§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (Cork)
I now wish to move the Amendment which stands in my name. What we charge by this Amendment is that there being no real crime in the country you are making crimes of things which are perfectly legitimate. You set off by thanking your stars that the people of Ireland have found a means of carrying into effect popular movements without any of those scenes of bloodshed of which we in this House have often heard, but instead of encouraging the people in exercising their rights by an open and bloodless combination, you are making more plain the principles by which you used to persecute the trade unions of England thirty or forty years ago, before they extorted from this House the recognition that their right of combination was a legitimate right in the eye of the law, and by trumping up charges of conspiracy and of Whiteboyism, you are goading the people into violence. I am quite aware that even in England the right of working men to combine against the selfishness of men of their own class is not yet altogether very secure, but the fact stands that so far as the right of English tradesmen, or even of Irish tradesmen, within the towns to organise a strike, to picket blacklegs, and stand together against them, to expostulate with them and bring their selfishness before their eyes, is now an indisputable right, and this House would no more think of taking anything from this right or of constituting it a crime than they would think of passing an Act against the organisation of working men. But what are you doing, Sir, in Ireland at the present moment—or rather not you, Sir, because you never do know what is 906 going on in Ireland, unless murder is going on—but what is the Executive doing in Ireland?
I do not think it will be contended that the land-grabber in Ireland, who is what the blackleg is in this country, has suffered in life or in limb; or has suffered any greater pain of mind from public opinion than any non-unionist workman in England has to make up his mind to if he has determined to exercise his own selfish right unfairly. Although, instead of shooting landlords and land-grabbers, the farmers of Ireland, the most numerous body of workers in that kingdom, are now adopting a course which the law expressly sanctions in the case of the trade unions of England, that is being treated as a crime. You have meetings dispersed and Members of Parliament assaulted by the police for attempting to address their own constituents; you have enormous fines levied on a perfectly peaceful population by way of extra police charges; and you have these charges of Whiteboyism and conspiracy trumped up against men who are acting in lawful combination in the open light of day, and in order to obtain convictions you have the shameless and unnatural system of "jury packing," and you have men struck at and attempted to be struck down because they have had the courage to raise a public protest against this state of things. That fact, I venture to say, is now admitted, and I do not think that, broadly, the Chief Secretary will attempt to dispute it. If he does, I need not go further to answer him than to quote the charge delivered by his own Lord Chief Justice at the winter assizes for the province of Munster, in which he confesses that there is nothing illegal or criminal in the proceedings of the League which would justify the clamour of the landlords and The Times newspaper for its suppression. Members who sat in former Parliaments will not need to be told who the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland is. I can frankly say that Lord Peter O'Brien has earned a title that will be more enduring than his peerage by his ruthless conduct. Here is the Lord Chief Justice's deliberate verdict on this organisation—It has been said to me, 'Chief Justice, why is not the United Irish League proclaimed as an unlawful organisation.'907 Fancy the Lord Chief Justice of England being approached by colliery owners or railway directors and pressed to exercise his influence with the Government for the suppression of trade unionism! Lord O'Brien went on to say—Whatever the future may do"—and I emphasise that expression—I do not in the slightest degree hesitate in expressing my opinion that there has been no cause for the suppression of the United Irish League as an unlawful organisation.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
The 6th of last December. Now here is an organisation that has been already in existence for a longer period than the Land League, so that it has been tested by time. It has branches in considerably more than 1,000 of the parishes of the country, in a state of constant activity on the land question, of all others; it has proved its power, I may be allowed to say without offence, at the General Election with a completeness which has never been paralleled. It has succeeded in rousing Ireland on this question and as regards the province of Ulster. I most gladly acknowledge that this has been done mainly by the powerful advocacy of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. It has started and carried on a formidable and irresistible agitation for the abolition of landlordism, and I may say that it has elicited in the first King's Speech a promise, such as it is, of another Land Bill, although two years ago this House was assured that there was no longer an Irish land question, and that an Irish Land Bill would never trouble you more. Such is the magnitude of this organisation and its success; and yet the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, looking back over the past three years with no very friendly eye, with all the confidential information of Dublin Castle at his command, is forced to confess that he can discover no stain of bloodshed, or even of very much minor illegalities, to justify even the most ironclad official in suppressing the tenants' trade union at the demands of the landlords. I could go on to quote charge after charge —Judge Andrew, Judge Johnstone, Judge Murphy, Lord Justice Walker, and several others at assizes after assizes in the county Mayo, which was and is 908 the hotbed of the agitation—and all of them testify to the peace of the country and to the disappearance of murder and outrage. The judges would certainly not be the least zealous to avail themselves of any materials for starting one of those great crusades against public liberty of which you have set art example. No amount of testimony could add very much to the weight of the testimony of the Lord Chief Justice. His testimony is, I think unanswerable. We are ready also to prove that at the beginning of this movement a diabolical attempt was made by certain subordinate officials of Dublin Castle—I will put it no higher than that—to seduce members of the League into proceedings of a criminal and murderous kind, and every attempt to bring those miscreants to justice has been to a great extent baffled by Dublin Castle. Notwithstanding the verdict of eleven out of twelve special jurors of Dublin, these miscreants are still in the public service and the public pay. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has any doubts as to the true story of the Mulranny forgery, the crime in the West-port telegraph office, of the incendiarism at Murrisk, of the alleged shooting of Mr. Vesey Stoney, and other transactions of that kind, there is an easy way of testing it. Let him close with the demand for the full and searching investigation which the county councils and the district councils are making in every shape and form. Let him choose his own tribunal. Let him have a Select Committee of this House if he pleases, and let them probe and search into every circumstance connected with the origin and the conduct of this movement, the conduct of the people, the landlords, the land-grabbers, and the police officials.
Let us set at rest once for all on which side lies the criminality. The House will remember that a similar inquiry as to the Land League was thrust down our throats in this House at the time of the Parnell Commission, with results that perhaps were not calculated to encourage similar adventures on the part of the Government. We did not ask for the Parnell Commission. It was forced upon us by brute force. You thought your opportunity had come for dealing a deadly-blow at the Irish party. We demand an inquiry now. All the representative 909 bodies in Ireland have been demanding it for the last eighteen months. I presume that the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh will make himself heard presently. i should like to hear from him why his friends the landlords and The Times newspaper, who are crying out for the suppression of the League, will not submit their charges and allegations to such a test, and see whether they are going to fare better with the Mulranny forgery than with the Pigott forgery. We are eager for inquiry, and anxious that the tribunal should be as sweeping as possible. It is not granted, because both we and our opponents know perfectly well that the result would be such a flood of light on the necessity for the movement, upon its lawfulness, and upon the foulness of the weapons employed against it, that it would be impossible for landlordism or the police establishment of Ireland to survive the investigation. If the Chief Secretary shirks such an investigation as was forced upon us at the time of the 'Parnell Commission, I think everybody will know the reason for it. Apart altogether from the certificate passed by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, I think we will be entitled to take it for granted that the opponents of the League have thrown up the sponge, and that there is no longer any possibility of imputing to the League anything illegal in its procedure. We hear charges of conspiracy, Whiteboyism, and intimidation. "Intimidation" is one of those meaningless, intangible terms that can never be denied because it can never be defined; and you have come to this pass in Ireland—that the ridiculous term "intimidation" now represents practically the only form of agrarian crime. The Chief Justice, in the speech in which he holds the legality of the League methods, told us there were 651 evicted farms in Minister, of which more than 150 were altogether derelict; that is, as he explained, abandoned by both landlord and tenant; the landlord is not able to stock them, apparently, and no person can be got to take them. The Lord Chief Justice shook his head, as if that was a very grave state of things. So it is for the rack-renting, evicting landlords, but so long as there is no crime, what business is it of the judge if evicting landlords cannot find 910 men to take their farms? Can you imagine a case of an English judge—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must remind the hon. Member that by the rules of this House disrespectful criticism of judges is not allowed.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I am quite willing to respect your ruling, Sir, though my respect does not extend in other directions. I am trying to speak, not of the conduct of the judges, but of the extra-judicial conduct of persons who happen to be judges. Beyond a doubt, there is an extensive and great combination in Ireland at present against the taking of evicted farms and the monopoly of grazing ranches. We do not in the least desire to shirk the fact; we glory in it. I ask you, if the League appeals, as I am glad to say it does appeal, and successfully, to the agricultural classes in Ireland for their own protection from extermination to combine against, and by every honest weapon to discountenance the taking of farms from which their poor comrades have been evicted in consequence of inability to pay acknowledged unjust and excessive rents—in God's name, where is the crime? What form of trade unionism can be more legitimate, or what right have Crown officials in Dublin Castle to espouse the cause of one particular side in any dispute? It is the old incorrigible idea that is rooted in the mind of every Dublin Castle official, and which is at the root of all your misgovernment in Ireland—the idea that they are there not to preserve life or limb or to see fair play for the people, but to collect the landlords' rents for them, and to fight tooth and nail to encourage grabbers to take these evicted farms, and then to make heroes and gods of them. I think you will find that so powerful is that feeling among your officials that they actually believe that the situation is always far more difficult to deal with when there is no crime going on in Ireland; and they are puzzled and embarrassed and have a grievance when they find a great and powerful combination going on against land-grabbing just as bloodlessly and peacefully as any strike ever went on in England. For want of real crime they are trying to manufacture bogus crimes, and hence these charges. But if these prosecutions be got up for that purpose, and succeed in intimidating 911 the people from holding their open meetings, passing their resolutions, and expressing public opinion honestly and manfully, before six months are over we shall be driven back to the days of old.
Let me give one or two instances of these artificially Castle - manufactured crimes in Ireland. The editor and proprietor of the Kilkenny People were prosecuted at the last assizes for Whiteboyism, and most desperate attempts I were made to pack the jury. I do not know whether Gentlemen listening to me are aware that these Whiteboy Acts wore passed to deal with a state of things generations ago when vast bodies of armed men clad in white shirts and with their faces blackened used to roam through the country at night, shooting, burning, cutting off men's ears, burying them alive up to their chins, and so on. One would have thought these two journalists had been caught red-handed in some desperate midnight fray, or at all events that there was a charge of physical violence; but their only crime was that in the ordinary way of business they published in their newspaper without a word of comment a resolution of the local branch of the League condemning a man who had taken an evicted farm, and appealing to his neighbours to give him no countenance in business as long as he retained that farm. It was not contended for one instant that the resolution had been the means of causing any violence or danger of violence, or that it caused even any greater pain of mind than, say, for instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham feels, or ought to feel, every morning when he opens any organ of public opinion from any part of the civilised world outside England. These two I respectable journalists, who confined themselves to publishing a bona fide report of an important public body, whose legality the Government has never dared to question, would at the present moment have been undergoing the fate of Whiteboy marauders but for the fact that luckily the job was too much for even a selected jury. I venture to ask any Englishman in this House if there is a shadow of reality in the cry of equal rights between the two peoples? Can you imagine such a thing happening to an English newspaper? I venture to say that this was a case, not of journal- 912 istic Whiteboyism but of Dublin Castle blackguardism. Another case of these bogus crimes was in county Kerry, where nine respectable farmers were tried at the last assizes for conspiracy and for writing-threatening letters, and were actually convicted by a packed jury and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour. In the agrarian history of Kerry, what is always meant by a threatening letter was some dastardly communication ornamented with a coffin and a death's-head and crossbones, and threatening the man to whom it was sent with some cruel form of assassination. What are the facts on which these farmers are charged with that abominable crime? The learned judge who tried them complimented them in the dock as highly respectable farmers, and not of the class of moonlighters or murderers. During the years of disorganisation before the League was started a poor creature named Kangley had been evicted from a wretched tract of bog, and a neighbour named Seanlan had taken it. When the League was started, this poor man's case and the amount of parish disturbance it caused became a subject of discussion by the branch, and the poor man appealed to the branch of the League and stated his own side of the case; and the League in order to be perfectly fair and impartial, wrote a letter to the grabber acquainting him with the fact that they had been appealed to for an expression of opinion, and stating that they were quite ready to hear his side of the case before coming to any decision. Now listen to this terrible document—DEAR; SIR,—I have to inform you that a complaint has been lodged before the Lixnaw branch of the United Irish League in reference to some land which it is alleged you have taken, and I am directed by the members to request your attendance at a meeting to be held next Sunday so that inquiries may be made into the matter.—Yours truly, J. J. JOYCE, Hon. Secretary.It was that civil and friendly letter—[Ministerial laughter and Irish cheers.] Would not the hon. and gallant Member have supposed that that was really a mild kind of letter ten years ago? It was a perfectly civil letter. It was sent through the open post, signed by the officer of the branch, and that was the threatening letter for which these respectable farmers in Kerry were dragged before a packed jury. Remember this, 913 Mr. Speaker; it was proved at the trial that Scanlan had himself invoked the arbitration of the United Irish League. In his own evidence at the trial he stated that he would allow his case to come before the League, and have it settled there if it could be done. He did not suggest there was any threat used against him. His wife was a servant in the police barracks. That was the secret of the whole conspiracy. "Witness would never have rendered up the letter, but the sergeant came for it." In response to that letter, as a matter of fact, Scanlan turned up before the League. The whole thing was discussed. He made a certain offer, which was discussed, but the evicted tenant did not consider it sufficient, and there the matter ended. Scanlan did not become popular with his neighbours. I should like to know why he should? It is the insane greed of men like him that is the cause of all the follies of the landlords as well as all the miseries of the tenants. But it was not contended for a moment that the slightest violence was offered to him, or even that he fell out with the League because they failed to patch up this business. On the contrary, the very counsel for the Crown who opened the case actually warned the jury not to believe the sworn testimony of the grabber. He said Scanlan would now probably appear before them and rejoice in the League, and lick the hands that were lifted against him. That is the statement of the Crown, whose particular witness this man is. Now, I again ask Englishmen, if this letter had been written by some secretary of a trade union in England, inviting a brother workman to discuss terms of settlement with his society, would it be tolerated for the officer of such a society to be called up and tried before a packed jury on this base and dishonourable charge of threatening-letter writing, for which charge there was infinitely less foundation than, if I am in order in saying it, Mr. Speaker, if the majority of this House at the present moment were indicted for wilful murder and highway robbery in South Africa. Well, notwithstanding that these nine men were complimented by the very judge who sentenced them, they are brought away from their own county to Cork, and in Cork, where there is a population of 396,000 Catholics to 35,000 914 Protestants, an exclusively Protestant and Unionist jury was empanelled to try them. Pray listen to the string of true blue Anglo-Saxon names that by some extraordinary necromancy got into the box in Catholic and Nationalist Cork—Thomas Upward, Francis Duke, Francis William De Vere, Robert Parkhill, Alfred C. Murphy, Hasker Moonhead. Now listen to the unfortunate Gaelie Nationalists in that city, where there are 396,000 Catholics to 35,000 Protestants. Listen to what happened, and hear the names of the Catholic Gaels who were ordered by the Crown to stand by as men unfit for credence—O'Shee, Morissey—[Ministerial laughter.] Yes, I hear a laugh from the other side. Does the hon. Member object to people with these strong names? It is easy to order Catholic Nationalists to stand by in the Cork jury box. You do not ask their Gaelic comrades to stand by in South Africa, where, unfortunately, they saved you from being driven into the sea. Let me go on and offend hon. Gentlemen still further for a moment, if they will permit me, with a few more of these offensive Gaelic names—Morissey, Callory, Mori-arty, Murphy, Mahony, Hogan, ONeil, etc. I do not wish to detain the House. Forty-three of these Gaelic Nationalists were ordered to stand aside. In a community in which the Catholics are 396,000 to 35,000 Protestants, a jury as exclusively Protestant and Unionist as if selected by the local branch of the Landlords' Union was empanelled. The result of these men's honest attempt to patch up this dangerous parish dispute was that they were sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour as threatening letter-writers. They attempted arbitration. You have as strong an objection to arbitration in Kerry as you have in South Africa. God forbid that the results should be equally bloody, but I tell you that if you had not the organisation and the power of the League to restrain the people, the result of such a lesson as that would be to teach hot-headed men that it is a safer and more effective course to address a volley of slugs to the land grabber than a simple letter. If that turned out to be the case I have no hesitation in saying it is the Government and Gentlemen on the other side who support it who would be the greater criminals of the two.
