HC Deb 21 March 1890 vol 342 cc1594-605

Resolutions ["20th March] reported—(See Page 1261).

Resolution agreed to.

Resolution 2.

(10.20.) MR. J. O'CONNOR

I have again to express my regret that I am obliged to renew my references to matters which I brought forward yesterday. Last night I asked the Chief Secretary why it was that the sub-inspector and constable against whom a verdict of wilful murder had been returned by a Coroner's jury in Tipperary had not been put upon their trial, and the right hon. Gentleman informed me that they were to be put upon their trial at the next Assizes. I want to know upon what authority that statement was made, because it has greatly astonished the people of Tipperary, for I hold in my hand a telegram from Father Humphries from Tipperary, who says, in reference to the verdict of the Coroner's jury and the proceedings before that body, that the inquiry was so impartial that the "Packer," then the Attorney General and now Chief Justice O'Brien, did not dare to take the case before even the accommodating Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench, but that he got two Removables to hold a sham trial and to acquit the incriminated inspector and constable. It is evident that the Chief Secretary does not know exactly what has happened, and I therefore desire to get from some Member of the Irish Government further information on the point. There is another matter, and one of perhaps greater importance, in respect to which I desire some explanation. The Chief Secretary last night, in the course of his speech, referred in very strong terms to the alleged fact that stones had been thrown by a mob in Tipperary at a policeman who was attending the burial of his child, and he became very indignant and powerful in the course of his remarks on this point, hurling very heavy reproaches at the people of the town for such conduct. Now, I took the opportunity at the time of denying positively the statement made by the Chief Secretary, and challenged its truth. I asserted to the House that the story had no foundation whatever in fact, and demanded the authority of the Chief Secretary for the statement. This afternoon Father Humphries has telegraphed to me— The statement that a constable was stoned by a mob while burying his child has startled the people here; can find no one who has heard of it. Now, this statement involves a serious charge against my constituents; and on their behalf, seeing the Attorney General for Ireland in his place, I demand an explanation and the authority on which the statement was made. In the course of our remarks, we alluded several times to the fact—which was not denied—that the police had on more than one occasion in Tipperary and at Cashel desecrated the graves of the people, invaded the burial grounds, insulted the mourners, and otherwise interfered with a ceremony so sacred to the feelings of Irishmen. Now, we have Father Humphries' denial of the right hon. Gentleman's accusation, and I say that it is important to the people of Tipperary and to the House that some satisfactory explanation should be given by the Irish Government on the matter.

*(10.30.) MR. P. J. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)

