MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour) moved as an Amendment to the Address:—
And we humbly assure Your Majesty that the present peaceful condition of Ireland affords a fitting opportunity for an inquiry into the circumstances attending the trial and conviction of certain prisoners at present suffering penal servitude in Ireland, known as the Maamtrasna prisoners.
He said that this subject had been before the House on four or five different occasions. It affected not only the continued imprisonment of four men, suffering penal servitude in Ireland, but affected also the question of their guilt or innocence of the very abominable and the very heinous crime which was laid to their charge.
Attention having been called to the fact that there were not 40 Members 783 present, the House was completed, and 40 Members being present—
continuing, said, that, practically, all he asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland to do was to carry out a promise to institute an inquiry into those cases which was made by one of his predecessors in office on behalf of the Conservative Government a few years ago. When the attention of the House, was first drawn to the question at the end of the Session of 1884, the Marquess of Hartington stated, on behalf, of the then Liberal Government, that while they refrained from making an absolute promise that an Inquiry should be instituted, the Irish Government were prepared to receive any representation, and, if the facts were as alleged, an Inquiry should be granted. A partial Inquiry followed upon representations which were made by the Archbishop of Tuam and other eminent ecclesiastics, but he desired to impress on the House the fact that that Inquiry was only into part of the case, for the full facts could not at the time be laid before the Lord Lieutenant, who instituted the Inquiry. The Chief Secretary, in the course of his speech the other day, had expressed the opinion that the object of this Amendment was to discredit the Administration of Lord Spencer in Ireland. He hoped his words would entirely remove that erroneous impression from the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. No doubt, when the question was first raised in the House, the suspicion very naturally arose, owing to the acute friction between the Nationalist Members and the Liberal Government, that the object of it was to discredit Lord Spencer's Administration. But the suspicion was, even then, utterly unfounded; and now the section of Irish Nationalist to which he belonged would be the last to make any attack upon Lord Spencer. They felt indebted in the highest degree to Lord Spencer for the manner in which he advocated the right of the Irish people to self-government, and for the strength with which the had held to that opinion in spite of many discouragements and difficulties; but they were even more indebted to Lord Spencer because, when 784 Mr. Parnell was being bitterly assailed, he was conspicuous among his colleagues for the generosity of his allusions to the late Irish Leader. The only desire he (Mr. Harrington) had in drawing attention to the cases of those four men, who, he believed in his inmost soul, were guiltless of the crime of which they had been convicted, was to have them restored to the bosoms of their families, whence they should never have been taken. In October 1884, on the occasion the Inquiry to which he had alluded was promised, a Debate, that lasted four days, took place, and because on that occasion some Conservative Members supported the demand for an investigation, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary seemed to have got it into his head that the Motion was intended to discredit the Liberal Administration in Ireland. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that though it was quite true that the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Sir E. Clarke) supported the Motion on that occasion, the strongest speech in support of the Motion, and the speech of all the Debate that most carried conviction to the minds of all who heard the Debate, was made by the present Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Russell) who was a supporter of the then Government, and, of course, had no Party interest to serve. Lord Russell said he felt the duty was cast upon him to support the Amendment; because, though he had first believed the men had been rightly convicted, that belief had been removed after hearing the case which he (Mr. Harrington) had laid before the House. The next occasion on which the question was raised was in July 1885, when a Conservative Government was in Office, and again the Conservative Members to whom the Chief Secretary had alluded supported the demand for an Inquiry. On that occasion the right lion. Member for Bristol (Sir M. Hicks-Beach) who was Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:—The Lord Lieutenant has authorised me to state that if Memorials should be presented or statements made to him on behalf of those prisoners who are referred to in this Motion, they would be considered by him with the same personal attention which he would be bound to give to all cases, great or small, ordinary or exceptional, coming before him, with the earnest desire to carry into effect the requirement of justice,785 No Memorial, so far as he knew, was then presented to the Lord Lieutenant by the friends of the prisoners. He did not think the duty was cast on him, having called attention to the matter in the House, to present a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant. Besides, the Conservative Government remained in office only a short time. There was then an interval of Liberal Government, followed by a long term of Conservative Government, during which it took all the efforts of the Irish Government to prevent the authorities from putting persons into prison, without giving them time to think of asking the Government to go back upon the cases of old prisoners. The crime of which the men had been convicted was a most abominable and heinous murder. On the night of August 17th, 1882, in a little glen on the borders of the Counties of Mayo and Galway, a poor humble family of small farmers, named Joyce, had their house broken into. The father, John Joyce, his wife, his mother an old woman over 80, and his daughter, were killed; and two other children were left