915 Now I mention the subject of jury packing in Cork and Kerry, and you would suppose that if ever there was a subject on which public opinion was entitled to make itself heard in Ireland it was this miserable juggling with the sacred right of trial. Under this system it is really no exaggeration to say that the Crown official can get his twelve "reliables" to do his work with as absolute power as a military officer can pick out a firing party to carry out a military sentence. Unfortunately the Gaelic Catholic has no more chance against such a system than the Christians had against Nero's tigers in the Roman amphitheatre. I ask Englishmen again what would be their feelings—I ask the hon. Member for South Belfast what would be his feeling if the seven bishops were to be tried in London to-morrow morning by a jury composed exclusively of Irish Catholics, and if The Times newspaper was to be suppressed the following morning for daring to make a comment upon it.
Now do you think that we have no feelings? I tell you that parallel things are going on in Ireland at the present moment, and they are apt to make Irishmen's blood boil with shame. You are not content with stripping our poor people of arms, but we are to be disarmed even of the right of making a protest in the public press against the infamy of the present course of action of the Government. Let me give the latest case. It occurred in the county of Sligo, where there is a population of 90,000 Catholics and only 10,000 Protestants. A jury, as usual exclusively composed of Unionists and Protestants, was empannelled and sent two Catholic Nationalists to gaol for six months with hard labour for making speeches at a public meeting. My hon. friend the Member for North Leitrim, and who is also mayor for Sligo, is the proprietor of the principal newspaper in the district. He felt it his duty in common decency and in common manhood to write an article in his newspaper protesting against the foul methods by which his brother Catholics were excluded from juries—in strong terms, no doubt, but in scarcely more passionate terms than were employed by the Catholic bishop of the district, the Bishop of Elphin, who wrote in denunciation of 916 this intolerable insult to every man who has a drop of Catholic blood in his veins. My friend was instantly prosecuted. As usual, he was not tried at home, but was dragged away to Dublin, and by a grim stroke of Castle irony this gentleman, whose crime was that he had simply suggested the existence of jury-packing, was himself, in his own case, treated to a most striking exemplification of the reality and iniquity of that practice. Out of a couple of dozen jurors who were available, thirteen Catholics were, even in Dublin, ordered to stand by by the Crown. I am glad to say that the enlightened Protestants of Dublin are beginning to revolt against this outrageous insult of constituting them the executioners-in-ordinary of their own fellow-countrymen. It is too much for them, and but for their disagreement my friend would be now suffering imprisonment for suggesting that these was such a thing as jury-packing. The scandal did not stop there, though nobody ever dreamed that it would lead to a second trial. It was contrary to all precedent in cases of the kind. When the Land League leaders were tried under the same system in 1881 the jury disagreed, but nothing more was said about it. I was prosecuted myself in the Campaign time for conspiracy, and the jury disagreed, and of course the case was never heard of again. When the Freeman's Journal, the principal Nationalist paper in the country, published an article on the Sligo case protesting that jury-packing had been exemplified in that case, instantly the Crown turned their attention to that journal, and to another great metropolitan newspaper, the Dublin Evening Telegraph. This time, however, they did not resort to trial by even a packed jury—they are beginning to be afraid of and distrust packed juries even in Dublin—but they resorted to that miserable, dishonest pretext, contempt of court, on the ground that comment had been made upon a case which was still sub judice. These two newspapers were attached by the Court, and Heaven only knows what penalties will follow. I ask you to remember for a moment the different links in this chain that is being coiled round public opinion in Ireland. First, the poor local men sent to gaol for six 917 months; second, my hon. friend tried by a packed jury for stating that there was such a thing as a packed jury; and finally the two metropolitan journals committed under the arbitrary power of contempt of court because they had attempted to raise a public protest against the way in which their comrades of the provincial press were being persecuted and strangled in the performance of a public duty.
I have sometimes heard people talk of Irishmen being too passionate and violent. I think if there is any great fault—personally I admit that it is possible we have our faults—but if there is any striking fault in our national character, I am afraid it is that we bear too much, and bear it too tamely, and only that you have taken care to disarm us, as if we were a tribe of Hottentots, we would sometimes be inclined—I certainly would—to follow the example of those two little Republics in South Africa who have resisted and chastised your insolence and tyranny. It is of vital importance to remember that this kind of thing has been going on for years and years in Ireland, and it is necessary to bring a knowledge of the facts to the attention of this House. Then there was a case where the principal inhabitants of a peaceful little village were indicted for conspiracy because the local branch of the United Irish League took cognisance of a case of land grabbing. Why in Heaven's name not take cognisance of it, if Irish public opinion is to be allowed expression at all? Is there any pretence of crime here? There has not been a crime committed in the district for the last three years. Indeed, it will have to be admitted that in all these cases crime neither follows nor accompanies the proceedings of the League, with one or two exceptions, for which the League is not in the smallest degree responsible. Now, the grabber himself in his evidence said he came to Tallow as a poor friendless boy, and that he had made his wealth out of the small farmers, and also by gambling on the Stock Exchange. In all these grabbing cases, or almost all of them, the grabbers are either small shopkeepers who have made their money out of the peasants, or pensioners of the police who use the public money to plunder their neighbours. These are the men whose names it is deliberately held to be a crime even to whisper in 918 public. Well, a respectable Protestant family on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire was evicted and the holding grabbed, and the local branch of the League very properly took up the case and attempted to bring public opinion to bear upon it.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the case he is now commenting upon is sub judice, and that the men will be tried. It is unusual to comment on such cases in this House.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I will at once bow to your decision, Mr. Speaker, if you first hear me as to the point whether these men are really returned for trial at all; for I hold that they are not.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
If it is correct, as the Attorney General says, that this matter is still sub judice, that is to say that legal proceedings upon it are pending, it is not desirable to comment upon it.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
What I want to point out is, that there were four magistrates on the bench, two paid and two unpaid; and that there was an even division as soon as the evidence was-completed. According to all precedents-the prosecution ought to have failed, and therefore there would be no case of sub judice. These paid magistrates deliberately overrode the verdict of the two unpaid magistrates, and committed the men for trial.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The fact is that these men are now awaiting trial, and the hon. Member must not comment upon the case.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I have nowhere else to speak; but I pass on to another phase of my argument. Why should not Irish peasants have the same right of combination that English and even Irish tradesmen have? I want to know, in the next place, what are these guilty practices that are carried on by these branches of the United Irish League which are not carried on under another name by trade unions all over the country? You may call it black-balling or picketing here in England, that which you are pleased to call boycotting in Ireland, but it is precisely the same thing. It is sheer cant and dishonesty. None of us like it, but every one of us practises- 919 it—every trade union, profession, and club. It is human nature and will last as long as human nature. Members of the League in Ireland have suffered more than the Afrikanders' peace delegates, having been obliged to fly for their lives, and having been hunted from post to pillar, and even denied the shelter of their homes. The House will remember that the only observation that the First Lord of the Treasury' had to offer by way of comfort was that there really was a limit to human patience, but that is a remark which is equally applicable to Ireland; and I venture to say that the man who in the most sordid selfishness stands between a whole people and their country is the greatest tax on human patience that ever existed. We came here to serve you but we will yet be your destruction. I remember a few weeks ago the Chief Secretary, in response to a courteous invitation to speak at the trade union office, took a most sympathetic line as to their claim for the right of combination. Yet at the same moment, or very soon afterwards, his police in Ireland were guilty of making armed raids on the organised union of the country, and having men tried by packed juries because they exercised temperance in their language, and because they combine, as they have a right to do, and as they will do whether you like it or not, to obtain their lands on such conditions as will give them a living wage.
The Irish trade unions do not represent more than 20,000 men. This League represents 500,000 farmers and labourers, who, with their families, represent three-fourths of the population. And the objects which it seeks to obtain are strictly fair and just. As to one of those objects, the abolition of landlordism in Ireland, you had last night a demonstration that that object is supported by nine-tenths of the representatives of Ireland in this House; even hon. M embers sitting on the Government side. I venture to say that it is of greater consequence to the people than any reform ever submitted to this House. Again, as to the second object of the League—to which the Chief Secretary last night made an allusion, in regard to which I hope I make no mistake in believing it to be a friendly one—the object to parcel out the vast grazing lands among the people. Plenty of those 920 lands are lying derelict, whilst the poor starved cottagers huddle together on their confines hungering for them. This object is so great, so inevitable, that there is a department of the Government at the present moment engaged in carrying out the programme of the League, although at so miserable a snail's pace that it will take centuries to make any impression upon the mass of misery that has to be dealt with.
I think the Chief Secretary will admit that up to the present, for reasons which he will understand, he has met with more sympathetic consideration in Ireland than perhaps any Chief Secretary who has gone before him, with the exception of the right hon. Member for Montrose. But the time has come when he will have to make up his mind for good or ill what he is going to do. It will not do to tell us that Ireland is being governed under the ordinary laws—that is a sophistry and a fraud on England and Ireland alike. As evil and as arbitrary things as ever turned the constitution of England against its own Government are going on now in Ireland. You have not done anything yet except under compulsion, but you will hear of these things every week of your lives so long as the power of free speech is left to us. If the Chief Secretary has made up his mind to lapse into the old condition of things, of having concessions sandwiched with coercion, and allowing his adherents in Ireland to indulge in the noble pastime of harrying the people, what will be our procedure in this session and the sessions to come? It will be obstructive. If the right hon. Gentleman intends to go in for coercion, it will be manly for him to bring along his Coercion Act in all its atrocity, and then we can have the issue fairly and squarely discussed. If the Government persist in their present policy of suppression and attempting to drive discontent beneath the surface, there will be two courses open to the Irish Members. From the selfish point of view, the easiest course for all of us will he to abandon the field to the secret societies, and let the landlords and the land-grabbers take the consequences; that will probably be the easiest, and I am sorry to be obliged to say it would perhaps be the more effective course to arouse England to a knowledge of the desperate condition of the 921 people; but I for one will not give up without a fight the position we have won for our people of doing everything which Englishmen have a right to do. The Chief Secretary can still give effect if he chooses to allowing the overpowering view of the people being known without bloodshed, without secrecy, or without anything else which would make honest men hang their heads with shame. And if open agitation in Ireland is to be preserved, it will have to be preserved not by putting our necks under the yoke of the men who are doing these things that are going on in Ireland, but by resisting them and putting them down at no matter what cost of trouble or of liberty. We will not allow simple village people to be strangled and garrotted silently. We will hold no truce with these land-grabbers. We will not bend the knee to his Worship the Mayor—a new stage religion—to creatures whose trade no doubt is quite as strictly legal as that of the hangman, and which is equally repulsive. You will not succeed in muzzling the press in Ireland or in silencing the outcry against you, or if you have to do it, it will have to be pronounced by your judges. You will have to go very much further than suppressing an occasional meeting or making a dead set on some obscure village hamlet in some remote part. The right hon. Gentleman will have to bring his Coercion Act along if he means to persist in suppressing our national aspirations. It is the magistrates and the county councillors of Ireland that it would be wise for you to conciliate.
