved by the Chief Secretary this evening. A meeting which is a menace to the State in one place cannot cease to be a menace to the State if held three miles off. I will not describe anything the Chief Secretary says as nonsense, but I am sure it would have been the most utter nonsense if I had said it, and utterly unworthy of being regarded as a grave appeal to the House. I happened the other day to be reading a number of 399 Blackwood, some 40 years old, and I found the landlord mischief denounced by one of the first Whig politicians of the day, in the same way as they are denounced by the hon. Members for North-East Cork and Mayo. They say that whatever mischief they may have done they have at any rate put some hope into the hearts of the people of effecting their own redemption by open organisation, and the result is that the few survivals of the old bad spirit are survivals chiefly kept alive by the survival of old methods on the part of the Government. Even under a Government as bad as this, when the police did not interfere, no disorder took place. The claim set up by the Government to-night in answer to the appeal made to them for the preservation of some of the rights of meeting is simply that wherever the Member for East Mayo or the Member for North-East Cork happen to go the fact of their going warrants the Government in preventing the holding of meetings. Why? Because the Government is utterly afraid, and if the Members speak sedition or incite to crime they may be indicted. But the Government do not wait for these things. Our memories must be very short. We commenced the Session with a nourish of trumpets as to the pacification of Ireland. Tonight we have a frank confession of utter and abject weakness, and are told that the Government dare not allow hon. Members of this House to address the people in open meeting. The Chief Secretary expressed a doubt as to whether he ought to have allowed even a banquet in Tipperary. I have not the honour of the friendship of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon), except as one Member may find himself friendly with every Colleague who, like him, is entrusted with the mandate of the people. But the hon. Member's words were words that rang like truth. It is no use discussing whether the Government were justified in proclaiming the meeting. The Chief Secretary and the Government seem to consider that all rights of meeting are to be put an end to both in England and Ireland. There is such a thing as going too far. I had the honour of successfully arguing before one of England's greatest Judges that in relation to a meeting in Devon I should have been justified in killing a constable who unlawfully inter- 400 fered with MR. The Attorney General for Ireland laughs. I know my knowledge of law is not fit to match with his, although it has been found fit to match with, at least, the hon. and learned Gentleman's Colleagues. I recommend the right hon. and learned. Gentleman to read the grave language in which the Lord Chief Justice Earle examined my proposition. The Judges of this country have helped to make the law here a protection to the meanest of our subjects, but the law in Ireland is used as a sort of thumbscrew. The law in England has been and is if it can be declared fair between the weakest, and poorest and the strongest, but is it so in Ireland. The hon. Member for East Mayo asked whether the man who is alleged to have had his forehead cut with a baton is to be prosecuted. I imagine, and I think the House imagined, that the Chief Secretary denied the fact. It is clear now the fact comes in the category of fact that is not denied. Is the man to be tried? Is he to be tried before a Resident Magistrate? If he were tried here, and was unjustly committed, he could appeal to the Quarter Session, and if the law were strained against him there he could carry the case to a Divisional Court. In Ireland things are different. You say that a character of a meeting is changed by your proclamation. If a man goes to a meeting and draws attention to himself yon send him before a, Resident Magistrate, who does not administer the law as we have known it administered here, without fear and without partiality. The Irish Resident Magistrate administers the law as a machine, to be used for I making what you call and order, I which is really only an apparent quiet I which begets the crime which has been referred to. I say that a Government which strains the law so that it is shapeless, which sends poor unfortunate men to gaol if they resist the driving of a horse and car at a gallop into a crowded meeting, provokes bigger crime. What makes men criminal? It is no hope of justice. I do not complain that the Chief Secretary has left since the earlier portion of my speech. It is probably for my quiet he has done so, because we disagreed so exceedingly during that portion of my remarks. But is it worthy of the position of the Government, 401 standing, as it professes to do, in front of civilisation, to say that these are small things? Small things at the end of the 19th century? Small things when you prate of the progress you have made? I avow I feel ashamed, of the excuses made by the Government. The Chief Secretary asked who and what is on trial. It is the whole system of government in Ireland, and this Motion for the adjournment of the House has been well brought, if only by way of an interlocutory appeal to the English people.
§ (9.15.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I take it that the real question at issue whether there should be a public Parliamentary Inquiry into the occurrences at Tipperary on Sunday fortnight. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has requested that such an inquiry should be held. The inquiry is asked for because there is a discrepancy between the Chief Secretary for Ireland, giving official information, and the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who was present at the meeting. Nobody says that anybody was seriously hurt. A cripple has been referred to as injured, but we have not even got his name. The least we could expect is that if anybody has been seriously injured, his name should be given, so that investigation might be made. Now, if we are are to go by precedent, I am very much afraid that the inquiry asked for cannot be granted. If we take the precedents, all of them under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and most of them when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir G. Trevelyan) was Chief Secretary, the Front Opposition Bench, at all events, cannot plead for inquiry. [Cries of "Belfast!"] I will not commence with Belfast, but with a part of my own county. ["Which is your county?"] The county I represent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton Division will well recollect the two meetings which were convened at a place called Dromore. I have always held that the second of the two meetings ought not to have been held. The Nationalists had a right to convene their meeting, and I do not think it was wise on the part of the Orangemen to convene a counter meeting at the same place and on the same day. What happened? The 402 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian objects to the police running after people and batoning them when they are running away. Why, at that meeting a man, whilst running away, was run through with a bayonet and killed, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton Division refused an inquiry. In the first case I give there was a man killed while running away, and the Government of the right hon. Gentleman, who now demands an inquiry into a row in which no one was hurt—["Oh, oh!"]