in so precarious a condition that one died the next day and the other did not recover for a long time. The very enormity of the crime would dispel from the mind of every Member of the House the idea that there could be any sympathy with the crime or with the men who were guilty of it. There could be behind the demand for inquiry nothing but a desire to clear away the suspicion of unjust conviction. In drawing attention to the case of these prisoners he was drawing no distinction between the criminality of the man who actually committed the murder and that of the men who were accessory to it. If the inquiry he asked for did not clearly establish that the four men for whom he pleaded were in their beds, miles away from the scene of the murder when it was committed, and could have had no complicity with it, then he would admit that the verdict was perfectly just. Ten men were arrested for this abominable murder, and out of those ten men three had been executed and five still remained in gaol. These men were arrested on the information of Anthony Joyce, a cousin of the murdered man. Joyce was examined through an interpreter, as were all the witnesses in the case, being Irish- 786 speaking peasants. He stated that when he had been in bed some time on the night of the murder he was aroused by the barking of dogs, and going to the door, with very few clothes on, saw six men whom he did not know at first. Next he went to the back and saw the men again, this time recognising them all. Four of them he had known from youth. He went to his brother's house, and brought out his brother and his brother's son. Together they followed the men across the river to the house of the murdered man. They saw some of the men enter the house, heard shouting and screaming, and then ran home. That was the story on which the prosecution proceeded. To credit that story one must believe that an Irish peasant, hearing six men passing his house at midnight, got out of his bed, and, partly undressed, followed those men first to his brother's house, and then a distance of three miles. He himself had been all over the ground, and he could assert that no impartial man would give the slightest credence to the story. At the trial an application was made for a new jury to go to the scene of the murder; but the application was refused. Had it been granted, not one of the men would have been convicted. The witness Anthony Joyce stated in the most distinct manner that he identified all the prisoners, and he was corroborated by his brother and his nephew. His brother actually added that the men wore dark clothes. The whole strength of the case for an. inquiry rested on the overturning of this evidence, upon which the Crown rested their whole case. Three years after the trial the fact came out—a fact known at the time of the trial to the Crown counsel, but never produced by them—that the men who committed the murder were described by the two boys of the murdered man as having blacked faces and wearing white jackets. This was absolutely incompatible with the Crown evidence. Moreover, the men to whose guilt Anthony Joyce deposed were at enmity with him. One of them, Myles Joyce, had been quarrelling with him months before, and had only just been released from a month's imprisonment resulting from the quarrel. Two days after Anthony Joyce had given his information to the police, and before the Magistrate took his 787 deposition, Sub-inspector Gibbons stated that he had six other men under arrest, and asked that they should be remanded for inquiries. Again, after an interval of six or seven days, Sub-inspector Gibbons applied for a further remand. If the Crown had placed the least reliance on Anthony Joyce's deposition—which was before them all this time—it would have been absurd to arrest six other men and to ask for a remand in order to inquire into their cases. During all that time not only had the Crown this man Joyce in charge, but they had actually in custody the ten prisoners subsequently put on their trial, while the story given by the Joyces was before them. What took place at the trial? These men were removed from the County Galway to be tried in the City of Dublin. They were all Irish-speaking peasants; not one of them except the young lad in gaol knew a word of English. The prisoners were taken to a place to be tried where all the difficulties presented in the course of the trial were practically as great as if they had been tried in a city on the Continent. Their Counsel did not understand a word of the language which the prisoners spoke; the Solicitor who was supposed to convey the instructions of these unfortunate men did not know a word of their language; not a man serving on the jury knew a word, and not a word which any of the jurors might say was known to them, and they had not the slightest conception of what might be said by the Judge. Upon the facts as presented to the jury he would have returned the same verdict; and he did not for a moment question the finding of the jury on the facts presented to them. But here was a fact which he was anxious to bring forward in order to show the difficulty in which these prisoners were placed. They were unable to present, even to their own Counsel, the conviction and the knowledge that they were innocent of this crime. To make the matter more ridiculous and difficult for them, the interpreter who acted between the Court and the prisoners was a policeman who knew the Irish language—Head Constable Evans. Before the case came on in Dublin, of the ten men in custody one acknowledged his guilt of the murder. It was needless for him to point out that, however doubtful the story of Anthony 788 Joyce and his brother, however incredible to the minds of the jury if presented by Joyce alone, everything like a shadow of doubt with regard to the trial vanished; and when the case was so presented to the jury, with that man's corroboration, they could not have come to any other conclusion but that the murder had been committed as described; in fact, they were forced to believe the story. But what was the fact which he wanted the Chief Secretary to establish by his inquiry? It was that this man Anthony Joyce was so terrified, and so afraid of his life, though not within six miles of the murder at the time and had no cognisance of it, that when he had heard the story so often, and told against himself, he