I desire to support the appeal of the hon. Member for Tipperary for a reply from the Government. In my opinion, it was the hon. Member for South Hunts who supplied the Chief Secretary with the information. I was able last night, from my personal knowledge, to contradict the statement at the time it was made by the Chief Secretary. No doubt there is some ill-feeling between the people and the police, but it is not the fault of the people. We know that if the inhabitants of a village in England were police-ridden like those in Tipperary are, they would soon show their resentment, and we recently had experience in Wales where the people, in connection with the tithe agitation, vigorously protested against unfair use of the police. Now, the police in Tipperary have persecuted a Mr. O'Dwyer, Town Commissioner, a man who wielded considerably more influence in the town than is possessed by the Chief Secretary in the country, and when Mr. O'Dwyer's remains wore being conveyed for interment two months' ago, the police interrupted the funeral procession with rifles in their hands in order that they might get first to the grave; and on the flags of the foot-path was posted a placard, signed by Caddell and other minions of the Chief Secretary, warning the people against an illegal assembly, round which were posted four policemen armed with rifles standing in the way of the funeral procession. Nothing was further from the minds of the people than to make any attack, but it is evident that the desire of Mr. Caddell was to provoke a riot in order that he might make another Peterloo. A week after Mr. 0'Dwyer's funeral, when his poor widow, acting on my advice, opened the business premises a day or two later, within two hours three ruffians of police served her with a notice that her licence would be opposed, on the ground presumably that she was a bad character, and that her house was being improperly conducted. Anything more inhuman or mean has never been perpetrated in any country, and yet the Chief Secretary wonders that ill-feeling exists between the people and the police. I saw a very different funeral in that town a fortnight ago. Some men of the Manchester Regiment are quartered there, and a private recently died, and as his remains were being carried through the streets an evicting gang were engaged in turning the people out of their houses, and yet the enormous crowds which were assembled remained uncovered while the cortéassing, and treated the remains of this private soldier with the utmost respect. That is not all. After serving Mrs. O'Dwyer with the notice that her licence would be opposed, the police set about to get a licence for an emergency man—a gaol bird. Of course they were successful, and now the place where that man carries on business is filled with policemen all day guzzling and gorging themselves with drink. I now wish to refer to another matter. There was a certain warder employed at Tullamore in a subordinate position at the time a suit of clothes was, despite the efforts of the Government, supplied to my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork. Of course, every one in the prison from the Governor downwards was suspected; several warders were removed to other gaols and finally the warder Golding, to whose case I particularly refer, was dismissed. I am in a position to say that the man had nothing whatever to do with conveying the clothes to my hon. Friend. When the inquest was held as to the cause of the death of my friend John Mandeville, Golding was called and gave evidence as to the treatment of the deceased in prison. He was at once charged by the Government with perjury, and was sent for trial, being let out on bail and ordered to appear at the next Assizes. He duly attended, but the trial was put off, and though he subsequently obtained employment in England he was compelled to attend at two subsequent Assizes, and even was not then placed before the jury, although he was perfectly willing to have the case investigated. Now, I maintain that the Government never intended to try him; but all that they wished was to discredit the evidence he gave at the Mandeville inquest, and that it was also desired to strike terror among other prison officials, who fancied that they had hearts, and did not wish to see political prisoners done to death. Now, I ask the Government why this charge of perjury was not proceeded with, and I intend to raise this question until I get a satisfactory reply. Next, I want to know something about the treatment of the late doctor of Tullamore Gaol. I knew Dr. Ridley personally; he and his family were well-known to my family, and he told me that he was being driven almost mad by Dr. Ban-, who was sent over from Liverpool to spy upon his actions. It was not in his nature to treat any one harshly, and certainly he would not have been a worthy son of his father had he done so. He was obliged, in consequence of the persecution to which he was subjected by Barr, to come over to England, and in his absence his work was done by his cousin, Dr. George Ridley, who had taken his place at other times with the consent of the Prison Authority. After Dr. Ridley's death Mr. George Ridley tilled his post for two months, and it was naturally expected that he would be appointed to the vacant post, but suddenly a Dublin Castle favourite was sent down to fill it. That is another instance of the petty meanness of the Government.