—well, seriously hurt, refused an inquiry. The next case: occurred on the 16th of August, 1880, at Dungannon, County Tyrone, under Mr. Forster, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was Prime Minister. On that day a party riot occurred in the South of Dungannon, in the course of which houses were attacked and the police assaulted. Ultimately the District Inspector in charge gave orders to fire. One man was killed and several persons wounded. In the following week hon. Members below the Gangway forced a Debate on the subject, and Mr. Forster explained that the police could not avoid firing. No proceedings were instituted against the police, and no inquiry was held. I take another case which must be familiar to hon. Members, namely, that of Ballaragget, County Kildare, which took place on the 9th of October, 1881. I make no charge against hon. Members below the Gangway in these matters. They wished for inquiries, and inquiries were refused by the very Party who now demand an inquiry in a case in which no one was seriously hurt. On the 9th of October, 1881, a Land League meeting was held at Ballaragget, and a force of police was drafted into the town to keep order. At the termination of the meeting the police wore marched to the railway station and they were attacked by an excited crowd. Orders to charge were given, for the purpose of dispersing the mob, and a man named James Mansfield received a bayonet wound, from which he died. A Coroner's Jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the District Inspector who gave the order to charge. On the application of the Crown the verdict was quashed in the Queen's Bench, and when questioned in the House the then Attorney General de- 403 clined to grant an inquiry, saying that the Government were in full possession of all the facts. The Attorney General was Mr. Johnson, and everybody knows on which side of the House he sat. One would suppose that all the shooting had been done by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but the fact is that it has all been done by right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Opposition Bench. In October, 1881, a party of police were engaged in protecting a summons server at Belmullet. They were attacked by a mob, who threw stones at them. The District Inspector in charge gave orders to fire, with the result that two women were killed. The Coroner's Jury again returned a verdict of wilful murder against the District Inspector and a constable. The Nationalist Press demanded that the men should be put on their trial, and the Attorney General directed the Crown Solicitor to get information and take the accused before a Magistrate. The Magistrate dismissed the charge, and no further proceedings were taken. Exactly the same thing took place at Ballina some time afterwards. A man was killed, but no inquiry was allowed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division why these inquiries were refused by the Government of which he was a Member? Were they refused for the purpose of shielding and protecting the police in an illegal action? The right hon. Gentleman will not say anything of the kind. ["Ireland was misrepresented."] Probably Ireland was misrepresented now. At all events that has nothing to do with the question I put, namely, were these inquiries refused during the time when the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary with the view of shielding the police and protecting them in illegal conduct? I do not believe a word of it. I believe the inquiries were refused because the Government, acting on the best information they could receive, believed that the police did not exceed their duty, and I imagine that if the Government refuse this inquiry that will be the reason for their refusal. The hon. Members for North-East Cork and East Mayo unite in an attack. It would be well they should try to be consistent one with the other as to the description given of title police. The hon. Member for 404 Mayo called the police in Tipperary cowardly, infuriated savages. [Cries of "In Cashel!"] The hon. Member spoke of the police generally—["No!"]—and if he were present he would not deny it. The hon. Member for North-East Cork described the charge the police made upon himself and five or six other gentle* men who were standing doing nothing at the corner of the square. He said Colonel Caddell and the other officers of the police opened their ranks in order to avoid doing them any harm. What terrible savages! They never lifted a baton, but when they came up to the crowd of seven or eight people, these cowardly, infuriated savages opened their ranks in order to avoid injuring the hon. Member and his friends. The reports in the Irish Times and Daily Express have been paraded before the House, and, no doubt, these are Unionist papers; but it does not follow that to Sunday meetings they always send Unionist reporters; [Laughter.] On the contrary, I know that as regards the Irish Times, at all events, the majority of the reporting staff in my days were Nationalists and not Unionists, and, of course, these gentlemen will colour their reports according to their convictions. Now, let us take the question of the policy of the Government in proclaiming the meeting at Tipperary. That question is entirely different from the conduct of the police, I admit. But let us take the policy of the Government in proclaiming this meeting. I say nobody who knows anything of the state of Tipperary and of the facts mentioned in the Chief Secretary's speech, can have the least doubt of the wisdom of the policy that directed the proclamation. What was the real meaning of the proclamation? Meetings had been held a few weeks before, and a number of first-class revolutionists from England had delivered addresses, and a fortnight afterwards another great meeting is resolved upon. Why was this? The real reason was that the period for redemption for tenants under the Land Act of 1887 was about to expire, and these hon. Gentlemen no doubt had information of what was taking place in the town and neighbourhood of Tipperary, and I have received reliable information from Tipperary itself and its 405 neighbourhood that the object of the meeting was to intimidate the tenants, and to prevent them from redeeming their holdings. I fully admit that the right of public meeting is a sacred one, but at the same time I think that the right of the tenants to redeem their holdings is equally sacred, and that public meetings held with the object of preventing them from exercising that right ought to be proclaimed, and that a Government having information of this object of a meeting would neglect its duty if it did not proclaim such a meeting. And now let me say a word or two on the practice of shadowing. There is one point upon which hon. Members and I agree, and that is, that every policeman in Ireland should be distinguished by a number on his uniform. I have said before that it should be as easy to identify a policeman in any part of Ireland as it is in Belfast or Dublin. I entertain as great an objection to the system of shadowing as hon. Members below the Gangway, because I do not believe that it is efficacious. What is taking place in Tipperary? There are numbers of "corner boys" standing about the streets acting as pickets upon the shops open there. There are open arrangements for boycotting, and the man who makes the arrangements is perfectly well known to the police. You may shadow Father Humphries, who is the real instigator and the master of the whole Tipperary business in the street as much as you please, but you will never find out what passes in Father Humphries' house.
