Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £39,895, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland.
§ * MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I expect, Sir, that hon. Members opposite who are good enough to show an interest in the discussion of the Irish Estimates will expect a strong case to be made out to justify the proposal to reduce this Vote by the sum of £10,000, but I hope I shall be able to convince them that my proposal, everything considered, is, on the whole, a moderate one. If I understand the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite on Irish questions of this kind it is this—they are most anxious that Ireland should have an administration of law and justice as clean, as efficient, and as economical as this country possesses. If that is their desire—as I believe it is—I hope to have their support in the division lobby by-and-by. 307 Now, Sir, if hon. Members have not the Estimates by them, I would ask them kindly to recollect one or two figures which I intend to bring before the Committee. On page 202 of the Civil Service Estimates we find, under Class 3, Estimates for law and justice for Great Britain and Ireland amounting to a total of £3,809,088. Of this sum no less than £2,100,000, in round figures, is required for Ireland with its four and a half millions of people. That is, the cost of law and justice out of the Imperial Exchequer for the entire population of England, Scotland, and Wales, say, 35,000,000 of people, will be £1,703,000 for the current financial year, while law and justice in Ireland, paid for out of votes by this Committee with one-eighth of that population, will cost £2,100,000. Now, Sir, I come to the particular Vote to which I intend to move a reduction. This Vote for law charges and criminal prosecutions for the whole year amounts to a sum of £69,895. It is an increase of £7,000 on the Vote of last year, and I shall expect the Attorney-General for Ireland to explain why it is that such an increase has taken place during a year of almost unexampled freedom from crime and disturbances in Ireland. Let me point out to English and Scotch Members that there is a decrease in the corresponding Vote for both England and Scotland this year, while the Irish Vote has gone up to the extent to which I have referred. But this is not the most striking feature of this Vote. The extraordinary fact is that a sum of £69,000 is required for this department of law and justice in a country of four and a half millions of people, while the cost of the same services in England, with its 30,000,000 of people, is but £128,000, adding law charges and miscellaneous legal expenses together, as given on page 202 of the Civil Service Estimates. Now, Sir, what is the explanation of this monstrous disproportion of expenditure? Why should justice, law charges, and police cost the general taxpayer at the rate of 8s. 7d. per head in Ireland, and only cost at the rate of 6d. per head in England? Surely hon. Members opposite will agree with me that some explanation is required from the representatives of the Irish Government with reference to this extraordinary disproportion of expenditure. I must also ask leave to emphasise this additional fact, that Ireland is at the 308 present time, and has been for the past few years, I am happy to say, the most crimeless country in the whole of Europe. I do not believe that there have been a dozen murders in Ireland for the past five years. In fact, the hangman usually employed in Ireland is at the present moment in the bankruptcy court. He is "stone broke" over the collapse of his business. There is a slump in the hanging business in Ireland, and I hope it will long continue. Scott (the hangman) will not get one penny, I am happy to say, of this £69,000. Other serious crime has also all but vanished, Judges have been repeating the same judicial story over and over again throughout the country. And yet in face of these facts we are asked to vote £7,000 more for law charges and criminal prosecutions in Ireland this year than were required last. My contention is that this extravagance in law charges in Ireland, as compared with Great Britain, is due to the vicious system of rule which obtains in the one country and not in the other. Public money is shovelled into the hands of those whose business it is to keep this system going, and then when we complain of unjust taxation in Ireland we are told that so much of Imperial taxation is expended in Ireland in return, and than the balance between what we pay and what we get is nearly even. We get some of our taxes back, it is true, in this way—in this wasteful, extravagant piling up of expenses in connection with every department of this Dublin Castle system of finding fame and fortunes for all those who get themselves employment under it. These law charges are a part of this system of political corruption which obtains in Ireland, and against which we are here as Nationalist representatives to protest. The system of hiring and buying into Dublin Castle the service of hungry lawyers and of others who are quite willing to qualify for the service against their own countrymen necessarily gives rise to abuse. Human nature would not be what it is if it was not so, for whether it is the case of a large secret service fund, or a plethoric public purse for purposes of law and justice, human cupidity will strive to get a share of the spoils by fair means or foul. Let me ask the attention of the Committee to two instances of this character. One is that of a poor widow, now in prison, and the other is the notorious Mulrany forgery case. The case of 309 the widow Brennan can be told in a few sentences, without in any way reflecting upon the judicial bench, as I would not be permitted by you, Mr. Chairman, to call into question the action of any judge in a matter of that kind. The case in point comes under the Vote we are now discussing. This woman was evicted from her holding. She committed some trespass upon the landlord's property, for which she was prosecuted. How was she treated by the legal machinery which is controlled by the Attorney-General in Ireland? She was not tried by a jury. She was not dealt with by summary jurisdiction. No. This wretched widow wits cited to appear in Dublin, at the Court of Chancery, all the way from Mayo, to answer for the crime of trying to get the shelter of her former home for herself and her little children. Now, to cite a poor woman from Mayo to a superior court in Dublin means that this wretched creature is asked to face an expenditure of £50 or £60. She possibly does not possess 50s. in the whole world, and because of this system of administering law in Ireland this unfortunate woman has been lying in prison for contempt of court—a court to which she could not possibly go—almostfor the last twelve months. Now, Sir, the next instance I will give is a more serious one, and it also comes under the Vote which we are now considering. At the beginning of last year the Crown Prosecutor for Mayo, Mr. Malachi Kelly, made an intemperate speech in a court of justice in the West of Ireland, in which he resorted to certain threats against my hon. friend sitting by me and ALL William O'Brien. Attention was called to this harangue in this House, and, instead of this official being rebuked for his unprofessional conduct, his language was endorsed and applauded by the Chief Secretary here in the House of Commons. Well, Sir, to this conduct of Mr. Kelly's, and the approval given to it by the right hon. Gentleman, I trace the origin of the crime which I charge the administration of law and justice in Ireland with indirectly condoning and palliating. The facts of the case are as follows: On the 14th of April of last year one James Kelly, a member of the United Irish League, received a letter through the post which read as follows:Newport, 13th April, 1898. "Two shillings for drink. Dear James Kelly,—As you are aware that Martin Kelly 310 has gone back to the bastard Stoney on Monday, go with some of the boys and visit him, and tell him if he works he will be sorry, and that he is working against our cause. It would be better to blacken your faces. Do it to-morrow night, and watch the police. Other houses, will be visited on the same night, so let Tiernane not be behind.Yours truly,JOHN MCHALE, Chairman, U.I.L.Burn this for fear of danger. Don't bring any man but one you cant trust.—J.M.H.Mr. James Kelly, P.O., Rosturk.Now, Mr. Lowther, there could be only one purpose indicated by that communication, that was the carrying out of a moonlighting outrage, which might probably result in loss of life. The signature to the letter was that of the President of the West Mayo branch of the, organisation to which Kelly belonged. The Mr. Stoney mentioned by the writer was a local landlord, as unpopular with his class as with the people on account of personal transactions to which I do not wish further to allude,. The Martin Kelly also alluded to had incurred unpopularity for being in the employment of Stoney, and the moonlighting outrage proposed by the writer of the epistle was to take place at his, house. Now a striking fact in this case was brought out in the subsequent investigations, namely, that on the night mentioned in the letter, Friday, April 14th, Sergeant Sullivan had arranged an ambush at Martin Kelly's house, and was, there with other constables from 11 p.m. until 1 the following morning, but no moonlighting party went there on that or any subsequent night. Now, what happened? The person to whom the letter was addressed was not criminally inclined, and the bait laid for him did not catch him. He showed the letter to friends, who brought it under the attention of Mr. John McHale, whose name was forged to the document. Mr. McHale suspected that a dastardly plot had been planned against him, and having good reasons for suspecting Sergeant. Sullivan, he set about the task of finding samples of the sergeant's handwriting. These he secured, and these along with the forged letter were submitted to Mr. Thomas Henry Guerrin, a noted expert, who has been employed for years by the Home Office in London and in connection with public prosecutions in this country, who affirmed in the most positive manner that the forged documents and the letters, were in the same handwriting, The next 311 step in this case brings the administration of the law in Ireland into this conspiracy of shielding detected guilt where the guilt is the work of an agent of the law. Mr. McHale made a demand for criminal information against Sergeant Sullivan at the hands of the local magistrates at Westport, and every effort that could be put forth to embarrass that action was made by the local police authorities. It is no exaggeration to say that the Bench was packed on this occasion by the presence of every landlord justice who would be likely to have a partisan feeling against the organisation to which Mr. McHale belonged. The expert in handwriting from the Home Office came to Westport and gave evidence. He described himself as Thomas Henry Guerrin, of 59, Holborn Viaduct, London, Member of the Royal Microscopical Society, and professional expert in handwriting; and, in answer to this question, "Have you the slightest doubt that the handwriting in this impeached letter is the same as the handwriting in the letter marked C.?" he swore this: "I have not the slightest doubt. I am absolutely positive as far as I can be." Those proceedings took place on the 1st of July of last year, and after all the facts had been gone into the justices gave their decision as follows. Mr. Lynch, in giving the decision of the Bench, was understood to say that they had heard the ease very carefully and it had occupied a great deal of time. It was a matter of great importance, and considering that the expert's evidence—Mr Guerrin'sevidence—was wholly uncorroborated with regard to the handwriting, that he might make a mistake about it, the Bench took it upon themselves to refuse information. Mr. McHale was not, however, to be moved from his purpose to have the truth brought out, and he demanded from the Bench to be himself bound over to prosecute Sullivan for a criminal offence. On this demand, an attempt was made by the magistrates to impound the documents so as to throw obstacles in Mr. McHale's way. That attempt failed, and the next scene of the drama charges to at the Summer Assizes at Castlebar on the 14th of July following. Here the Attorney-General for Ireland made his appearance in the case, but in the character of a most unwilling prosecutor.
§ * THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry,
I never intervened until a true Bill had been found.
