§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £14,371, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary in Dublin and London, and of the Inspectors of Lunatic Asylums."
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said he rose to propose a diminution of the salary of the Chief Secretary by the sum of £100, and he did so with very great regret, having known his right hon. friend for a number of years. Admiring, as he did, his great ability, and believing, as well, that he had the welfare of Ireland at heart, he greeted his appointment as Chief Secretary with very great satisfaction, especially as he knew he did not come there in the character of a novice, for he had made acquaintance with Irish affairs under a notable and successful master. 737 The right hon. Gentleman was in Ireland when the Prime Minister was Chief Secretary, and the Prime Minister as Chief Secretary did what no other Chief Secretary had done before; he laid, during his tenure of office, the foundation of a great reputation as a statesman. There were three methods by which it was possible to govern Ireland. They might govern Ireland in the interests of the majority of the people; they might govern her in the interests of the majority, or they might govern the country in the interests of Ireland alone, irrespective of both Parties. To his mind the last was the proper way to govern Ireland, and it was the method adopted by the Prime Minister when he was Chief Secretary. The First Lord of the Treasury, regardless of oceans of abuse which were poured upon his head in the North and South of Ireland, achieved his object—the pacification of the country, and, in doing so, he earned the admiration and respect of his Opponents, as well as of his political friends. When the present Chief Secretary went over to Ireland to assume the reins of Government, they naturally anxiously looked out for some indication as to which of the three methods of government he would adopt. They had not, however, long to wait until they found the direction—the fatal direction—in which his steps were leading him. That indication was afforded by three appointments which were made to important positions in the Government of Ireland. The first was the appointment of a gentleman who had taken a promiment part in the "Plan of Campaign," Mr. Gill. Another appointment was that of Mr. Finucane, who was made one of the Chief Land Commissioners. The third appointment which indicated the line along which his feet were treading was that of Sir Antony McDonnell. It was a strange thing that the Government of Ireland should seek those who were to help to govern that country from a place like India. He remembered that late Lord Salisbury once made a speech about "black men and Hottentots," which provoked great ire among hon. Members opposite, but, after all, it was a harmless remark. Still, was it to be assumed that, because a man had successfully governed forty millions of Hindoos, 738 that fact justified his appointment to govern four and three - quarter millions of Irishmen, especially in face of the fact that those Irishmen occupied more of the time of the House of Commons than did the inhabitants of any other portion of the British Empire?
They had not very long to wait before the effect of the appointment of Sir Antony McDonnell became clear. The House would remember that there had been a Dreyfus case in France which very nearly upset the French Republic, and although Captain Dreyfus was a very humble officer, yet the fate of the Republic hung upon his false condemnation without evidence and without a fair trial. Well, he had to tell them that there was an Irish Dreyfus, and had it not been that the case of Constable Anderson had come to their knowledge, had they not been placed in a position to make representations to the Government on the subject of Constable Anderson's treatment, he might now have been a disgraced man, and the woman whom he had married might have borne a dishonoured name. Constable Anderson was a very humble person, but an Irish constable had just as much right to justice as a Jew. Knowing, as he did, the chivalrous character of his right hon. friend, he was certain that when he got up to reply he would take the whole blame in connection with the case on his own shoulders. He would say, "I am the man to blame," but there was no reason—there was no justification for his taking that line of action as the House would realise when he (the speaker) came to relate the circumstances as clearly and as shortly as he could. When it came to his knowledge that this case of gross and incredible injustice had been perpetrated in the twentieth century in Ireland, he went to the right hon. friend the Chief Secretary and related to him as clearly as he could the whole facts of the Anderson case as far as he knew them. Some details had since cropped up, but at any rate, as the result of what he related to the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary told him that he had never heard a word about Anderson. He thereupon informed him that it was a case so atrocious that he intended to bring it before the House of commons, where every man had a right to air his 739 grievances. His right hon. friend suggested that he should delay doing so until he had been able to obtain information in regard to the matter. Well, the right hon. Gentleman got his information, and he thought he would have to admit that he found that the statements which had been made to him were practically borne out by the facts of the case. He noticed that his right hon. friend shook his head as to that, but it was clear that the right hon. Gentleman got certain information, that the Law Officers of the Crown reported upon it, and the result was that Anderson was reinstated, and received his back pay. Therefore, it might be taken that the right hon. Gentleman found out that the statements made to him were amply justified by the facts; otherwise, why should he have reinstated the man and given him his back pay. If he were guilty of the charges made against him he ought never to have been reinstated. If he were innocent, as he had been proved to be, it was only right that he should have been reinstated and should have received his back pay.
