§ MR. MAHONY (Meath,, N)
I am anxious, with the leave of the House, to make a short personal explanation. A paragraph has appeared in a daily newspaper in reference to a speech that was delivered by an hon. Member of this House last Sunday.
§ MR. MAHONY
In a paper called the National Press. The paragraph is as follows:—A few days ago a paragraph appeared relating to a conversation between an hon. Member for one of the Eastern Counties of Ireland and Mr. Halley Stewart. That hon. Member was Mr. Pierce Mahony. Speaking to Mr. Stewart in the House of Commons, Mr. Mahony said, 'My dear Halley Stewart, if you knew the Irish priests as well as I do, yon would cut off your right hand before you would be associated with the Party with whom they are connected.'I think that the House will agree with me in expressing surprise, and in characterising as a regrettable incident the fact that what purports to be a report of a private conversation that occurred in this House should by any means have found its way into the public Press, whether the version was correct or not. But in my case the matter is aggravated by the account being absolutely inaccurate and misleading. It attributes to me sentiments regarding the whole body of the Irish priests which I do not hold, and have never held, and have never given utterance to, and it is particularly painful to me, because I do not happen to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There are many clergymen in Ireland who are members of that Church with whom I have been brought into contact towards whom I entertain feelings of the greatest possible respect. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Order, order !] If I am out of order the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair will call me to order. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Order, order!] The hon. Member for North Longford may rest assured that no observations or interruptions from him will prevent me from making my statement. The substance of what I did say in that private conversation was this—I was alluding to the action not of the general body of the Irish priests, but to that of a small section of them at the present crisis, and to the claims 1856 which certain ecclesiastics in Ireland have advanced, which I as a Protestant can only view with sorrow and dismay, and I said that if the hon. Member and his friends realised the nature and extent of that action they would not be so ready to identify themselves with that section of Irish Members who rely on actions of that kind. I thank the House for having allowed me to make this explanation.