I do not know whether it will be made a new case of conspiracy and intimidation against us if we tell the right hon. Gentleman this plainly now. He is young and ardent, and, judging from his onslaught on the hon. Members for Waterford and South Tyrone last night, he rejoices at the scent of battle, and is ready to act the part of the strong man. He must take his own course, and we shall take ours. The Irish Members are fighting for the only remedy that can be suggested for the unnatural and accursed system by which the people of Ireland are being killed off, and we have only to look back on the history of any coercion struggle in Ireland to feel fairly confident that this House will yet acknowledge that we were right all 922 along, and will proceed to apply the remedy, as usual, too late. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
MR. BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)
As an entirely new Member of this House, I should have preferred, under ordinary circumstances, to have found another time for speaking upon this subject, but I realise that we are not assembled here under ordinary circumstances. The Amendment proposed by my hon. friend the Member for Cork raises definitely this issue, that while you have already spent £100,000,000 on the South African War, and are continuing to spend at the rate of £1,500,000 per week—the war having arisen out of the questions of the franchise and local government—here, over the Channel, within a few hours journey of London, you have a part of His Majesty's Empire commonly called Ireland, where the most ordinary rights and liberties with which the people of England have been familiar for generations are practically at the mercy of the local resident magistrate or policeman who takes upon himself to deal with them.
I feel all the more bound to associate myself with the protest raised by the hon, Member for Cork in view of the fact that I have had the honour of taking some active share in promoting the organisation for whose rights and liberties he has so eloquently pleaded to-night. I am in a position to speak with knowledge as to the progress and growth of the United Irish League movement. I have been north, east, south, and west, I saw the birth of the movement, I saw its rapid growth, and I saw its final triumph. I saw also some of the scenes of intolerable petty despotism and tyranny and bloodshed on the part of the police by which the progress of the movement was constantly marked. I would respectfully point out to hon. Members opposite that there is one right which the English people are famous for being extremely jealous of— the right of public meeting. It is not many years ago that a London mob tore down the railings of the park that was closed against a reform meeting. Still fewer years ago is it that the career of the Commissioner of Police for London was virtually terminated by his interference with the right of meeting in Trafalgar 923 Square. In that case the Commissioner was acting strictly within his technical rights. He was acting strictly within an Act of Parliament, and he was admittedly acting under considerable provocation, for after a previous meeting in Trafalgar Square a band of ruffians went looting shops right, left, and centre; but in spite of that the people of London did not recognise the proclamation of that meeting in Trafalgar Square, and you had a desperate riot for hours. You had the Riot Act read, and you had Sir Charles Warren's popularity in London gone for ever. He was hooted when he endeavoured to address a public meeting, he was lampooned on every music-hall stage in the metropolis, and he was forced to resign the high post which he held. But our case in the matter of the police is this. You have first of all the vice-regal proclamation of a public meeting, and then you have the proclamation signed by the resident magistrate. I think Ireland is the only part of the three kingdoms where the police barracks keep a stock of forms of proclamation with blank spaces left to fill in the dates and the names of the places. But, worse than that, there has been another development of this interference with public meeting, and there are hon. Members among my colleagues who have bad personal experience of it. It is the case where a head constable, without even a proclamation or a warrant of any sort whatever, either from the Lord Lieutenant or the resident magistrate, takes on himself to draw a cordon of police across the highway, and to order men like the hon. Member for South Mayo off the streets like dogs, telling them that they have not got the right of public meeting oven in their own constituencies.
If I am not wearying the House. I should like to give a couple of cases in my own personal experience. I was announced to address a meeting at a place called Kerrygale, half an hour's drive outside Dunmore, Donegal. I was informed the night before by District Inspector Moore that the meeting was proclaimed. I need hardly say I did not pay the least attention to that. In fact I have reason to know that I narrowly escaped prosecution for my lack of respect for the law on that occasion. We were treated to every insolence and 924 violence on that occasion. We were blocked right, left, and centre, wild hands were laid upon us by District Inspector Moore, and efforts were made to drag us from the car in which we were driving to address the meeting; but in the end we did address not one meeting but two or three into the bargain. This petty tyranny is not even consistent in its operation, because while it was proposed to prevent us addressing a meeting at Kerrygale, where there was an agrarian dispute, we were not allowed to address a meeting in the chapel yard at Dunmore, and yet, when I went down on another occasion, although the agitation was still going ahead, not the slightest interference was offered to our proceedings. I wish to say a few words from the trade union point of view. We contend that it is as lawful and as moral for an Irish Member, or any Irish leader of opinion, whether newspaper editor or speaker from a public platform, to counsel the boycott of a farm from which a man has been evicted as it is for an English labour leader to advocate the boycotting of a job from which trade unionists have been expelled, and indeed, if we enter into comparisons at all, the comparison is in favour of what is called the "blackleg" or the "scab," as against what we call the "landgrabber." In England the "blackleg" or the "scab" may at least plead that he has a wife and children who are in want, and that to obtain food he is only taking up the job another man has deliberately laid down; whereas in Ireland, as has been property pointed out in the course of the debate, the landgrabber is a man who in 99 cases out of 100 has no plea of want or necessity, but who, on the contrary, is a well-to-do man with money at the bank. He comes there for a money-making purpose, and enters himself as a thorn in the side of a peaceful community. But we shall hear no doubt in the course of this debate the stock argument used in Ireland when these meetings are proclaimed, that, in the words of the proclamation generally issued against them, they "will or may cause boycotting and intimidation." I respectfully submit that in the course of your cab strike in London you had more intimidation and violence—more brutal violence, too—than you have had in the whole of the years of the United 925 Irish League. I would like to know, if in the heat of the bitterest fight in England, any responsible labour leader were to go to address a meeting a of strikers, even although the meeting were to be held at the gates of the, dock or the factory where the strike was going on, public opinion in this country would tolerate armed interference with him—with, say the hon. Member for Battersea—on the plea that the meeting he was announced to address might or would lead to boycotting?
I think what has occurred is a striking illustration of the effectiveness with which the United Irish League is helping on the system of land purchase, even of voluntary land purchase, which is so highly commended as against compulsory land purchase by hon. Members on the other side of the I louse. For many months there raged a fierce agrarian dispute in the Abbeyfield district of county Limerick, but the United Irish League fought for the tenants' right to purchase their farms on equitable terms, and, as usual, the League won in the end. When the purchase was completed, a meeting was addressed by the parish priest: and what was the statement he made? He said that out of the 23,000 acres of land in the parish more than 16,000 had now been purchased, a distinction of which few parishes in Ireland could boast, and it came of the vigorous movement of the United Irish League in the district.
I do not propose. Sir, to abuse at any great length the indulgence extended to me as a new Member of this House. I wish to associate myself emphatically with the protest against what is called the system of jury-packing in Ireland. If the English people saw in assize after assize, and in case after case, every Wesleyan or every Baptist ordered to stand by, I think they would conclude that something like a very insidious insulting, and deadly religious, as well as political, persecution was being carried on. I speak myself as a Protestant: I was born one, and in all human probability I shall die one: but I hope I shall die as I shall live, without labouring under the impression or pretending to believe that my Catholic neighbour is a born liar who is not fit to be trusted on his oath. This is no sentimental grievance. The facts brought before the House by 926 the hon. Member for Cork conclusively prove that there is a steadfast assumption by the Crown, whenever its law officers can make that assumption felt, that every Roman Catholic is ipso facto a man not to be trusted on his oath, who cannot be trusted to do justice between man and man, but who may fairly be subjected to the inconvenience of being compelled to attend on summons, under penalty of heavy fine, and to the ignominy of being told to stand by for the benefit of an exclusively Protestant and Unionist jury.
In conclusion, I would earnestly plead that it is, to say the least, an anachronism that when we see South Africa drenched in blood and tears, and laid waste with fire and sword, for a complaint about the alleged over taxation and under representation of a gold mining community—that while this is done under the plea of equal rights for all men and liberty for all subjects of the King, within a day's journey of this capital you have a part of His Majesty's dominions labouring under a tyranny and injustice that would make Radical to the backbone the most true-blue Tory county in England if it was practised on that county. I would further plead that Irishmen are not to be told that they are treacherous or unpatriotic because they cannot rejoice in the victories or mourn over the defeats of a Government which imposes upon them a code of law alien to the best traditions of the law that the English people enjoy, and which deprives them of those rights of combination, free speech, and public meeting by which alone the liberties of England itself have been secured and improved for generations. I beg to second the Amendment.
Amendment proposed—At the end of the question to add the words. 'Humbly to represent to Your Majesty that this House has observed that a combination of the agricultural classes in Ireland has been formed, under the name of the United Irish League, with the object of accomplishing reforms which alone, in the opinion of nine-tenths of the constitutional representatives of Ireland, can arrest the continued depopulation of that country and the decay of its only great national industry. These reforms being, first, the creation of an occupying proprietary in substitution for the present unsettled and vexatious system of dual ownership of land; and, secondly, the utilisation of extensive tracts, at present lying practically waste in the congested districts, for the purpose of supplying holdings of sufficient extent to a 927 hard working and deserving population, who for want of land are compelled to live in a condition of chronic privation and even famine on the borders of those fertile depopulated areas; that the movement which has been carried on for the past three years for the promotion of these objects has been marked by the disappearance of those crimes of violence and secret conspiracies which were used to the discredit of all former agrarian combinations in Ireland, and the League, basing itself on the principle that its struggle is in the nature of a great economic industrial dispute between the tillers of the soil on the one side and the rent-owners supported by a vast capital and territorial influence on the other, has relied for success upon those combinations for mutual protection and appeals to public opinion which the trades union laws have expressly authorised in the case of disputes between capital and labour of a non-agricultural character; that, nevertheless, this House has observed that the forces of the frown have been unconstitutionally employed, and public justice has been polluted in the interest of one of the parties to the dispute; that the right of public meeting has been capriciously suppressed; that prosecutions for conspiracy and Whiteboyism have been instituted in reference to open and advised appeals to public opinion and measures of mutual protection, which are indisputably within the right of trades unions in ordinary industrial struggles; that the power of contempt of court has been unconstitutionally and oppressively abused for the purpose of inflicting prolonged sentences of imprisonment without trial; that the right of trial by jury has been outraged by the systematic exclusion from the jury box of all jurors sharing the politics or creed of the accused, and the empannelling of juries composed exclusively of sympathisers with the territorial class; that the liberty of the press in Ireland has been assailed, and influential organs of opinion prosecuted in the endeavour to silence public comment on this iniquitous system; that grievous and vindictive tines have been exacted from districts obnoxious to the landlord interest by means of charges for extra police quartered upon peaceful populations, and that the people of Ireland have been subjected to divers others the like cruel oppressions and provocations. And humbly to represent to Your Majesty that it being of the highest constitutional import to encourage the Irish people to seek the redress of their grievances by the fullest freedom of speech and of combination which is warranted by the example of the trades unions of Great Britain, this House is of opinion that the attacks at present directed by the Executive against the rights of free speech and of combination in Ireland should cease, and that the legislation protecting the trades unions in the exercise of their rights of combination against capital and non-union labour should be extended to all agricultural combinations of a similar character in that country."—(Mr. William O'Brien.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ * MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
After the two very able and eloquent 928 speeches delivered from these benches in support of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork, I feel as if it would be beating the air for me to reiterate any of the arguments used by either of the hon. Gentlemen. Both of these Gentlemen spoke of their experience in jury-packing as practised in the provinces of Minister, Leinster, and Connaught. I intend to speak of jury-packing in the province with which the right hon. the Attorney-General for Ireland and myself are more intimately acquainted than we are with any of these other provinces. As one residing all my lifetime in or about the city of Londonderry, and having had a large and rather varied experience of the criminal courts in Ulster as at present constituted, I feel it my duty to give to this House, and especially hon. Members from England and Scotland, some of my experiences in jury-packing as it is practised in Ulster.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Mr. JOHN CAMPBELL). House counted, and, forty Members being found present—
§ * MR. O'DOHERTY
(continuing): I was referring to the fact that my experience of the maladministration of the law was confined practically to Ulster. Now, I do not intend to detain the House with statistics or with reports, true though they may be, which I have read in the columns of the daily press in Ireland with reference to the provinces other than Ulster. I will try to confine myself to my own experience on these two counts of jury-packing and maladministration of the law. The hon. Member for Cork referred to the fact that not a single Catholic was allowed to sit upon any jury in trials lately held in Connaught, Minister, or Leinster. That may be made an argument by the Treasury Bench that no Catholic sitting on a jury in these provinces would commit an Irishman charged with an offence which they believed did not lie under English laws, and an offence for which no man could be convicted in this country; but if this is the law in Minister, Leinster, and Connaught, why is it not the law in Ulster? In the case of a man tried there for an offence, do the Crown call upon any Orangemen to stand aside? 929 No; with the result that at a trial held some time ago in Londonderry, where one or two men were put into the dock, and where the charge was conclusively brought home, the Orangeman was acquitted by his brother Orangemen in the jury box. So glaring was the injustice that the worthy judge who presided at that trial said, "That may be your verdict, but you will not get twelve men in the whole of the United Kingdom to agree with you." After that instance of maladministration that goes on in Londonderry, in after years did the Crown, when Orangemen were being tried for party offences, order the Orangemen whose names appeared in the jury panel to stand aside? Certainly not Why? Because these Orange gentlemen are the leaders of Unionist public opinion in that constituency which is represented by the hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and if the law was administered in Ulster as in the other provinces—the law for which he is responsible—this House would lose a brilliant ornament. Mere papists in Munster, Leinster, Connaught, and Ulster can never do any good at Parliamentary elections, and their feelings are accordingly never respected. Take the constituency which I have the honour to represent. North Donegal forms a portion of a county which was admitted, in answer to a question put by me a few nights ago to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, to be the most crimeless county in the three kingdoms. Yet the greater portion of the county is proclaimed under the Peace Preservation Act; but the remarkable fact is that that portion of the county which is not proclaimed is situated in East Donegal, a division in which the Unionists have the only chance whatever of capturing the seat, and the reason for it, to me, is as plain as a pikestaff. It is because there are a large number of Unionists inhabiting that district. Yet that portion which is not proclaimed has been proved to have far more crime in proportion to its population than the other seven-eighths of the county. The only conclusion we can form, therefore, is that the Government has not proclaimed this district in order to pander to the wishes of the Orange leaders. Going further towards the 930 south, some months ago in the town of Portadown, in the constituency of North Armagh, a defenceless body of Catholic youths, lead by their pastor, went to Bundoran on an excursion. After a short service in the church they started on their way to the railway station, and on their way they were set upon by the Orange roughs of the district, and some of them were butchered even nearly to death. Was a single man brought to justice for that outrage? Not one. No doubt a few were asked to appear before the magistrate sitting in petty sessions in that town, and show cause why they should not be bound over to keep the peace; but what was the result? They proved an alibi, although the most conclusive evidence was produced that they were guilty, and in that case not a single man was convicted beyond a few monetary fines. These facts were reported to Dublin Castle, and a demand was made by the Catholic people of that district that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the maladministration of justice in that town, with the result that the gentlemen who animate Dublin Castle did not deign to send a reply to the people and the Catholic pastor of that town.