§ [The hon. Member's speech was interrupted several times by exclamations and laughter.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask hon. Members not to interrupt the hon. Member so continuously. They will have an opportunity of replying.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The hon. Member for North-East Cork has congratulated the Chief Secretary upon a change of policy, that whereas in former times he went for the leaders he is now content to go for the rank and file. But other people have changed their policy. The hon. Member for North-East Cork has changed his policy on his own admission. ["No, no!"] In the old times of the League murder and outrage was com- 406 mitted, but these have passed away and the policy now is what the hon. Member terms legitimate boycotting.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
In the absence of my hon. Friend I do not think he should be misrepresented. ["Order, order!"] Ii is a very grave accusation against my hon. Friend. What he stated was that murder and outrage took place before the Land League was constituted.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I do not think that is so. Murder and outrage did not cease with the formation of the League-, it waxed more fierce. [Cries of "Not true; none in Tipperary!"] Tipperary was quiet until about 10 months ago, when hon. Members went down there and went from platform to platform rebuking the people for their quietness. But what is the nature of this legitimate boycotting? I do not think the people of England realise yet what this "legitimate boycotting" means. Frankly, I say I do not think the people of Ireland subjected to the practice fear personal violence so much as they do* what is called legitimate boycotting. Take the case of Mr. Phillips. He has been boycotted because he has disobeyed the unwritten law of the League, and because he has refused to give up his farm, for which he has paid £1,000, and only asks in a free country to be allowed to remain an honest man and to pursue his business in peace, and refuses to become a beggar and a scoundrel. He does not consider his rent too high; he profits by his farm. Because he has done this he has been made the subject of legitimate boycotting, with the consequence that he has been deprived of the necessities of life, and when his child fell ill—[Loud laughter.] Ah, yes, when the hon. Members below the Gangway laugh at such a statement as that it only teaches us what we may have to expect in the future.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
The hon. Member seems to indicate that I laughed, the imputation that I laughed is a gross—[Loud cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
It was the hon. Member who sits next to the hon. Member that I was referring to.
§ MR. CONDON (Tipperary, E.)
I laughed at the statement of the hon. Member because Mr. Phillips' so-called child is 25 years old.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I will say a member of his family. I am following the description of Mr. Phillips, who refers to his child. ["As truthful as you."] I say that when that man's child fell ill the local druggist would not compound the medicine prescribed, and he was obliged to obtain the medicine from a long distance. That is what the hon. Member for Cork describes as legitimate boycotting.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I might also refer to the case of the old lady at Tipperary, who has been boycotted and had her windows smashed because she would not accept the policy of hon. Members below the Gangway; because she would not lend her neck to the yoke, and chose to live as she has lived in the past, honestly fulfilling her engagements, her windows were smashed, I suppose by those innocent urchins who make curious squibs out of axle boxes. ["Not true."] I say the Government were entitled, looking at the state of Tipperary, looking at the fact that this meeting was called immediately before the day of redemption under the Act of 1881, to proclaim the meeting; and I hold that so far as the conduct of the police is concerned they have committed no act which comes within miles of what was committed under the Secretaryship of the right hon. Gentleman below me, and who point blank refused inquiry. If the inquiry asked for were to be granted, the result would be simply a conflict of testimony between the police on the one hand and the people on the other.
§ (9.44.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
The hon. Member has challenged ex-Chief Secretaries on this Bench to explain why it was we refused inquiry into incidents that occurred under the former Government. My right hon. Friend can explain why it was inquiry was granted in the case of Belfast, and I will explain, in the one single instance the hon. Gentleman has brought forward out of his large répertoire in which I am concerned, why it was I refused inquiry in the case of Dromore. The hon. Member seems to think it is a very light matter we have before us, because he says few or no people had their heads broken. Into that I will not inquire, and I care com- 408 paratively little about it. I care for something else much more.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
Well, I do not think it is a comparatively light matter, and I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are representatives of free men in a free country, will not think this is a comparatively light matter. What we are dealing with is the right of free and open meeting, and it is strange that the hon. Member, who has attained an eminence remarkable, and in some respects not enviable, by his powers of free speaking to masses of his fellow-countrymen, should consider it a light matter to be denied the use of that power. In the case of Dromore, the object of our action was not to suppress free speech but to maintain it. Instead of suppressing a meeting at Dromore, the Government insisted that it should be held. It was a culminating case in a series of arduous and important crises. The Nationalists in the North of Ireland insisted upon their right to hold a meeting in their own part of the country, and the Orangemen of the North of Ireland denied them that right. They endeavoured to deny it first by coming to the Government and telling them that for the sake of the peace of the country they ought to suppress the Nationalist meeting, and when the Government refused to yield to the pressure that was put upon them by the Orangemen and by the Tory Press in this country, the Orangemen declared that they would hold a meeting at the same place and hour. If this had been a meeting of unarmed citizens to listen to speeches and pass resolutions we should have little cared. But it was to be a meeting, not of the inhabitants of the district, but of hordes of armed men, subsidised by the Orange leaders, and coming, many of them, distances of 100 and 150 miles. It was a most insidious snare to the Government. They would have been praised in every Tory paper if they had said what it was in their power to have said, that neither meeting should be held; but we were determined that at any sacrifice and risk we would vindicate the right of the Nationalists, to whom we were then opposed, to hold a meeting, and, consequently, we declared 409 that, whether the Orangemen came armed or not, the meeting should be held. The assertion of this right required the presence of 1,200 armed men, cavalry and infantry; and if it had been 12,000 the expenses and the difficulty would have been amply repaid by the result. The Nationalist meeting was held, and it was protected; the Orange meeting was also held. A strong body of armed troops was posted between the two meetings, and it was during the organised and persistent attempt of the Orangemen to break through the lines of troops and to fall upon the unarmed Nationalists, not very pugnacious at that time, that a single life was lost. There was no dispute about the circumstances at all, either in this House or anywhere else. The present Lord Cross, speaking from this Front Bench, said he entirely agreed with the action of the Government, and down to this moment there has been no dispute as regards that action. In order to protect the right of free speech one life was unfortunately sacrificed; but the right of free speech is worth many lives. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: The man was running away.] But he had come 100 miles with the object of interrupting a meeting of his fellow countrymen; find in this case the House is dealing with the right of free meeting under different circumstances. If the Government wish systematically to suppress public meetings they had better do it by legislative enactment. It is an exceedingly dangerous course to pursue to apply the law which is in vogue in a free and self-governing country like England to a country like Ireland, which is not free and self-governing. The Government are endeavouring to wrest regulations which prevail in this country to the government or mis-government of public meetings in Ireland. In this country no meeting in itself is unlawful until a magistrate has read the Riot Act and has ordered the people to disperse, and if they do not disperse after that they may be tried before a jury and convicted of felony. That is the law in this country, what is the practice in Ireland? The charge is that at Tipperary the people were attacked without due notice. At Dromore the longest possible notice was given that the Nationalist meeting was to be protected, if needful by force. At Tipperary there is no doubt that 410 groups of peaceable people were charged by the police on three occasions, and it is not denied by the Government. There are three distinct allegations, not one of which is denied, and as to the truth of which inquiry alone will give satisfaction. People are bound to take information in the first instance from the newspapers; but it is an extraordinary thing for the hon. Member to say that even the evidence furnished by Tory papers must be discounted, because it is possible they may be served by Nationalist reporters. The argument for inquiry is strengthened by the information that has come from the Ministerial Bench as to shadowing, in spite of our being told that Ireland is quiet to a degree scarcely known before. The Government have invented a new interference with liberty not known in any other civilised country, and which would be resented anywhere by our common human nature. Can such a system as has been described exist anywhere for a month without bringing about violent personal collisions and breach of the peace? It is all very well to talk about the state of Tipperary. What there is in Tipperary, in Donegal, and in other parts of the country is a state of terrible discontent, of something like hopeless despair, and of absolute mistrust of the Executive Government. For those three feelings what outlet is there except free speech? If inquiry is refused conceive what an idea you will sanction. You will sanction the idea that trusted men, like the hon. Member for East Mayo, may actually not visit a town in Ireland, may not be greeted by their fellow-citizens, but, for the next 15 or 20 years, the police shall have the right to rout their fellow-citizens up and down the town, and that they can do this with impunity. We are asked to believe that all this is absolutely necessary for the sake of protecting the citizens of the neighbourhood. The Member for East Mayo has disproved that by showing that all these outrages and dark doings which have been referred to preceded, and did not follow, the open-air meeting held at Tipperary two months ago. The Liberal Government may have been right or wrong when there were a certain number of bloody murders in Ireland in preventing a very small number indeed of public meetings on the spot where those murders had been recent; but for several 411 years past the whole Liberal Party—and they never will go back from that, and under no circumstances will they ever consent to have anything to do with a repressive policy—have believed that Ireland is in a state in which the greatest security for order is liberty and free speech, and such an interference with, liberty and free speech as that with reference to this meeting at Tipperary—so irritating, so useless, and so pernicious—has never taken place in Ireland.
§ (10.5.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN)
I do not know that the House generally will be disposed to think that the right hon. Gentleman has explained satisfactorily why, consistently with what he had just said., he did not grant an inquiry into the proceedings at Dromore; but the House, at any rate, will be satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman has just made a complete retractation of the principles upon which he conducted the Government of Ireland. It is within the knowledge of the House that when the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the Government of Ireland, he suppressed numbers of meetings on the ground that the holding them would lead to murder, crime, and outrage. Now he says the Liberal Party under no circumstances will be guilty of such conduct again, and this, I repeat, is a complete retractation of the principles on which he governed Ireland. The particular point on which the right hon. Gentleman was pressed by the hon. Member for Tyrone was why in the Dromore case, it being alleged the police had pursued and killeda flying man, he did not grant an inquiry? Why is an inquiry to be granted in the present case, and refused in a case in which death actually occurred? In the case now being discussed by the House no serious injury was caused to anyone. The hon. Members for North-East Cork and East Mayo have spoken of the brutalities of the police; but where is the list of wounded at Tipperary?
§ MR. DILLON
The Dublin Daily Express states that 40 people were knocked down by blows on the head at the first charge.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
Will the right hon. Gentleman engage not to prosecute the wounded if the names are furnished?
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
And if any one did complain he would get a summons the next day and be prosecuted.
§ MR. MADDEN
Hon. Members opposite will have an opportunity of answering me presently. Is there any person in hospital at the present moment from injuries received by the police charges? If any person has been injured by excesses committed by the authorities in suppressing the meeting, that person is not without his remedy. The right of public meeting in this country and in Ireland, as the hon. Member for Northampton has stated, is absolutely identical. It is not in the power of the Government by proclamation to make a meeting illegal. Who pretended that it was? The Crimes Act of 1882 must be in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I must inform those hon. Gentlemen that the law is different now. Under the system of coercion under which Ireland groans, the law of public meeting is absolutely identical with the law of public meeting in England. Let any person interfered with unlawfully at a public meeting bring his action at law, and if the Judge lays down the law differently from the law in England let him bring his case to the Court of Appeal, and from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords. Are hon. Gentlemen opposite willing to accept the House of Lords. [An hon. MEMBER: No.] No; but they must accept the House of Lords as laying down the law for England, and no lawyer will contravene the proposition that the law of public meeting in England and Ireland being identical, the law in both countries must be brought in the last resort to the same test—the decision of the House of Lords. Now, one remarkable feature of this Debate is that there has been no serious attempt to show that in the suppression of this meeting the Irish Government have gone beyond their strict rights. The hon. Member for Mayo rather suggested than argued that the meeting was a legal one; but the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian was careful to hold in the background that portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo. The right hon. Gentleman declined to attack the Government on that point, and it appears to me that a point on which the right hon. Gentleman the 413 Member for Mid Lothian declines to attack the Government must be an exceedingly bad point indeed. Both from the action of the right hon. Gentleman and the utter absence of any attempt on the part of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken seriously to contend that this was a lawful assembly, I think that I can ask the House to say that this was an unlawful assembly.