It ought to be borne in mind that Constable Anderson had a record of seventeen-and-a-half years service, without one mark against his conduct during the whole of that long period. At the end of that term he committed a crime in the eyes of some persons which cannot be condoned or overcome. He fell in love with a Roman Catholic girl, and the priest of the parish—Father O'Hara—determined that the marriage should never come off. It was well known that the Irish priesthood were opposed to mixed marriages. They refused, and no doubt conscientiously believed they had a right to do so, to allow the gulf, which they themselves had helped to dig between two parts of the population to have a matrimonial bridge thrown across it. How was this to be accomplished? The girl was one off Father O'Hara's own parishioners, she had some property in the parish, and it was desired that her marriage with the constable should be prevented. Father O'Hara appeared to be not only a strong politician but a man capable also of laying very clever plans in order to carry out his own will. He set to work to try and get rid of the constable—to get him 740 sent out of the district. He got hold of witnesses, he interviewed them personally, and some of them, apparently, he instructed as to the accusations which were to be brought against this constable. Those accusations were three in number. In the first place the constable was accused of using obscene language to some little boys in the street on a certain occasion; secondly, the accusation was that he was seen going into a public-house during service hours by a back door and coming out at the front door; and the third accusation, which was the real accusation—the grave one which was said to demand his dismissal from the force—was that he had been seen with the girl to whom he was engaged to be married going out on bicycles, that they had been tracked into a wood at ten o'clock at night, and that there had been improper conduct on their part. Such were the three accusations. Those accusations were formulated and sent up to Sir Neville Chamberlain by the rev. Father O'Hara, and the result was that there was inquiry into them. In the end Anderson was declared to be not guilty of any of the charges.
One would have imagined that in any civilised country there would then have been an end of the case so far as those particular accusations were concerned, and that they would have vanished into thin air. But nothing of the kind happened here. When a priest once set out to accomplish a certain thing he was not to be easily stopped. Father O'Hara consequently took further steps. Now he came to another point. On a certain occasion he made a speech in Ireland—it was last year—and mentioned the fact that Father O'Hara had been in direct communication with Sir Antony McDonnell in this very case. He made the accusation in public, it appeared in print, and his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary very properly, no doubt, took exception to the speech, and wrote him a letter stating that he was perfectly wrong in the allegation he had made. He wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman still adhered to that opinion. He remembered that in answer to a Question very recently in that House the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that Father O'Hara and Sir Antony McDonnell had had a conversation at a 741 meeting of the Congested Districts Board on that particular case, when it was still sub judice. He had no doubt when he made that charge, and he repeated it now, that this was a got-up job between Father O'Hara and Sir Antony Mc Donnell.
But what had since occurred? After the acquittal of this constable on all three counts, Sir Antony McDonnell decided that there should be a public and sworn inquiry into the transaction. He would like to know where Sir Neville Chamberlain came into the matter. Still, the sworn inquiry was held into the conduct of the constable, and at that inquiry nothing new was brought forward beyond the three counts upon which Anderson had already been acquitted. Witnesses were brought up to prove the charges, but no new accusations were made. The witnesses said all they had to say, and what was the result. It transpired that the witnesses who testified against Constable Anderson had been in direct communication with Father O'Hara, and one boy, who accused the constable of making use of obscene language, admitted in his evidence that he went to Father O'Hara's house. He was asked, "Were you speaking to Father O'Hara?" and his reply was, "No, he was speaking to me." What did it mean, the priest of the parish getting a boy eleven years of age to his house, and telling him what he would have to prove against the policeman? Why, no one would hang a dog on such evidence. All the witnesses, apparently, had been in direct communication with Father O'Hara, and that induced him to believe that it was a got-up job, that it was a nefarious conspiracy against one unhappy man—a weak man on the one side, and the power of the Irish priesthood and the permanent Under-Secretary for Ireland on the other. What chance had the single man.
He would not weary the House by going through the evidence. It could be seen by anyone who took the trouble to examine it that the people who bore testimony against Anderson were all personally animated against him. For instance, there was the public house keeper. He admitted that he was personally antagonistic to Anderson, and it appeared from the evidence of the 742 county inspector that Anderson had been particularly active in dealing with public-houses which sold liquor during illegal hours. Luckily for Anderson the accusation against him as to having been seen going into the public-house on a Sunday was borne out by his own testimony, for he entered in the police diary—as it was his duty to—the fact that he had visited this particular house. Then as to the question of misconduct in the wood, that was by far the most serious question. He had never conceived that there could be such a lack of chivalry on the part of Irishmen as had been displayed by hon. Members opposite in this case. With all their faults, Irishmen were supposed to have the one virtue of chivalry, and if they only read Tom Moore they would see what value he attached to the gem of virtue in womanhood. When he found that the hon. Member for East Mayo had on the Paper the Question, which was, he believed, actually put to the Chief Secretary by the Member for South Kilkenny, in regard to the poor woman whose name had been mixed up with this case, asking whether the girl that Anderson had married was the one with whom this misconduct was alleged to have taken place, he thought that all chivalry was dead. He had never thought to see in the House of Commons a man who would try to destroy the honour of one of his fellow-countrywomen by an invidious and odious Question such as that—a Question unworthy of an Irishman and of a Member of the House of Commons. He naturally put down a Question immediately afterwards. He was not going to allow an atrocious slander to be put upon the Paper without reply, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government had evidence that this girl, who had been brought to Dublin by her mother and examined there by doctors, who had declared her to be virgo intacta, was the same with whom it was suggested the misconduct had taken place, and he got a reply in the affirmative, so that, at any rate, whatever the unfortunate circumstances in this case, the girl had emerged from the controversy with her honour untarnished.
