HC Deb 20 March 1893 vol 10 cc489-91

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to a speech made by Mr. Thomas Barry, Poor Law Guardian, at Killavullen, on Sunday 12th March, in which Mr. Barry is reported, in The Cork Herald of 14th March, to have said that he had been told on most reliable authority that two Catholic tenant farmers and high ratepayers in that district had signed the Petitions against Home Rule; that it was not his intention to mention the names of those parties there in connection with the matter, which was as yet sub judice, until they could find out who they were; and he assured those present that there are men in the House of Commons who will search every Petition sent in from the County Cork, and find out the names of all those parties who signed the Anti-Home Rule Petition; whether he is aware that Mr. Thomas Barry is well-known in the district as an active boy-cotter and a promoter of the Plan of Campaign; and whether he will endeavour to ascertain if intimidation is being employed in parts of Ireland to prevent persons who are not supporters of Her Majesty's Government signing Petitions against the Government of Ireland Bill?


I have seen a report of the speech referred to, and I believe there is only one Mr. Thomas Barry known in the district. It is the duty of the Constabulary, which I have no doubt they will perform, to report to headquarters any cases of unlawful intimidation arising out of this or any other matter. This is the only means of inquiry I possess.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

Was not the speech referred to in the hon. Member's question delivered at a meeting held in view of a local election, in which certain persons were posing as Nationalists? Was not the object to expose their pretensions? Is there in any part of the speech any suggestion that these men should be boycotted or in any way injured?


The account my hon. Friend has given of the speech is correct so far as I can gather.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

The right hon. Gentleman used the expression "unlawful intimidation." Will he tell the House what he means by "lawful intimidation"?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that the meeting at which this speech was made was a public meeting held under the auspices of the Irish National Federation?


I do not understand the point of the hon. Member's question.


I understood the question of the hon. Member for North Kerry to be, whether the speech was not delivered at a meeting held in view of a local election. I am asking whether it was not a political meeting held for the promotion of the purposes of the Irish National Federation.


I really fail to see the point of the hon. Member's question. So far as I can gather it was a meeting held, among other objects, in view of a coming election.


The right hon. Gentleman says he believes the statement of the hon. Member for North Kerry as to the objects of the meeting is correct. Will he say why he thinks so. Was not the real object of the meeting to strengthen the local branch of the Federation?


I still fail to see how that affects the question. I supposed that the meeting at which the speech was delivered was a meeting which, like many others, had various objects in view, and among them an electioneering object.

MR. CARSON (Dublin University)

I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is answering upon absolute facts, or only upon what he calls reasonable grounds?

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

May I, as a point of Order, ask whether the description in the question on the paper of Mr. Barry as "an active boy-cotter" is not a description of a libellous character? Is there any precedent for allowing such statements to be made in the form of a question; and is it not now the practice at the Table to allow questions which certainly would have been disallowed a few Sessions ago?


The practice is now the same as it has always been. There has been no change. I think the expression "active boycotter" is to be deprecated.


I should like to ask whether the meeting at which Mr. Barry spoke was not a meeting held for the purpose of discussing the claims of certain local persons in connection with an election; and whether all that Mr. Barry said was to endeavour to show that two persons, in signing Petitions against the Home Rule Bill, had not acted in a manner incompatible with their professions?


That is so.