§ MR. MADDEN
If the assembly which was proclaimed was rightly proclaimed as an unlawful assembly, hon. Members opposite are brought face to face with a second fact, namely, that the prevention of the meeting took place with no serious injury to any person, and I think that if the Executive have prevented an unlawful assembly without any serious injury it is action on which they may be congratulated. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has read to the House the proclamation, posted on the Friday before the meeting, by which it was proclaimed. The meeting was to be what was known as a monster meeting, to which excursion trains were to be run. In what condition was the town of Tipperary at that time? has any hon. Member attempted to deny that for months before that a system had been going on which I will call one of boycotting and intimidation? Has any hon. Member denied that a system of boycotting has been carried on there? I have read a letter in the public Press written by one of the Roman Catholic priests, in which he said that he would not be coward enough to deny that he had promoted boycotting, and the hon. Member for North-East Cork has stated that what he describes as legitimate boycotting has been going on in Tipperary. I think that the House may fairly assume that the boycotting that would satisfy the desires of the hon. Member, and was described by him as legitimate, is of a somewhat extreme character. The movement, therefore, which has been going on against the hon. Member for South Hunts has, it must be admitted, been promoted by boycotting and intimidation. Is that legal or not? Is a meeting in promotion of that object a legal meeting? I ask the House for what other purpose the meeting on the Sunday in question could have been convened except to support the movement against the hon. Member for South Hunts which was 414 going on in the town, and which was carried on by boycotting and intimidation. Then the case is complete. The meeting was convened for the support of that movement, the active promoters of which say that they will not be cowards enough to deny that they have promoted boycotting. It is impossible to carry out the system of boycotting without intimidation; and I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, after what he said formerly, cannot deny that boycotting involves intimidation, and is carried out by means of intimidation. In fact, the grossest intimidation has been carried out in the town of Tipperary. Explosives have been used which have blown down portions of buildings in Tipperary, and would have killed persons who might have been inside; is the use of such explosives not intimidation? No Government responsible for the peace of Tipperary could have possibly allowed such a meeting to take place. The question to consider, then, is whether there has been any excess, any undue interference with rights, or anything that goes beyond what is absolutely necessary in the course of suppressing that meeting? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has stated, with regard to the town of Tipperary, that no charge was made by the police until they had been stoned; and the information at the disposal of the Government went even further than that—to the effect that no batoning took place until the police had been actually attacked. The House must know that it is no easy matter to suppress a meeting of this character, where there is a crowded assembly, without serious collision between the police and the crowd; but in this case no such collision took place, and, so far from life being lost, no serious injury at all took place. That takes away the very foundation for the demand for an inquiry. The case of the Belfast riots was a very different thing. There riots had been going on day after day in the streets of Belfast, in which numbers of persons were shot down and actually deprived of life. That case is not to be compared with the suppression of a meeting in which, owing to the forbearance not only of the police, but also, I am happy to add, of the people, no serious occurrence has taken place. No serious attempt has been made to show that the action of the 415 Government in suppressing this meeting has been illegal, and, if it is so, any man who has been injured has his remedy at law. Further, I will say that I think that the manner in which the police discharged their duty on this occasion deserves our commendation.
§ (10.25.) MR. T. HARRINGTON
I think that the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken should define what he means by serious injury to an Irishman if he does not consider four blows from a baton and then being kicked by a policeman serious injury. What a lesson the Irish police will read from this! If one incitement more than another could be urged on the police to deal thoroughly and effectually with the heads of any unfortunate people with whom they may come into contact, it would be found in the two speeches delivered by right hon. Gentlemen opposite to-night. If they mean anything they are a direct censure on the police for not taking the lives of their victims, and they are a proof to the people of this country that the taking of liberties with the rights of Irishmen is not a subject for discussion in this House. I was myself a witness of the scenes in Tipperary, and I confess that the gross manner in which every incident which occurred in Ireland is misrepresented makes me ashamed of the manner in which the law is administered in that country. The word of the most drunken and rowdy policeman is taken as gospel by the Chief Secretary; while the words of hon. Members of this House who have gone through the occurrences and pledged their honour to the accuracy of their accounts are sneered at and disregarded. I assert that not one single stone was thrown until the last of the meetings in the town had been suppressed. I myself was seated on the carriage which followed the hon. Member for East Mayo, in company with the hon. Member for North-East Cork, and not only did the police baton the people who attempted to come up and speak to us, or shake hands with us, but they also used their batons on the horses in the carriage. We are told that the meeting was proclaimed because it would lead to a breach of the peace, and because it, was an outdoor meeting in support of a combination against the hon. Member for South Hunts. But if this was so, why would not a meeting indoors have effected the 416 same objects? Would it not be quite as likely to lead to intimidation as an outdoor meeting? We intend to maintain the right of public meeting in our country. When we do attempt to hold a meeting in the open-air, the meeting is proclaimed because it is illegal; but if we merely closed the door and shut out the Government reporter, and taught any abominable doctrine, the meeting would be legal. Is that an argument to address to the House of Commons? If our object were unlawful, and we desired to preach boycotting and combination against the hon. Member for South Hunts, we must accept the miserable compromise which the right hon. Gentleman has offered us. But is the combination against the hon. Member for South Hunts illegal? Who has yet argued that it is illegal? There has been no resistance to the law on that estate, no fortification of houses; and is there any Judge who would not laugh at the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he alleged that combination against the hon. Member for South Hunts was sufficient reason for suppressing the meeting? I am surprised that one occupying the position of the right hon. Gentleman should get up and endeavour to address the argument to us. We have as much right to combine against the hon. Member for South Hunts in respect to lands and rents as have the electors to combine against the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) in Manchester, The right hon. Gentleman denied that there were any persons shadowed in Ireland except those suspected of being concerned in boycotting, but I can tell him that when he goes back to Manchester he will find that two or three of his most influential supporters among the Conservatives have been persistently shadowed by the police. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General has given a legal opinion upon the right of public meeting. The unfortunate peasant of Tipperary, if he endeavours to assert the right of public meeting gets his head smashed. The Attorney General says he has the right of appeal to the Irish County Courts, or be can ultimately come to the House of Lords. That is a convenient course, no doubt, for the Irish peasant, wishful to assert his rights, but I venture to say that if he adopts it, the time will be long before he gets his rights through that avenue. But the Irish peasantry prefer 417 to take the more manly course of insisting on the right of public meeting, and they defy the right hon. Gentleman and all his agents to prevent them asserting that right. Here is a very curious thing we have had from the Attorney General. He has passed over all the incidents and attacks at the various small meetings, and neither he nor the Chief Secretary has attempted to answer what is grave in our charge. The Attorney General admits that the mere proclamation by the Government has no effect upon the right of public meeting. He says that you must judge of the public meeting altogether by its surroundings and circumstances. One of the reasons given for proclaiming that this meeting in Tipperary was illegal was that squibs or bombs were used. But these squibs were used before in the English meeting in Tipperary, to which every word he has spoken might have been applied with greater force than in the present instance, but which was not attempted to be interfered with. Why attempt to justify your position by shabby arguments of this kind? We have heard a speech from the hon. Member for South Tyrone, a characteristic speech, and evidently prepared for some other occasion. In fact, I sat for a long time admiring the dexterity with which the hon. Member applied to this occasion a brief which was evidently intended for some Scotch or English platform, denunciatory of Members on these; Benches and commending the Government. What is the lesson taught the Irish police? That they may be encouraged to drunkenness and riotous conduct on these occasions, and that next they will be shielded and defended in this House. Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot but think that on some, at all events, of these occasions, he may be deceived. He is very sceptical about the statements of Irish Members, but ho has implicit faith in any Irishman who will act on his own side. Will the right hon. Gentleman on any of these occasions put to the test the information which ho gives to this House, and which he derives from officers in Ireland? I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has not some regard for his own character. He must know that it is a very serious thing for one in his responsible position, with the eyes of the world upon him, that the statements of hon. Members in this House and the 418 information which he gives as derived from the police are sure to be as wide as the poles asunder.