Constable Anderson was now living in another part of Ireland. But what he wanted the House to consider was that there was something infinitely more serious 743 than the constable's reputation at stake. How were they going to deal with a force which, under the most difficult conditions, had always been true to their rule. What would members of the Royal Irish Constabulary do if evidence of this kind was to be got up against them for venomous and malicious purposes, and they were to be placed at the mercy of any conspirators? That was a serious question which the House ought to consider. The Anderson case was not the only one which showed how the wind was blowing. Another case happened only the other day at a place called Roundstone in Connemara. Happily, however, there was no woman concerned in that, but still it was almost as bad as the Anderson case. At the time the incident occurred Roundstone was anticipating a visit from the Archbishop of Tuam, and naturally great preparations were being made with flags and banners to give him a reception. At Roundstone there were two Protestant constables. These were met in the street by a public-house keeper, who had a large display of bunting over his establishment, and who asked them—knowing that there was some difficulty in the law with regard to the display of flags over such establishments—if they thought he was out side the law in allowing the flags to fly. The constables replied that perhaps he might be, and he thereupon said he would take the flags down. But at that they both remonstrated with him, and said they were not sure of the position, and that they had no authority to ask him to remove the flags. Was it a crime for the policemen to give their opinion or advice when asked for it? These men simply did that, and one would have imagined that nothing more would have happened. There was, however, a priest in the parish, Father Gleeson, who seemed to be very much of the same sort as Father O'Hara, and he apparently communicated with Sir Antony McDonnell. Then, without any tried and without being given any opportunity of defending themselves, these two constables found one day that a superior officer came down to administer to them a severe reprimand for their conduct. They did not know what they had done; they did not know who was their accuser, and very naturally they refused to lie 744 down under the censure. They accordingly asked for a public inquiry. One of the constables had now been transferred—not of his own free will—but the other still remained in the place. The Chief Secretary, in answer to a Question which was addressed to him the other day, said it was not owing to this incident that the constable had been removed, but he was bound to say that the facts were very suspicious. At any rate, the men demanded to know the name of their accuser, and the nature of the charges brought against them, in order that they might have an opportunity of refuting them. This appeared to have caused some excitement at headquarters. He supposed the shadow of the Anderson case had fallen over the Castle, and the result was that orders were issued for an inquiry, and the men were examined for the first time respecting the charges of this priest, Mr. Gleeson.
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
Father Gleeson, if you please. He has as much right to be called the Rev. as you have to be called Colonel. He is a much better man.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said that was beside the question. The rev. Father Gleeson had received a letter from Sir Antony McDonnell communicating to him the written protests of both these constables. Had anyone ever heard of such a proceeding as that? These documents were invariably held to be confidential, and he ventured to say that if any Member of the House had asked for the reproduction of a communication of that kind the right hon. Gentleman would have refused it. But here they had the case of a parish priest writing up to the Deputy-Governor of Ireland, and getting from him a copy of the protests of these men. That was not the way to conduct Irish affairs, and it was not the way to maintain discipline and honour in the Irish Constabulary Force. His object in bringing this matter forward, and in proposing the reduction of the salary of the Chief Secretary, was to make, before the session closed, a protest against a system of government in Ireland which had been tried in the past, and had hitherto ended in disastrous failure. One thing, at any rate, lovalists 745 of northern Ireland, including as they did many Roman Catholics, looked upon with abhorrence, and that was the degrading spectacle of a human being being jumped upon by priests. To that they would never consent. He spoke, however, of course, for a small minority of Members. They were, no doubt, a small Party in the House, but at the same time ventured to say that, though small in numbers, they represented the greatest constituency in the Empire. They represented the loyal men from the Giant's Causeway down to Cape Clear, and wherever they heard of injustice being perpetrated, upon whomsoever it might be, they would exercise their undoubted right to raise their voices in the House of Commons in protest against it.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum not exceeding £14,271, be granted for the said Service.—(Colonel Saunderson.)
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN (Kilkenny, N.)
admired the courage of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who did not whisper vituperation like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast, who was leaving the House, who was in fact all evicted War Minister, after having grabbed h is position in the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman was leaving the War Office as he had had to leave every position he had ever held, and he had not the courage to face the Irish Members. He was glad that this question of Constable Anderson had been raised. After all the hysterics on Orange platforms in Ireland and in the yellow organs in this country, it was well that the matter shall be threshed out. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman laid boasted of his great constituency, but some of his colleagues were not likely to be returned to the House at the next general election, and he doubted if the hon. Member for North Antrim would have much cause to smile when that day came. The hon. and learned Gentleman had occupied the position of unpaid private secretary to the Chief Secretary, but he was found to be too dear at the price; he discovered it was not consistent with his idea of Irish patriotism to hold an unpaid office. He had risen to impeach the conduct of the Chief Secretary in connection with 746 one of the most scandalous transactions which had ever been known in the history of Irish administration. The right hon. and gallant Member had complained of certain appointments made by the Chief Secretary. Well, those appointments were the very basis of the Anderson case. Hon. Gentlemen opposite never refused appointments. The Ulster Tory only gave up office when the emoluments were too small. But the right hon. Gentleman should have been the last to complain on that score, for hid not his son been appointed an inspector of the Local Government Board at a salary of £1,000 a year?