(10.50.) DR. TANNER

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies I should like to get some assurance from him on the point I raised yesterday concerning the doctor of Clonmel Gaol. I do not like to speak adversely of any member of the medical profession, but I submit that the extraordinary fits of aberration which are characteristic of Dr. Hewitson show him to be entirely unfit for the position he holds, and I think he might reasonably be removed to another position in which he could do less harm. I must say that the Irish prison authorities have strange ideas as to how Irish Members of Parliament ought to be treated. After my release from Clonmel last autumn I had occasion to visit a Roman Catholic clergyman who was confined in the gaol at Cork. He was then an untried prisoner, but I was compelled to see him in what is known as the Cage, and a warder was placed between us, who took every opportunity of interrupting our conversation in the most insulting manner. When I asked the rev. gentleman if his sight was good, I was told "You must not speak about sight; that is a question for the gaol authorities," and again, when I asked if the walls of his cell were tinted—knowing, as I did, from personal experience the effect upon eyesight of the whitewashed walls—the warder again interrupted with a like observation. I went to that interview with the intention of not breaking the rules, but this is how I was treated by the warder, whose name has been refused to me, but who, I am told, is an Orangeman, who shows his dislike of Nationalist Members by thus aggravating and insulting them. Now, I ask the Chief Secretary to obtain for me the name of this man, in order that in Committee of Supply I may move the reduction of the Wages Vote by the amount of his salary. Hon. Gentlemen will recollect the disgraceful way in which our Board was superseded, and in which the paid minions of the Government were put in possession of it. The Board had been well managed by the elected Guardians. Everybody in the south of Ireland understands why it was done away with. It was done away with because we were not going to be rough ridden over by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour), or any of his creatures in the country. I speak as one of the ex-Guardians of the Union. The right hon. Gentleman, about two years since, turned round to his Conservative supporters in Ireland and asked them how it was they did nothing on Boards throughout the south of Ireland. It was only from that time that the ex officio Guardians began to try and prevent the free expression of opinion. I may be told that we were breaking the rules of the Board. We only did what our Tory predecessors did again and again, in pissing a political Resolution. There were no rules passed by the Cork Board of Guardians, which were binding on us. There were, it is true, a number of printed rules hung up at the end of the Board room, but inasmuch as the Local Government Board ordained that every freshly elected Board should draw up rules for their own guidance, and as that was never done, those rules were practically not binding on us as a body. It may be said that I spoke strongly to the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry); I said no word that was untrue, I spoke the whole truth and nothing but the truth. At the same time we Nationalist Members of the Board had a wanton and aggressive minority in front of us—a minority who did everything they could to stir up strife in the Board room, knowing that they had the Government at their backs, and that the Government would try to make confusion worse confounded. What has happened since has borne out what we said at the time, namely, that it was the intention of the Government, not merely to dragoon the people, not merely to prevent us on our public Boards giving voice to the opinions of our constituents, but, through the Local Government Board in Ireland, to give a more vicious, a meaner, and a more underhand stab at people who should be cared for by everybody in the community. The Government have been treating in a cruel manner people who were suffering from poverty, which has been in great part created in consequence of the numbers of people who have been driven from our shores. They thought, "Well, we will try at any rate to inflict oar vengeance upon these people." Many of them have been most respectable people in days gone by, but, through being deprived of their sons and daughters, who have actually had to fly the country, to seek in other countries what is denied them at home, have been plunged in poverty. Having naturally a great dislike to go into the Union, they were granted small sums in the way of outdoor relief. It was in order, if possible, to degrade these poor people that this step was taken. However, the City of Cork has taken up the challenge. We find that—right, centre, and left—people are not paying their rates. I have not paid mine, and I do not intend to. Let them have my goods if they like. The Mayor of Cork, the High Sheriff, and all the persons returned to responsible positions by the body of the people have taken up the gage, of battle, and I think Her Majesty's Government will be rather sorry before the end is reached. The Government are determined that any suing for rates should be conducted in as high-handed and illegal a way as pos- sible. The other day, in the Cork Police Court, a number of these cases should have been dismissed on their merits, but the magistrates, instead of dismissing them, granted an adjournment in order that the Vice Guardians might mend their hand. Mr. Sarsfield, the collector, is a mere gambler in the City of Cork, and might with much greater propriety have been appointed to a position as billiard-marker. This creature would do anything his masters bade him, and when he made a mistake he was backed up by Mr. Gardiner, R.M., at the Police Court, and everything was done to secure that the Vice Guardians should be maintained in their position. I really think the right hon. and learned Attorney General (Mr. Madden) ought to give us an assurance that he will look into the state of things existing in the City of Cork, and notably into these proceedings at the Police Court. In any event, we hope that before long the present Government will be superseded, and that peace and goodwill will prevail in Ireland under the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone).


I wish to call attention again to the case of the convict Daly. I do not know of what he was convicted, but he was visited whilst in the convict prison by Mr. Thompson, the agent of the Times. He was urged by Mr. Thompson to give evidence in favour of the Times, and against, the Irish Members. He resisted the inducement, although I am informed he was offered a certificate of indemnity, and was told that every force would be brought to bear in favour of his getting a free pardon if he would give the desired evidence. He declined to do that, and we find that shortly afterwards he was partially poisoned. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has accused me of inaccuracy in saying the man was poisoned, and I, therefore, qualify that by using the word partially. But he received three separate doses of belladonna from the prison attendants, he being hopelessly and helplessly in their hands, and I am afraid we cannot acquit the medical officer of having had a hand in the affair. One dose might have been given accidentally, but here we have three separate doses administered. If such a thing had occurred in Bulgaria, Siberia, or in Naples—and I remember the Neapolitan prisons when I was a boy, as there were great cruelties practised in them, though poison was never administered—one might have understood it, but not so occurring in England. Three doses of poison were administered, and the Home Secretary would have us believe that the man's health is none the worse, nay, he would persuade us that he is all the better for it. Surely the Government should consider the desirability and justice of ameliorating the treatment of Daly, if not, indeed, of shortening his term of imprisonment. I do not think anything stronger can be alleged against the Government as to their treatment of prisoners, whose political views are in direct opposition to their own, than their action m this case. I do not think a case ever happened where a convict was wholly or partially poisoned without some compensation or consideration being extended to him. I do not know, Sir, whether it would be competent for me to move an Amendment in reference to this case, at this stage; but if it would be, and I could get a seconder, I would move one.