With reference to the United Irish League, the hon. Member for North Derry is probably aware of the fact that it has spread in his own constituency, as in every other, and I have no doubt whatever, after what has occurred this evening, and on other occasions, the League is bound to gain ground in Ulster, where Protestant and Orange farmers will join it, with the result that hon. Members opposite, who have always to do so, will have to obey the behest of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, and vote for the Government against the wishes of their constituents. The First Lord of the Treasury might adopt with success the practice adopted in China, and send a silken rope to each of these gentlemen, with the request that they would commit political suicide. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, who is responsible for the government of that country to this House, boasted some weeks ago that he was half an Irishman. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to remember that his ancestors have sympathised with the 931 people, helped them in their troubles, and sympathised with their grievances, and I would appeal to him to embrace the opportunity now offered from these benches, in the present state of affairs in Ireland, to reform the maladministration of Dublin Castle of which we go much complain. By granting the claims of Ireland, he will put an end for ever to the interminable conflict that has gone on for the last century, and by administering the laws in Ireland in the way in which they are administered in England would do much to remove the complaints that arise from these benches. Hon. Members on these benches do not complain of the laws, but of the maladministration of the laws.
§ * MR. J, P. FARRELL (Longford, N.)
I agree with everything said by the hon. Member for Cork in his vigorous and pointed denunciation of the system of persecution which the Irish Nationalists who have identified themselves with the United Irish League are being subjected to. I desire particularly to associate myself with him because of the way we have been treated in the county Longford, one of the divisions of which I have the honour to represent in this House. It has been made the theatre of this persecuting system, Probably in the whole of the province of Leinster there is not a county which has had so fair a record for perfect and absolute freedom from crime as Longford. The hon. Member for Cork has in his speech referred to the fact that, as regards the province of Munster, judge after judge at the assizes had congratulated its grand juries on the crimelessness and peacefulness of that province. I say that if the charges of the assize judges who have visited Longford from time to time are looked up by the representatives of the Government it will be found that for at least the past three years—I might say for the past ten years—absolutely no crime of any serious kind has prevailed in the county of Longford. So late as the March assizes of 1900 Mr. Justice Kenny, whose partiality to the League I think is not particularly admitted on these benches, a former Solicitor General in this House, congratulated the grand jury of the county of Longford on the peacefulness of the county. When 932 the United Irish League was established in the county a few busybodies in the police force of that county took it into their heads to persecute the people because of the fact that they had once more joined themselves with their brother Nationalists in their fight for the redemption of their native land. An attempt was made first of all to intimidate the Nationalists from taking part in public meetings. Because the hon. Gentleman who so worthily represents South Mayo came into the district and organised the League, the police, who knew perfectly well that he was doing good work among the people, made a dead set on the hon. Gentleman without any cause whatever except a few references which he made in a speech. He was hauled before a bench of magistrates, and a prosecution was instituted by the Government, who sought to convict him and send him to gaol under the ancient statute of Edward III. He was represented as a person of ill fame whose committal to gaol was requisite in the interest of peace and good order in the community. I do not know whether it was with the cognisance of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General, but as elaborate arrangements were made as if it was for a great State trial. A particularly offensive gentleman—I use the words advisedly in presence of the right hon. Gentleman —a particularly offensive Crown prosecutor was sent down to Longford to conduct the State trial. Mr. Morphy was despatched with an immense number of law books and a great deal of impudence and cheek to instruct the magistrates of county Longford in their duty. I wish to point out that not content with relying upon the ordinary administrators of the law and your own removable Tory magistrates, you imported a second resident magistrate, Mr. Jones, of Boyle, to assist in the conviction of my hon. friend, and by that means you were able to secure the sending of the hon. Gentleman for two months to Sligo gaol. Well, I do not think the Crown were well advised in the course they took, because, instead of allaying the process of insubordination to the law, you simply threw oil upon the fire, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that from that time forward, if there had been 933 any hesitancy whatever in pushing forward the work of the League, it advanced by leaps and bounds in county Longford. That was only, as it were, the first step in the proceedings. The next were of a very much graver nature. My hon. friend the Member for Cork read a letter which was addressed by the secretary of a branch of the League in Kerry to a land-grabber to attend a meeting of the League for the purpose of having his case investigated. That letter was in my opinion a perfectly civil invitation. [Laughter.] Gentlemen, of course, laugh at the statement that it was a civil invitation. Well, in the county Longford there was even less offence in a letter addressed to a grazier in the district asking him whether he intended to continue holding a grazing farm which he had been holding for some years past. That was seized upon by the Crown as another case under the Whiteboy Acts, and Mr. James Killean was hauled up and arraigned before a tribunal for writing a threatening letter. It seems to me that the Crown have very little regard for the taxpayers of these kingdoms. They made most elaborate preparations to convict Mr. Killean. It did not satisfy them to deal with him at petty sessions. They sent him for trial at the assizes. When all the elaborate preparations for the trial were complete, a frivolous excuse—I describe it as nothing else—was seized upon by the Crown for the purpose of postponing the trial and having him sent to where a packed jury could be found to convict him at the winter assizes. The pretence was that in a Catholic and Nationalist county like Longford a fair trial could not be had. This attempt to shift the case to the winter assizes was met by the counsel for the traverser, who said to the Crown—We will not challenge one single Protestant juror. We will leave you to empannel a whole jury of Protestants, and we will take them in order to show that we are not afraid to submit the justice of this case to a jury of our county-men.But the Crown solicitor had his instructions, and he, in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General, moved for the place of trial being changed. They brought the traverser to Wicklow in December last, 934 and there exercised their right of challenge to the fullest extent. They tried him before Mr. Justice Burton and a jury mainly of Protestants of the county Wicklow. In the course of the trial Mr. Justice Burton, who was a member of the Government, acted—I am bound to give him credit and I feel pleasure in doing so—as a just and impartial judge between the traverser and the Crown, and the case for the Crown was absolutely scouted out of court. They arraigned Mr. Killean on sixteen counts, but the Wicklow jury had common sense, and flung fifteen of these counts bodily out of court. I believe that when you come forward with the last leg on which you have to stand, the result will be the same.
Well, Sir, that did not finish these cases. Another case precisely similar occurred in the same county. One Sunday morning an innocent, harmless, and well-conducted young man, the secretary of the Dromard branch of the League, was found in broad daylight putting up a notice at the chapel gate. The notice stated that it was against the rules of the League to occupy land on the eleven months system. The young man when committing this act implicitly believed that the law allowed him to do so, but the county police inspector, bearing an honoured name, which he has dishonoured, in my opinion, started a persecution, and again you had the whole paraphernalia of a great state trial initiated at Ballinamuck. Sir, such conduct, as events proved, is absurd and ridiculous. What about the expense of all this? Of course, you do not care; you are quite satisfied, and would be if the expense was ten times as much. I implicitly and honestly believe that the Crown officials are delighted to have these prosecutions, because of the big fees they are able to draw from them. This man was brought up at Ballinamuck, and from there you sent him to Wicklow, although his counsel offered to take a Protestant jury in county Longford, and not to challenge a single man. There you empannelled a jury, and endeavoured, as far as possible, to prejudice them by representing county Longford to be in a disturbed condition. They have a district inspector in Granard, an English importation named Rodwell, and this 935 gentleman was informed—he never saw them himself—that in certain places around the town of Granard iron spikes had been found in a meadow some time in July, and because iron spikes were found in a meadow at Granard after the posting of these notices the charges to your grand juries melted into thin air, and the whole county of Longford was in a state of revolution. What view did your Unionist jury of Wicklow take of that evidence and of the case as presented by a very eminent counsel at the Irish Bar? They simply kicked it out of court. They returned a verdict of not guilty, and Mr. Murtagh went home feeling greatly aggrieved that he had been troubled by the Crown exercising its big prerogative of indicting anybody it likes or anything it likes. What had occurred in the court of first instance in these cases? In the case of Murtagh, the magistrates, by three to two, discharged the prisoner. But they reckoned without the Attorney General. He was still in the background. I suppose Mr. Fleming, the Crown Prosecutor—I have a great respect for him, he once got me two months in jail for a speech—was of opinion that it was a slight upon his professional ability, and therefore he appealed to his friend the Attorney General, who, in the exercise of the powers vested in him, sent up a Bill before the grand jury of county Longford, some of whom were the very men who owned these farms. Talk about rigging a Bench! One of these grand jurors of county Longford actually told the judge from the jury-box that he was a witness for the Crown! Well, Mr. Speakrer, at Wicklow the Crown were disappointed and Murtagh is at large to-day, and, if it is any consolation to the right hon. Gentleman to know it, he is just as little converted to the ways of landlords and Unionists as ever. We have the advantage in this House of being able to address questions direct to the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General on matters connected with this organisation, but I doubt whether it would have been possible to extract from them many of the facts which I have laid before the House. I think the Attorney General will not deny that I have substantially and correctly stated the two cases to which I have referred, but in spite of the breakdown at 936 the winter assizes we are now told that one of these young men (Mr. J. J. Killean) is to be still further persecuted by another arraignment at the coming March assizes.
Some people are so stupid that they never learn anything, and I suppose the Crown have learnt nothing by their experience of the two trials. Let them by all means pull ahead. They will find it utterly impossible before any rationally constitutioned tribunal in the land to convince any jury that the charges of the judges whom you send on circuit to Longford are untrue, and that county Longford is in a disturbed condition. We are organised from end to end, and, please God, we will keep organised. I believe that the Chief Secretary, so far as his entourage will allow him is desirous of doing fairly what he can for the social good of the country. But such antics as these are merely bringing your Government in to deeper contempt in the minds of the people of Ireland. In the United Irish League there has not been for a moment a suggestion of crime or outrage. To my own knowledge, within the last few weeks, when statements were made which in the opinion of the executive of the organisation should not have been made regarding particular cases is county Longford the executive of the League did more by condemning such conduct to preserve peace and good order in the county than all the police you could import Sir it is time that this farce should cease. It is time that we should be be allowed to go to our public meetings as free citizens in a free land. What occurs at present? A train cannot go to any humble village in Ireland at which there is not a policeman on the platform with his notebook in his pouch, prepared to take down the names of any hon. Member of this House or anybody else whom he suspects of not being a true-blue loyalist or Unionist. At our public meetings—and on this point I desire to appeal specially to the Chief Secretary—you have established a system of spying which, I believe is absolutely repugnant to the feelings of the police themselves. What was the evidence in one of these cases? In the case against the hon. Member for South Mayo four different policemen were called to give evidence. They went in couples to the meeting, 937 and neither was told that the other was to take notes so that each would be a spy on the other. How did they take notes? One said he took notes with his notebook on his hand under his cape, and when he came to read his notes in court he could not decipher a single word. What happened then? The Crown Prosecutor said, "Give us your recollection of what was said." I am not surprised that the magistrates could not stand this humbug. Even the resident magistrate of Longford was compelled to call upon the Crown Prosecutor to cease from putting in such evidence. If you want to take notes of our meetings send properly qualified men. None of us are ashamed of what we say, or afraid of it being taken down, or, if you like, recorded by a phonograph and repeated for the delectation of the gentlemen at Dublin Castle; but for goodness sake do not take these poor policemen from their barracks and give them instructions to take mental notes. Just imagine an Irish policeman taking a mental note of the proceedings, and confounding and confusing even the magistrate himself when he comes to narrate what went on.