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
Perhaps I am mistaken, but it probably would have been increased had not the right hon. Gentleman raised a Tory revolt in the House of Commons. He did not object to the fact that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had secured an appointment for his own son; probably he was perfectly fitted for the office he held. But surely it did not lie in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman to attack the Chief Secretary, who certainly had not given appointments to Irish Catholics, who did not want them under the Irish Administration. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had attacked the appointment of Sir Antony McDonnell, a distinguished Governor in India. Was it not remarkable that a man who successfully governed 40,000,000 Hindoos had found it impossible, owing to the garrison of hon. Members opposite, to successfully administer Irish affairs? He was appointed at the direct instigation of the King, but because he was a Catholic—
Order, order! The hon. Member is out of order in introducing His Majesty's name.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Oh, no! Only if it is done for the purpose 747 of influencing debate, and it was not so in this case.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said he would of course bow to the ruling of the Chair. But he trusted that the Chief Secretary would boldly take the responsibility on himself for what had occurred. The hon. Member for South Belfast was the representative of the new democracy, and had recently been returned in direct opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh; simultaneously the hon. Member for South Tyrone was in the right way of capturing Ulster seats, and these two influences combined were producing a happier condition of things in the North. Was this new feeling to be stifled by the present Orange ascendency, the representatives of which were creating a new Dreyfus for the edification of people who did not understand the situation and for the purpose of resurrecting hon. Members for Ulster from the position to which they had been reduced on the land and labourers questions.
They had been told that Constable Anderson had an unblemished record. He would demand that which hon. Members opposite had not ventured to ask for—a full, complete, and impartial inquiry into all the circumstances of the case and into the antecedents of Constable Anderson. Would the right hen. Gentleman tell them something as to Anderson's record when he was moved from Rossport to Mullaghroe? Would the right hon. Gentleman tell them something about the scandals connected with his name when he was sent to Kiltimagh? Could the district inspector and the Protestant clergyman throw any light on the matter? They did not want that day the airy sweet nothings in which the right hon. Gentleman was wont to indulge; they wanted only an impartial inquiry. They did not fear that, neither did Father O'Hara. They had been refused every inquiry and they had been refused the production of documents which would enable the House to understand the case. He agreed that there was something more serious at stake in this matter than the character of a constable. There was involved the honour of the Irish Catholic name. This case had been made a war-cry of in Ireland and even in England. It had 748 been practically asserted by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh that this was part and parcel of a vile conspiracy against the Protestants of Ireland, and the character of the priests was a chief factor in this vile conspiracy.
Father O'Hara complained against this policeman, who, he said, was not a fit character to be in the parish. It was not for Father O'Hara to decide that, or for the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but for a tribunal appointed under the Constabulary Code. There was no doubt that Father O'Hara wished Anderson to be removed, and complained that he was not fit to be a policeman in a decent community. He maintained that Father O'Hara, who was one of the ablest parish priests in Ireland, was entitled to make a complaint about a matter which affected the conduct and morality of his own parish. A Court of inquiry was held, and the result was that the Inspector-General, who was a Protestant, dismissed this policeman from the force. Something had been said about a first and second inquiry. There was only one inquiry, one properly constituted tribunal. The Court consisted of two sub-inspectors, one a Protestant and the other a Catholic, who took evidence on oath. If Sir Antony McDonnell was charged with being guilty of a base transaction, then these two sub-inspectors should be charged with the same offence. He asked the House whether the judgment of a body of that character was lightly to be dismissed. But what happened? The right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh went to the Chief Secretary and told him that there would be another Ulster revolt if Anderson was not reinstated; and the right hon. Gentleman reinstated this policeman without new evidence and of his own volition—superseded, therefore, the former inquiry and insulted his own tribunal. He wanted to know if that were a proper and constitutional manner of dealing with this question? What confidence could the police of Ireland have in the right hon. Gentleman when he overturned the judgment of the sworn inquiry? The mistake the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had made was not to hold fast by the result of the Court of 749 inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman imagined, however, that he had to stop the mouths of the Unionist Members in Ulster; but if the right hon. Gentleman had known these Members as he ought to know them, all he had to do was to crack the Party whip and they would at once come back to the fold. The right hon. Gentleman thought that the whole thing could be quietly done; but he forgot about compulsory sales, about the Bann, and that the Pope was not so unpopular in Ulster as he used to be. In order to compensate for the loss of the Pope, the Ulster Unionist Party rallied together and clung to the Anderson case as a drowning man clung to a straw.