§ * MR DAVITT
In fact, he was forced to intervene by the very pointed remarks of Mr. Justice Murphy, who said:It is somewhat inconvenient that the Attorney-General has not been consulted. From what you have stated, MacDermot, this crime which was alleged to have been committed is a very serious one indeed. Obviously it is serious, and pre-eminently so if committed by a member of the constabulary. If, as you contend, there was a clear prima facie case made out, how do I know that the Attorney-General, if the facts were laid before him, would not have exercised his discretion in the matter?I contend that those remarks had a good deal to do with the case being remitted to the Sligo Winter Assizes, where it was tried in December last. Before I deal with that jury and make the very serious charge I shall have to make against those who organised this farce of a trial, I will quote what Mr. Justice Gibson said in his charge to the grand jury about the then condition of Mayo. He said there were six cases from the county of Mayo. One of these was a charge brought against a girl in connection with the death of her child; there was also a case of concealment of birth, a case of larceny, a case of shooting of a rather grave character at first sight, but probably the result of intemperance and a family quarrel. The last case was one of an unusual character against a policeman named Sullivan. As he was given to understand true bills had already been found by the Mayo grand jury they would not be required to investigate it at all. This was the state of the county of Mayo with its 200,000 of population at the time this attempt of manufacturing crime was made. Now, as to the jury which was empanelled to try Sullivan. I want the Committee to remember these few facts: Both the prosecution—that is, the Attorney-General—and the defence combined to challenge every juror who was a Catholic. Recollect that Sligo County is overwhelmingly Catholic, nine-tenths of its population are of that faith, and not a single one of that creed would either the Attorney-General or Sullivan's counsel permit to try the case against the accused. This was not the only deliberate act by which justice was sought to be defeated by the administration of the law in Ireland in connection with this case. Previous to this farcical trial, one Con- 313 stable Curtin, a fellow officer of Sullivan's, who gave information to his superior about Sullivan's tampering with the patrol book over the ambush at Martin Kelly's house, was banished from Mulranny out into the Atlantic, in a wild island called Inuiskea, in order to mark their disapproval of his conduct in showing a willingness to assist the course of justice. These officers did more. They harassed other witnesses pending the trial at Sligo, and left no expedient untried to intimidate those who were proceeding against Sullivan. The trial, under the circumstances described, was a screaming farce, and concluded in a manner in keeping with its character, as follows:At the conclusion of counsel's speech the Court adjourned for luncheon, and immediately on resuming,The Foreman said the jury had made up their minds, and they did not want to hear any further evidence.Mr. Wright said that the jury were probably acting on the statements made in Mr. Bushe's speech, which had not yet been proved. The witnesses were liable to cross-examination.Mr. Justice Gibson said that was a very proper remark made by Mr. Wright, and the jury should retire and say whether on the Crown case alone it was their opinion that the prisoner should be acquitted.A Juror: It is.Mr. Justice Gibson: Is that the general opinion of the jury?A Juror: Yes; we were unanimous about it this morning.Mr. Wright: The jury have heard very important evidence since this morning.Mr. Justice Gibson: The jury must retire, and say what their verdict will be on the Crown case as it stands.The jury then retired.Mr. Justice Gibson said this was the first time he had heard of such a result of a case.Mr. Bushe: The same thing occurred in a moonlighting case in Cork in which I was. Mr. Justice Gibson: The jurors are absolutely masters of the situation, but, as Mr. Wright has stated, some effect may have been produced on their minds by the admirable speech of Mr. Bushe, in which certain facts were stated. Such a thing often happens in a civil case, but it may occur in a Crown case as well.The jury again came into court, and the foreman stated that they had made up their minds to acquit.The jury had practically made up their minds before they went into the box to refuse justice. No attempt was made on the part of Sullivan to prove that the letter was written by anybody else. But the case did not end there. It was carried to Dublin, where Sullivan was sued 314 for criminal libel, but after a three days' trial the jury disagreed. If, however, the law of Ireland had been like the law of Scotland, where the verdict of the majority of a jury holds good, justice would have been brought home to the malt who unquestionably was the author of the forged letter which incited to the commission of a crime. In Dublin, with a jury fairly empanelled, 10 out of the 12 men Wren were in favour of convicting Sullivan, which conclusively proved that the author of this crime was allowed to go free in Sligo through the manner in which the prosecution was conducted by those for whose action the Attorney-General is responsible. English opinion has declared the verdict of a jury which acquitted a policeman in another country to be partisan, and that justice in that country is said to be tainted in consequence of the decision with regard to a Boer policeman. The verdict of this Sligo jury cannot be considered any more conclusive than the one at Johannesburg. I say, deliberately, that those who acted for the Attorney-General had, from the beginning, resolved to shield this officer from justice, and protect him from the consequences of his criminal design. This planned outrage was a part of a virtual conspiracy on the part of policemen, magistrates, landlords, and Crown prosecutors in Mayo to involve the United League in the commission of crime, and as a protest against this conduct I move to reduce this Vote by £10,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £29,895, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Davitt.)
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Before referring to the odious, unsupported and scandalous charges which the hon. Member has made against public officials who have courageously and honestly discharged the important duties of their office, and have gained the affection and respect of the worthiest portion of the community with which they deal, I wish to say a word on the general topics referred to by the hon. Member, whose remarks are to a great degree, if not altogether, founded upon an absolute ignorance of the difference between the systems which prevail in England and Ireland with regard to the payment of the costs of prosecutions. 315 In England to a large extent the money is paid out of the rates; but in Ireland, inasmuch as the Crown takes up almost every prosecution, it comes out of the Imperial funds. Thus upon the face of the Estimates the sum from Imperial sources appear to be out of all proportion to the population. The Estimates in general, as far as legal matters are concerned, are less by £1,200 this year than last, and are £10,000 less than when I previously held my present office. The amount has apparently increased by the fact that the Treasury has made contributions to the High Sheriffs in Ireland almost identical with those which they have made in England. The contribution is made to enable the Sheriffs to discharge the duties of their office, inasmuch as the emoluments which they were entitled to receive have decreased so much in late years that it was found impossible to get anybody to serve. As to the imprisonment of Mrs. Brennan, I am no more responsible for that than for the conduct of the Police in the Transvaal. A certain estate was being administered in the Court of Chancery, and the Judge made an order to put the woman in prison for contempt of court. That is not a matter for this Vote. It is entirely outside criminal procedure. It is only a form by which the Civil Court can make its orders to be obeyed, and I have no power to have the woman either imprisoned or discharged; it is entirely a matter for the Court of Chancery. As to the case of Constable Salivan, I understand the hon. Member to charge those in authority with conspiracy to instigate outrage.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
It is an infamous charge. What are the facts of the case? I will answer for my part of the transaction. I have more than an official responsibility; I have a personal responsibility, because from the time the case was taken up by the Crown until the verdict was delivered in Sligo, I watched over and directed every step of the proceedings. I am responsible for everything that was done, and I am here to justify the methods which were adopted. The merits or demerits of the United Irish League are foreign to the question. I will not go further than to say that Sullivan had become obnoxious to the League in the discharge of his duty, 316 because some of the objects of the, League were criminal and its methods were criminal. According to the sworn evidence of the local chairman, rigorous boycotting was one of its methods. McHale, the local chairman, is certainly unfortunate, for a well-conducted man, in the number of times he has been in conflict with the police. According to his own admission, during the last ten years he has been convicted of drunkenness, assault, and poaching fifteen times, and he only questioned the accuracy of two of the convictions. McHale, with the assistance of Mr. William O'Brien, issued a summons before the magistrate with a view to having Sullivan returned for trial. The Executive are not responsible, nor am I responsible as having charge of the criminal procedure of the country, for the action of the magistrates. I am surprised that hon. Members opposite are so enamoured with expert evidence in this case, for if they will take their memories back for ten years they will find that their contention then was that no value was to be attributed to such evidence. The only evidence submitted to the magistrates by the prosecution was that of an expert in handwriting, and I think the Bench were acting within their rights in refusing to act upon such evidence. I wish very much that I could reconcile myself to believe that the evidence of an expert would be accepted as proof conclusive in a criminal trial. If it were so, I apprehend that there are many gentlemen at large all over Ireland at the present time who would be justly serving time in Her Majesty's prisons. Not only are handwriting experts liable to the weakness of all expert witnesses—namely, that they endeavour to sustain a foregone conclusion, but they always hold a number of theories of their own in reference to the formation of letters. There is this weakness in all evidence of this character, that if the writing of the individual whose handwriting is attempted to be forged has any peculiarities, they are certain to be copied by a forger if he has specimens to work on. At all events, it was quite within the right and competence of the magistrate to refuse to accept such evidence. The Government are not responsible, and know nothing whatever about the charges made against them, which I believe are utterly unfounded. Of course I am not impeaching this handwriting expert in any way, 317 but my contention is that the magistrates were entitled to think that this expert evidence was not a safe thing to act upon. At the next summer Assizes Mr. McHale applied for permission to send up a bill before the Grand Jury. That permission was given; the bill was sent up, and such witnesses as the prosecution thought necessary, including Constable Curtin who had not been examined before the magistrates, were examined, and a bill was found. Up to that time the proceedings were entirely in the hands of the private prosecutor, and they never in any way put themselves in communication with the police, and no application whatever was made to the representative of the Crown to take charge of the prosecution. On the 27th of July, after the bill had been found, an application was made to the Crown to take up the prosecution, and within five hours the Crown sent an answer stating that they would take up the prosecution. The solicitor who was acting for the private prosecutor immediately put himself in communication with the Crown Solicitor. He handed over a list of the names of his witnesses, all the documents he had, all the statements of evidence of the witnesses who had been examined, and who he thought should be examined, and he added that one of the witnesses, named Conway, had not been examined because he had made contradictory statements. As this was a grave charge made against a police officer in a very responsible position, it was thought to be most desirable that the case should be tried at the earliest possible moment, and it was also thought desirable that it should be tried in a county other than Mayo where the persons interested in the proceedings of the United Irish League in Mayo would not be called upon to serve on the jury. Therefore it was decided that it would be better to send the case for trial to the Sligo Winter Assizes. But I took good care to keep that decision to myself with the result that the jury panel was formed before the Sheriff could possibly have known that this case was to be tried at Sligo. It is provided by the Irish statutes that the panel from which these jurors are taken must be made up in a particular way, and in this instance the panel was made up in the ordinary way for the ordinary Winter Assizes. It was drawn up by the Sheriff in absolute ignorance of the fact that Sullivan 318 would be brought forward and tried on this occasion. The hon. Member opposite permitted himself to say that the witnesses were harassed by the Crown. If that was so, how were they harassed? Every witness whose name was furnished to the Crown by the private prosecutor was brought to Sligo at the expense of the Crown, maintained there at the expense of the Crown, and were sent back to their homes at the expense of the Crown also, and if that be not harassing there is no other harassing which can be assigned. Not a single witness that the private prosecutor wished to have examined was kept back, and we adopted his own notion in dispensing with Conway's evidence because we were informed that he was an unreliable witness. But that was not