I feel bound to say, however, that is one reason why I do not very much wish this system of spying put down. In my opinion there is nothing that has so helped the United Irish League, or so convinced the people that it has the true ring about it, as the presence of your helmeted spies at our meetings. Keep sending them if you like, but for decency's sake, and for the sake of accuracy—upon which, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman is very strong—let us not be subjected to this process of evidence from mental notes. We are a peaceful people, and the most bigoted and rabid administrator in this country cannot find a single act of the United Irish League which could in the slightest degree be interpreted as an act of Whiteboyism. We protest in the strongest manner against the insult conveyed in these prosecutions towards our organisation and our people, and if the right hon. Gentleman is properly advised he will drop the process of instituting contempt of court motions and Whiteboy prosecutions on the mental notes of Irish policemen. I beg to support the 938 Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork City.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I would ask him to allow me one or two brief minutes, because I desire to address one or two questions to him upon a particular case which has not been mentioned, and which I desire he should address his attention to in reply. It is not my intention to take part in the debate generally at this stage, and I would much prefer that some of my hon. friends and colleagues who have been actively engaged in the proceedings; before the House should speak on this occasion.
The case to which I wish to draw attention is one of very great importance, because it concerns the freedom of the press in Ireland, and it is one in which I am personally interested in a particular way, because it concerns my own constituency. Amongst the cases mentioned by my hon. friend who introduced this motion was a prosecution in the county of Waterford, and it was pointed out that as the case may be considered still sub judice, he could not discuss the case. I have no intention of discussing the case, but I desire to call the attention of the Attorney General and the House to one particular incident that arose in the hearing before the magistrates which is now at an end. It is a case of conspiracy, and amongst other means taken to secure a conviction the Government subpoenaed the editor of the leading paper in the city of Waterford, and they asked him to give evidence of this character. It was not alleged that he had published anything in his paper which was in the least degree illegal, or no doubt he would have been prosecuted, as the proprietors of the Kilkenny papers were. There was no allegation that Mr. Redmond, the editor of this paper, had published anything illegal, but the Crown found themselves in a difficulty to prove conspiracy, and they subpoenaed Mr. Redmond to come forward to give evidence as to the handwriting of reports which had been supplied to him in his professional capacity as editor of the paper. I ask the Attorney General whether that is not a somewhat cruel position to place the editor of a newspaper in? Suppose he was mean enough to give evidence, it would mean 939 his ruin; and if he does not give his evidence he is committed for contempt of court. There were four magistrates on the bench, but the editor of this paper refused to give evidence. He said that apart from politics, or what his own opinion might be, he considered that, as a journalist, he would be guilty of dishonourable conduct if he betrayed the confidence of his correspondents. It may be in the recollection of the Attorney General that a case of this kind was tried in the county of Limerick against a journalist who happened to be a Unionist. But he stood by his guns, and as a Unionist he said that he could not honourably give evidence, and I believe that he was committed for contempt of court. The Government, however, found the position so untenable that he was released in a very few days. Mr. Morphy, who represents the Crown, threatened the editor of this paper with a committal for contempt of court, but he was unable to carry out this threat because the opinion of the Bench was divided. What I desire to call the Attorney General's attention to is that the Crown Prosecutor stated openly in court with reference to this editor, that he would summon him as a witness to the assizes before the judge, and he further added: "Then this gentleman will get short shrift." That phrase was reported in all the papers in Dublin and in the provinces. I have not risen to take part in the general debate, but I do press upon the Attorney General and the Government that this is a most contemptible way of attempting to get evidence of conspiracy. They have nothing against this editor, and they cannot put their finger upon a single sentence of an illegal character in his paper. They ask him to come forward and be guilty of a breach of his honourable confidence as a journalist, in order to secure the conviction of prisoners in a conspiracy prosecution. Possibly the Attorney General has never heard of this case of Mr. Redmond. I would ask him to have inquiries made, and to defend at the Table if he can this process. There was recently a meeting held in Dublin of the Irish Journalists Association, which is very largely made up of Unionists, and is not by any means a Nationalist organisation, and this association unanimously passed a resolution approving of the action of Mr. Redmond, and calling upon him for the 940 honour of the journalistic profession to stand by his guns. I ask, is this gentleman going to be sent to prison for refusing to give evidence? I ask the Attorney General to give this his attention, and to give us some justification of the action which the Government have taken in the matter.
§ MR. ATKINSON
(who was imperfectly heard) said that, in reply to the hon. and learned Member, he might state that he was not acquainted with the facts of the case which he bad just mentioned, but he would have inquiries made, and, if it should be found possible, the evidence of the editor alluded to should be dispensed with. He quite appreciated the position. He did not, however, intend to follow the hon. Member for Cork through his discursive, vehement, and he might almost say venomous speech, or through all the different questions which the hon. Member had touched upon in his Amendment.
This Amendment was, he understood, unique in the history of the Parliamentary proceedings in this House. It was unique in its length and unique in the variety of subjects with which it dealt. There was room enough under Mr. Gladstone's umbrella for all the different sections of the Liberal party, and certainly there would be room enough under this Amendment for all the different sections of the Nationalist party which the hon. Member for Cork had succeeded in welding together. It was impossible for him to follow the hon. Member at such length, and he would only now deal with questions of a legal character, for which he was more especially responsible, and he would leave his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary to deal with the general questions of policy.
The hon. Member had said that the Lord Chief Justice at Cork said that as yet no facts had been disclosed to justify the Government in proclaiming the League as an illegal association. The League had not been proclaimed as an illegal association because there was no evidence forthcoming that it was an association for the purpose of promoting an illegal object. But that was far from saying that there had not been illegal methods resorted to by members of the League and advocated by the League. He had by him there, and, if necessary, he could quote them, dozens of speeches 941 delivered by different members of the Irish party, from the hon. Member for Cork downwards, in which, publicly, upon every platform, again and again boycotting was advocated. [Nationalist cheers.] He was glad that the hon. Member had the courage of his opinions, and did not shrink from the statements he had made. He had told men again and again that, because a man took land from which another man had been evicted, or because he took land which the League said he ought not to take, nobody was to speak to him, nobody was to buy from him, nobody was to sell to him, and that he should be treated as a pariah and incur a fate almost worse than death, and be subjected to social ostracism and financial ruin. [Nationalist cheers and cries of "Hear, hear."] He was glad that he did not misrepresent hon. Members. By this means intimidation and tyranny were to be executed on this man. That was a crime. [An HON. MEMBER: What is?] Intimidation was a crime by English law, although it was not a crime according to the law of the League. The Government were bound to administer English law. [An IRISH MEMBER: What is intimidation?] The hon. Member wished to administer the law of the League and degrade juries into instruments for administering the law of the League, and that was the cause of the outcry against what had been called "jury packing." [Hear, hear.] He was glad that there was no concealment by the hon. Member opposite, but it was a crime according to the law of the land to intimidate a man in such a way as to prevent him exercising his right to do what seemed to him the best thing if he kept within his legal rights.
The hon. Member had been vehement in his denunciation of grabbers. What was a grabber? [Several HON. MEMBERS: Robbers.] A "grabber" was a man who had a perfect right to the protection of the law of this country, and the Government were bound to administer the law in such a case. If this so-called grabber took a farm, the law of the League, which was based on mean and cowardly tyranny, at once declared that the man had committed a sin. The Administration was bound, as long as the law prevailed, to protect that grabber from intimidation.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said he would deal with that presently. In the meantime he wished to call attention to another well-known judgment by the late Lord Bramwell, who said that "liberty of thought and mind is the privilege of every Englishman, but still if any two or more men agree among themselves to coerce that liberty of thought and mind by constraint, they would be guilty of an offence." [An HON. MEMBER on the Irish benches: What about the pro-Boers?] The hon. Member had asked why should we force the public into a shop. He was perfectly correct in saying that any man in the community had an absolute right to go into another man's shop or to stay out of it, but no man had a right to counsel and procure a number of men to league themselves together for the purposes of ruining a particular tradesman by abstaining from entering his shop. That was a distinction which had been laid down again and again by judge after judge, but it was a distinction which hon. Members from Ireland opposite ignored, because they knew that if they observed it, it would paralyse their combination. [An HON. MEMBER from the Irish benches: You do it on the other side.] He would show that that was an ignorant and absurd contention. Take the well-known historic case. Every person that went to a theatre could applaud whom he pleased when he was pleased. and he could hiss when displeased; but the Duke of Brunswick many years ago had a verdict returned against him because he banded together a number of persons to go to a theatre for the purpose of injuring a particular actor by hissing him off the stage. [An HON. MEMBER on the Irish benches: What about the Great Mogul case?]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must appeal to hon. Members to extend more courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said he was quite familiar with the Great Mogul case against Macgregor, in which it was rightly held that traders in pursuit of their own interests might combine to promote that interest, although incidentally in the promotion of it they injured 943 the interests of other people. That was quite true, but it was equally true that the Great Mogul case laid it down that when people combined together, not for the purpose of promoting their own trading interests, but for the purpose of injuring the property of some individual who was obnoxious to them, that was a crime. It was an idle pretence to take shelter behind such a contention, and he was astonished that hon. Gentlemen, who claimed for themselves such outspoken courage, were not ashamed in that House to do so, for they were not traders. The course they had pursued was that they had told the people of Ireland that the man who took an evicted farm was their enemy, that he deserved no quarter, no justice, no fair play—[Cries from the Irish benches of "Oh, oh!" and "No !"]—that nobody was to speak to him, that nobody was to work for him, that nobody was to buy his beasts at a fair, and that they were to inflict upon him social ostracism and financial ruin. That was not fair. It was punishing a man because he did not agree with their views, because he would not forward their organisation, and because he would not obey their law, which was not the law of the country in which he lived. It had been said again and again that the League was like a trade union; but there was a wide difference. Trade unions were formerly illegal, that is, it was illegal for workmen to combine together, because it was said they formed a conspiracy in restraint of trade. The old law was abolished, and trade unions could now refuse to work for any man, they could combine not to work for anyone, they could support each other in this refusal to work, but they could not intimidate. [An IRISH MEMBER: Picketing!] This very question of picketing came up in the case of Lyons v. Wilkins. The union had picketed the hands in a particular employment, not for the bona fide purpose of obtaining information, but for the purpose of inducing them to leave their employment. Here was what Lord Justice Lindley said—Strikes and trade unions, which were formerly considered illegal, have now been legalised—at all events, so far as the doctrines as to restraint of trade are concerned—and a strike can be conducted up to a certain point with perfect legality. That is to say, persons can not only decline individually to work for 944 a master except upon terms which the workmen desire, but they can combine to do that. They can combine to leave him; they can strike unless he will raise the wages up to what they desire, and trade unions, which assist them in withdrawing their own labour and declining to work, and which assist them in supporning themselves during the strike, can legally do so….Now, Parliament has not yet conferred upon trade unions the power to coerce people, and to prevent them from working for whomsoever they like, upon any terms they like; and yet in the absence of such a power it is obvious a strike may not be effective and may not answer the purpose. Some strikes are perfectly effective by virtue of the strike, and other strikes are not effective unless the next step can be taken, and unless other people can be prevented from taking the place of the strikers. That is the pinch of the case in trade disputes; and until Parliament confers on trade unions the power of saying to other people, 'You shall not work for those who are desirous of employing you upon such terms as you may mutually agree upon,' trade unions exceed their power when they try to compel people not to work except on the terms fixed by the unions. I need hardly say that up to the present moment no such power as that exists. By the law of this country no one has ever,and no set of people have ever had that right or that power… Trade unions have now been recognised, up to a certain point, as organs for good. They are the only means by which workmen can protect themselves from tyranny on the part of those who employ them; but the moment that trade unions become tyrants, in their turn they are engines for evil; they have no right to prevent any man from working on such terms as he chooses…. One cannot say, as an abstract proposition, that all picketing is unlawful, because if all that is done is attending at or near a house in order merely to obtain or communicate information, that is lawful. But it is easy to see how, under colour of so attending, a great deal may be done which is absolutely illegal. It would be wrong to post people about a place of business or a house under; pretence of merely obtaining or communicating information, if the object and effect were to compel the person so picketed not to do that which he has a perfect right to do; and it is because this proviso is often abused and used for an illegal purpose that such disputes as these very often arise.What became of the pretence that, when a wretched man came before the Land League and knew that unless he obeyed the behests of the League he would be boycotted, that was not worse than picketing? There was no analogy, as the hon. Member for Cork suggests, between trade unions and the League which he has inaugurated and promoted. And for this simple reason, that the League acts by intimidation, and the trade unions cannot act by intimidation. The exhortation had been delivered many times by the League over the 945 country that if turbulence was maintained the Government must yield. Happily the advice had not been generally taken, although there had been some slight increase of crime since the League was inaugurated.