was constrained to say that he was guilty and that he was present. He knew how difficult it was to get a person to realise the fact that a man who had no participation in the murder and knew nothing about it, had no knowledge of it except that he heard the story told seven or eight times, was so weak and criminal that he stated the story told against him was true, and that he corroborated the story against the others in order to save his own life. That was the question which had complicated the whole case. A few days before the trial came on a second man made an attempt to save his life. One of the ten men charged who gave evidence, and who was not there, was a man named Anthony Philburn. Thomas Casey made an effort to save his life, and sent for Mr. George Bolton, the Crown Solicitor. Casey's contention was, that he was anxious to save his life and to give evidence, but that he wanted to tell the true facts and not the false story told by other witnesses. This man acknowledged his guilt now, and was prepared to go into any inquiry which the Chief Secretary was willing to institute. Nearly two years after this man had been sent to penal servitude, and after three of the prisoners had been executed, Casey came forward and made a public confession of his criminality in the church, in presence of the Archbishop of Tuam. He alleged that he first of all took part in the murder, and that he was, to some extent, responsible for the death of the three men who had been executed, because he gave evidence which led to their execu- 789 tion—evidence which was false. What was his story? His story was that, instead of ten men having taken part in the murder there were only seven. He was one of them; Michael Casey was another, and he supported Casey, stating, however, that the other four men in prison with them were perfectly innocent. Casey gave the names of the men who took part in the murder; three of them were still living in the district; they had not been brought to justice. Personally he had met these men; he had accused them of the murder; and he was convinced in his soul that they were guilty. Why had they not been punished? Because to take and punish them would be to expose the character of the entire proceedings on which the first men were hanged. Casey's story was, that of the men executed two were guilty, and one of them was innocent. Let the House look at the facts and see how Casey was corroborated. When Casey made that public confession he had absolutely no knowledge of some of the facts to which he had called the attention of the House. Two days previous to the execution of the three men found guilty at the trial, two of them, having no means of communication with one another, being in their condemned cells and guarded by warders night and day, were so oppressed in conscience at innocent men having to suffer for their crime that they sent first of all for the chaplain and then for the Governor of the gaol, stating that they wanted to make a statement as to the innocence of the third man. He did not know whether they did this on the same day, but the fact was, that the two men took the action he had described, and a Magistrate was sent for. He complained of the extraordinary fact that the same Magistrate was sent for who had practically been working up the case against the prisoners. This was a wretched and deplorable incident, calculated to check confidence in the administration of justice. The magistrate who attended the inquest, who worked up the case against the prisoners, and who entered the cells under the Court House to take the depositions of the informers, and their statements—the dying depositions of the boys being still suppressed—was the same man who was sent to take the depositions of the men in gaol, Mr. 790 Newton Brady. This gentleman might be perfectly innocent of any intention to do anything but justice, but he maintained that the introduction of a different man, at all events at this stage of the inquiry, would have given the unfortunate men to be executed some better chance and a reasonable ray of hope. The depositions of the two boys were suppressed at the trial, and were never given to the counsel who defended the prisoner. Some of the men going to their dread account admitted their own guilt, but declared the innocence of others. When the Lord Lieutenant went to make inquiry, Mr. Brady was the gentleman to whom he intrusted that duty. He wished to make no allegations against Lord Spencer. Necessarily he had to use the men who knew the facts; but he might have placed the conduct of the inquiry in the hands of an independent person. If they believed the story of the prosecution they must admit that, not only were ten men concerned in the commission of this abominable crime, but four of them were first cousins of the man who was killed. The fact was, that in the murderers' party there was not one member of the Joyce family. The confession made by Casey was, that all those who took part in the murder were Caseys except one named Joyce, who was no relative. The hon. Member then read to the House the statements of Casey, the approver, and pointed to the curious fact that, while the families of the real murderers received money, the families of the innocent men, who had taken no part in the murder, never received a penny. In the course of the questions put to Thomas Casey when he made his statement, he alleged that he did not go into the house. The question was then put to him—As you were the greatest stranger, why did they not press you, or why did you not go in yourself?''He would invite the attention of the House to the following extraordinary answer:—''Sure they were all strangers, for they had blackened faces. I had only a soft hat tied down over my face. It was John Casey blackened them with polish blacking.He pledged his word to the House that that was the first allegation of any kind 791 that he received as to the fact that these men had blackened faces on the night the murder was committed. It was inconsistent with the story of the Crown. Nobody could doubt for a moment that the entire story, as told by the approver, would be absolutely inconsistent with the allegation that the men had blackened faces. But he would draw the attention of the House to an extraordinary corroboration of the story of Casey. At the trial he had heard nothing of any such allegation being made, and