all. Owing to the importance of this case I took the precaution of giving special directions to the Crown Solicitor as to how he was to secure a just and impartial jury, and I will read those directions to the House. I wrote to the Crown Solicitor in Ireland the following letter:As the action of the Crown in this case is likely to be misrepresented no matter what it may be, I wish particularly to call your attention to the fact that you should examine the panel most carefully, and consult with the local Crown solicitor in reference to it. I desire, moreover, that in this and all other cases in which local prejudice may be excited or jurors may be influenced by fear, you will do your utmost to secure that a fair and impartial jury shall be empanelled. In that endeavour you should act strictly on the lines laid down in the circular addressed to Crown solicitors dated the 12th of February, 1894, and signed by my predecessor in office, The Macdermot, a copy of which you no doubt have in your office.Now, the rules for Crown solicitors provide:And when in any case he shall have sufficient reason to believe that any person coming to be sworn as a juror is open to challenge for affinity to the person on trial, partiality, bodily or mental infirmity rendering him unfit to serve as a juror or other sufficient ground on which a challenge for cause, if made, could be sustained, he shall direct such juror to stand by. He shall also, in the exercise of a due discretion, direct to stand by all such persons as he shall have reason to believe are likely to be hindered from giving an impartial verdict, by favour towards the accused, or fear of the consequences to their persons, property or trade, although same may not admit of legal proof; and (in the discharge of this duty) the Crown Solicitor will not interfere unless the circumstances of the case require it, and will then act with due care and caution, but also with promptness and decision, and, if time per- 319 mit, should consult the leading Crown counsel in the case. In all cases of peculiar local excitement in any particular town or district of the county, it will be prudent, if the panel permit, to set aside all persons returned from such locality.Those were my instructions to the Crown Solicitor, and I believe they were accurately carried out. Let me say a word or two about this much decried system of jury packing. It is a fact that every party litigant can challenge a juror for partiality provided he is able to show by facts upon which a challenge for cause can be sustained. This is called a challenge for cause, but in addition all litigants other than the Crown have certain powers of peremptory challenge. The right of peremptory challenge is then found to be necessary for the administration of justice. Why should the Crown, the guardian of society, not have it, even in a modified form. As far back as the reign of William III. a statute was enacted enabling persons to be put aside.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
If we fail to get a complete jury we are obliged to recall those put aside. Hon. Members have frequently enlarged on the iniquity of what they call jury packing, but those acquainted with the administration of the criminal law in Ireland are not disposed to attach too much importance to their condemnation. I can bear testimony myself to an incident which occurred when I was responsible for the conduct of the Winter Assizes in Cork in a very bad time. Hon. Gentlemen appear to think that a Roman Catholic juror has more sanctity than any other.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I mean no insult. What I mean is that I am not aware that there is any particular sanctity about a Roman Catholic juror, and I cannot believe that any juror was ever set aside in Inland because of his religion. If he is set aside it is because he is prejudiced. The hon. Member for East Mayo can perfectly well understand that in the North of Ireland religion might be the means of prejudicing a jury.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I have seen Roman Catholic jurors serve very well, and what is more, I have seen them acquit Protestants; but that is not my point. I was endeavouring to give an illustration of the value of the wholesale condemnation of alleged jury packing. I remember at the Cork Winter Assizes a juror in my hearing asked the Crown Solicitor to be good enough to challenge him. The Crown Solicitor consulted me, and I said I could not allow any bargaining of that kind, that the juror should come to the box in the ordinary way, and that then it would be judged whether he was impartial enough to serve. He told us his business would be ruined if he happened to be sworn on the jury in the moonlighting cases about to be tried, and, of course, I concluded it would be very unsatisfactory to have a man so terrified on the jury. Accordingly he was challenged by the Crown, and what was my astonishment to find from the papers next morning that an indignation meeting had been held to protest against the insult offered to Catholic jurors, and that my friend of the previous evening was either chairman or a very prominent speaker at it. That shows the value of the condemnation indulged in in connection with alleged jury packing. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose was Chief Secretary a very foul murder was committed. At the first trial 19 men were put aside and a notorious criminal escaped justice. Another man, his confederate, was convicted and executed, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose was calumniated by placards posted all over Dublin "Who murdered Twist? John Morley." If a Government responsible for the conduct of business and the administration of the law has been constrained to use this power, to challenge it is not to pack a jury but to unpack it. It is said indeed that a similar power is not exercised in England. Probably not. But when jurors are murdered in England as in Ireland, when they are maimed, terrified, and canvassed in England as they are in Ireland, then the English authorities will have to put that power into force. We are comparing two unlike things. Not a month passes that I do not receive report after report from Crown Solicitors in Ireland stating that it is absolutely impossible to obtain verdicts at Quarter Sessions, even in cases of ordinary assault, because every juror is canvassed by the person charged or 321 his friends. In this particular instance nine men were ordered to stand aside by the Crown and four by the accused. In the civil case five jurors were challenged by McHale, and he did that within his right because he thought they would not be impartial. It has always been necessary for a Crown Solicitor who conducts a case to have regard to the particular conditions then existing in the locality, and I am bound to say that I have never known their powers to be abused. So far for the formation of the jury. The next step was this. Notwithstanding that this was not a case of a very serious character, I sent the most experienced Crown Prosecutor in Ireland specially to conduct it. A gentleman, a scholar, a lawyer with considerable experience and a just and fair mind, I think every member of the Irish Bar will admit the worth and fairness of Mr. George Wright, a Q.C. of many years' standing, and leader of the Munster Circuit. He conducted the case, and I arranged with him that every witness was to be produced, and I will give one extract from the concluding passage of his speech, which embodied faithfully the instructions I gave him. He said:This is not a place for sympathy, but a court of justice, and the jury should deal out the same justice to the sergeant as they would to the humblest member of the community.Does that deserve the shameful charge that this gentleman entered into a conspiracy to pack the jury and acquit the accused? I desire to direct attention as to how that charge was insinuated and afterwards abandoned at the civil trial. At the first trial the jury said they had made up their minds on the Crown case that there was no evidence for conviction. Mr. Wright very properly protested against the jury interfering at that stage of the case. They had, he said, heard a very powerful speech from the learned counsel for the defence, but they did not know what might come out in the examination or cross-examination of the witnesses who were to be put into the box, His Lordship said that the whole matter was extremely awkward, and sent the jury back to consider whether their conclusions were based solely on the Crown case, or whether they allowed themselves to be in any way influenced by the speech of Mr. Bushe. But the jury came back and said they had made up their minds on the Crown evidence. 322 They were entitled to do that without having the infamous charge of corruption levelled against them.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
There were twelve men on the jury, and only nine were challenged, and all were unanimous. Assuming that the iniquity of being Protestants attached to them if you like, does the hon. Gentleman contend that because they are Protestants they were deliberately finding a false verdict?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The hon. Gentleman gave no proof of that whatever, and it is a charge which should not be made unless it can be proved. I do not know what was the religion of the gentlemen who were ordered to stand aside. The only question was whether they were partial, and if they were they ought to be set aside, no matter to what religion they belonged. The hon. Member has chosen to make tins infamous charge in this House, but I should like to read to the Committee what was said by the counsel for McHale at the civil trial. The hon Member for East Mayo reiterates the accusation that the jury was packed by Mr. Malachi Kelly, and he even went, so far as to accuse my learned friend Mr. Wright as a participator. He is privileged to make this charge, but let me call attention to what counsel for McHale said. Mr. O'Shaughnessy said:My learned friend devoted a large portion of his address to an unnecessary vindication of our common friend Mr. George Wright, who was prosecuting at the Winter Assizes in Sligo. No one in this Court or out of it would for one second believe that Mr. George Wright, in the conduct of any prosecution of any case, ever did anything unworthy of the profession of which he is so distinguished a member, and I would say unworthy of himself. No one for an instant would cast such an aspersion, and my friend The Macdermot never stated or suggested anything of the kind.Then he proceeds to deal with the accusation against the Crown Solicitor, and he says:Why the Crown Solicitor's name should have been dragged into this case I cannot at all understand. I have to sit here every day, as the other counsel engaged in the case 323 have, and if it has been thought that we have in the slightest manner reflected upon that gentleman, I say openly, and without any reservation, that it is a very erroneous idea, and I take it upon myself, so far as I am concerned, to add that it was wholly unnecessary to defend him.Counsel shrank from making these charges because there was no evidence to support them. I was not, of course, responsible for the conduct of the civil trial; but I was responsible for the criminal trial. I endeavoured to secure a fair trial. I believe I did secure a fair trial. The only other matter to which I wish to refer is that connected with Constable Curtin, whom it is alleged was banished lest he might give evidence against the sergeant.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Now, what are the facts? It is not too much to expect that hon. Members before making these charges should take the trouble of informing themselves of what has appeared in the public Press. The facts are that Curtin was in communication with McHale and his friends early in April. On 6th July his superior officer, having discovered that police information which ought to have been kept secret was leaking out, held an inquiry and decided it would be wise to remove Curtin. He was in utter ignorance that Curtin had given any statement to McHale, or made any report whatever until three days after Curtin's removal was determined upon, and then, and then alone, did the police become aware that he made a statement. So far from removing him because he was giving evidence in favour of McHale, he was removed three days before it ever came to the knowledge of the police that he had made a statement. Curtin was brought back to the trial. He was examined and cross-examined, and from his evidence it was quite clear that he was an ally of McHale, and by no means a disinterested witness. Here is a statement which he sent to Mr. Kilbride's clerk, who conducted the case against the sergeant:There is another piece of evidence I want to give, but don't bring it out in direct examination. Keep it for re-examination, and it will do for a petty jury, because otherwise it might show that I was actuated by malice.324 That is the gentleman who communicated with McHale's solicitor. He gave him a statement, coached him for the trial, and laid down the most effective way in which a damaging statement could be brought out, as there is no more effective way than by putting up an apparently candid witness, having previously arranged with him that he is to damage his own side. That was the person whom the authorities were accused of keeping out of the way. That is all I have to say with reference to this case. I cannot go step by step through every piece of the evidence, because the House of Commons is probably the worst tribunal to set up as a court of appeal on questions of fact. I did my best to secure an impartial trial. The case was presented fairly, and if a wrong verdict was returned the fault is not mine.
§ MR. DILLON
There are two points in the speech of the Attorney-General to which I desire to immediately allude. He made a statement with regard to the very important evidence of Constable Curtin, which I should like to clear up, as the point is very important. He said that when Curtin had discovered the falsification of the entry in the patrol book he did not report it to his officer, but immediately reported it to the prosecutor. This is not the evidence. The evidence was that he did report it to his officer, and was after that ordered to be removed.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
He swore he discovered the entry on July 1st. He was ordered to leave on July 6th, but did not actually leave until July 9th, and he never made any communication about this matter to his superiors until the 9th.