There were only two ways of having this question settled to the satisfaction of the Irish people. One of them was for the right hon. Gentleman to produce, and lay on the Table of the House of Commons, all the evidence, documents, and correspondence in connection with the case. The right hon. Gentleman would probably state that there was no precedent for such a course and that he had no authority to do so. But Lord Spencer and Lord Cadogan, both ex-Lords-Lieutenant of Ireland, had demanded the production of the correspondence, although from different points of view. Lord Spencer had stated in the other House that there were precedents for producing such documents; why, then, should the right hon. Gentleman hesitate to agree to what had been asked for in both Houses of Parliament? The only people who did not want a full inquiry were the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had made this case a, rallying cry to bring them together. The Chief Secretary could not escape his responsibility: he could not hide behind Sir Antony MacDonnell. He must justify his action in superseding the judgment of the Court of inquiry which had been confirmed by the Inspector - General; and must either grant a full inquiry or, as he has already said, place the Papers on the Table of the House.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had made an attack on Father O'Hara, who was a member of the Congested Districts Board in Ireland. He ventured to say that there was not a more tolerant, broad-minded, or generous priest in 750 all Ireland, or in all the world. His devotion to the cause of the people had made him most popular in the country, and yet this was the priest on whom was concentrated all the attacks of the Daily Mail and the Globe, and the impeachment which they had just heard from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. Father O'Hara wrote a letter to The Times, which they refused to publish—another proof that there was a conspiracy combination between the organ of Pigott in England and the Orange ascendancy gang in the North of Ireland. In that letter Father O'Hara referred The Times to Sir David Harrel in witness of his tolerant, behaviour in the town of Kiltimagh, and stated that, although there was an overwhelming majority of Catholics in that place, they got up a memorial to the Postmaster-General and obtained the postmastership for a Protestant. In how many cases in Ulster did an overwhelming Protestant majority take similar action? This was the priestly desperado of whom they had heard! He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would clear from the stigma which had been put upon him this priest who was honoured in Ireland.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
said the hon. Member in his speeches always imputed unworthy motives to those who took different views from himself, but if the hon. Member railed at them from morn till dewy eve it would not put them off their food or sleep. He desired to take the earliest opportunity to rebut the charges made by the hon. Member against this unfortunate policeman whom the hon. Member had taken the opportunity of vilifying, who had passed through the fire of affliction, and against whom there was no official record that was unfavourable. His superior officer had stated that he was the best policeman in the district, and it was not until this tolerant priest and his coadjutors set to work to rake up a scandal that the first decision was upset.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said the statement on which he had based his remarks was made in the letter sent by Father O'Hara to the Irish papers which he offered to indemnify if an action for libel 751 was brought against them for publishing it.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said that showed the source from which this scandal came. The Chief Secretary had no right to whitewash Sir Antony McDonnell at the expense of this humble policeman. The right hon. Gentleman owed loyalty to both these subordinates, and any such action would lead to further disappointment and resentment. He recognised the force of the argument that Sir Antony McDonnell could not reply to criticisms passed on him in that House. But the real answer to that was that Sir Anthony McDonnell should be careful not to place himself in a position from which he could not expect to escape criticism, and further that he had in that House the Chief Secretary or Ireland to defend him. And was it not absurd to say when he acted as an open shameless partisan that they should not have the right to attack him in that House? If ever there was a case in which it would be ludicrous to slur over the acts of Sir Antonty McDonnell it was this case. As a matter of moral responsibility they did not think that the Chief Secretary was to blame, because in a letter written by him in July he stated that he had never heard until then of the facts of the matter, so that December, January, and February went by and he never knew about it and could not be held responsible.
There was another matter. There was great disposition shown to treat this case as trivial, and that disposition, he ventured to think, was shown for the benefit of English Members. English Members who were not practically acquainted with the real value of the Royal Irish Constabulary were very apt to be misled by the suggestion that this was a mere trivial police force matter, a mere disciplinary matter, a matter that the Irish police themselves could deal with. Assuming that to be so, however small it might have been in its origin and trivial in its nature, it had led to disastrous results in Ireland. It had convinced the noncommissioned officers and men of the Royal Irish Constabulary that while Sir Antony McDonnell was at the Castle, whenever a priest wished to vilify anyone he had only to write a letter to him. 752 They saw that in the Roundstone case. That was a disastrous state of affairs to have existing in the finest force they had to depend on in Ireland. All through the North of Ireland there was a feeling of unrest and dismay; there was a feeling that whenever a priest wanted a thing he had only got to write a note to Sir Antony McDonnell and the request would be granted, quite irrespective of Protestant interests and of justice. This case was important if they looked at it from a disciplinary point of view; but it was still more important when they found that it was part of a settled policy. It was only one of the many straws showing how the wind blew. They had had the Mills case, the Lewis case, and they had had case after case in which Sir Antony McDonnell had been at the bottom in inflicting injury because the unfortunate person concerned was a Protestant, and still hon. Members opposite would say that there was no bigotry. Well, of course, their views of bigotry and those of his colleagues largely differed.
What was the result of it all? To - morrow when the daily papers came to be read, it would be found, as the result of Irish administration by the Unionist majority, that perhaps for the first time in twenty years votes of the Irish Nationalist Party had been given in support of the permanent Under-Secretary of the Executive. [NATIONALIST cries of dissent, and a NATIONALIST: Who told you that?] Well, if not, he trusted it would be because his remarks would have had the effect of having prevented it. Of course hon. Members opposite would welcome anything which would drive a wedge, as this was doing, into the confidence without which the discipline of the Royal Irish Constabulary could not be maintained. So far he and his colleagues had been fighting for the Irish Administration. [NATIONALIST interruption, and an HON. MEMBER: For how long?] He would give that hon. Member a nut to crack in a minute. If the question of this policy was made a Government question, the real result would be that they would be forced to reconsider the whole question of the Government of Ireland by Party. By voting against the Amendment of his right hon. and gallant friend the Member for Armagh they would be putting the 753 seal of approval on the policy which was typified and represented by the Anderson case. The whole question which the Committee would have to consider in effect was whether or not the Member for Armagh was correct in saying that they could bring the guilt home to Sir Antony McDonnell. If the Chief Secretary was not responsible, and they unhesitatingly accepted his statement, it followed that there were only two officials in Ireland who could be responsible: one was the Inspector-General and the other the Permanent Under-Secretary. Every effort had been made to make the Inspector-General a scapegoat in this matter, but he (Mr. Moore) thought he could satisfy the House that from the beginning to the end Sir Antony McDonnell alone appeared responsible. Their charge against Sir Antony McDonnell, in the first place, was that he had had extra official and unofficial dealings, behind the back of everybody, with this priest, with a view to the clearing out of this constable from the village of Kiltimagh. How was the Chief Secretary going to answer that? [Mr. FLAVIN: By the inquiry we ask for.] An inquiry would not meet the case. Was the right hon. Gentleman going to give them only the bald statement of Sir Antony McDonnell on the matter, or would he give them an inquiry and lay the correspondenee.
