HC Deb 20 June 1890 vol 345 cc1500-3
MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether Mr. C. P. Redmond, editor of the Water-ford News, has been sentenced by Messrs. Considine and Irwin at Waterford on June 6th, to three months' imprisonment for publishing a resolution of the Kilgobenet Branch of the Irish National League; whether Mr. Redmond was sentenced to a further term of imprisonment for publishing in another issue of the Waterford News another resolution of the same branch; whether Mr. Redmond was convicted on a third charge, stated by the Court to be a graver offence than the other charges, to 14 days' imprisonment, and ordered at the expiration of that period to enter into security himself in the sum of £200, and two sureties of £100 each, to be of good behaviour, or in default to go to prison for four months: whether there is an appeal from the last sentence; whether the Magistrates refuse to impose a sentence which would give a right of appeal; whether the same course of refusing an appeal has not been adopted recently by the same Magistrates in the case of Mr. Fisher, editor of the Munster Express; and whether he is aware that every decision of Messrs. Considine and Irwin brought before Judge Waters has been reversed by him?


Mr. C. P. Redmond was sentenced, as stated in the question, to three months' imprisonment for using, intimidation towards three persons by means of a published report of the proceedings of the Kilgobenet branch of the Irish National League, which appeared in the issue of his newspaper of April 5, 1890. He was also sentenced on the 7th of June to a like term of imprisonment for using intimidation towards three other parsons by means of a similar publication in the issue of his newspaper of April 12, 1890. This sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the previous one, as the two publications were connected with the one matter. The order mentioned of 14 days' imprisonment and to find sureties was made on the same date for using intimidation towards Matthew Walsh by means of a published report of the proceedings of the Dungarvan Branch of the Irish National League, which appeared in the issue of his newspaper of April 26, 1890. The case was a very bad one; I presume the character of the sentence was modified by the fact that on the same day the same man had been sentenced to imprisonment for three months. There is no appeal, nor does there appear to have been any doubt connected either with the law or the facts of the case which rendered an appeal necessary. I believe there has been a difference of opinion on more than one occasion between the County Court Judge in question and the Magistrates; but in every case where the difference came up for decision by the High Court, that Judge was proved to be wrong, and the Magistrates to be right. Matthew Walsh has for a long time been subjected to boycotting and intimidation, and the Magistrates stated the report was of a most intimidatory character, and the worst that had come before them; that if they had had cognisance of this offence before the previous cases they would have felt it their duty to impose a very severe sentence; but as they had already sentenced Mr. Redmond at the same sittings to imprisonment, and desired rather to-restrain such conduct than to punish the defendant, they would not make a cumulative order, but exercise their preventive jurisdiction. There is no appeal from the last sentence, but if it was made without any sufficient evidence it can be reviewed by the Superior Courts. The Magistrates refused to alter the order on the ground, which was not disputed, that there was no legal point involved, and also on the ground that in a similar case the Queen's Bench Division had recently held on a case stated that there was ample evidence to justify the conviction. An appeal was refused in the-ease referred to for similar reasons as in Mr. Redmond's case.


May I ask the Chief Secretary whether, when the Criminal Law Amendment Bill (Ireland) was before the House, he did not distinctly promise that there should be an appeal in every case?


May I also ask in regard to one of the Magistrates—Mr. Considine—if it is not the fact that he is completely without legal training of any kind? When under cross-examination as to his legal qualifications did he not admit, in the most candid manner, that his only qualification was that he had kept two dinner terms in the Inner Temple?


No, Sir. I am not aware that that is the fact. With regard to the allegation that I could have control over the judicial acts of the Magistrates, I beg to give it—and not for the first time—an emphatic contradiction.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the practice of giving short sentences by the Irish Magistrates in order to prevent appeal began immediately after a speech he made at Birmingham?


No, Sir; I am not aware of it.