§ MR. DILLON
That is a point that ought to be cleared up beyond all doubt. I want to point out to the Committee that he did report to his officer, and the alteration of the patrol book bore directly and most materially on the evidence tendered at the trial. Thereafter the officer treated him very roughly and said that he was exceeding his business and had no right or call to be looking after such matters at all. This point as to the alteration of the patrol book is extremely important, for the constable swore that on that particular night on 325 which, by means of a forged letter, the man James Kelly was invited down to the house of a certain man, the police patrol under the command of Sergeant Sullivan—the very man who was charged with writing the forged letter—went on that particular night to the house of the man to be attacked, and remained there till nearly two o'clock in the morning—two hours longer than the patrol was ever known to remain in the district before. When Sullivan came home from that night ambush, Constable Curtin swears in his evidence that he was in bed, wondering why Sullivan's patrol did not return at the usual hour. He and his comrades accordingly inspected the patrol book, and found to their astonishment that that particular patrol had remained in ambush for four hours. In the patrol book was this entry:Ambush near Kelly's house from ten p.m. until one a. m. Found all right.But when whispers began to get abroad, and when inquiries were being made about the forged letter, Sullivan, the accused man, went to the patrol book and altered the entry. He changed the A.M. into P.M., and put an additional 1 before the original 1 a.m., so as to make it read 11 p.m., thus making out that his patrol had returned to the barracks two hours before they actually did. Everybody sees that that materially alters the case. I charge the Attorney-General and the Irish Administration with gross and scandalous conduct in respect to their dealings with Constable Curtin. Whatever their other prejudices may have been—and the prejudice in the case of a constable who has given evidence against comrades and superior officer is very great—it cannot be said that the Grand Jury of Mayo is a body prejudiced against the police. It is dead now, thank God, and peace be with it, as an administrative body, but no one can accuse them of want of sympathy with the police. Well, they declared that, in their judgment, there was a p imâ facie case against Sullivan of a serious crime. The Government ought to have placed themselves above the suspicion of intimidating, boycotting, or punishing constable, because it is always most dangerous to a constable to give evidence against his comrades. Instead of that, they have persecuted this man Curtin. Of course he has been boycotted, and a black mark placed against him, and he was 326 banished to the island of Inniskeen, a kind of Devil's Island, where the unfortunate man is now. Of course, also, we now hear from the Attorney-General of the charge trumped up against him, that his evidence was given in order to punish his superior officer. That is a matter of opinion; but I say that in every case of this kind where a policeman gives evidence against an officer he is open to such charges, and it lies with the Executive to do everything in their power to give him fair play, and not to attack him before he has had an opportunity of giving his evidence. Now, I want to say something about the packing of the jury. We have listened to the defence of the Attorney-General, which I can show was no defence at all; for he did not deal directly with any of the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for South Mayo. In the course of his speech the Attorney-General treated the Committee to a prolonged lecture on the question of jury-packing in Ireland—a subject which has frequently engaged the attention of the House, and will continue to do so as long as the practice exists. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in a passage of great eloquence and force, endeavoured to overwhelm us with the enormities of the crimes of the Catholic and the virtues of the Protestant juries. But what about the Catholics who were not allowed to come on juries in the County of Sligo? Did the hon. and learned Gentleman hold that no man is impartial in the county of Sligo unless he is a member of the Protestant religion?
§ Mr. DILLON
It is a very singular thing that if you go down to a district where 90 per cent. of the population are Catholics and Nationalists, you bring out a jury on which there is not one Catholic or one Nationalist, but the whole twelve are Unionists and Protestants. That is what we complain of, and this is the way we are met in this House when we bring forward substantial charges. It is really a mockery to meet the substantial charges which we make with such an answer as has been given by tile Attorney-General. Even in the singular annals of the administration of justice in Ireland this case is without parallel. On many previous occasions we have had to come before this House with complaints of 327 packing juries in Ireland for the purpose of obtaining convictions. Under the Irish system the challenges on behalf of the prisoner are strictly limited, whereas the challenges of the Crown are unlimited, and therefore the Crown can pack the jury in agrarian cases or those which have a political complexion. But on the present occasion the jury was packed for the purpose of obtaining not the conviction but the acquittal of the prisoner. In the packing of the jury the counsel for the prosecution and the defence were in collusion, and they both challenged the same men. That is actually an unparalleled case, and, of course, an acquittal was obtained. The Attorney-General pronounced a eulogium of an extraordinary kind on Mr. George Wright, the gentleman who conducted the prosecution. I do not want to say anything against Mr. Wright's character, but I shall read an extract from the speech with which he opened for the prosecution, and shall leave it without fear to the judgment of impartial men as to whether it is the speech of a man desirous of obtaining a conviction, He said:In that district there was a league called the Irish League, and he need hardly tell them that the conduct of the man Martin Kelly was disapproved of by the Irish League. And it became necessary for the police to protect Kelly to a certain extent, and they patrolled the district at night. In the absence of the patrol Kelly was set upon and beaten. The ill-treatment of Kelly continued, and it was suggested that, under the circumstances, this extremely regular and active man, Sergeant Sullivan, allowed his zeal to outrun discretion, and he resorted to a trick or stratagem, and wrote a letter in a disguised hand to James Kelly.That is the language addressed to the jury by the prosecutor concerning the man accused of a most abominable crime—an incitement by means of a forged letter to commit a gross outrage at night. This is exactly on all fours with the Wheeler case in County Clare, where the police paid and sent an agent to organise an attack upon a house. A violent fight took place, and many lives might have been lost, but by a strange judgment of fate the man who organised the affair was the only one shot. Well, this crime, which it was alleged Sergeant Sullivan had organised, might have led to the very same results; and yet the prosecuting counsel for the Crown described this man Sullivan, in his speech 328 for the prosecution, as a zealous and excellent officer who allowed his zeal to outrun his discretion, and to write this forged letter. That language does not convey the impression of a man who really desires to obtain a conviction. There is another point in the history of this case which was not alluded to in the speech of the hon. Member for South Mayo or by the Attorney-General. This case was instituted as a private prosecution, and first of all tried at the Petty Sessions at Westport, when the bench was unquestionably packed. My evidence of this is that Lord Sligo and his agent were two of the most active magistrates on the bench, and that it was a case in which it was almost indecent for Lord Sligo to sit on the bench at all. One of the evils of Irish administration is that the resident magistrate is a policeman himself, and it is a positive farce for such a man to try a case in which a policeman is involved. Therefore I say the bench was packed, and in spite of strong evidence, which I have not the slightest doubt would have secured a conviction, and which, at any rate, would have been accepted as evidence of a primâ facie case in an English court, yet they did not commit Sullivan for trial. The next step was at the Spring Assizes at Castlebar. There the institutors of the private prosecution had to go before a most hostile tribunal, but in spite of that a true bill was found on the evidence which was refused by the magistrates at Westport. Now, up to this point the case had been conducted by The Macdermot, one of the greatest criminal lawyers in Ireland, and who was Attorney-General under the late Government. I am given to understand that it was the earnest wish of those who had conducted the prosecution up to this point that the Crown should continue to employ The Macdermot in the case. Why should the Crown refuse to give that satisfaction to the public and to those who had conducted the private prosecution so far? Some explanation is demanded from the Crown of the reason why the services of The Macdermot were not retained to the end. Is it to be said that they did not trust The Macdermot; and, if so, on what grounds? The Attorney-General speaks of Mr. Wright, who was substituted for The Macdermot, as a man of very high character and honour and so forth, but Mr. Wright had no special connection with the Sligo Winter Assizes. It may be 329 that he practised for many years on the circuit; but at all events, in the ordinary course this prosecution would not have fallen within his province. If the Crown had left the case in the hands of The Macdermot it would have been very difficult for us to criticise their conduct of the case, as we can now do so strongly. There is only one other aspect of the case on which I wish to make some observations. The Attorney-General triumphantly asked a question as to how the witnesses had been treated. The witnesses, he said, had been brought to Sligo, their expenses paid, and taken back to their homes, as if that was extraordinary evidence of the generosity of the Crown in this case. But I believe that in all these cases that is the universal practice, and therefore there was no particular generosity on the part of the Crown. What I allege, and what I can prove, is this, that from the hour when the private prosecution was instituted every witness who gave evidence against Sullivan and in favour of Curtin was subjected to police persecution. They were summoned for trifling offences—offences which had never been taken notice of before. For instance, a man was charged with trespass for allowing his horse to drink at a spring—a thing which he had been doing unchallenged for the previous fifteen years. After the Westport trial, when Sullivan heard that the case was to be brought on again at Castlebar, he went round to the witnesses and said:Mark my words, I will maintain my authority, and you will hear of this again.The houses of witnesses were also searched by the police. One man came in in a state of intoxication to the house of a witness without a search warrant, shoved open the door, and pulled the bed about. I was reading the other day a series of documents which had been prepared as an indictment of the Boer Republic in the Transvaal. The pages of the Blue Book contained affidavits sworn to by coloured men and women, and one of the crimes alleged against the Boer police was that they went into houses without search warrants, and this is made a matter of diplomatic despatches and threats of war. The very identical thing is being done in Westport by the officers of the law. What was done there was indeed infinitely worse than in the Transvaal, because in Johannesburg 330 the defence of the police was that they were endeavouring to carry out the law in a place where there was great immorality. In the present case, this invasion of a man's house and pulling about the bed was done by the policeman for the purpose of terrorising the witnesses. When we speak of the witnesses being persecuted, it was not when they were in Sligo, or going to and fro from Sligo, but in their own homes. I have no doubt myself, from affidavits which I am quite willing to submit to the Attorney-General, that in some instances at least the police broke the law in terrorising the witnesses. All that we ask in connection with this matter, and which we have never yet been able to get in Ireland, is that we should have an equal administration of the law, and that when the Attorney-General is going to prosecute for an alleged crime he should display the same zeal, and no more, for his political opponents as for his friends. What I charge is that, having to bring the criminal law into operation against an officer of their own in Ireland, they worked from beginning to end to obtain an acquittal, and displayed nothing of that spirit they would have done in trying to obtain a conviction. In Ireland, when you are prosecuting a poor peasant or Nationalist, you display all the vigour and ferocity of bloodhounds on the track of blood. When you are prosecuting in this country, however, the whole spirit of the scene is changed. In the present instance we have a glaring case of one of the grossest abuses that could be alleged against an Executive Government.
§ * MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
As some reference was made by my right hon. and learned friend to something that occurred when I had the honour of being a law officer and the right hon. Gentleman the Mender for Montrose Burghs filled the office of Chief Secretary, I wish to make one or two observations in reference to the present case. I am not going to follow my right hon. and learned friend in the discussion about the propriety of jury packing in Ireland. I have always considered that one of the causes which has led to so much social and political disturbance in Ireland is the want of confidence which the people feel in the administration of the criminal law, 331 and I say, without fear or hesitation, that one of the things which has led to that distrust is the system of jury packing that undoubtedly has so long existed in Ireland. It would be most unjust to attribute to my right hon. and learned friend the creation of that system. He followed in the wake of others. The system sprung up at the beginning of the present or the end of the last century, in the old high Tory days, when there was only justice for people of a particular religion and of a particular opinion. That system became inveterate and encrusted in our law, and, although the common law of England and the common law of Ireland is the same, the manner in which juries were constituted became in practice altogether different. There are many impartial members of the English Bar in this House, present I believe now, who will bear me out when I say that, though the right exists in England on the part of the Crown of setting aside juries in criminal cases, that right is hardly ever exercised. In my long experience as a member of the Leinster Circuit I have been present at trials in which 70 jurors were set aside on the trial of the prisoner—I do not say because they were Catholics, but they happened to be Catholics. It may or may not be post hoc propter hoc- I know not how that is—but unquestionably it has led to the great distrust of the peasantry of Ireland in these criminal proceedings, and has created the idea that the Government and the law are against them. Now, I am very glad that this case has come before the House of Commons. I need not say that, knowing as I have done for many years, and respecting as I do most highly my right hon. and learned friend the Attorney-General for Ireland and the gentleman whose name has been mentioned—Mr. Wright—I am satisfied, as everyone who knows them must be, that they are incapable of anything in the least way unbecoming the great profession of which they are both ornaments. But unquestionably this particular case has about it circumstances calculated to inspire people, especially those living in Mayo, with the idea that because a person accused of this atrocious crime was a policeman the ægis of the law is thrown around him. Now, I am only going to summarise, for the benefit of the hon. Members who may not have heard the eloquent statement of the hon. Member 332 for East Mayo, the facts as they have come to my knowledge; but I am not going to pronounce an opinion as to whether Sergeant Sullivan was guilty or not, because it would be unbecoming of me to do so, and it is altogether irrelevant to the matter we are discussing. But there was a letter written, and it has been imputed that this atrocious document was written by the sergeant. Now, the very first thing that rouses suspicion is that though, as my right hon. and learned friend very properly said, the practice in Ireland is, almost without exception, for the Crown to take up prosecutions, in this particular case it was left, in the first instance, to a private prosecutor to try and bring Sergeant Sullivan to justice. Accordingly a summons was issued before the magistrates. There is, however, one fact which has not been mentioned, and if I am wrong my right hon. and learned friend will set me right. The Macdermot actually went down to the Petty Sessions to represent the private prosecutor and proceeded against Sullivan. The importance of that is that from the first The Macdermot's mind was perfectly saturated with all the facts of the case, and he was better able than any other man at the Irish Bar to see that justice was done. Well, The Macdermot, with all his ability, with all his ingenuity, went down to that Court of Petty Sessions—a very unusual thing for a man in his position at the Bar to do—but his evidence and his arguments were thrown away upon the bench consisting of the resident and local magistrates. The unpaid magistrates had flocked in, among them the landlord on whose estate the original outrage was committed which led to the charge, and, contrary to what is the practice and ought to be the practice, the landlord's agent; because, as a rule, in Ireland—and I suppose the same exists in England—landlords and their agents are 10th to sit on the same bench for the administration of justice at the Petty Sessions. Now the bench so constituted dismissed the charge, and the people were naturally suspicious, as all poverty-struck and persecuted races are That is the tendency of human nature—there can be no question about it—and hence the fear of the Irish peasantry that they do not get full justice from those in authority over them. Well, that was the first ground of suspicion. But what is the next? A private prosecutor applies 333 to Mr. Justice Murphy to send up a bill of indictment to the grand jury. That application was necessary because, the Crown not having taken the case up, the Bill could not be sent up without an order of the Judge, and I apprehend that it was on that occasion that Mr. Justice Murphy made the observation to which reference has been made. What follows? Mr. Justice Murphy left the authorities no alternative, and then the Crown were driven to take up the case, winch was remitted to the Winter Assizes at Sligo. Now, that is a very common proceeding, and I am not finding fault with it. But I think it was most unfortunate, when the Crown had taken up the case, that they did not instruct one of Her Majesty's Counsel, The Macdermot, who had filled the office of a law officer under the preceding Government, and whose character is as high as that of the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself. If The Macdermot had appeared in that case, and if the result had been an acquittal of Sullivan, the people, who are a sensible people, would have felt that justice had been done, and that Sullivan had not written the letters. But Mr. Wright was sent down, a very eminent man, about whom there is not a word to be said, and whose opening speech has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Mayo. And what was the result? That nine jurors are set aside by the Crown, and that five are challenged by Sullivan, who is really in a sense in the service of the Crown. All the waters of the Atlantic would not wash out of the minds of the people the belief that if he had not been a sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, that most favoured force, he would not have been acquitted. I rejoice that the strong light of the House of Commons—an eminently just body—has been thrown upon this matter, and I am glad that the circumstances of the case have been brought prominently forward. It will teach people not to rush hastily at conclusions whenever they read in The Times newspaper or elsewhere of some frightful outrage that has been committed in the West of Ireland.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Grand jury packing in Ireland apparently means something very different from grand jury packing in England. Here we have a case where 90 per cent. of the people in a district where the jury are empanelled 334 are Catholics and Nationalists, and 10 per cent. are Protestants, yet we find that all the jury in this particular case were anti-Nationalists and Protestants. The Attorney-General tells us that this was a matter of chance, and that he cannot imagine how it occurred. Chance never plays such tricks as that, and I put it to the right hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House whether he really believes, with 90 per cent. of the population on one side and 10 per cent. on the other, it would be within the limits of probability for the entire twelve men who composed the jury to have been Protestants. But that is not why I rose; I rose to ask the Attorney General a question. The Attorney-General referred to the use made by the Crown of a letter written by the witness Curtin to a solicitor, which he said was essentially a private letter. I think that is a good illustration of the extraordinary way in which justice is administered in Ireland.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
In answer to the charge that witnesses in the case have been treated improperly by the police, I can only say that if that is so, it is very strange that no complaint has been made in the House. I am certainly unaware of any such charge having been made. I have been asked why I have not sent down a particular gentleman to conduct this prosecution. I should have failed in my duty had I done so, seeing that that gentleman had been retained by one of the parties, and must of necessity have been a partisan.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I will first allude to one of the observations made in the speech of the Attorney-General. My hon. friend complains that some of the witnesses were harassed by the police before this case came on, and the Attorney-General said that he thought a sufficient answer to that statement was that the people who were harassed had their own remedy. What does he mean by "remedy"? To go before a bench of magistrates? To go before a court of law? In listening to this Debate I have been asking myself whether I was in the British House of Commons or the French Chamber of Deputies. The last time I had the honour of sitting in the French Chamber of Deputies I heard exactly the same kind of 335 speech made by the then Minister for War with reference to the Dreyfus case as that which has been made by the Attorney-General for Ireland with regard to the Sullivan case. There was, however, this difference, that whereas the French Minister for War spoke with characteristic exuberance, the splendid deportment of the Attorney-General never deserted him, while he stated his case as if he really believed in it himself. There is still an analogy between the two cases. In both cases there were forgery and sham trials. The Attorney-General speaks very favourably of the conduct of Mr. G. Wright in this matter. Mr. G. Wright may be an, ornament to his profession, as every barrister always is, but take his language; listen to it while he is trying to prove against Sergeant Sullivan the forgery of the letter which might have led to murder on the one side and to the gallows on the other. Mr. G. Wright was a Crown official. He was the gentleman prosecuting the charge. He speaks of this crime as an excess of zeal, the outcome of a scheme to entrap the guilty. This is the man who is determined to bring home the guilt to the man in the dock. The Attorney-General's own comments here to-night upon the case were scandalous and shocking. He said he was responsible for every action of the prosecution. He was responsible for the witnesses called. One of those witnesses was Mr. Guerrin, and another was the policeman Curtin. How does the Attorney-General speak of his own witnesses? With reference to the expert, he says that we, on a previous occasion, did not have much faith in expert evidence of this kind, but he did not state what that previous occasion was, and I can quite understand the reason, because it was the case of the Pigott forgeries. But he mentioned Guerrin for the purpose of throwing dirt upon him, and he mentioned Curtin for the purposes of damaging and destroying his character. If these people had appeared on behalf of Sergeant Sullivan he could not have damaged them more. When the case was brought before the Bench of magistrates the right hon. Gentleman was shocked at his learned friend in any way questioning their impartiality; but does not everybody know what is going on in Mayo at the present time? On the one side you have the landlords standing in the way of a great 336 and necessary reform, and on the other there is a great and, I am glad to say, a growing popular organisation among the tenants. There is a great class conflict going on in the county of Mayo, and there always is, and always will be, class wars in Ireland under these circumstances; but I hope they will come to an end. They would come to an end if England allowed Ireland to settle its own affairs and did not adopt the policy of dividing and conquering, which had been the ruin of both the landlords and the tenants. In Mayo the tenants have their organisation, and the landlords have the Bench and the Crown. The landlords are not ashamed to go on to the bench in these class eases and administer what they are pleased to call justice. Now this case was a very serious case a very serious case indeed, but the magistrates had no such idea as that. They thought it was such a trumpery case that they struck it out. This impartial Bench, packed with landlords, was guilty of the infamous practice of wielding the law as a weapon. If the Bench was an impartial Bench, the right hon. Gentleman was wrong in the course he took, but the Attorney-General came in at the eleventh hour. Tins high guardian of the reputation of the constabulary in Ireland never takes a step until he is forced. Why did he take action here? The Attorney-General has lived all his life practically in Ireland, and nobody knows Ireland better than he does. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that one of the fundamental principles of the Government of Ireland is that every Irishman knows every other man's religion, and everybody knew the religion of every man who was on the jury at Sligo, and also his politics as well. I do not care what the religion may be, but religious creeds sometimes make class hatred. The objection to these jurymen was that they were Unionists and in favour of the landlords, and were not likely to give an impartial verdict. It is my strong impression that every single one of the nine men challenged by the Crown were Catholics and Nationalists, and yet the jury of twelve men who tried this case were all Protestants and Unionists. Does the right hon. Gentleman deceive anybody when he says he does not know the religion of these people? Ninety per cent. of the population of Sligo are Catholic, and yet by an ex- 337 traordinary change, by a marvellous and mysterious proceeding, the very twelve men who had to try this case, in which the Crown is on its trial as well as its sergeant—because that is what it comes to after all—are Protestants and Unionists. It is all nonsense to say the right hon. Gentleman does not know. It was a deliberate packing of the jury and nothing else. Hon. Members opposite have often expressed their sorrow at the sympathy which Irishmen have for the enemies of England. The Irish would be unworthy of their tradition if they were not in sympathy with all people who are struggling for their national independence and rights. The case of Edgar in the Transvaal appears to me to be one of very great injustice, although I have not heard the Boer side of the matter. The reason Irishmen do not give their sympathy to this country in connection with the tyranny of the Boer police, and the alleged corruption of the Boer tribunals, is because they have in their own country, under English laws, the very evils which are alleged to be taking place in the Transvaal. Until you remove from your Statute Book and your administration such offences as are charged against this country, Ireland will continue to regard English complaints of injustice in other countries as pharisaical.
§ DR. COMMINS (Cork County, S.E.)