in the subsequent discussion in the newspapers, he never saw it suggested that the men who committed the murder had blackened faces; and when he heard of Casey's story, it seemed so to upset all his notions of the case as he had watched it, that he went down into the district to make inquiries, and to examine into it. The first person he met was a police constable to whom he said—Is it not singular that these men had on no disguise of any kind when they committed the murder?"Oh!" said the constable "they had disguises." He then saw and spoke to the two boys Michael and Patrick Joyce, and they both told him that the murderers wore disguises. Now, if that were true, if there any weight in these statements, then the whole story presented by the Crown was absolutely false, and guilty and innocent alike were found guilty. A few days after this visit to the district, a legal gentleman, a friend of his, happening to have in his possession the briefs used by the Couusel for the Crown, sent them to him, and attached to them he found two remarkable depositions, which were never given to the Counsel who was responsible for the defence. To these declarations he would draw the attention of the House. The first was a declaration by Michael Joyce, the elder of the two boys, and it was headed—Dying declaration of Michael Joyce, Maam-trasna, taken by A. N. Brady, R.M., on 18th August, 1882:—Two or three men came in. They had black on their faces. I did see my father and my brother killed. I am very sick. I cannot raise myself up. I was asleep when they came in. I heard the dog bark—my own dog. They said something to my father—I do not know what. I have no pain at all. I was 792 at Mass yesterday at Finney. My name is Michael. John O'Brien told me not to tell, and Michael Malley. It was last night when they told me not to tell. They swore me on a book not to tell. It is John O'Brien of the Wood— I am sure of it.That declaration was signed "A Newton Brady, R.M." From the beginning to the end of the trial no suggestion was ever made that that statement had been made by Michael Joyce. It was suggested that some statement was taken from the boy, but that he was rambling at the time, and that it could not be used. Appended to the statement were the following notes: "This has been found not to be a fact" (that the boy was at Mass at Finney the previous day). "These men"—(that was John O'Brien and Michael Malley)—"were arrested, but this was the only ground of suspicion against them. They were discharged." Those notes were signed "A. N. B.," and, because in the opinion of Mr. Newton Brady, the statement of the boy that he was at Mass the day preceding the murder, was not a fact, the whole of the deposition was kept out of the trial. The clergyman of the district wrote to him on November 3, 1884, upon the subject of the boy's condition. He said—''Brady, the doctor, and I arrived at the house of the murders almost at the same time. Brady was a little in advance, and insisted on taking the boys' depositions before I saw them—the boys. I was, of course, excluded from the house during the taking of the declarations, but the doctor was admitted. And whatever he may have sworn at the trials, he certainly did not appear to be clear on the day in question that Michael was raving. I asked him whether Michael was capable of making a declaration or not. He replied 'that he did not know, that he was not sure.'He said his reason for hesitating was Michael's statement about the Mass, observing that he had heard from Brady that there was no Mass in Finney on the 15th August. But when I assured the doctor that there was Mass, his opinion appeared to have undergone a decided change in favour of the belief that Michael was not raving. There is Mass generally in Finney only once a fortnight, and this accounts for the mistake Brady and the police fell into. They did not calculate for the holiday. My own opinion is, that Michael was not raving. When I saw him, he was weak and exhausted. So weak that he would speak only after a little pressure, and what he did say was perfectly rational and coherent.To keep this boy's deposition out of the trial was, he declared, criminality of the 793 deepest dye, which nobody could justify. The second of these boys also made a declaration, and certainly, anybody who saw the position it occupied in the Crown brief would know perfectly well, that it was intended that it should never be used at the trial. In that brief, the case that was to be presented by the Crown came first, then came the case prepared to meet any alibis that might be set up, then the depositions taken round the country, and at the end of all these the dying declarations of the boys Joyce. He would read the second declaration to the House: it was marked—Dying declaration of Patrick Joyce, Maam-trasna, taken by A. N. Brady, R. M., at Maamtrasna, on 18th August 1882.In this, which was supposed to be a dying declaration, Patrick Joyce said:—I did not know anyone who came in. I would tell if I knew. Three men came in. It was near morning,…I did not hear any shots. I was struck on the head. I don't know who struck me. They were married men (grown-up men). They had soot on their faces. They had whiskers. They had bogdeal lights. They had a 'kippeen' each. They brought them inside the house.…I think they had no coats, but 'bawueens.' They had three old hats.The declaration was absolutely inconsistent with the story told at the trial; and the evidence of that boy would have completely broken down the case of the Crown. To withhold his evidence was to play with loaded dice. He invited special attention to the endorsement put upon the declaration by the Crown Solicitor—"Patrick Joyce has recovered, but his evidence is worthless." Was there ever anything more monstrous, unjust, iniquitous, or criminal than the appending of that note to the statement? No doubt the Crown Solicitor was entitled to make that comment if only he had handed the statement to the Counsel for the Defence so that they might have had an opportunity of seeing it; but to suggest to the prosecuting counsel that the evidence of the boy was worthless, and not to bring the deposition before the Counsel for the Defence was indeed playing with loaded dice. More shameful even than the suppression of that deposition was the conduct of the 794 Crown towards that boy at the trial. It was known