There were a great many irregularities in this case. Ho would call attention to several matters which at least required explanation. In the first place, there was no doubt that the prime mover against this constable was the rev. Mr. O'Hara. He was a colleague of the Chief Secretary on the Congested Districts Board, where he was also a colleague of Sir Antony McDonnell. He wrote to the Globe explaining by what feelings he was actuated against this, the only Protestant policeman in Kiltimagh, and he went on to say, "I wish merely to have him cleared out of Kiltimagh." In time an inquiry was held. They then had the statement from the hon. Gentleman who represented that district in this House, to the effect that he wrote to the Chief Secretary. That meant that before the inquiry was held there was a communication from the rev. Mr. O'Hara to Sir Antony McDonnell, and if that was true it was entirely the 754 reversa of what came from Sir Antony McDonnell and what was told them by the Chief Secretary, because the answer of the Chief Secretary on the 29th of June was this—Except on one occasion, no communications, verbal or Written, with reference to the case of Constable Anderson passed, prior to his dismissal, between Sir Antony McDonnell and the rev. Denis O'Hara.There was no doubt that the prime mover against the constable was the rev. Mr. O'Hara; and they now had the, statement of the hon. Member opposite that that reverend gentleman wrote to Sir Antony McDonnell to get an inquiry instituted. The first inquiry was conducted by the district inspector, and all the witnesses whom the rev. Mr. O'Hara could produce made statements which were reduced to writing, read over to the witnesses, and signed by them. What was the meaning of that? It was perfectly true that it was not on oath, and it would have been an irregularity if it had been. The meaning was that it a district inspector was sent down to see what was the nature of the case to be made. He was the judge of it, and if he found there was no case which could be substantiated against the constable the matter was at an end. It was exactly the same as if on a preliminary investigation the Grand Jury ignored the Bill. He challenged the Chief Secretary to tell the House if there was 1 per cent. of police cases in Ireland where the officer sent down to inquire and report on spot certified that there was no case in which the matter was ever proceeded with further. This was a complete investigation, and such was the law of England that where an inferior Court had declared a man to be innocent and had acquitted him there was no power in the High Court to review the case. Here was an acquittal, and the matter should have been closed. It was art extraordinary thing, which the Chief Secretary would have to explain to the House, how after the district inspector had acquitted this man there was influence enough at Dublin Castle to get a sworn inquiry into his case. The district inspector's report went to the county inspector, it went to the acting Inspector-General, and it was confirmed by all three. In regard to the charge of immorality, the report said that 755 the man and girl had done nothing which was not the ordinary custom of courting people. The district inspector found on the evidence of the witnesses that there was no evidence to support the charge of impropriety. It was said by the district inspector, and was confirmed by every legal person in authority above him, that against, the doubtful evidence they had the constable's unblemished record of seventeen years service. That was the result of what he might call the investigation of the Grand Jury, who threw out the Bill.
It was just at this stage that Father O'Hara had his communication with Sir Antony McDonnell at a meeting of the Congested Districts Board. The priest had made the case, witness after witness deposed to the fact that the priest had had him up at his house, or had met him, and had told him what he had to swear. When the district inspector, who saw these people on the spot, and reduced their statements to writing, came to an adverse conclusion, the priest said he wanted an inquiry where they could make these statements on oath. Was there ever a more ludicrous position? He came to the point now that the hon. Member for Perth suggested. He put it to the House, was he going too far when he said that this tribunal, so extraordinarily appointed, was a packed tribunal, packed in a sense that it was sent down for a specific purpose, to reconsider the same evidence, the only difference being that this time it was to be on oath? Assuming that they went to the length of having a second inquiry—and that was the first stumbling block the Chief Secretary would have to get over, because it was unusual after an acquittal that there should he a second inquiry—what was the ordinary course in the Constabulary? The House would understand that in Ireland difficulties as to discipline might arise in a county in which officers or men might be implicated. The ordinary practice where a constable, a private, if he might so call him, was concerned, was that the inquiry was invariably conducted by a district inspector from an immediately adjoining division in the same county. That was perfectly reasonable and he wanted to know why that course was not followed in this case? In this 756 case they did a thing which, as far as his information went, had never been done before and certainly not in recent years. They sent a special gentleman down from the depot in Dublin, where he was next door to Sir Antony McDonnell. This young gentleman, a Roman Catholic, who knew quite well that the object of this new inquiry was not to get fresh evidence, but to reverse the previous finding, was sent down from Dublin to take the inquiry. In a case so suspicious as this, brimming over at every stage with irregularities, that course was sufficiently suspicious to justify everyone in looking at the case broadly. The president of the Court was a Roman Catholic, but it was right and fair to say that he had no personal evidence against that officer of any kind. All he said was that the fact that he was sent down was unusual. He was sent down with the knowledge that it was the verdict and not the evidence which was complained of by Sir Antony MacDonnell. He also knew that complaint was made to Sir Antony McDonnell at the instance of the priest of what had already happened. He found a verdict, and he asked the House to look at the evidence, which he invited anyone interested in the case to read.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