The law is administered in Ireland in a manner that would never be tolerated in England. This man McHale had reason to believe that this letter, written by Sergeant Sullivan, was written for the purpose of entrapping him into an act of moonlighting, which might have led to consequences terrible to contemplate, and he issues a summons against Sullivan for writing this forgery. Now just consider what would take place in England under circumstances like that. Instead of all the landlords in the country rushing on to the Bench to hear the summons, it would be left to one, or at most two magistrates. They hear this charge, and McHale brings before them a prima facie case; he brings, as a witness, the best hand writing expert of the day, a man who is employed by the Home Office of this country, who gives it as his opinion that the writing of the forged letter and the writing of other letters was the writing of Sergeant Sullivan. If such a case had come before any Bench in 338 England there would have been a committal; but if there had been any doubt in the case, if it had occurred in England, the Court would have said, "There may be a doubt in this case, we have some doubt with regard to the expert evidence, and we will not commit on that alone, but you can go on with an indictment." They would take the depositions, and the case would be presented to the grand jury at the next Assizes. One would thought that in Ireland this would have been the same; but in this case, though the grand jury found a true bill, when it came before the petty jury they Were objected to and challenged by the Crown. I have never known of any English case where the counsel for the Crown has asked a juryman to stand aside. There is nothing more likely to excite utter mistrust in the administration of justice than the practice which prevails in Ireland. It is notorious that the Crown Prosecutor suggests to counsel to order "So and so to stand aside." In the case which has been referred to, it was perfectly clear that the Crown Prosecutor opened the case with an acquittal speech. "Upon these facts he merely suggested that this man might have been induced by over-zeal to write this letter." When Crown Prosecutors want to convict they do not merely "suggest." There is the old rule that nobody is to be convicted on suspicion, however strong; much less can anybody be convicted on a "suggestion." When we see all these strange coincidences tending in the one direction of shielding a policeman who is being charged, and to shut the door of justice against a class against whom it is too frequently shut, I think there is a case made out that the Crown have hardly held the balance fairly.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL (Cavan, W.)
I think the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General is particularly weak in his defence. Either he was badly briefed in the matter, or in his reply to the hon. Member for South Mayo he betrayed an amount of heat which must almost be called partisanship. The hon. Member proved by the figures that the law charges have increased in Ireland by something like £70,000.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
That is the particular Vote under discussion, but I 339 think he was speaking of the whole question. I cannot, by the rules of the House, discuss the whole question, but I want to call attention to one particular case with which I am well acquainted, and which I have brought intimately to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General himself. It is the case of the unfortunate prisoner Hopkins, who, under circumstances of exceptional stress and excitement, was condemned to the extreme sentence of 24 years' penal servitude, and on whose behalf I have presented no less than four petitions for mercy. Probably this could be dealt with more fully under another head of this Vote, but I will ask the Committee to allow me to call attention to the extraordinary circumstances under which this claim for mercy has been refused.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. G. W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
Is it in order on this Vote to call attention to a case which appears to me to have nothing to do with it, but to be a question of the exercise of the prerogative of mercy of the Lord Lieutenant.
If the hon Member is speaking with regard to a remission of sentence for a prisoner who is now undergoing sentence, I do not think that world arise on this Vote.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
I was using it as an illustration of the methods by which justice, so called, is meted out to us Irishmen, and as an additional argument why we should contest and resist to the utmost of our power the voting of so large a sum as is sought here to be obtained for the purpose of so-called justice and law charges in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has come down here prepared to defend the items of tins Vote, and we are entitled to bring these un-redressed grievances to the notice of the House of Commons. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have sought to shut out of the purview of this Committee a question not so much of party conflict as an appeal for the clemency of the Crown.
I have already pointed out that the question cannot be 340 raised under this Vote. I have been listening very attentively to the hon. Member, but I do not see how he connects with tins Vote the case which he desires to raise.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
I do not intend to press the matter further than to use it as an argument in justification of the position of absolute hostility which I assume towards this Vote. We have a system of maintaining law and justice in Ireland against which the heart and mind and soul of Irish people rebel. It is a system of mean and paltry espionage, in a great many cases on individual people, and occasionally on organisations started in their behalf; and the Mulrany case which has been cited, the circumstances of which throw so much discredit on the administration of so-called justice, is but one instance out of many which might be given to show why the Irish people so much detest the system of which the right hon. Gentleman is the defender. We have to provide in this Debate for the expenses of prosecutions. How are prosecutions got up in Ireland? Under what system is it sought to hold the scales of justice evenly between man and man? In each county of Ireland there is a person kept in the direct pay of Dublin Castle, whose business it is to get up evidence for prosecutions, and in many cases to plan outrages and pay for outrages throughout the land. There is a large sum of money voted on these Estimates for secret services. A sergeant of police is kept in each county for the distribution of this secret service money, whose duty it is to keep in his pay the informer and the spy. In the case before the Committee it is very curious that out of a panel of 70, 80, or 100 men, in the first 25 there should have been found 12 Protestants and Unionists. The explanation is probably found in the fact that the official is a leading light in the Protestant world in Sligo, and is a Unionist partisan in political matters. Also, I do not think the conduct of Mr. George Wright in this case was that of a man who wanted to convict nor was he free from political bias. It is curious that in a county where 93 per cent. of the population are Catholic, the twelve who were allowed to be sworn were of one denomination, and were known to be opponents of the principles of the United Irish League and of the doctrines of Home Rule for Ireland and the land 341 for the people. I know I should not like to be tried for any crime, especially a political crime, by twelve of the Protestant or Unionist jurors of my own county of Longford. They would not be able to dissociate from their minds the fact that I had been concerned in political agitation in the county. The argument of the prisoner's counsel in this case under notice told with the jury—that the prisoner represented the party of law and order, and that if they convicted him they would be condemning themselves to future terrorism and future annoyance at the hands of the League. I had hoped to be allowed, in this assembly of Englishmen, before political opponents, to advocate the case of the unfortunate man to whom I desire mercy to be shown.
I have already twice told the hon. Member that this case cannot be raised upon this Vote. This is not the right time or place to raise the question, and I hope he will not continue to discuss it.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
I will not continue to discuss it now, except to say that when I discover the right Vote upon which to raise it the right hon. Gentleman will hear from me again. The whole machinery by which we are governed from Dublin Castle is radically wrong. It is a system which tends to the creation of crime rather than to its suppression. Holding this belief, I shall support the opposition to this Vote, and I only regret that we cannot in a stronger and more marked degree show our detestation of the practice which the right hon. Gentleman has so badly defended.
§ MR. FLYNN
I trust that, notwithstanding all the criticisms which have been made in the course of this Debate, that the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General will quite understand that we are making no personal attack upon himself, and that we are in no wise raising personal issues in bringing forward the matters which have been raised in connection with this Vote. We are simply attacking the system with which these things are associated, and after the right hon. Gentleman's somewhat weak defence of his position we are forced to come to the conclusion that for so able a man a more inadequate defence of the scandalous and groes mismanagement 342 of Irish affairs was never heard in this or any other Chamber. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman has declared himself a bigoted advocate of one side in this dispute, and in my 13 years' experience of this House I have never heard such a weak reply to such a grave indictment. As the national representatives of Ireland, we should be wanting in our duty to allow questions of religion or sectarianism to interfere with our judgment in this matter.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ MR. FLYNN
I am speaking for the vast majority of my colleagues when I say that we object to the introduction of sectarianism or religion into discussions of this kind, but it has been forced upon us by the peculiarly vehement language which the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General, allowed himself to use. We are not claiming for Roman Catholic jurors any special kind of sanctity, but we do claim that they should be trusted on their oath just as much as members of any other religion. More than that we cannot claim; less than that we will not claim. Notwithstanding the ludicrous illustration given by the Attorney-General, it is a pollution of the very fountain of justice that in a country like Ireland, at the end of the nineteenth century, this atrocious and invidious system of jury packing should be persistently indulged in by law officer after law officer, all over the country. I shall be able to give the Committee ample and copious illustrations as to what went on at the Winter Assizes in Ireland last year, and in cases many of which were non-agrarian. I will concede to the Government that if the Mulrany case stood alone it might be possible to raise some ingenious plea that it was merely a coincidence, although in a county in which the population is 90 per cent. Catholic it is very strange that the twelve men in the box all happened to be Unionists and Protestants, and if a religious controversy is raised the blame should be cast on those who were responsible for putting those men into the box. The Attorney-General sought to minimise the significance of the 343 figures of this Vote. The Vote as it stands shows an increase of £7,235, and that in a year in which judges of assize and county court judges have been presented with white gloves, and when it is notorious that Ireland was never so free from crime. The Attorney-General says that the increase is to be accounted for by the fact that the Crown has been obliged to pay the expenses of Sheriffs, but allowing for that amount in full there is still an increase of £115. My hon. friend who moved the reduction gave some rather interesting figures with reference to the cost of law and justice in Ireland. I would like to give a few other figures bringing out the same point in a somewhat different manner. Compare the three countries. The administration of law and justice in England, after deducting the amount for prisons, police, reformatories, industrial schools, and lunatic asylums, is £518,000 for a population of 30,000,000. Deducting the analogous Votes, in Scotland the amount is £135,000; whereas in Ireland, with a population of a little over 4,500,000, the amount, after similar deductions, is £426,000. Therefore I think we are entitled to bring to the notice of the Committee these most extraordinary figures which illustrate the manner in which large sums are spent in Ireland upon the so-called administration of justice. What is the moral to be deduced from those figures? Considering our population, we have the costliest judicial system in the world. We have law officers paid extravagant sums, and all because, as a great Irish orator once said, you might corrupt and bribe the intellect of the Irish nation, and that you might as far as possible enlist the legal intellect of the country on your side. I trust anything we may say in this Debate will not be held to be personally applicable to either the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General. The figures are very instructive. The salary of the English Attorney-General, who has an enormous amount of business—commercial and otherwise—is £7,000. The salary of the Scotch Lord Advocate is £5,000, and the Irish Attorney-General gets £5,000. I think the latter salary should be reduced to something more in keeping with the business to be done and the population of the country. It may be asked by some who have discovered a newly found admiration for the Irish judicial system why we object to all 344 this money going to Ireland. We object to it on the ground of economy and also because it goes into bad hands and to support a rotten and vicious system. Why should the Irish Attorney-General receive the salary of a puisne judge? Lawyers are very anxious to get positions as law officers of the Crown because the salaries are out of all proportion to the amount of work to be done, and the right hon. Gentleman when he levels a charge against independent private Members of this House ought to remember the enormous salary attached to his office, and that Members from Ireland do their work relying entirely on the favour and love of their own people. With reference to jury packing I have several times during the last three or four years called attention to it by way of question, one of the most unsatisfactory methods of raising a discussion in this House. The answers I have got have not always been marked by accuracy, and still less often by courtesy. I do not complain personally, but when hon. Members bring forward cases of this kind they ought to be treated with the courtesy due to every Member of this House, and should not be looked upon as if they were faking up grievances in order to attack the Administration, when their only desire is to purify and keep pure the administration of justice in their own country. The right hon. Gentleman made a most unhappy allusion to the circular which was issued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose when he was Chief Secretary. On each occasion when I have asked a question about jury packing I have been referred, with woful reiteration and persistence, to this circular. But we object to that circular, and would object to it if it came from the late Mr. Gladstone himself. We object to it and its application because it is invidious and unfair, and a standing insult to the jurors who profess the religion of the vast majority of the Irish people. It would be far more decent, manlier, more logical and consistent, to abolish the jury system in Ireland altogether in every case connected with politics and religion than to try and foist upon an intelligent people the sorry pretence that you are holding the scales of justice even. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a most wretched murder case which occurred in Cork and was tried at the Winter Assizes. A more unhappy illustration could not 345 have been selected by the right hon. Gentleman even in his most heated moments. I regret to say that that murder occurred in the constituency I represent, but the morning after it all the shops in the neighbourhood were shut, it was denounced from every altar in the district, and instead of there being sympathy with the murderer, it was quite the other way. Two men were put on trial, one of whom was acquitted, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to use the language he did with regard to him. But with regard to Twiss, who was found guilty and subsequently hanged, one would imagine that the circular would have played a very conspicuous part in the trial.