that he had recorded. Of course it was necessary to present him at the trial. According to the newspaper report, the boy was brought on the table and, through an interpreter, said that he did not know his catechism, nor was he aware what would happen if he told a lie. In these circumstances the Crown declined to examine him. He had been three months in the hands of the Crown, and in five minutes he might have been instructed as to the obligation of an oath, but he had been kept in ignorance for the sole purpose of suppressing his evidence and so not giving these men any chance of life. Whether these men were innocent or guilty—even if they were all guilty—the manner in which their trial was conducted was a scandal. There were various points in the evidence he should like to go over, but, as he was sure the Chief Secretary did not wish to ignore any part of the evidence, he would not labour those points. It was impossible to go through the evidence without realising strongly the inconsistencies in the evidence of the men who alleged that they were watching at a crucial time. It was suggestive to take the story of the brother Casey, to compare it with the story presented by the Crown, and with the defence that had been offered, in order to sustain the verdict arrived at on these trials. Casey's allegation was that he was willing to give the correct story of this murder, but that the Crown Solicitor would not take it because it did not corroborate another story. Casey said—I told Mr. Bolton, when he went to the gaol, that I would tell the truth, that five were innocent, and three men who were out were guilty; but Mr. Bolton refused to take my statements or spare my life if I did not corroborate the story already given by those three men.That allegation was made in the Memorandum published by the Lord Lieutenant when inquiry was asked for. An impartial examination would show that the Lord Lieutenant's Memorandum corroborated Casey's statement. Casey, in his statement, said—''The trial was to come off on Monday. I saw the Governor on Sunday evening, about four o'clock, and I was talking to him. I told him about my meeting with Mr. Bolton.795Had you made up your mind this time to corroborate Philbin? I was making up my mind for it, but I was putting it off to the last moment. The Governor said to me if I wished he would speak to Mr. Bolton. I did not then give a decided answer.''The next day was the day of the trial. When we were going into the van I saw Philbin going away in a cab. The other men went into the van. I was the last to go in, and I then said to the Governor that he might speak to Bolton. I had not given him an answer the night before. We were then brought to the court. The nine of us were in the room back of the dock, and my name was called. I don't remember the warder, but I think it was Moore, the same man that brought us to the chief warder. I was brought a few yards to the right, to a little room where Mr. Brady, Mr. Bolton, and the Governor of the jail were. Mr. Bolton was the first who spoke. He said, 'Now, Casey, are you going to make a statement? He pulled out his watch, and said I had only a short time. I said, 'I'd like to give evidence fair.' He replied that I 'had only twenty minutes to consider my neck.'The allegation of Mr. Bolton was that he received the man's statement on the Saturday, that he told him he would produce him as a witness, and that his allegation that it was only on Monday he finally agreed to give evidence was absolutely untrue. Let the House consider whether it was probable that a man not going to take his trial would be taken down to the Court with other prisoners in the prison van, and not in a special carriage with another witness. Casey told Mr. Bolton what he could prove with reference to the murder, and it closely corresponded with his subsequent written statement. The allegation in Sir R. Hamilion's Memorandum was that Casey told a lie when he said that this was on the Monday, and that it was on the Saturday before that he was accepted as an approver, and told that they intended to examine him. The Memorandum said—This note was written by Casey, and handed by him to the Governor, with a request that he would have it sent to Mr. Bolton, and it was accordingly transmitted, and until the receipt of it Mr. Bolton had never spoken to the man, nor had he ever seen him except when brought up as a prisoner in Court. The Attorney General at the time was in London, and Mr. Bolton at once consulted the Counsel for the Prosecution, who directed him to see Casey, and be in a position to report to the Attorney General on his return what his evidence would 796 be, but to take no statement, and hold out no hope to Casey that he would be accepted as an approver without the Attorney General's authority. Mr. Bolton thereupon went to the prison, and saw the prisoner, not in his cell, but in the Governor's office. The Governor was present at this interview, no other person being here, and it is untrue that Mr. Bolton used any threat to the prisoner, or made any suggestion to him as to what his evidence should be, or in any manner whatever pressed him. Mr. Bolton told him what he had been directed to tell him by the Crown Counsel, and Casey then told Mr. Bolton what he had to prove in reference to the murder, which closely corresponded with his subsequent written statement.If Casey had consented on the Saturday to corroborate the story of the Crown, did anybody believe he would have been brought down with the other prisoners in the prison van as it was admitted that he was in the Memorandum? And why, when he had come down, should he have to send a message, as it was admitted that he did, to the Crown Prosecutor? No one would believe that if the Attorney General, on whom rested the responsibility for conducting the case, had had the statement of Casey on the Saturday, and intended to use it, he would have opened the case for the Crown without reference to it. He would have done nothing of the kind. He mentioned the evidence of the one approver, Philbin; but, beyond doubt, that statement was untrue, and the statement of the informer was untrue, and it was not until the Monday that he consented to corroborate the case for the Crown. It was borne out in a stronger manner still. After the trial had proceeded four or five days, attention was drawn to the fact that statements had