HC Deb 23 March 1900 vol 81 cc198-9
MR. O'KELLY (Roscommon, N.)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, as representing the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether his attention has been called to the conduct of District Inspector M'Ghee in dispersing a public meeting by force at Clonfree, North Roscommon, on Sunday, 11th March; and whether this action was taken under the direction of the Irish Government; and, if so, for what reason were the people of this district of North Roscommon deprived of the right of free speech and public meeting.


A meeting under the auspices of the United Irish League was proposed to be held at Clonfree on the date mentioned in the question, but a sworn information having been made by the District Inspector of Constabulary to the effect that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that the meeting would lead to intimidation and would be calculated to prevent persons from doing what they had a legal right to do, namely, to take grazing land, directions were given by the Government that the meeting should not be permitted. A number of persons, estimated at 300, endeavoured to hold a meeting, but they were dispersed by the police without, however, having to have recourse to actual force.


Was any notice of the prohibition of this meeting given to the people of the district—and, if so, how much?


I do not think any printed notice was issued; but verbal notice was certainly given. As I have said, no actual force had to be used.


In such cases as this, where it is intended to prohibit a meeting, would it not conduce to the peace to issue notices?


Order, order!


What object is gained by thus stifling public opinion in Ireland?

[No answer was given.]