§ MR. FLYNN
But that was a case of murder, whereas in a petty contemptible case in Waterford 32 persons were set aside in one case and 50 in another. The jury that tried Twiss contained six or seven Roman Catholics and Nationalists. What was the result? The man was found guilty and subsequently executed, and it is absurd to bring that case forward as an illustration of the incapacity of Roman Catholic jurors.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I have brought it forward as an instance where the Government of the day, because they used their right to challenge, were denounced as murderers.
§ MR. FLYNN
Not by us. Their action might have been condemned by a small section of the population politically opposed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose. In Cork there was no such indignation on the part of the masses of the people. The right hon. Gentleman's case falls to the ground. At the last Winter Assizes there were trumpery cases in which 20 and 30 jurors were ordered to stand aside, and neither Catholics nor Nationalists left on. In the Crusheen wounding case I said in my question that 29 jurors were ordered to stand aside, and, in the manner in which front bench men always like to snub private Members, the right hon. Gentleman said that was inaccurate, and that there were 346 not 29 but 28. I find, however, that there were 29, so I was accurate after all. I have gone carefully over the list and I have personal knowledge of the jurors, and of the 12 men empanelled there was only one Roman Catholic left on. That may be called a mere coincidence, of course; it may have been a fortuitous occurrence of events such as occurs in the land of dreams, in the realm of spooks, and—in Dublin Castle. The following day a boy of about 16 was charged with putting up a threatening notice. It was not a very atrocious affair. The jury disagreed the first time, and when he was put on trial the second time 18 jurors were ordered to stand aside, every one of whom was a Roman Catholic; another mere coincidence. These 18 jurors could not be trusted to say whether the youth was guilty or not, and when the jury was finally empanelled it contained only two Roman Catholics; again a coincidence. Here is a case in which insult was added to injury. A postmaster was charged with having bribed some Poor Law guardians in order to secure some positions in the Kilrush Union for friends of his. That was a particular species of offence which was denounced by all and found no sympathy whatever, and I say it was nothing less, than an insult to the respectable citizens of Cork to order them up day after day under a penalty, and then when they came forward to say publicly, "This is not an agrarian case, but I will not trust you to try it." One of the regrets I experience in being a Member of Parliament is that it deprives me of being on the jury list, because if I were I would stand up before any judge and claim my rights as a citizen, and I would protest against the constantly repeated insults that are offered to us when we are told that we are not to be trusted to give a verdict as between man and man. It is a scandalous, anomalous, and infamous system which should not be permitted in any civilised country. With regard to the Cork cases I cannot be wrong, because I was in Cork myself, and carefully followed the whole matter. In Waterford a man was put on his trial for the murder of an old woman for the sake of robbery. I am informed that twenty jurors were ordered to stand aside at the first trial and fifty-four at the second. If I am wrong my statements can be easily tested, but, assuming that I 347 am right, are we to be told that these fifty-four jurors sympathised with such an attrocious and abominable crime? If not, what is the meaning of asking them to stand aside? I must say that if I were a juror at the Cork Winter Assizes, I care not who the judge was, I would give him my opinion of the proceedings and take the consequences. I think I have shown that jury packing is carried on all over the country and at every assizes that the Government wish. And in face of a state of things like that does any sane man expect that a keen, intelligent population like the Irish can be expected to believe in the impartial administration of justice? Will they believe that the curious manner in which twelve men of a certain religious belief and political persuasion are selected to try men opposed to them in religion and politics is a mere coincidence? It is A maxim in English law that it is better that ninety-nine guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should be punished. You reverse all that in Ireland. In anything connected with the land struggle your doctrine has practically been "Better ninety-nine innocent persons should be punished than one guilty person should escape." That is the belief of the peasantry, and it is being strengthened by what goes on at each Winter Assizes. The Irish people will remember the Mulrany case and Sergeant Sullivan. The land agitation is not so much a thing of the past. We are aware of what occurred in Clare, by a system of police spies and agents provocateur. In connection with the Transvaal crisis the Imperialistic organs denounce the vast sums of secret service money spent in that country, and the opinion is entertained that the recent arrests in Johannesburg were part of a system of agents provocateur. That may or may not be true; but the last Government which can use an argument of that kind is the Government that supports and encourages these things in Ireland which cost such a large sum of money.
MR. SWIFT MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I intend to discuss this question far removed from any feeling of bitterness, and I hope when I have sat down I shall not have said one word personally hurtful to the Attorney-General. The right hon. Gentleman made a very admirable statement characterised by great ability, but anyone reading that statement to-morrow, 348 together with the speeches which have been made by my hon. friends on this side, will come to the conclusion that the administration of justice in Ireland has sunk knee-deep in corruption and pollution. The Attorney-General spoke of the atrocious, scandalous, and horrible charges brought by my hon. friend against the Government. The charges are atrocious, scandalous, and horrible; but the worst part of it is they are true. All the machinery of the law has been used to clear the character of a policeman who is guilty of inciting to murder. Judicial proceedings in Ireland have become vile and abominable and a farce. That is a strong phrase, but it is not too strong. The Attorney-General is a practical man, largely engaged in affairs which present themselves to him at the moment. He has not perhaps had so much time and leisure as I have had to investigate transactions of this kind. In the archives of Dublin Castle at the present moment there are no fewer than forty briefs which were held by MacDonagh, the chief counsel for the defence of the political prisoners, for 25 years. These were given to the Attorney-General at the time, and they were noted by him in order that he might convict the prisoners. The Attorney-General in the course of his speech read a passage from a statement which was elicited from Curtin about the falsification of the entry in the police books. Now, how did the right hon. Gentleman get that statement? Since the Attorney-General made his speech I have gone through a verbatim account of Curtin's examination in Dublin, and there is not a single syllable there of the matter to which the Attorney-General referred. I then went to an account not so full, and there is not a single syllable in it as to the matter which seems to be injurious to Curtin's character.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I have got you there, for I have a verbatim report of the civil action, and there is not a word about it in that report. This is only another instance of the infamy of the Irish administration. When the Crown took up the case against Sullivan, clearly for the purpose of whitewashing him, the Crown Solicitor, Malachi Kelly, 349 got all the documents in the case from the solicitor who had been conducting it on behalf of MCHale. Amongst these documents was a private statement given by Curtin to the confidential clerk of Mr. Kilbride, and it was from that confidential statement the Attorney-General quoted. [The hon. Member having quoted from a full report of the proceedings to show that the statement quoted by the Attorney-General had never been brought forward during the trials, went on to say:] The Attorney-General probably only got a few extracts prepared by his subordinates for the purposes of this Debate. He probably did not know that we had got a full report of the proceedings here, and that we will make the matter hum before we have done with it. The right hon. Gentleman was almost about to shed tears over "our common friend" Mr. George Wright. I believe that Mr. Wright is quite competent to do a good day's work for a good day's fee. What I maintain is that Mr. Wright's informant, the Crown Solicitor, prepared the briefs in such a way that an acquittal was morally certain, and this altogether apart from the jury packing. One thing which appeared to greatly grieve the Chief Secretary was that in Mayo, where this man Sullivan had been endeavouring to coin offences against the leaders of the Irish Nationalists, Mr. W. O'Brien's United Ireland League had been a great success all over the country. When the Crown undertook to conduct the prosecution of Sullivan, they selected as the solicitor Malachi Kelly, who had been engaged in prosecuting William O'Brien's friends, and in Ireland the Crown Prosecutor is largely influenced in the manner of conducting the prosecution by what suits the Government.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I did not select Mr. Malachi Kelly; he happens to be the Crown Solicitor for Mayo, and would naturally conduct the case.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
At any rate Mr. Malachi Kelly was engaged to go down to Sligo to blow up his own ships with the approval of the Castle. The right hon. the Attorney-General poses as a purist, a something of a cross between Aristides and Moses, and yet he allows Mr. Malachi Kelly to conduct a prosecution in which all his personal interests were vitally opposed to getting a convic- 350 tion. Then there came on the astonishing change of counsel. The Macdermot, the head of the Irish Bar for 15 or 16 years, and an ex-Attorney-General, who had conducted the prosecution both at Westport and Castlebar, and therefore knew all about the case, was shunted. I ask the House to believe that The Macdermot was put out of the case because he was determined to do the work honestly, and to bring about a conviction if possible. I think in the whole history of Irish administration, the taking of the case out of the hands of the head of the Irish Bar, and giving it to a gentleman who knew nothing of the case, and who had been publicly instructed by the friends of the accused man—all this, I think, out-Castles even Dublin Castle. The speech of Mr. G. Wright was mild to the last degree for the Crown prosecutor. He must have got his instructions from Mr. Kelly, who was the personal enemy of Mr. MCHale and, the personal friend of Sergeant Sullivan. The Macdermot was a Catholic, and perhaps that stood in the way of his appointment. Of Mr. G. Wright's Protestantism there is no doubt whatever. That gentleman was a favourite of the Government for a seat in this House, and he is a favourite with them for Crown prosecutions. I hope this case may stand as an instance of the villany of Irish administration. I have not gone outside by a title, in the statements that I have made in this case, of the speech of my hon. and learned friend the Member for North Tyrone, who has always spoken up for justice in Ireland. The right hon. gentleman speaks of his political virtue. I do not believe the man who talks about his political virtue. I would not believe a woman who boasted of her virtue of the other kind. I think the Member for North Mayo has done good work in exposing the system of the administration of justice in Ireland. I shall watch the promotion of Sergeant Sullivan with great interest, and I shall keep an eye on him as well as on the other minions of English administration in that country.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)
It is a notorious fact that Mr. Kelly was the solicitor for Sullivan when this case was originally heard, and if the right hon.. Gentleman was so extremely anxious that the case should be free from any insinuation with regard to the motives of the 351 Crown why did he send it to Sligo to the sessions where Mr. Kelly was bound to prosecute? And I should also like to know from the Attorney-General why this sum of £400 in the Estimates was transferred. Was this expended on the trial? When this man Sullivan was tried at Sligo a whip was sent round to the constabulary to subscribe for the expenses of the case, and it met with a very poor response. Where did the money came from to pay that expense? Did the Crown find it? The general opinion in Ireland is that the money that was paid for the defence of Sullivan was found by Dublin Castle. I notice under: sub-head H the £400 has been transferred for expenses of actions taken against magistrates, the constabulary, and others for acts done by them in execution of their duty. What is the meaning of that transference?