been made by the two approvers, which should have been handed to the Counsel for the defence, but were not. At the trial of Myles Joyce his Counsel applied for a new jury. In the course of the discussion on the matter the Attorney General said—The conduct of juries in the past gives your Lordship and the public the greatest confidence in the jurors who will be called to try this case.It was not the case that the two prisoners 797 supplied information to the Government the day before the trial commenced. Sir R. Hamilton alleged in his pamphlet that Casey consented to become approver before the trial commenced, The Attorney General denied this. One prisoner did so before the trial commenced, and as soon as the Crown was in possession of the fact, no evidence was furnished to the other side. The other prisoner gave information while the trial was proceeding, and on the same day, as rapidly as possible, information was given to the other side. There was plenty of contradiction of the memorandum which alleged that Casey gave on the Saturday what he was going to prove, and that it closely corresponded with the evidence he gave at the trial. The Attorney General contradicted it, and showed that Casey did not make his statement until the trial was proceeding. He had already shown what was suppressed by the Crown at the trial. He had shown that they suppressed by the dying declarations of the two boys, and that they were never handed to the Counsel for the defence. The Chief Secretary seemed to be under the impression that the taking of depositions in gaol in the presence of the accused was an act of mercy meant for the prisoner himself. The object of taking depositions in prison was, that if anything should happen to witnesses the depositions might be produced at the trial whatever might become of them. Philbin made two declarations in gaol. They were both absolutely contradictory of each other, yet neither was given to the Counsel for the defence. They were not brought to light until the Lord Lieutenant made the Memo Sir R. Hamilton never knew, when he was giving them to the public, that they had been withheld from the Counsel for the defence. Counsel made an application that they should be given to him. The declarations would have completely shattered the case for the Crown. Never was more unfair dealing practised by the Crown 798 than in this case. Let him recapitulate the facts. The dying declaration of Michael Joyce was never handed to Counsel for the defence of Patrick Joyce. The latter was himself withheld from examination at the trial, because it would have been impossible to have produced him on the table without his contradicting the whole story on which the plot of the Crown was laid. The deposition of Anthony Philbin was suppressed; and the deposition made by Casey in the gaol was never handed to the Counsel for the defence. In this latter deposition Casey, who was all along trying to bring in the real culprits, made the singular statement that there were two men, to whom he gave the fictitious names of Kelly and Neal, who met the others on the way. Yet no steps were taken by the Attorney General to have those two men brought to justice. He would like to impress on the Attorney General, that when the case came to be inquired into—and he had no doubt Lord Spencer inquired into it, with a desire to arrive at the truth of the case—Lord Spencer did not know, at that time, that it had been stated that the faces of those who committed the murder were blackened. This fact alone called for inquiry, which would show whether that statement were true or false. Moreover, when Casey made the confession, the Irish public had no knowledge whatever that the two men executed in Galway Gaol had made a declaration as to the innocence of the third man, Myles Joyce. The Memorandum of Sir Robert Hamilton threw out the suggestion that in asserting the innocence of Myles Joyce, a distinction was sought to be drawn between the man who actually committed the murder, and the men who were standing by, aiding and abetting him. There was nothing in the depositions to warrant that suggestion, and he himself did not desire to draw any such distinction. The evidence forthcoming since the trial established the fact not merely that Myles Joyce did not commit 799 the murder, but that he was not present when it was committed, and that he was not out of his own house at the time. He challenged the Chief Secretary to say whether the depositions did not contain a declaration that the man Myles Joyce was innocent. The dying declarations were taken by Mr. Newton Brady, who was getting up the case. Why did not that gentleman put the crucial question to the deponents: "Was Myles Joyce present, or not?" He did not do so, because he knew that it was meant by the deponents to assert that Myles Joyce was not present, and knew nothing about the murder. Of the five men now in gaol, one, Michael Casey, acknowled his guilt, but stated that the other four men, with whom he had had no means of communication, were innocent of the murder, and had no participation in it. Surely that man's statement could be accepted. He had himself examined the young boy who was produced by the Crown at the trial, and the boy's recollection was perfectly clear that the men who murdered his father had blackened faces and wore white jackets. In the face of all these circumstances could the right hon. Gentleman withhold the inquiry he desired in order to lay all the facts before him. He wished the House not to be prejudiced by the circumstance that the four men for whom he pleaded admitted their guilt at the trial. The trial took place in Dublin, not one of the prisoners, except the by still in gaol, spoke a word of English, while the counsel, the solicitors, the jury, and the Judge did not know a word of their language. At the opening of the trial an affidavit was presented on behalf of the prisoners, asking for the adjournment of the trial to the county Galway, in order that a now jury might be obtained, but this was refused. Patrick Joyce, the first of the men tried, was found guilty by the jury after eight minutes' consideration; Patrick Casey, the second man, was found guilty after twelve 800 minutes' consideration; a postponement of the trial in order that an examination into the facts of the case might be made in the district was refused; and a third man, Miles