The evidence has been published. The hon. and learned Gentleman will find it in the Irish Times of 15th June.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said the full evidence had never been published. The Chief Secretary that afternoon refuted it.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said the evidence he held in his hand was published by the Irish Times, a journal of admitted respectability in Ireland, as being sworn evidence at the trial. He could not do better than quote the Irish Times, and he was sure it would satisfy his colleagues on that side of the House.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I happen to have in my pocket at the present 757 moment the whole of the evidence published by the Western People when the trial took place.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
read extracts from the report of the trial. He went on to say, without fear of contradiction, that if the evidence given before the Court was sifted on cross-examination, Father O'Hara would be found to have been at the back of every witness produced. The Scotch term "adjusting evidence" might be exactly applied to it. If ever evidence was adjusted it was by Father O'Hara in this case. A very extraordinary thing was the haste with which the decision was come to, because the inquiry only terminated on 26th November, and an order dismissing this unfortunate constable from the force was made on 8th December. Matters were so situated under the Royal Constabulary Act that the services of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary could only be dispensed with by the Lord-Lieutenant, and he acted only on the advice of his secretary, who, in this case, was the Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Antony McDonnell. The House might take it from him that the advice of the Secretary or Under-Secretary was required before the Lord-Lieutenant would dismiss a man. The importance of that was that it left it no longer a matter in the control of the Inspector-General, but under the law it became Sir Antony McDonnell who had to deal with it. The Chief Secretary had told them that he himself was not cognisant of these matters until February. If the only charge against the constable was that of merely taking liberties with the girl he contended that his dismissal was a monstrous punishment for a man with seventeen years good record in the force. The invariable practice in charges of seduction was for the complainant to be written to, and told to bring her action in the County Court, and then it a wrong had been done the constable was punished. But in the present case the priest was pressing, and Sir Antony McDonnell was willing to oblige him, and so he thought the best way to stop the marriage was by dismissing Anderson.
He was bound to say that the Chief Secretary had acted like a gentleman, and that when he found 758 a wrong had been done he did nothing but what was to his infinite credit. It was hard upon the Chief Secretary that matters of which he was not cognisant should take this disgraceful shape, and that he should have to reply to them. The Chief Secretary had stated that he re-established the constable on full consideration of the medical certificate from the girl, that the evidence with regard to the constable was equally compatible with his innocence or his guilt, but that the medical officer's certificate constituted fresh evidence on which he felt justified in reinstating him. Sir Antony McDonnell had that further evidence before him when he wrote approving the draft of the letter of dismissal on 23rd January. On the identical evidence on which the Chief Secretary reinstated this man, Sir Antony McDonnell was willing to ruin him for ever. Was it any wonder that a case of this sort should excite suspicion, distress and dismay at Irish government by Sir Antony McDonnell. There was not a parish in Ireland now where a Protestant constable was not walking on peas for fear of annoying the Catholics. [NATIONALIST cries of "Oh!"] They had been told that Sir Neville Chamberlain exhibited great gallantry in Afghanistan when he raised the frontier regiments. He should be sorry to say anything reflecting upon the courage of this soldier, but however much he might be a match for the Afghans he was no match for Sir Antony McDonnell. Sir Antony was at the Castle carrying out the behests of the priests and could twist Sir Neville Chamberlain round his finger. [NATIONALIST cries of "Oh!"] While Sir Antony McDonnell was at Dublin Castle there was no chance of justice for a Protestant. While scandal after scandal was perpetrated in Ireland in the name of Unionism there would be nothing but prejudice against the cause. The Chief Secretary had on two occasions reversed proceedings in regard to the police, and he appealed to him to give that House some guarantee for the future. All they wanted in Ireland was impartiality, and that was the one thing which while the present Under-Secretary was there they were sure of not getting. Before matters went too far something should be done to avoid the danger of the Ulster Members being returned by their constituents as an independen 759 Party, absolutely out of touch with the English Unionist Party. This wretched Jonah who kept the whole country in a turmoil to please his own co-religionists should be thrown overboard.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
said that the speech of the hon. Member was marred, he thought, by animus against a very distinguished member of the Irish Administration, and he asked for close attention while he dealt very fully with this case. The whole discussion had centred round the case of Constable Anderson, but what was important was that it was stated both by his right hon. and gallant friend and his hon. and learned friend that this case was typical of a policy, a case of mischievous interference by the Under-Secretary in Irish affairs and an interference so mischievous and indefensible as to bring the administration of the country into discredit. That was a very grave charge; and, apart from its general gravity, it was serious from two points o view. It was always a serious matter when it was alleged, and widely believed, that of His Majesty's subjects had been exposed to judicial or quasi-judicial injustice, and when that subject wore His Majesty's uniform, and there was also involved an aspersion upon a woman, the seriousness Was aggravated. It was also a serious matter from the point of view of the discipline of the Royal Irish Constabulary. He could not lay on the Table Departmental communications or the notes taken at the inquiry. These were much fuller than the report in the newspaper which had been referred to; but it was a recognised principle that the House could not, upon the perusal of evidence that they had not heard, re-try any case determined by an appointed tribunal. If he showed grounds for believing that the local commission of inquiry and the Inspector-General acted honestly to the best of their knowledge and belief, and tried to do impartial justice, it was not to be held that he was suggesting any doubt as to the innocence of the constable or as to the virtue of the woman.