§ (10.40.) CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
Sir, I have listened with attention to the Debate, and I cannot help thinking that there has been no answer given to the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo. This is not an ordinary case, because the hon. Member for East Mayo spoke of a matter of which ho had not only personal knowledge, but in which he was absolutely an actor. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, I understand, was not able to answer, right off, the detailed statement, but the hon. Member has a personal acquaintance with what occurred. I most respectfully submit to the House, and to my right hon. Friend, that the meetings ought not to be dispersed until notice has been given, and that people, if they are flying, ought not to be pursued and batoned. I say these few words, Mr. Speaker, with considerable regret, because I have been a very consistent supporter of the Government of my right hon. Friend, in whom, I am bound to say, I have great confidence. But I also have very great confidence that when, upon further inquiry, he finds the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo to be true, he will take care to administer such rebuke as may be necessary. I do not wish on this subject to engage in any Debate, but as to the system of shadowing described, it is to my mind—and I use the word not in its blasphemous sense—damnable.
§ (10.42.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I doubt whether, in the observations I propose to address to the House, I could add anything to the force and effect of what the hon. Member has just said with reference reference to the present administration in Ireland. I hope, however, that the expression of opinion which the hon. Gentleman has given utterance to will have weight with the Government as indicating opinions, though they may not think so, which are entertained by a large section of their supporters both in the House and out of it. [Ministerial cries of "No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen may cry "No, no" now, but I know what they will say when they go before their constituents. Many years ago Mr. Bright said he had observed that any recital in the House of the wrongs or 419 sufferings of Ireland was met with denial, insult, or contempt. I think we may say this evening that all those three manifestations of feeling have been meted out to the Representatives of the Irish people The House has heard the denial which the Chief Secretary invariably gives to every statement made in the House, no matter what the evidence may be by which it was supported, in which he always shelters himself from being brought to book to prove his statement by saying, "I am informed; from the information I have received; I have no doubt that the hon. Member for East Mayo is not telling the truth; I will not tell you the names of those from whom I have received my information; I will give you no opportunity of testing that information as to whether it is correct or incorrect, but I deny it." A great deal has been said with reference to the administration by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division. I have sat in this House through the administrations of several Chief Secretaries: and I hope my right hon. Friend will pardon me if I venture to say that the mode in which the Irish Chief Secretary, whether Mr. Forster or my right hon. Friend in his day, or the present Chief Secretary, have invariably announced to the House that from information they have received the statement of the Irish Members are incorrect, has led me to form a very hesitating opinion as to the value of the evidence which is placed in the hands of the Irish Chief Secretaries. No man has a higher opinion than I have of the extraordinary acuteness and intellectual power of the Chief Secretary. I will not insult the right hon. Gentleman by suggesting for a moment that he really in his heart of hearts believes what he read to the House. We have had tonight, one of the usual stories of denial. I do not suppose the Government would grant a Committee of Inquiry for the very good reason that they dare not. Hon. Members have stated what they saw with their own eyes. They have recited assaults committed upon themselves by the servants of the Crown. The Government have no evidence contradicting the statement except a blank denial, and they refuse to give the House an opportunity of inquiring into the truth of statements made by some of its own Members.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The only assault which was alleged was admitted. I mean the one that was made on the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to deny the statement of my hon. Friends. The Attorney General for Ireland said that the law in reference to public meetings was the same in England as in Ireland. In England, however, the question whether a meeting was lawful or unlawful would have to go not to the House of Lords, but to a Jury, but in Ireland it has to go to a Resident Magistrate. In England the question as to whether an assembly is an unlawful one or not would have to be tried by a Jury, and the common sense of the Jury would have to be brought to bear on the question whether, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, there was evidence to convince them that the meeting was held with criminal intention or was otherwise unlawful. In Ireland, however, it is otherwise, and instead of being tried by a Jury these things have to be decided by a Resident Magistrate. I am reading from the opinion of one of the greatest lawyers at the English Bar, who is substantially quoting the charge of Mr. Justice Patteson given on this question many years ago.
