HC Deb 01 May 1894 vol 24 cc22-3

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the serious increase in Ireland of the practice of denouncing individuals and small classes of persons and threatening them with ruin or persecution in case they refuse to abandon their lawful occupations; and whether, in view of the great danger to life and liberty attending this practice, he will take all possible steps to punish persons who are guilty of it?


There are no grounds whatever for the assumption in the question of the hon. Gentleman that there has been an increase in the practices referred to. On the contrary, the information in my possession, and which has been supplied by the highest Police Authorities, shows that there has been a decline in these denunciations generally. Regarding the second paragraph of the question, it is hardly necessary to point out that the police are fully sensible of their responsibilities and duties, and that every necessary protection is afforded to all classes of persons in the exercise of their legal rights.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that last mouth nine meetings were held at which persons were denounced by name—in Kilkenny, Limerick, Roscommon, and Cork; and docs he know that at a meeting held for the purpose of condemning the recent murder at Cork there was a further denunciation of people taking evicted farms?


I cannot answer for every particular; but, broadly speaking, there is no doubt whatever that since the Quarterly Returns were instituted in February, 1892, the present quarter shows a most marked decline in these offences.


Might I ask whether, in any of the nine cases I have referred to, any person has been made amenable to the law?

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

(persistently and loudly): Notice, notice, notice.

MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

I rise to Order, Sir. I beg to call attention to the disorderly interruption of the hon. Member for North Louth.


I have not those nine cases in my mind, and so I cannot say. But it does not follow that it would be to the interest of the people concerned to resort to legal proceedings. I rely on the broad fact that these practices are not increasing, but declining.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

Among the Returns sent to the right hon. Gentleman, is there any case of a parish priest who uttered one of these denunciations from the altar of the chapel?


I am not aware of such a case. If the hon. Member will put the question on the Paper I will inquire.


May I ask, as a point of Order, whether an hon. Member can reasonably be allowed to insinuate in a question that a parish priest has incited to assassination from the altar?


The hon. Member is no doubt responsible for what he is saying; but it would have been better if the question had been put on the Paper, and it would have been more convenient for the Minister who has to answer.


I intend, Sir, to put a definite question as to a particular case, but I wish to say I have never made any insinuation. I asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had seen among the reports any such case of denunciation.