HC Deb 23 July 1902 vol 111 cc1015-7
MR. MOORE (Antrim, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a meeting of a branch of the United Irish League took possession of the Court House at Cork, on Friday 18th, in the control of His Majesty's High Sheriff, and proceeded to hold a meeting there and to deliver speeches; and will he state what action will be taken in respect of such conduct, and also in respect of such speeches.


Yes, Sir, my attention has been called to this matter. It is the undoubted duty of a High Sheriff to see that a court house in his custody is only used by the County Council for the execution of their duties. In this case the County Council, having met at noon, converted itself at 1.30 into a political meeting—a proceeding as disingenuous as it was discreditable to a public body. On the previous evening the High Sheriff despatched a telegram to the Under Secretary, as representing the Executive Government, in which he stated that a meeting of the United Irish League was announced for the next day in the County Council Chamber, and asking for instructions. The telegram did not reach Dublin Castle until five minutes to eight. It revealed an imperfect appreciation of the duties and responsibilities of a Sheriff, but I ought in fairness to add that the manœuvre to which the County Council descended was calculated to confuse the issue. This statement of the position will, I hope, convince the hon. Member that the remainder of his Question cannot be dealt with by way of question and answer.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

As I was present at the meeting, and was cognisant of all the facts which led up to it, may I be allowed to ask the right, hon. Gentleman whether it is not the fact that this convention of delegates from all parts of the county of Cork was publicly announced in all the newspapers four or five days in advance, to be held in the County Council Chamber on that date; and whether it is not the fact that the County Council did not resolve itself into a political meeting at all, but that, on the contrary, the Council Chamber was occupied by a body of several hundred delegates, who appointed a chairman and secretary in the ordinary way?


My information is of an opposite character. My information is that it was put about that this meeting was to be held in the Assembly Rooms; and I may note that the Freeman's Journal, which, I believe, more or less accurately represents the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman, in its report the next day described this very manoeuvre with eulogy, and attributed it to the chairman, who was described as an astute campaigner.


Will the right hon. Gentleman permit me to send him copies of newspapers published in Dublin and Cork four or five days in advance of the meeting, stating that the meeting would be held in the County-Council Chamber?


Of course I will accept any such communication from the hon. and learned Member. But assuming, as I now do, that that is the case, I am the more at a loss to understand the perplexity of the Sheriff.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if the local police authority in Cork refused to supply the Sheriff of that county with the requisite force for the discharge of his duty in controlling the court-house; and whether he will state what action he proposes to take.


No, Sir.