§ MR. ATKINSON
All over Ireland. He had not time to give the particulars, but it was crime almost entirely consisting of sending threatening letters, of boycotting, and intimidation. When the hon. Gentleman said that the League was crimeless he stated what was inaccurate. The hon. Member for Cork had drawn a picture of Ireland which, if true, would indicate that Ireland was in a parlous case; because, according to him, the forces of the Crown were unconstitutionally employed, justice was perverted, prosecutions were instituted without justification, and the most grinding and cruel tyranny which existed anywhere prevailed in Ireland. And the hon. Member said that, notwithstanding all that, Ireland was in a state of peace, although he wondered it was so. There was no restraint of free speech for hon. Members in that House, and they said the same things in Ireland, so that it was preposterous to talk of their being muzzled. He defied any hon. Member to point to any prosecutions for sedition except one, or to any prosecutions for anything but conspiracy to tyrannise and intimidate. He did not understand what right the hon. Gentleman had to arrogate to himself the right, because some individual made himself objectionable to him, to make a public speech and to instigate the persons to whom he spoke to inflict upon that man temporal loss and perhaps temporal ruin. He had no right to do so. It was an arrogant assumption on his part, and if he resorted to it he off ended the law and must be brought to book by the law. He defied the hon. Gentleman to point to a single case during the time he had had the honour to hold a law office under the Crown in Ireland where a man had been prosecuted except for intimidating or boycotting. Men from time to time had, of course, been prosecuted, but only for those offences; but it was impossible for him at the present time to go into details. The hon. Member complained 946 that there was no right of free speech in Ireland, but he thought if Members could make the same speeches in Ireland which they made in that House it was absurd to make such an allegation. We were also told there was no right of public meeting in Ireland. Out of 600 meetings only twenty-three had been interfered with.
Before passing away from the cases which the hon. Gentleman dealt with— he could not deal with them all and therefore he would refer to one. The hon. Member for Cork referred to the case of Sullivan. He was tried and acquitted. That case was made the subject of a debate in the previous year, and he really did not see why reference had been made again to the subject. He was tried and acquitted.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
said he was acquitted by a packed jury and was really convicted by eleven out of twelve, if the jury had been a free jury.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said that was not true. He could not say how his friend professed to know the decision at which the jury arrived, he himself did not know it, and the hon. Gentleman, at all events, ought not to know it. However, Sullivan was tried and acquitted. He would have a word to say with regard to the jury a little later on. The hon. Member for Cork had referred to Lord O'Brien, but Lord O'Brien's charge; ought to be taken in its entirety, and if one half of his charge was quoted as being favourable to the League, he would be quite justified in referring to the other half. What was the charge? A wretched creature took a rood of land and held it for two years; the former tenant of the land thought he would like to get it back, and this wretched creature refused. He was summoned before the Lixnaw branch of the United Irish League, to which the complaint had been made that he refused to give up the land. Who made the complaint? [An IRISH MEMBER: The man who had been evicted.] He refused to give up this wretched rood of ground, but he offered £2 to the other man; that was not satisfactory, and a proclamation was issued. He spoke from memory, and he believed the name of the man was Scanlan. A resolution was passed that, as John Scanlan 947 persisted in holding the plot of land in defiance of the wishes of the League, they called upon the people to mark their disapprobation in every constitutional way, and, if his memory did not deceive him, Scanlan was shortly afterwards found murdered on the high road. Lord O'Brien had said that the men in that ease were perfectly rightly convicted.
The only other case he would refer to was the case of the hon. Member for North Leitrim. That was also a pending case, and he had the greatest reluctance to indulge in any discussion at all upon the merits. He would just state what the crime was. A certain case was tried at Sligo and two men were convicted. A number of the jurors were set aside by the Crown when the jury was being sworn. Twenty-two men were set aside, and it subsequently turned out that seventeen out of the twenty-two were members of the League, and the two men who were tried were also members of the League, and objection had been made by the gentlemen representing the Crown, when the jury were being sworn, that it was undesirable that members of the League should serve upon the jury.
Now, the hon. Member for North Leitrim, according to the hon. Member for Cork, was charged with seditious libel merely for denouncing what he called the system of jury packing. [The right hon. Gentleman then read from the indictment in the case passages of the article charged as a seditious libel. The right hon. Gentleman said he would make no comment upon that further than that it was what the hon. Member for Cork described as a moderate and temperate attack.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
asked whether there was anything in the article which would be called a crime in England.
§ MR. ATKINSON
replied that he had already stated that he did not propose to discuss the case, but he would be surprised if an article of that kind on the administration of justice were not treated as a crime in England. He did not know whether hon. Members suggested that there should be no such thing on behalf of the Crown as conditional jurymen, that the Crown should not have power to set aside men. That was a 948 practice which had existed in both England and Ireland for 500 years. [Cries of "No" and "It has never been exercised."] It had been exercised.
AN HON. MEMBER
Where and when? MR. JOHN REDMOND: How long is it since the practice was exercised in this country?
§ MR. ATKINSON
The last case I am able to find is nine years ago. In 1876 in an Irish Act of Parliament this special right was preserved. I understand nobody has ever contended that this right could be dispensed with. It is the duty of the Crown solicitor to set aside a man when he has reason to believe that that man will not act fairly. This is a charge which has been made against every Government. I remember how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs was placarded through the streets of Dublin as the murderer of a man named Twist because under his rule twenty men were set aside at the trial of an almost professional assassin.
§ MR. ATKINSON
(after looking through his despatch-box): The circular expressly directs that no one is to be set aside—[Loud cries of "Read the circular."]—on account of his politics or religion; and no man has been set aside.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! If I knew who the Member was who used that expression I should take very severe measures towards him.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Both hon. Members are to blame—the hon. Member for South Belfast, who, under a mistake, imputed offensive words to an hon. Gentleman who did not use them, 949 and the hon. Member for the Eifion Division, who, instead of appealing to me to call upon that hon. Member to withdraw, took upon himself to use a violent expression. Both hon. Gentlemen are to blame, and I hope the incident is now at an end.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said that no man had been set aside from acting on a jury on account of his religion. The hon. Member for North Cork, speaking with reference to the Cadogan case, asserted that the jurymen were set aside because they were Roman Catholics. That was a slander repeated day by day against the Crown. The officers of the Crown made no inquiry as to the religion of the men who served on juries; but, seeing the allegations, he caused inquiry to be made in Cadogan's case, with the result that he found that six of the men on the jury were Roman Catholics and six Protestants. The prisoner, moreover, challenged five Roman Catholic gentlemen of Cork as unfit to serve on the jury.
A NATIONALIST MEMBER
At the first trial, at which Justice Kennedy presided, there was not a single Catholic on the jury, and every man who was challenged was a Catholic.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said he had not time to deal with the other matters which had been referred to; he would simply conclude by repeating that no man was set aside because of his religious or political faith, but in some cases where such issues were involved men who were strong partisans on either side were excluded from the jury.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
congratulated the Attorney General on having given precisely the same answer as on previous occasions, and therefore his reply also would be practically the same. What were the admitted facts? In county Sligo there were 90,000 Catholics and 7,000 Protestants, and the right hon. Gentleman had the Parliamentary courage to declare that when a case came to be tried dealing with the great and permanent struggle between two classes 950 in Ireland, to a certain extent between two races, and to a smaller extent between two creeds, having no regard whatever for religion or politics, it yet had come about that every one of the twelve men in the jury box was taken from the 7,000 men of one creed, class, and political party. In county Cork the disparity between the two creeds-was not quite so great, the figures being 390,000 Catholics and 35,000 Protestants, and here the right hon. Gentleman was able to give a case in which the jury consisted of six of one religion and six of the other, but he was not able to answer the statement or deny the fact that sixty-three men were ordered to stand by, every one of whom was a member of the Catholic majority. The right hon. Gentleman had apparently devised a system which infallibly, in a population in which the proportions of the two creeds were 90,000 against 7,000, brought out, purely by accident or coincidence, without any regard to religious or political convictions, twelve men of the faith and party represented by the minority of the population. If he could only devise a system which would have similar results in bringing out the winning numbers at Monte Carlo, there was not a newspaper in the country that would not give him the largest existing salary as the most successful tipster in the world. But was it not arguing a deeper depth of ignorance than even he (the speaker) could honestly attribute to the House of Commons that the right hon. Gentleman had the courage to say that a jury of such a character was not deliberately constituted with a view to packing the jury box with members of one religious creed and class and political party, so that the dice might be loaded and a verdict favourable to the Crown secured?
Since the opening of Parliament attention had been called to the Declaration which the Sovereign had to take. He was rather surprised that His Majesty's advisers had not felt it within their competence and power to advise the King not to repeat a form of Declaration which probably had gone out of use by mere lapse of time, and the words of which were offensive to millions of the subjects over whom he was called to reign. But if the Attorney General was justified in these proceedings in 951 Ireland, it was just the kind of Declaration the Sovereign of these realms ought to make. If it was true that a Catholic could not be trusted on his oath to give a true verdict in the jury-box, it was right that the Sovereign in the most solemn manner and at the first opportunity should denounce the religion which brought up its devotees to disregard the most solemn of oaths and the most sacred of duties. If the Government, however, wished to use the methods of autocracy in Ireland, let them do so openly, and not, under constitutional forms, endeavour by despotic methods to turn trial by jury into a farce and a falsehood.
He was glad the Attorney General had recognised the issue at stake. That issue was the United Irish League, and its methods and forms of combination. It was necessary for him to defend the aims and objects of that organisation, especially after the remarkable speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the previous evening, which, in his opinion, was a very long step towards a system of compulsory purchase, and, coming from the Treasury Bench, would mark an epoch in the Irish land struggle. In a most striking passage in that speech the Chief Secretary objected to compulsory purchase because it would "freeze" Ireland, and gave a description of the 123,000 peasants with holdings of under £4 valuation and £3 average rental, or, as the right hon. Gentleman graphically put it, 14d. a week, 2d. a day. "This," said the Chief Secretary, "is a part of the question which must not be lost sight of." Had the right hon. Gentleman been asleep during the last few months? That was exactly the part of the question that the United Irish League had not lost sight of. It was that very fact and factor of the land question that gave birth to the League. That organisation sprang to life in county Mayo, one of the counties in which this horrible system of miserable wretched patches of land obtained. It was the fact of these squalid patches of holdings existing side by side with splendid fertile lands, which for miles were unbroken by a single human face or habitation—it was the co-existence and juxtaposition of these two things that gave birth to the United Irish League, and the very 952 first plank in its platform was to bring about a state of feeling in Ireland and the House of Commons which would remedy that admitted evil by enlarging the small holdings and giving back to tillage and to man the land now given to sheep and oxen. He therefore claimed the Chief Secretary for Ireland, not as the first, but as one of the many illustrious converts which the United Irish League had already made. He claimed as another convert the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office, the present President of the Board of Trade, one of whose acts in office was the purchase of the Dillon Estate. That was an admirable act, and would be remembered to the honour of the right hon. Gentleman when other portions of his tenure of office were covered with blessed and kindly oblivion. What was the object of that purchase? It was to do exactly that which the present Chief Secretary rightly said was one of the necessities of the land question, namely, to enlarge the small and squalid holdings which existed in that part of the country. The Dillon Estate was purchased for the purpose of enlarging the small and squalid holdings in that part of the country, and that was one of the very first fruits reaped by the people of Mayo from the agitation of his hon. friend. No doubt this point would receive the usual official answer, and the right hon. Gentleman would no doubt try to prove by some method of arithmetic that there was no connection whatever between the purchase of the Dillon Estate and the existence of the United Irish League. The right hon. Gentleman might be able to convince this House, but all the arguments and official facts which he could bring forward would not convince the people of Mayo, who believed that the purchase of the Dillon Estate was the result of the action of the United Irish League. He therefore claimed the present Chief Secretary for Ireland and the late Chief Secretary as devotees and worshippers of the United Irish League. He might very appropriately quote the famous gibe of Mr. Disraeli to Mr. Peel when he adopted Free Trade, that while his friends were out bathing they had stolen their clothes. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had found the members of the United Irish League 953 bathing, and he had stolen their clothes. He did not need to defend the legality of the United Irish League. The right hon. Gentleman's action had placed him in an extraordinary position. He got up prepared to defend the ethics, the legality, and the beneficence of the United Irish League against the attacks of the Government, who described the members of the League as marauders and robbers, and in the midst of his observations the Chief Secretary declared that the only fault he had to find was that the League had stolen his thunder and that they were actually more loyal than the King.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
I would remind the hon. Member that although our objects may be identical, yet the methods employed for achieving them may be diametrically opposite.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said he might be allowed to say that the right hon. Gentleman's interruption did not strike him as being altogether relevant to the point, because the point he was making was the ends and not the means. [Ministerial laughter.] He intended to deal with the means presently. He did not mean to shirk anything. He accepted to the full the challenge of the Attorney General, and he would defend both the methods and the means. It was not necessary for him to defend the legality of the League, because the Attorney General had admitted its legality. If the methods adopted by the League were illegal, why was it not proclaimed? If they were not legal, why was the League not prosecuted? The fact was that its legality was admitted. With regard to the means, he asked the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite while he explained to them the historical and economic conditions which had produced such a form of combination in Ireland as the United Irish League. There was not anything in the combination of the League in Ireland which had not been gone through in England as well in the shape of combination. He challenged the right hon. and learned Gentleman's history with regard to trade unionism in England. Lord Justice Lindley said that trade unionists were not empowered by Parliament to use force for the purpose of getting others to work or to dissuade them from 954 working. Parliament would never confer that power upon trade unionism, and no trade unionists would ask for that power. What they did claim as trade unionists, and what the League claimed in Ireland, was to use every method of argument, of persuasion, of approval, and of disapproval, to induce men either to work or not to work, on the ground that their action was not for the common good of the whole people. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to be aware even of the events of his own days. Some years ago the dockers struck for an increase of wages, and they got much sympathy, not only from Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House, but also from many of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. What did the hon. Member for Battersea do? He not only asked the dockers of London to abstain from work, but he went down to the docks whenever he heard that "blacklegs" were coming from Hull, Liverpool, or Glasgow, and he begged, persuaded, and appealed to them not, for their own petty interests, to break down the great struggle for the right of the men to receive better wages, and to maintain a better standard of living. Was he prosecuted? Did the Attorney General come down and declare that he was guilty of intimidation, violence, and coercion? Was the hon. Member for Battersea tried at the Old Bailey by a jury of shipowners? Was he tried by a jury of dock shareholders? No, he was allowed to go down there, his liberty was not assailed, and to-day he was one of the most honoured, and justly honoured, Members of that assembly, and the part he played in the strike was one of the best things he ever did in his career. At the beginning of this century, four or five compositors were sent to gaol because they formed a union to increase wages. In the year 1834 seven agricultural labourers were sent beyond the seas because they wished to form an agricultural union in every county in England. To-day, in Ireland, they were fighting against prosecutions with packed juries and magistrates dependent upon the Executive for their appointment, their promotion, their pensions, and even for the food they ate, and all this which they were now passing through in Ireland was passed through in England half a century ago.