§ MR. ATKINSON
That £400 which was transferred was money which was used for the payment of the sheriffs' expenses. There is now a large grant of £8,000 for this purpose, and that £400 now forms part of that. It had nothing to do with the expenses of this case.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
The right hon. Gentleman also quoted the circular of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose when he was Secretary for Ireland. There is no Crown solicitor in any county of Ireland who is personally acquainted with all the peculiar characteristics of the people in Ireland. He gets his information very largely from local sub-inspectors of the police as to the religion and politics of every man on the panel; and here you have the Crown prosecutor of Sligo asking nine Catholics to stand aside from the jury, riot from anything in his own knowledge, but from information from Sergeant Sullivan's superiors or equals. It is impossible so long as this jury packing goes on at the instance of the police to get justice. The conduct of the Crown in the Sullivan case is the usual attitude of the Crown in all cases, and it is weakening materially the little respect which the Irish people have for it.
§ * MR. DAVITT
The Attorney-General in his reply to my speech employed some rather lurid adjectives in condemnation of the charge which I made against the administration of the law in Ireland. I 352 listened with equanimity, because I felt that he would be compelled to do so in support of his duty. I adhere to every statement that I made, and I reiterate every charge. I think the charges that I have made—the main charge I have made—is proved up to the hilt, and whatever the result of the Division of this House may be, the verdict in Ireland will be "The judge is condemned, when the guilty goes free.'
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, North)
I have listened to the statements made by Members on both sides of the House, and have been able to form my own judgment. In the first place, I exceedingly deprecate the remarks which were made by the Member for South Donegal about the profession of the man Leonard M'Nally, who was a man who disgraced his profession, and whose name was execrated by every person in the country, who took up the instruction for the defence, and then acted as a traitor. He was unworthy of his position, and the hon. Gentleman opposite is unworthy of his profession when he tells the House that the same thing might occur again at the Irish Bar. Amongst the rank and file of the Irish Bar there is almost an impossibility of such treachery occurring. If this man Sullivan was guilty, and if it was proved that he was guilty, and if the House believed he was guilty, I should attach considerable importance to what had fallen from the hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I have learnt some of the maxims of the English law, and one of them is that according to the English Constitution every man is deemed to be innocent until the contrary is proved. In this case two juries had declined to find Sergeant Sullivan guilty, and, notwithstanding that, the hon. Gentleman opposite got up and tried to blacken this man in his profession simply because he is a policeman, and for no other reason. Only expert evidence was given, and I ask the House whether it would hang a dog on the uncorroborated evidence of an expert? I cannot see where the complaint comes in of sending Mr. Wright down instead of The Macdermot. Mr. Wright was the leader of the Ulster Circuit for many years, and The Macdermot the leader of the other circuit, and the only difference between the two is that The Macdermot wore a white waistcoat and George Wright wore a black. I cannot see why a complaint should be 353 made because one counsel was sent down instead of another. The only crime of this unfortunate policeman was that he had served his superiors faithfully and loyally.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 95; Noes, 147. (Division List No. 205.)355
|Allen,W.(Newc. under Lyme)||Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Gibney, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Austin, M.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Gourley, Sir Edwd. Temperley||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C.B.||Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Blake, Edward||Healy, Thomas J. (Wexford)||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Healy, Timothy M.(N. Louth)||Pilkington,SirG.A. (LancsSW|
|Caldwell, James||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Pinkerton, John|
|Carville, Patrick G. Hamilt'n||Hogan, James Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Cawley, Frederick||Holland, Wm. H. (York,W.R.)||Price, Robert John|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Horniman, Frederick John||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Commins, Andrew||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joicey, Sir James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Crilly, Daniel||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo S.)||Lambert, George||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Daly, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumbland)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Strachey, Edward|
|Dillon, John||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Logan, John William||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Duckworth, James||McDonnell, Dr.M.A.(Qn.'s C.)||Tuite, James|
|Edwards, Owen Morgan||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Warner, Thomas Courtney T.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||M'Dermott, Patrick||Williams, John Carvell (Notts|
|Evans,Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Evershed, Sydney||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Farrell, James J. (Cavan, W.)||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Farrell, Thos. P. (Kerry, S)||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morris, Samuel|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Moss, Samuel||Mr. Davitt and Captain Donelan.|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Murnaghan, George|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gedge, Sydney|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cochrane, Hn Thos. H. A. E.||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cooke,C.W.Radcliffe(Heref'd)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cox, Irwin Ed. Bainbridge||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn A.J.(Manch'r||Cruddas, Wm. Donaldson||Hamilton,Rt. Hon. Ld.George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn G W. (Leeds)||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Curzon, Viscount||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Heath, James|
|Beach,Rt.Hn.SirM. H.(Bristol||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Denny, Colonel||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Howard, Joseph|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Hutchinson,Capt.G.W. Grice-|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Doxford, William Theodore||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George|
|Butcher, John George||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Keswick, William|
|Carlile, William Walter||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Knowles, Lees|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Corn.)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Finch, George H.||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Fisher, William Hayes||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. (Bir||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Chamberlain, J. An. (Worc'r.||Flower, Ernest||Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Folkestone, Viscount||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Loder, Gerald W. Erskine||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Talbot, Rt.Hn.J.G.(Oxf'd U.)|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Percy, Earl||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lowles, John||Pilkington,R.(Lancs, Newton)||Tomlinson, Wm.Edw.Murray|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Valentia, Viscount|
|Macarteney, W. E. Ellison||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Purvis, Robert||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|M'Iver, Sir L.(Edinburgh,W.)||Rentoul, James Alexander||Whiteley,H.(Ashton-under-L.|
|Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn.Chas.Thomson||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Rothschild,Hon.LionelWalter||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh.N.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Russell,Gen.F.S.(Cheltenham||Wodehouse,Rt.Hn.E R.(Bath|
|Milton, Viscount||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N)||Seton-Karr, Henry||Wylie, Alexander|
|More, Robt. J. (Shropshire)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Wyndham, George|
|Morgan, Hn.Fred (Monm'thsh||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)||Young, Commander(Berks, E.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Stanley, Lord (Lancashire)|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)||Stock, James Henry||TELLERS FOE THE NOES—|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Strauss, Arthur||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Original question again proposed.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
I rise to call attention to the recent murder in County Kilkenny of a shopkeeper. This man had gone to a policeman and asked for a small account which was owing, whereupon the policeman put up his rifle and shot the man through the heart. No sooner was the policeman convicted of murder than he was reprieved, though there was no suggestion that the man was innocent or that he had not had a fair trial. Recently, too, a soldier was charged in court with bigamy, and bigamy under most disgraceful circumstances. He was convicted, but he had not been in prison three days when he was discharged a free man. Why were these men not punished as ordinary citizens are? We are always glad to see mercy extended to any man, but I must say that it is a public scandal that a man who was collecting a debt in the broad daylight should be met with a policeman's rifle and shot through the heart, and that that policeman should be reprieved and in a few years regain his liberty. In the second case, despite the fact that the prisoner had heartlessly ruined a young girl, we find that because he had served in the Ashantee War he only got three years' penal servitude and did not serve for three minutes. Complaint has been made of packing juries. It is not the Attorney-General who packs juries, but it is the Act of 1876, because you have so arranged matters by the system of valuation that it is practically impossible for a Catholic to get on a jury. The system is at fault. So far as the general body of the people is concerned, justice in Ireland 356 is dead—or, rather, it is not dead, because it has never existed. Again, there is in the Vote an item of £8,820 as repayment to sheriffs. It is necessary to have sheriffs; but I ask whether it is true that this sum is confined to county sheriffs, and that city sheriffs in such places as Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast, and Derry are not remunerated for their trouble? No doubt it is some Treasury official engaged in the robbery of Ireland who makes this distinction between city sheriffs and county sheriffs, in order that the money may get it to the pockets of the landlord class.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I think that all the circumstances of the case of the policeman referred to by the hon. Member show that when he committed the crime he was—if not actually insane—labouring under the greatest excitement. The jury strongly recommended him to mercy, and it was by reason of that recommendation that the sentence of death was commuted to penal servitude for life. In the case of the soldier, there were also extenuating circumstances, and he was discharged on the recommendation of the judge. The reasons for the distinction between city sheriffs and county sheriffs are—first, that gentlemen appointed to serve as city sheriffs are not hound to accept the office, while it is a misdemeanour, under an Act centuries old, for gentlemen appointed county sheriffs to refuse to serve; and, secondly, while the fees received by city sheriffs cover their expenses, county sheriffs are actually out of pocket. The same rule applies in England. The sum of £20,000 is voted yearly to recoup the expenses of county sheriffs in England.
§ * MR. HEMPHILL
With regard to the explanation of my right hon. and learned friend—first as to the reprieve of the prisoners, it does seem a strange coincidence that one of them should have been a policeman and the other a soldier. With regard to the explanation as to the policeman, if he was a lunatic I apprehend that he would have been sent to Dundrum criminal lunatic asylum. He must either have been a lunatic and not properly convicted in point of law, or else he must have been responsible for his actions and guilty. Why, if he was a lunatic, should he now be sentenced to penal servitude? With regard to the other case, I have a very strong recollection that the learned judge who tried the case, in his charge to the jury, commented very much on the enormity of the offence, and I have a distinct recollection that there was a great deal of astonishment felt when it was announced that the bigamist was reprieved. I think both these cases furnish a very strong argument in favour of what we have more than once contended for—viz., that there should be a court of criminal appeal, or that there should be something which would prevent an arbitrary and Capricious exercise of the prerogative of the Crown, which undoubtedly is calculated to outrage the public conscience. I believe my right hon. and learned friend, as far as my recollection goes, is quite accurate when he says that there is no compulsion on a person who is selected as a city sheriff to act, but there is undoubtedly compulsion, and always was, for centuries, on county sheriffs to act on appointment.
§ MR. FLYNN
I cannot absolve the right hon. Gentleman from responsibility for the practice we are condemning, because he expressly stated, in reply to a question of mine, that it was by his special directions that the Crown Solicitor took these proceedings, and the large number of jurors were challenged. I for one shall divide on every occasion, while I have a seat in this House, to call the attention of Parliament to the system of jury packing.
§ MR. DAVITT
Was the assistance given by the Government to Constable Sullivan confined to the Sligo case, or was assistance also given in the Dublin case, where the jury disagreed?
§ Resolution to be reported.