*(11.18.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)

I hope we shall not be allowed to pass on to the next Order without some answer being given to the statements which have come from this side of the House reflecting on the Irish Administration. It seems that a verdict of wilful murder has been returned by a coroner's jury against certain policemen in Ireland. The Chief Secretary stated last night that the men against whom the verdict was returned would be tried at the Spring Assizes; but this evening a telegram has been read declaring that the men have been tried before the Magistrates in an underhand and secret way, and have been discharged. An incident of that kind must cause a very painful impression in this country. The Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite surely cannot desire that a verdict of wilful murder against the police should be lightly regarded. It cannot be pretended that it would be for the benefit of this country, or of Ireland, that that should be so, and yet no answer has been made. I waited until you were just about to vacate the Chair, Sir, before venturing to trouble the House, because I hoped some Member of the Government would get up and offer an explanation, or at least assure the House that the matter should receive the serious attention of the Government. This is not a Party question, and I implore hon. Gentlemen opposite not to treat it as such; it is due to the House and to the country that in a case in which a verdict of wilful murder has been returned against the Irish police we should have every explanation. If the verdict was undeserved let us know it, but do not let us treat the matter lightly.

*(11.21.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University

If I do not reply in detail on the various points raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite I assure the House It is through no want of respect to those hon. Members who have addressed the House. But the House will agree with me that it is not satisfactory to attempt to answer questions unless I have had an opportunity of actually examining the Papers. If hon. Members really desire information and give me notice I shall be happy to answer their questions; but I cannot enter into these matters and reply without previous reference to the Papers, especially as most of the questions raised are not questions which come under my Department. As regards the case referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he puts a question down on the Paper I will tell him exactly how the matter stands.

(11.23.) MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)

I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to the answer given earlier in the evening with regard to the alleged confessed immorality of an Irish Magistrate, as appearing from that Magistrate's own admissions in the course of a trial before the County Court Judge of Kerry. Reference was made to the conduct of this gentleman in a County Court; but the remarks were not heard by the reporters or the Bar, though in some way or other the reference was heard in the quarter for which it was intended. I would ask whether as it has been announced that the Lord Chancellor should be influenced by the opinion of a Judge, the Attorney General for Ireland does not conceive it to be his duty to direct the attention of the Lord Chancellor to the opinion expressed by the County Court Judge who heard the case to which I have referred in its incipient stage. The custom has gradually grown up in Ireland of treating these County Court Judges like the highest Judges in the land; and the Judge in this case is one who I understand is in every way in sympathy with the Government. He has expressed a strong opinion in the case of this Magistrate; and I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to indicate to me, if only by a nod, that he will seek the opinion of the Judge in regard to this George Sandes.

*(11.26.) MR. MADDEN

I would point out that it is no part of my duty to call the Lord Chancellor's attention to the conduct of Magistrates. But no doubt the Lord Chancellor's attention will be called to the case by means of the question put in the House this evening, as the Chief Secretary has said, and he will make inquiries.


I must express my surprise that all these formalities should be necessary in order to draw the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to such an outrageous scandal as the continued presence on the Magisterial Bench of a man of this character. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland does not live in the clouds. He lives in Ireland, and is supposed to take interest in everything that goes on there. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman contend that the official who is responsible for the Magistracy is entitled under any circumstances to ignore such a fact as a Magistrate admitting on oath in a Court of Law that he had seduced a woman who had come to his office—he being a land agent at the time—in reference to litigation in which she was engaged, and that he had made such a practice of seducing the wives and widows of tenants who came to his office that he could not swear the number was less than 12, though he could swear it was under 40? Why, the thing sounds much more like an Oriental story than an occurrence possible in our own country. When we find a Nationalist Magistrate removed from the Bench for an offence against the unwritten law, such as acting officially in another Petty Sessional District, though not out of his own county—when we see a Lord Lieutenant doing that without a question being addressed to him—it is strange that we should have so much formality in a case where a Magistrate has been guilty of such a gross offence as that of Mr. Sandes, and where we have animadversions on his conduct on the part of a County Court Judge. I trust that not many days will elapse before the Lord Lieutenant does his duty in this case.

Resolution agreed to.

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