§ MR. BLANE
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can give the names of the prisoners from Donegal who were sentenced at the Special Commission held at Maryborough in 1889, and the names of those now in prison or penal servitude; whether any arrangement was made between prisoners' counsel and the counsel for the Crown; and, if so, what was the nature of it; if he is aware that some of those Donegal peasants did not understand in the 1236 English language the nature of the charge to which they were invited to> plead guilty, or the likely consequences of such pleading; and whether, in view of the whole circumstances of the trial of those Donegal peasants at the Special Commission at Maryborough, Her Majesty's Government would terminate, after more than three years, the imprisonment of those men?
§ MR. JACKSON
Fifteen persons-were sentenced at Maryborough in 1889, in connection with the trial arising out of the murder of District-Inspector Martin, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, County Donegal. Of the accused, eleven were sentenced to terms, of imprisonment ranging from two to six calendar months, which sentences, have long since expired; and four are still in custody, as follows:—William Coll, ten years' penal servitude; Patrick Roarty, seven years' penal servitude; Dominick Rogers, seven years' penal servitude; Connell Magee, five years' penal servitude. The Government are not aware of any arrangement being made between the prisoners and the counsel for the Crown; nor are they aware whether any of the convicted persons were unable to speak English; but, as a matter of fact, an interpreter was employed in Court who interpreted the evidence of the witnesses. The cases of these convicts have been recently under the consideration of the Lord Lieutenant, who sees no reason to interfere with the due course of the law.
§ MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say was-not William Coll, a Catholic peasant, not being able to speak a word of English, brought from Donegal to Maryborough, when he was tried by a special jury constituted from a panel of 117, of which 44 were asked to stand aside by the Crown, and is he aware that these 44 were all Catholics, and was not this Catholic peasant Coll tried by an exclusively Protestant jury?
MR. P. O'BRIEN
Is it not a fact that an arrangement was made by the then Attorney General and now Lord Chief Justice? What was the nature of this arrangement under which the liberties of these men were bargained away? Yes, unquestionably bargained away. Every honest man in Donegal believes it at this day. If the right hon. Gentleman will not give me an answer now I must press this in discussion on the Estimates.
§ MR. MACNEILL
With a view to the consideration of all the circumstances, may I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that before the Court of Appeal it was decided by the vote of one Judge that evidence brought against William Coll was not illegal?
§ MR. JACKSON
I understand that the Court of Appeal decided against the prisoner, and if that is so I cannot go behind that decision.