§ MR. MADDEN
What I stated was that any person who has been interfered with, as he alleges, unlawfully in a public assembly or meeting, which he alleges to be a lawful meeting, has in Ireland, as in England, a right to bring his action. That civil action in Ireland, as in England, must go before a Jury, and if the Judge who tries that action misdirects the Jury upon the law, the plaintiff has an appeal, first to the Court of Appeal in Ireland, and ultimately to the House of Lords.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I must express my amusement at the idea of a Tipperary peasant going to the House of Lords. Such a thing as bringing a civil action is not practicable in such cases. Attending an unlawful meeting is a criminal offence. A man is indicted for it in this country, and in Ireland he goes before the Resident Magistrate—Colonel Caddell, or somebody else. The right hon. Gentleman used very extraordinary language when he said the proclamation made a meeting unlawful, and when he added, "We will permit or not permit 421 such a meeting," lie has no power legally to allow or disallow such a meeting. He may declare that, in the opinion of the Government, it is unlawful, and if a man attended it he runs the risk of being punished in the event of it being proved to have been unlawful. The House will be led very much astray from the point of this Debate if we get into a discussion as to the lawful or unlawful meetings, as to the Plan of Campaign, or as to the legality or illegality of the proceedings in Tipperary. What has been brought before the House is the brutality of the police, the injustice of the Resident Magistrates, and the infamous system of shadowing the Queen's subjects in Ireland. Admitting, merely for the sake of argument, that this meeting was an unlawful one, still the police had not the right to disperse it in this brutal manner, and before they had declared to all present that the meeting was unlawful and they must return to their homos. That, at any rate, is the law in this country. I would ask right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite if, for a moment, they will strip this question of its Party aspect, whether, in administering the law relating to the police of this country, they would allow English police constables to behave as the Irish policemen behaved on this occasion? We are told by hon. Members that they saw the police batoning the crowd, and the Chief Secretary has not denied it. There were five Members of Parliament standing together, and they heard the order given, "Charge with your batons, and clear those men out." I do not understand that to be denied, and I ask, Is this the sort of thing which Hon. Members opposite would allow to take place in this country? But, Sir, we have to look at this ease not only as it affects the people of Ireland, but also as it affects the rights of Members of this House. Half these things—I may say 9–10ths of thorn—are don because some of those present are Parliament, and not because they a private capacity. I charge Secretary with systematically doing his utmost to bring Irish Members of Parliament into contempt because they are Members of Parliament; and that, I contend, is conduct unworthy of any English Minister. My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. S. Buxton) took 422 prominent part last autumn—a part well worthy of his great ability—in the conflict then going on between capital and labour in the East of London. Can any Member of this House conceive what would be the position of the Chief of the Metropolitan Police in setting constables to shadow the footsteps of my Iron. Friend, wherever he went, from morning to night, listening to everything he said, taking note of everyone lie spoke to, and generally dogging his progress as he went about from one place to another? I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite — I ask this House—would such a thing as that be tolerated in this city for half an hour? Why, Sir there is no English Minister who would dare to incur the responsibility for such a course of procedure, or, if such a Minister could be found, he would not be able to retain office for a single week. But, as I have said, the Irish Members are to receive unjust treatment of this kind because they are Irish Members. But who is it you employ to treat them in this matter? They are the Resident Magistrates and the police—the men whom the Irish Members feel it necessary to criticise in this House, the men whose conduct they impeach—these are the men you set to insult them in every way, so that, if possible, you may send those Members to prison. I say that this conduct is unworthy of the Government, and unworthy of the traditions of this House. We are all Members of one Parliament, and what we wish to preserve is the integrity of that Parliament, but there are, in fact, two Parliaments in this House, and the Gentlemen who sit on that (the Ministerial) side are not treated in the same way as those who sit below the Gangway on this side of the House. That is the gravamen of the charge. The question is not whether a meeting is legal or illegal, but whether the police of Ireland are systematically encouraged in trampling on the rights and liberties of the people. The question is whether these Resident Magistrates, ignorant of law and ignorant of justice, virtually police officers—faithful servants, I admit, of the Executive, and nothing else—are to be allowed to degrade and disgrace the administration of justice. Our vote to night will be a protest against that branch of the Irish Executive, and, although we may be beaten, and no doubt we shall be beaten, the 423 day is coming very rapidly when the English people will have a word to say upon this question. Then the Representatives of the liberty-loving people of England and Scotland will know how to deal with those officials in Ireland.
§ (10.58.) MR. GILL
I desire to offer a word or two before this discussion closes. If the ordinary courtesies which are supposed to govern the Debates of this House were regarded in relation to the Irish Members it would be unnecessary for me or any one present on those Benches to get up and corroborate the statements that have been made on the responsibility of an hon. Member of this House. My hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo has given a narrative of what he himself witnessed, which has had the effect of impressing even some of the hon. Members opposite, and the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has mainly consisted of denials made in the names of anonymous policemen whose conduct is the subject of our investigation. As one who accompanied my hon. Friend into the square of Tipperary on the Sunday on which the meeting was held, I was an eyewitness to the scenes he has described, and stood among the group which the police charged with their batons. Every single circumstance that my hon. Friend has detailed, as recording that scene, I witnessed and hereby corroborate, and there are four other hon. Members who can do the same—and being Members of this House, they are, by our traditions, entitled to have their word of honour believed. In spite of all this testimony the right hon. Gentleman gives a flat denial to our statements; and this, in whatever sort of Parliamentary phrase he may choose to disguise it, simply amounts to hurling the lie at us across the floor of this House. The Chief Secretary's statement has received a comment from the other side of the House which, I think, is one of the first symptoms of the opinion which will be passed on him by the English nation. The observations of the hon. and gallant Member opposite were a sufficient answer and rebuke to the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, not only as to the meeting at Tipperary and the scenes which took place there, but also as to his conduct during the Debate this evening. The speech of the right 424 hon. Gentleman was not only indecent in its method as denying the truth of statements made by Members of this House on their word of honour, but it was insulting. His speech and the manner in which ho has since met the speeches of hon. Members on this side by sneers and laughter, are all characteristic of the manner in which he administers the law in Ireland. The scenes which occurred in Tipperary on the Monday, and to which no reference has been made in the Debate, are equally worthy of the condemnation of the House and equally illustrate the rule of the right hon. Gentleman. The Members for East Mayo and North-East Cork and my self were followed about by the police, who batoned every group of people they saw in our vicinity. Twenty times during the day I saw the police bustling the people about, and with my own eyes I saw one policeman strike a poor woman on the face with his fist whilst she was held by another. I submit that if ever there was a case for having an inquiry it is the transactions connected with the suppression of those meetings. An unanswerable case has been made out to-night, and, though the Division will be against us, I believe the Debate will not be ineffectual in calling the attention of the English people to the right hon. Gentleman's rule in Ireland, and that it will be an effectual means of bringing about the self-government of Ireland which we have every hope of securing at the next General Election.