Joyce, was found guilty by the jury after six minutes' consideration, the jury after six minutes' consideration, the Judge when sentencing him stating that no shadow of doubt as to his guilt could be entertained by any sane man who had neard the evidence. Under these circumstances, was there any other means by which these men could have saved their lives except by pleading guilty? The counsel for the prisoner said to the solicitor:—You must induce those men to plead guilty, especially after the conviction of the unfortunate man Miles Joyce, whose case oppresses me very much.Their solicitor followed the men to the gaol, and to him Michael Casey pleaded guilty, but stated that the four men for whom he was pleading knew nothing of the murder. Their solicitor informed Mr. George Bolton, but the Solicitor for the Crown refused to take the plea of guilty from Michael Casey if the other four men did not also plead guilty. Influence was accordingly brought to bear upon these unfortunate men to induce them to plead guilty, and under these circumstances they consented to do so. No one could be greatly astonished at the fact that, under the pressure that was brought to bear upon them, these unfortunate peasants, anxious to cling to life, pleaded guilty in the dock. He wished to remove from the Chief Secretary's mind any idea that in again bringing this case forward he had the slightest intention of casting discredit on Lord Spencer's Irish Administration. No one could accuse the present Lord Chief Justice of England of desiring to discredit the leaders of the Party to which he belonged when he sat in the House of Commons. When the cases to which he was drawing attention were before the House on a former occasion the Lord Chief Justice delivered a speech which went far in support of the view 801 that an inquiry ought to be held. From that speech he would quote the following sentences:—If the Amendment before the House did involve blame on Lord Spencer, the Lord Chancellor, and the ex-Chief Secretary he could not help it, because he believed it contained a statement which was emphatically true. He began the consideration of this case with the very strongest feeling that an unanswerable case had been made out on the part of the Crown, proving the guilt of the men convicted and the men who pleaded guilty. It was only by slow and painful steps that he had come to the conclusion that there did exist very grave doubt, to put it no higher, of the guilt of the man Myles Joyce, who had gone to his last account, and of the guilt of four of the men who remained in prison.That was the language of a man who certainly could not be charged with desiring to discredit Lord Spencer's Irish Administration. He only pleaded for an inquiry on behalf of these prisoners, whose letters written from gaol were pathetic and touching declarations of innocence, and whose families were looking forward to the day when the Government would consent to reopen the matter. For his part, he believed that fresh investigation would establish the prisoners' innocence. He concluded by moving the Amendment standing in his name.
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and learned Member in the course of his speech said that he was afraid the House must have found it rather tedious. Well, his speech has been long, but I can assure him that I have not found it tedious. I remember that 11 years ago the hon. and learned Member took an interest in this case, which, I thought at the time, did him honour, and I am aware that he has never ceased to bear the case in mind. I give the hon. and learned Member every credit for the ability, the earnestness and sincerity, which ever since 1884 have marked his investigations into this matter. But the hon. and learned Member has been all this time an advocate. There is no particular harm in that, of course, but 802 as an advocate he has left out of sight a great many considerations bearing against his own view of the case. I am extremely glad to-night to take note of his emphatic statement that he is most anxious that it should not be thought that he entertains any desire to cast a slur upon the integrity, the uprightness, the absolute fairness of Lord Spencer. Then the hon. and learned Member has said more, for he has said that he finds nothing to quarrel with in the findings of the juries on the facts as laid before them, and that they could have found no other verdicts. That admission will clear the way to enable us fairly to consider the issue the hon. and learned Member has presented without any personal considerations supervening. The hon. and learned Member says that the present peaceful condition of Ireland affords a fitting opportunity for an Inquiry. But I confess I do not see how the peaceful condition of Ireland, at which we all rejoice, justifies an inquiry into this matter. I can quite understand that the condition of Ireland might be brought forward as a ground for exercising the prerogative of mercy—for showing clemency to the men when the time comes in a couple of years for revising their sentences, but I do not understand the train of reasoning by which the hon. and learned Member connects the present state of Ireland with his argument for re-opening this subject by a judicial or semi-judicial Inquiry. How many Inquiries are we to have into the Maamtrasna case? The hon. Member has not told the House—perhaps he does not know—how many Inquiries there have been. The murders took place in August, 1882, and the trials took place in November of the same year. There have been many Parliamentary demonstrations made in this House, to interest gentlemen of both Parties sitting on the Treasury Bench. Let it be understood that I have no wish to regard this as a Party question. The last and most remarkable occasion 803 of such a demonstration was in the summer of 1885, when Lord Carnarvon came into Office, and the right hon. Member for Bristol, then the Leader of the House, promised that his Lordship Would consider any memorial sent to him on behalf of the prisoners. So far as I can make out, after examining the voluminous Papers in the case, no memorial was presented to him.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he had stated so. He thought the friends of the prisoners would present a memorial, but the Government went out of Office before he discovered that a Memorial had not been presented.