955 In Ireland they were now fighting for the rights which Englishmen gained half a century ago. The United Irish League said that a "grabber" was an enemy of the tenantry of Ireland, and of the people of Ireland; and they put a "grabber" in Ireland in exactly the same category as the trade unionists of England put the "nobstick" or the "blackleg." One of the real secrets of the virulence of the land question, of the famine, and of many of the evils in Ireland during the first half of the nineteenth century, was the insane and mad competition between tenant and tenant for the possession of land. He could not blame the tenant. In Ireland they had not the same industries as they had in England or Scotland. With the exception of a portion of the north of Ireland they had practically only one industry and one kind of employment for the people. All around them was uncertainty and shifting sand. The land was the one solid and substantial thing in Ireland to which everybody clung, and for which everybody longed. It was exactly as if they had a shipwrecked vessel with four hundred or five hundred passengers all swimming about in mid ocean, with only some thirty or forty small logs of wood to cling to. They stood between destruction and death. In the first half of the last century life in Ireland was poisoned by the frenzied desire of the people to get the land at any price. Mr. Mill in his book gave an instance in which the competition for a farm worth £50 a year rose to such an extent that a bidder was declared the tenant at £450 a year; that was to say at £400 a year more than the land could possibly bear. Under these circumstances the industry of the tenant could benefit no one but the landlord. Now, the landgrabber was the shopkeeper and the gombeen man. They heard a great deal about intimidation. If the Attorney General could prove that the United Irish League had led to crime he would have nothing further to say. But he held that the League had been proved to be a crimeless organisation, and that the only intimidation which it employed was the rule of every trade union. He was surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's vehemence against trade unions, for of all the trade unions in the country there was not one that had a severer code of professional etiquette than that to which 956 the right hon. Gentleman, as a member of the Bar, himself belonged. The right hon. Gentleman had no fear of the legal landgrabber, because he knew perfectly well that the professional body of which he was a member would soon deal with that individual, and see that the right hon. Gentleman got the number of guineas on his brief which the league of the lawyers imposed. Then there was the medical profession. What trade unions had severer codes than the legal and medical professions? The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury the previous evening was courageous enough to speak of Ireland as being in a prosperous condition, and one of the reasons he gave was that the country had the same population now as at the beginning of the century. The contention of the Irish representatives was that there was scarcely a field in Ireland that did not contain a living tomb in the shape of an evicted household, that did not speak of a sad and hideous domestic crisis; and they believed that in the United Irish League they had found a means, not only of saving the individual farmer, but of saving the nation from the ruin with which it was threatened.
He had one word to say in conclusion to the Chief Secretary. He had never said, and never should say, one word against him personally; he hoped to fight him politically, and politically only. He thought the position of the Chief Secretary was difficult, almost pathetic. He had in his veins the blood of one of the martyrs for Irish liberty, and he could not imagine for him a more glorious destiny than that he should complete the work which his ancestor began, to make Ireland free. But whatever his future might be, the United Irish League was too powerful now to be destroyed. Every blow he delivered at it would not weaken it, but strengthen it. Already it had won victories which entitled it to the gratitude of Irishmen. Those benches were proof of the fact that the Irish party were united, for the first time in ten years, in the bonds of discipline and loyalty one to the other. What brought them together? The United Irish League.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Mr. Speaker, I feel bound to rise at this period of the debate and after the speech to which the House 957 has just listened. But I must not be carried away by the rhetorical appeal which the hon. Member made. He gave a reason, with which everybody must be familiar by now, for expecting that I should at any rate do my best for Ireland while I occupy the position of Chief Secretary. But in my opinion the best thing that any Chief Secretary can do for Ireland is to keep a cool head and look at the problems which are presented to him with as much calm attention as he can command. What we are asked to look at tonight is mainly the United Irish League, its nature, its objects, and the methods it adopts to achieve those objects. I hope I shall be able to distinguish between the value of some of the objects which the League pursues and some of the methods which, in my opinion, should be reprehended and contemned by this House, and, when they are illegal, prosecuted by the law officers of the Crown.
We are debating to-night an Amendment to the Address in the body of which there are many stings, but the point of which is in the last paragraph —whereas the United Irish League desires to effect certain objects, and, whereas the nefarious proceedings of the Government interfere with the means adopted by the League to achieve these objects, therefore—and here we come to the point—we ask His Majesty's Government to extend the legislative protection of the Trade Union Act to all agricultural combinations in Ireland. That really is the Amendment before the House. The proposition that we should extend the Trade Union Act to agricultural combinations in Ireland would not alarm me if it were practicable to regard the small farmers as in any sense either workmen or masters. But I very much doubt whether hon. Members if they had read the Trade Union Act would have moved this Amendment at all. There are two Acts—the Act of 1871 and the Act of 1875, which is described as the charter of the British artisan's liberty. What do they provide? In the first place, that any combination of seven persons who agree together to become a trade union are to be registered, to keep accounts, to furnish those accounts to a public office, and to be responsible for certain acts. For that guarantee certain liberties are conceded —namely, that they can combine for 958 action in restraint of trade, which otherwise under ancient law would have been held to be a criminal conspiracy. But that liberty does not go as far as hon. ! Members opposite seem to imagine. It is hedged in and safeguarded at every point. In this Act of 1875 I would ask I hon. Members to consider Section 7. By that section every person who endeavours by certain means to compel any other person to abstain from doing or to do any act which he has a legal right to do or abstain from doing, is liable under this Act, which hon. Members ask us to apply to agricultural combinations in Ireland, either to pay a penalty not exceeding £20 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, with or without hard labour. If the Government frankly adopted the Amendment of the hon. Member—supposing the practical difficulty as to the definition of what workman and master mean could be easily overcome—we should be denounced for having introduced a Coercion Act of a much more subtle and far-reaching character than any that has yet been passed by this House. The practical objection to accepting this Amendment is that the demand made upon Parliamentary time in order to overcome the opposition of every single Irish Nationalist Member to such a proceeding would be too great in a session when the programme is already very much in arrear. That is not an exaggerated statement of these Acts.
Now I come to what I called the sting in the body of the Amendment —the charges that are made against the Government. The hon. Member for the City of Cork has asked me a very frank question. I hope I shall be equally frank in my reply. I identify myself wholly with the policy pursued by the present Viceroy, Lord Cadogan. I can- not make it too clear that it has been, and it is, the policy of the Irish Government to give protection to every man who is entitled to protection from the law. And what are some of these charges against us? They are that meetings have been capriciously suppressed. Some of the meetings which have been referred to took place before I was Chief Secretary, but I hold that every one of them was properly suppressed. Hon. Members are not to suppose that the Government is interfering capriciously 959 with meetings here, there, and everywhere. The figures given by the Attorney General were below the mark. Since the United Irish League was started there have been 879 meetings, and twenty-eight have been prevented. Since I became Chief Secretary there have been ninety-nine meetings, and five have been prevented. I defend every one of those actions. The meeting at Armagh was proclaimed by the local magistrates because they knew it would result in a collision between Catholics and Orangemen at the place fixed for it. And they were perfectly right. It would bare resulted in a collision; and they behaved precisely as any magistrate would have behaved in this country, or in France, or in any other country in Europe. They said the meeting was not to be held where it would excite a riot; but of course they allowed persons to gather together beyond the limits where such a regrettable result was to be anticipated. That is the whole story. I assure hon. Members who are not familiar with this topic, once so well known in this House, that that is what has always been done. The comment invariably is that the Government has been outwitted and that a triumphant meeting has been held. It is not the object of the Government to prevent meetings and free speech in Ireland. It is the object of the Government to prevent unlawful assemblies from taking place. Hon. Members will remember when another Government had to stop a meeting of trade unionists, and, an inquiry being held, it was found that the Government were right in stopping the meeting, that the soldiers were right also in firing on the mob, and that the Government, the magistrates, the officers the soldiers, and the police had only done their duty. I will not elaborate that point now, but I will on another occasion—and I am sure hon. Members from Ireland will give me many occasions—defend, if need be, every single action of the Executive in respect to these points. Let me tell the House that in respect of one of these meetings —the meeting at Achonry—the comment of authorities whom hon. Members opposite would respect has been entirely upon the side of the Government. That was a meeting which we prevented—we did not proclaim it. There was a farm 960 there which had been boycotted, and the tenant had been intimidated. He was injured and was entitled to protection. When a large crowd, with a band and banners, marched in a threatening manner towards this man's farm, the police interposed and stopped them. The Bishop of Achonry, speaking on the subject within a few days, stated that the people had acted in a very foolish and wrong manner, and gave a "wigging" to those who had instigated them. So that the action of the Government is, at any rate, not universally condemned in Ireland.
I think the Attorney General has dealt, and dealt well with all the legal points which have been advanced as to jury-packing. If we are to be accused, we stand where Lord Spencer and Mr. Morley stood. Their words are known, and must be known, to the world and to any persons who administer the law of Ireland. It is necessary for those whose duty it is to see that justice is-done to see that justice is not perverted. Let me come to the United Irish League and its objects, because I am afraid I must correct a part of the speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. The first object stated here is the establishment of a peasant proprietary in Ireland. There is no mention of compulsion in this Amendment, so mild and reasonable are the objects of the League. So far I agree with the hon. Member, that the objects of the Government and of the League, as stated in this Amendment, are identical. We hope to have peasant ownership in Ireland, and the Government have put into the King's Speech an announcement to that effect. It is urged that the pace is too slow and the course is too heavy. The policy of the Government is to accelerate the one and to lighten the other. If we are to indulge in charges of plagiarism, I say in this case it is the League which has plagiarised the policy of the Government. After all, the League can claim to be only three years old, whereas the Conservative party has advocated this policy in effect for fifty years, and practically for twenty-one years. The next object of the-League, as stated in this Amendment, is that extensive tracts in the West of Ireland should be used in order to relieve congestion. Let us examine that. My- 961 right hon. friend the Leader of the House nine years ago passed an Act which contained a provision that the Congested Districts Board was to purchase property in the congested districts in order that there should be migration. So again the League is plagiarising the policy of their Tory tyrants.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
My suggestion is that the League should join the Government, and I will state why. If we are both to hoe the same patch we had better take the drills in the same direction and not at right angles. The hon. Gentleman has stated that the action of the League instigated the Congested Districts Board to buy the Dillon estate. I say it is not so. I say to the House and the country that the action of the League has retarded and is retarding the action of the Congested Districts Board.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me to say that the first estate that was purchased in the west of Ireland by the Congested Districts Board was the Clare Island estate. Is it not a fact that that estate was purchased at my request and on the joint guarantee of the Archbishop of Tuam and myself for the rent for seven years?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The hon. Member deserves credit if he had any part in the purchase of Clare Island, but that estate was purchased three years before the United Irish League was started. If we were all agreed to pursue these objects by the same methods it would be a consummation most devoutly to be desired, but the Congested Districts Board never did, and never will as long as I am president of it, buy one acre or rood of land off which any man has been driven by illegality or even by illegitimate pressure.