§ (11.5) MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I certainly expected, as I think many Members of this House expected, that we should have had some intelligible answer from a spokesman of the Government in response to the suggestion which was made by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian with regard to an inquiry into the unhappy circumstances complained of by the hon. Member for East Mayo. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is armed with very important and extensive power; he is practically, through his agents, intrusted in Ireland with the power of life and death; and I think that the country and the House ought to insist that those powers shall be used not unnecessarily, but with judgment and discretion, and, if there is to be action of a punitive 425 character, it shall be taken not against poor people, such as those who suffered on this occasion, but against those whom the right hon. Gentleman would consider to be ringleaders and responsible persons. In the history of events such as those which have happened at Tipperary nothing has struck me so much as the utter disregard of public rights and liberty which has been shown on all occasions. It appears to be assumed that the poor people are to be brutally intimidated and ill-treated for the purpose of preventing them from exorcising that right which is the dearest right of Britons —the right of free assembly and free meeting—so that it may be made impossible for a public assembly of any kind to be held whenever the right hon. Gentleman chooses to say it shall not be allowed. This is not your interpretation in England of the right of free meeting and free assembly and freedom of speech: and it ought not to be in Ireland. If any law has boon transgressed—if, in the announcement of Thursday the law was transgressed—due notice should have been given to the peasantry of Tipperary before they assembled and before this terrible risk was incurred, a risk which was not so slight as the right hon. Gentleman would have us believe, because there were no fewer than 150 people treated in the hospitals of the district as a consequence of the action of the police on that occasion. People wore treated in the hospitals mostly for horrible injuries about the head. The right hon. Gentleman knew that this meeting was to be held on Sunday. Why was not notice given on (Friday? It could have been given on Thursday. But no notice was given until Saturday. And then what was the action of the police? No attempt was made in the town of Tipperary to hold any meeting whatever; but the police, acting on their instructions, wherever they saw two or three persons gathered together, charged them and assaulted them in the manner which has been described by my hon. Friend. They charged them with their batons, they struck them about the head, and they intimidated them and injured them as much as they possibly could without the use of firearms. That is not the way to treat people who were at least not primarily re sponsible for the proceedings objected to by 426 the right hon. Gentleman. He has passed over my hon. Friends the Members for East Mayo and North-East Cork, and he has let loose these armed constables upon the peasants, who cannot judge as to the law and as to the rights of the Government in this matter, who even had no notice except the posting of the Proclamation late on Saturday that the Government held that this meeting was illegal, and who only thought that they were doing their duty to their country in coming in response to the summons of their leaders to take part in this meeting in vindication of free speech. Is that any justification for the action of the Government in attacking them in this brutal and cowardly fashion? If anybody was deserving of being batoned, the hon. Members for North-East Cork and East Mayo were. If there was legal authority for any blows struck in Tipperary, that authority would have been on the side of the policeman who struck the hon. Members. No such attack was made. It was only the poor peasants of the neighbourhood, who thought they were doing their duty loyally to their leaders—just as the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman would think they were doing theirs if they came to a meeting summoned in his constituency—who had to feel the weight of the Government's displeasure and to bear back to their families and humble cottages the marks of police brutality, and who had to reflect bitterly on the sort of justice and law administered in Ireland by the orders and under the dispensation of the right hon. Gentleman. The people of Tipperary have gone into this struggle; they may be right or they may be wrong. That question is not concerned here, but whether they are right or wrong they have gone into it out of a feeling of loyalty to their leaders and to their country, and because they honestly think that they are doing their duty to their country in the only way that is possible for them. Better treatment should have been extended to them than the horrible and infamous brutality which has been related to us to-night by the hon. Member for North-East Cork. If there is law on the side of tire right hon. Gentleman, why should he not have instituted his proceedings against the leaders—why should he have studiously shielded the leaders from attack, and 427 have selected poor and obscure persons for this treatment? It may be said that these peasants have open access to the Courts. We know what an action of law is in this country; the expenses involved; and how many weary months go by before the wrongdoer has exhausted every artifice of delay and the injured person can approach the portals of justice to obtain redress. It is worse than mockery to tell the Tipperary peasant, after his brains have been dashed out by a police baton, or by the butt of the policeman's rifle—it is a mockery, I say, to tell him to go into a Court of Law, and if lie should succeed in identifying his assailant, to recover his damages. But supposing that he had asserted his rights still further, supposing the celebrated blackthorns of Tipperary had overpowered the batons of the police, then we should have had the sabres of the dragoons and the rifles and bayonets of the infantry, and it would have been replied that the peasants had the power of action against the soldiery for any loss of life or injury to person that they might have suffered. But this is a question of notice, of the conduct of the police in dispersing these assemblies, and of their action with regard to the right of the people to cheer a popular favourite and shake hands with him free from assault or attack. It is a, question of rights and wrongs which can be very easily investigated, and in reference to which we demand public investigation by a fair tribunal. As I stated at the outset, I am surprised that we have had no definite answer from some responsible officer of the Government to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian with regard to his suggestion that the whole question should be fairly and openly brought forward, and that the blame should be fairly distributed— if it is on my hon. Friend, let it be placed on his shoulders; if it rests with the Government let them boar it. It is not fair that obscure people, [that poor and ignorant people, should be compelled to suffer for the bad judgment or wrongdoing of my hon. Friends on the one side or of the Government on the other. If you wish to maintain the law in Ireland, let the people see that the law is made for them just as much as for their betters, that their heads and bodies are as sacred from the attacks of policemen's truncheons 428 as the heads and bodies of my hon. Friends. Let them see that the Government is an equal Government and a firm Government—that the Government will not discriminate between persons. When you have done that you will have done the first thing towards establishing your right to rule in Ireland, for the only foundation on which you can claim to rule her is the consent of the governed— the consent of the Irish people.
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ (11.20.) The Committee divided: — Ayes 220; Noes 281.—(Div. List, No. 123.)