MR. J. MORLEY
The Government was in Office seven months, and it was rather curious that during all the time that Lord Carnarvon was in office nobody thought it worth while to present a Memorial to him on the subject.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
The Government were not in Office seven months after the promise of Inquiry was made.
MR. J. MORLEY
There was plenty of time, at all events, to present a Memorial. Many years have elapsed since these events, and there have been a considerable number of inquiries in connection with Memorials addressed to the several Governments that succeeded the Irish administration of Lord Carnarvon. The cases were considered by Lord Carnarvon in 1885; after that, in December, 1887, as I am informed, Lord Ashbourne, acting I presume as Lord Justice, had a Memorial brought to his notice, and after considering it directed that the law should take its course. The cases were next brought before Lord Londonderry, who took similar action. They again came before Lord Ashbourne in November, 1888, with the same result—that the law should take its course. Lord Zetland considered the cases both in 1890 and 1892, and during the existence of the present Administration they were also carefully considered, in 1893. Therefore the hon. and learned Member is asking us to institute an Inquiry, when as a matter of fact inquiries have been instituted by successive Lord Lieutenants and by more than one Lord Chancellor or Lord Justice.
§ Mr. HARRINGTON
said, that the examinations that had taken place were insufficient and unsatisfactory. He himself had never attended these inquiries; not one of the many facts he had brought before the House that night had been asked of him, and many of them had not been placed before the Irish Executive at all.
MR. J. MORLEY
I do not quite follow the hon. and learned Member, but I must say that I do not consider that in his speech to-night he has adduced one single new fact, or set of facts, which sets up a new prima facie case to justify this House in voting that the Government of the day should institute a special Inquiry. The hon. and learned Member seems to be discontented with the many inquiries which have been conducted by the responsible men whom I have mentioned.
§ SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman state before whom the Inquiries actually took place?
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and learned Member must know that when a Memorial is presented in Dublin all the facts connected with the case are most carefully considered. The Judge is consulted, and every step is taken to arrive at the truth of the facts. Now I wish to ask what sort of Inquiry it is that the hon. Member desires. As I said just now, the hon. Member is discontented with the Inquiries which have been conducted by Lord Lieutenants and others, and I should like to know what is the kind of inquiry he really does desire.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I tell the right hon. Gentleman that I should be satisfied with his own Inquiry. If he will take the facts I present to him, and if he will undertake to conduct the Inquiry himself, I should be absolutely satisfied.
MR. J. MORLEY
Then, Sir, if the hon. and learned Member takes up that position, all he has got to do is to send a memorial to Dublin Castle, and I will undertake to him now, in the presence of the House, to go into that memorial. I cannot say anything more than that.
I will willingly undertake to go into all the circumstances of the case, so far as he is able to produce anything new, and if that is all the hon. Member wants the issue is at, an end. Because what has been in my mind tonight, while listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Member, going back to the old Debates in which I took no part, being then a comparatively new Member, was to what persons, tribunal or authority are you going to commit this Inquiry? See where we are. This horrible crime was committed in 1882. The boy on whose evidence the hon. and learned Member laid such stress was then nine years of age. What kind of advantage have we in examining that boy, now a young man 22 years of age, or in examining the informers who afterwards recanted their information, which not one jury but three juries possessed 13 years ago. I must, however, warn the hon. Member beforehand, in order to be quite honest and straightforward with him. I have read pretty laboriously the depositions and general facts in the case. If he has any new fact to adduce, any new particle of evidence whatever, I will give it all the attention I possibly can, and certainly I hope he will believe that there is no man in the House who would be more willing to give these men the benefit of any doubt than I am. Still, I think it right to warn the hon. and learned Member I do not expect that after any Inquiry I shall come to any other conclusion than that already arrived at, but I promise him that I will undertake to weigh any fact which he will bring before me in connection with his memorial.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
assumed that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to preclude him from presenting all the facts which he had brought before the House to-night?
MR. J. MORLEY
replied, that he should himself piece on the new facts to the general facts which were brought out before the tribunal.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said, that what his hon. Friend asked was that the Inquiry should be an inquiry into the whole case, and that the whole of the facts, whether old or new, should be presented to the right hon. Gentleman for Inquiry by himself.
MR. J. MORLEY
pointed out that of course the new facts could only be measured and weighed in connection with the old facts. That was clear. He wished to be perfectly clear and explicit. The Inquiry would be conducted like a coming up in ordinary course for reconsideration on its merits.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he wanted to present the whole case, and with the right hon. Gentleman's discretion or decision he should be satisfied.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.