This problem is not insoluble. Problems as difficult are solved every day by the simple process of paying a proper price for the thing desired, and if we devote our attention to what we consider beneficent public objects in Ireland the bone of contention between hon. Members on this side and the other will be removed. Does this Amendment mean that the Irish Nationalist party 962 have made up their minds to pursue a constitutional policy in this House, and to abandon altogether some of the courses they have pursued in Ireland? [An HON. MEMBER: No, certainly not.] May I not, then, submit to hon. Members from Ireland that they must not denounce Unionist Members—above all, Irish Unionist Members—if they look somewhat askance at such a proposal as that which stands first in this Amendment, especially when the hon. Member for Cork makes speeches such as his speech this evening, and speeches he made in Ireland, stating that land reform is to be but a stalking-horse for Home Rule. That may be a political programme, but is it one likely to commend itself to this House? Is it fair or reasonable for hon. Members to invite the attention of this House to what seem reasonable proposals of reform, and condemn this House as bigoted, narrow, and non-Irish because it does not accept them, and at the same time to declare that these reforms are merely stalking-horses for achieving a great political project?
I hope it may some day be possible that those who will fight for the Union, as we shall, to the end of time, and those who will fight on in the belief that a separate Parliament will bring great blessings to Ireland, may agree—perhaps I am too sanguine, but I think it possible —to contend in this House constitutionally, and that we may in almost friendly rivalry strive to increase the material prosperity of Ireland. That is a better plan than the plan of coming to; this House with proposals which would be entertained if coming from any other quarter of the House, and given that consideration which Parliament would give—
§ MR. WYNDHAM
And why not from Irish Members? Because you put the jury against you. Because you say that when you wish to improve the land system in Ireland your land policy is only a stalking-horse for Home Rule. There have been other methods, which I do not attribute wholesale to the United Irish League. The League is Protean in its transformations. In tropical countries hon. Members who have been abroad may have observed small wind eddies 963 that pick up everything in their path and again deposit these collections; and so it has been with the expansion and movement of the League during the past nine months. Coming to a place where what are called advanced men are found, the chairman, secretary, and treasurer are advanced men; but when the League comes to some quiet Arcadia where a priest exercises a benevolent despotism, then he is made chairman and summons a meeting, a shilling is collected all round, and the branch is adjourned sine die. That is why, though I understand some of the attacks levelled at the League as an organisation, I do not think it would be just to declare the League a criminal conspiracy. Its transformations are too rapid for that. It began, as this Amendment begins, with the object of acquiring grass lands in Mayo, but since then much else has been collected and distributed. It picks up a number of delegates and lands them in a convention in Dublin; it picks up a number of members and lands them here as once more a united, organised Irish party.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The hon. Member has anticipated me. I am very glad that the Irish boycott of the House is over. I think by meeting here and discussing together political projects as they are discussed by English and Scotch Members we may do something, or at least we shall have a chance of doing something, greater than if we each stay in our own' island snarling and gibing at each other in newspapers read on one side of the Channel and not on the other. Let us meet here and have it out. Surely there are many questions in which Englishmen and Irishmen are equally interested, many questions besides the land question. There is the question of education in Ireland, the position of Youthful offenders in Ireland, the industries of Ireland, the question of industrial schools. These and many other matters we surelymaydiscuss together as English, Scotch, and Welsh Members discuss, without making them stalking-horses for Home Rule.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The League has forged this united Irish party, and its members may command the attention of Parliament as Irishmen, by their ability and eloquence, have always commanded the attention of Parliament. Let us take' the proposal in the Amendment as a legitimate object, put forward constitutionally in this House—let us contend in such an arena, with Home Rule barred until it is practical—barred, I mean practically, for it is impossible to proceed with it now or for some years to come. If we do that, each confident that his cause must win—we confident that the Union will never be even imperilled hon. Members opposite holding another view—one must win, the other must lose—and if we contend within such an arena as I have described, then both the winner and the vanquished may gain greater prizes than the stake they played for.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
The right hon. Gentleman stated that the United Irish League has deposited a united Irish party in this House. As a matter of fact it has deposited two parties, of which I am one. If the House will allow me, in the few minutes that remain, I should like to give my reasons for voting for the Amendment. My first reason is that I have not read it; my second reason is that, after listening to the speech of the mover, I agree with almost every word of what he said. I will put it to the House, to men who think that after the course of years you are gradually-acquiring some little hold on the minds and intellect of Ireland, what prospect have you for your Imperialism or of creating any permanent cohesion between, the two islands?
The right hon. Gentleman has made-several appeals to us—some reasonable, some unreasonable. I have sometimes ventured to make appeals to that Bench in various times, but they have never prevailed. Why? Because while we address the Treasury Bench openly from these benches—and our speeches have to be made openly—vindicating the Irish position in Ireland, well we know that Ireland is not governed by reference to those speeches, but by reference to the back-door intrigues and the intrigues of landlords in Dublin Castle. One word behind your chair, Sir, from an 965 Orange Member is more potent with the Government than the united voice of the; eighty Members on this side; and the very reason for the Amendment has been the cause of the irregularity and illegality into which you have been stupidly and foolishly driven in Ireland by your bad advisers. Why is the Member for Dover Chief Secretary to-day? Why is not the President of the Board of Trade Chief Secretary? He was driven out of Ireland by landlord intrigue, because he passed the Land Act of '96 and the Local Government Act of 1898. Although he was a relative and all of the most powerful statesman of the Empire, he was thrown as a peace-offering to my Lord Ardilaun. What are we representatives of the peasants of the country to think, who know how potent are these forces which command the entire legislature across the hall, when we see a statesman who has devoted himself to the interest of our country in a small degree sacrificed with as little care for public opinion in Ireland as you would show to a dismissed policeman. The Government ask us to believe them. They talk about law and order—they say it is their business to maintain law and order. I say it is their business in Ireland to leave the people alone: that is what we want from you. You compare yourselves sometimes to the Romans of the great Roman Empire. You extract 9¼ millions out of our wretched people every year. That ought to be enough for you. You get regiment after regiment out of the country who show the utmost devotion in the field, while at the same time you evict their fathers and keep their children in the poorhouses. The Romans were satisfied with taxation and legionaries: but what must you do? You take the most miserable and shameful class—the land-grabbers—and devote the whole forces of the British Empire to buttressing them up. Every land-grabber in the country can get ten, twelve, or twenty policemen, costing £2,000 or £3,000, to protect him, out of a country in which there are, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, 150,000 people living on 2d. a day, all because these unfortunate people try to cling to their country. Oh, but the British Govern- 966 ment must uphold law and order What is law and order I want to know? That is to say, it is law. A man who professes the Catholic faith is constantly brought long distances to the assizes, leaving his home and industry. If he does not attend on his summons he is fined £20; while if he attends, some wretched caitiff—a member of a Freemason lodge or an Orange lodge—the moment his name is mentioned, says, "You are unworthy of belief: out you go again; we do not want you." Day after day he is brought in and has the ignominy of being cast aside, why not pass an Act excluding all Catholics from the jury box? I remember the Attorney General's great essay to convict myself. I have often twitted him about it. He prosecuted me as a Whiteboy, or a highwayman—I forget exactly which. He advised me that my trial was fixed for eleven o'clock; but instead of taking it at that hour they first put on a horse-thief before me, and they put twelve of the strongest Catholic Nationalists on the jury and of course denuded my panel of jurors to that extent. That was twenty years ago; but what went on in 1880, and 1890, is going on in 1900, and I. suppose will go on as long as the Union lasts. You prize the valour of your Catholic soldiers; you let them wear the shamrock on St. Patrick's day: you do everything so long as they are acting in the English service; but as soon as it is a question of affecting Ireland, they are absolutely boycotted. You are the boy-cotters. They are absolutely proscribed, as much proscribed as if the penal laws had never been repealed. The right hon. Gentleman has, of course, with his usual ability, attacked this motion on the ground that this is only a stalking-horse, as he says, for Home Rule. Well, that is a very easy thing to say. We might as well say of some of his actions that they are intended as stalking-horses for the Union. I say, take them at large, and the mass of Irishmen would rather remain in their rags than forfeit their hopes for the liberties of the country. For myself, having worn the stones of Westminster Hall for many a year—of course I am told from time to time that our cause is failing, and that our hopes are flagging—I do not believe at the present moment that in these twenty years—except some man 967 who draws a salary—the English Government has made a single friend in Ireland outside of Dublin Castle. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary meets any man outside Dublin Castle who is not a Home Ruler, who is not at all events anti-British and anti-English. As the days go on, outside of a very small section of the community there is not a single man in Ireland of any class or creed who has any faith in the
§ British Government. That is what has brought about Amendments such as that which has been moved to-night; and if I vote for it I vote for it on the principle that it is against the English Government, and whatever is against the English Government I am in favour of.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 109;'Noes, 203. (Division List, No. 8.)969
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc.,Stroud||Gilhooly, James||O'Connor, James(Wicklow,W.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hammond, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hardie,J. Keir(MerthyrTydvil||O'Doherty, William|
|Harry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Blake, Edward||Hayne, Rt. Hon.CharlesSeale-||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Boland, John||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Dowd, John|
|Boyle, James||Hemphill, Rt. Hon.Charles H.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Brown, Geo. M. (Edinburgh)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||O'Malley, William|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, William(Carnarvonsh.)||O'Mara, James|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Caldwell, James||Joyce, Michael||O'Shee, James John|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Kennedy, Patrick James||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Carvill,Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Kinloch, Sir J. George Smyth||Rea, Russell|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Labouchere, Henry||Reddy, M.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Leaney, Edmund||Redmond, John E.(Waterford)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Leigh, Sir Joseph (Stockport)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lloyd-George, David||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lundon, W.||Roche, John|
|Cremer, William Randal||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Cullinan, J.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Shipman, Dr. John|
|Daly, James||M'Cann, James||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Delany, William||M'Fadden, Edward||Sullivan, Donal|
|Dewar,Jn. A.(Inverness-shire)||M'Govern, T.||Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan,E.|
|Dillon, John||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thompson, E.C.(Monaghan,N.|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duffy, William J.||Minch, Matthew||Tully, Jasper|
|Dunn, Sir William||Mooney, John J.||Wason,Eugene(Clackmannan|
|Elibank, Master of||Murnaghan, George||White, Patrick (Meath,North)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Murphy, J.||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk,Mid)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Field, William||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien,|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Acland-Hood,Capt Sir Alex, F.||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Chapman, Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bigwood, James||Charrington, Spencer|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bill, Charles||Colomb,Sir John Charles Ready|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Compton, Lord Alwyne|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Corbett,A. Cameron(Glasgow)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Brodrick, Rt Hon. St. John||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Brown,AlexanderH. (Shropsh.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Bull, William James||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Butcher, John George||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Carlile, William Walter||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dewar,T. R(T'rH' mlets,S. Geo.|
|Balfour,Rt.Hon.A.J.(Manch'r||Cavendish, V.C. W. (Derbysh.||Dickinson, Robert Edmond|
|Balfour.Rt.Hon.G.W. (Leeds)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Beach,Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Chamberlain, J Austen(Worc'r||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Knowles, Lees||Purvis, Robert|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Radcliffe, R. F.|
|Faber, George Denison||Lawson, John Grant||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lecky,Rt. Hon.Wm.Edw. H.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Lee,CaptA. H. (Hants,Fareh'm||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Fergusson,Rt. Hn. Sir J(Manc'r||Leigh Bennett, Henry Currie||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Leveson-Gower,FrederickN.S.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Finch, George H.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long,Col.Chas. W. (Evesham)||Ritchie,Rt. Hn. Chas.Thomson|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Long,Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol,S||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|FitzGerald,SirRobertPenrose-||Lowe, Francis William||Russell, T. W.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft||Saunderson,Rt. Hn. Col.Edw. J|
|Flower, Ernest||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Forster, Henry William||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Macartney,Rt. HnW.G. Ellison||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Macdona, John Cumming||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Gordon,MajEvans-(T'rH'ml'ts||Maconochie, A. W.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Gore, Hon. F. S. Ormsby-||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Smith,H.C. (Nrthmb, Tyneside|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||M'Calmont,Col.J.(Antrim,E.)||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Majendie, James A. H.||Spear, John Ward|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Manners, Lord Cecil||Stanley,Hn. Arthur(Ormskirk|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Stroyan, John|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Milner,Rt.Hon.Sir Frederick G.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Hamilton,RtHn.LordG(M'd'x||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hamilton,Marq of (L'nd'nd'rry||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Talbot,Rt.Hn.J.G.(Oxfd Uni.|
|Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||More,Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morrell, George Herbert||Tufnell, Col. Edward|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Heath, Jas. (Staffords., N.W.||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Helder, Augustus||Mount, William Arthur||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Henderson, Alexander||Murray,Rt.Hn.A.Graham (Bute||Wason,JohnCathcart(Orkney|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Murray,Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Nicholson, William Graham||Welby,Lt-Col A. C. E. (Tauntn)|
|Hobhouse, H. (Somerset, E.)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hope, J. F.(Shef'ld,Brightside||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Howard, Capt J.(Kent,Faversh.||Parkes, Ebenezer||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Hozier,Hon. James Henry Cecil||Pease, Herbert P.(Darlington)||Wilson, A.Stanley(York,E.R.|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Peel,Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley||Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh,N.|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wodehouse,Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Jessel,Captain Herbert Merton||Penn, John||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Percy, Earl||Young, Commander(Berks,E.|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop)||Plummer, Walter R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Keswick, William||Pretyman, Ernest George||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn till Monday next,"—(Sir William Walrond)—put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed
§ Debate arising; and it being after midnight, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.