Before giving his own version of all that took place, he felt bound to give the representation of the Inspector-General 760 who commanded the Royal Irish Constabulary, who said—I hope you will make it quite clear that this is an attack on the Protestant Inspector-General and not an attack on the Catholic Under-Secretary.One of the chief points on which the attack in the Anderson case was based was that he was tried and acquitted, and then, at the instigation of the Rev. D. O'Hara, that the Under-Secretary caused him to be tried over again. The Inspector-General put the case in this way—Some time in July, 1903, the Rev. D O'Hara wrote to District-Inspector Shankey making certain complaints against Constable Anderson. Whenever complaints are made against members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, investigations are instituted locally to see if sufficient grounds exist for disciplinary action. This was done. The district inspector did as is usually done in similar cases; he took statements from various people and forwarded them to me. I considered them and came to the conclusion that, though Constable Anderson might have been seen caressing Miss Sweeney, yet as he was engaged to be married to her and such endearments are common to persons in his class of life, there were not sufficient grounds to consider that a man of his previous good character had behaved immorally. It is true that a man named Carr had stated that he had seen them in an immoral position in a wood, but his statement was a vague one and I did not attach any credence to it. I did not believe that Anderson had used obscene language before boys, and it seemed to me very doubtful whether he had entered public-houses when not authorised to do so. I saw no reason to believe Constable Anderson was guilty of what was attributed to him. I recorded this view on the 11th September. When I returned from leave about the 20th October I found the case had assumed a fresh aspect. The county inspector on his own initiative reported on the 9th October that Carr had made a detailed statement as regards the alleged act of immorality. I had made no further move in the matter, as I was on leave, but when I read Carr's statement I felt that in the interests of the force, as well as in Constable Anderson's own interest, it was essential that the matter should be cleared up. I therefore ordered a Court of inquiry to assemble, and as far as I can remember I directed the county inspector to ask the Rev. O'Hara what were the exact charges he desired to prefer against Constable Anderson. He replied that he had no further charges to make in addition to those he had originally made in July. For that Court I selected a Roman Catholic and a Protestant district inspector. As a rule I do not notice what is the religion of the inspectors detailed as members of Courts of inquiry, but in this case I purposely detailed a Roman Catholic and a Protestant, because charges against a Protestant 761 constable had been made by a Roman Catholic clergyman. The Roman Catholic officer I originally selected was District Inspector Byrne. I then found he was absent on leave, and as it would have caused him great personal expense and inconvenience to return before the completion of his leave, I cancelled the order and appointed District-Inspector W. Hetreed in his place. The latter being police instructor at the depot, where only a few recruits remained, could more easily be spared than an officer in the country.His hon. and learned friend said that this was without a precedent, but it was not unusual to detail officers from the depot to sit on Courts of inquiry. They could be spared more easily for such duty than officers from the country. It was done in the case of District-Inspector Powell, who was sent to Lusk in 1896, District-Inspector Byrne, sent to Cork in 1901, and District-Inspector Hetreed, sent to Kiltimagh in 1903.
The Inspector-General continues—As regards the evidence, I would remark that it was given before two trained police officers who throughout their career have been in the habit of studying the demeanour of witnesses. They are, therefore, in my judgment, far better able to satisfy themselves as regards the credence to be given to any particular witness than members of an ordinary jury. The opinion they recorded was, I have no doubt whatever, given to the best of their conscience. I concurred in the view they expressed and recommended the dismissal of Anderson from the force. I fail to see what cause any one has for complaint. Anderson has been reinstated and has married Bridget Sweeney: yet what reply could you have given in the House if, after the fresh and very grave allegations made to the county inspector on the 9th October, I had failed to make a full and searching inquiry on oath into the case, notwithstanding that I had previously formed the opinion that Anderson was innocent? The reckless and unscrupulous statement in certain newspapers that the confidence of the Royal Irish Constabulary is shaken in the justice they get at headquarters is absurd. I confidently assert that it is untrue and that never in the history of the force were the men more satisfied with the way they are treated than they are now.The Inspector-General also held that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not justified in saying that certain punishments had never been awarded in such cases.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said that what he had stated was that in a case of seduction, before a constable was dismissed it must be proved in the civil Court that he was in the wrong.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that the Inspector-General said that—Anderson's case was adjudged to be one of immorality, and he was treated as all similar cases, save one, had been dealt with by me since I assumed command of the force. You will notice that the cases of immorality from 1894 to 1899 averaged 3.46 per annum. In 1900 there was only one case, and in 1901 none. In 1902 however, they recommenced, and in 1903, including Anderson's, there were no less than seven.And then the Inspector-General directed his attention to a recent judgment given in a civil action for breach of promise of marriage against a sergeant in the force in which Judge Gibson in his charge to the jury at Londonderry, on 18th July, 1903, was reported have said—This is the second case where a wrong has been done a girl by a policeman which has come before me within the past few weeks. The first was in Dublin, and now we have another in which this girl was introduced to the fallen sisterhood by a constable stationed at Carrigans, and he has been followed by a sergeant of forty years of age. It is a source of great discomfort and alarm to find that policemen, who should protect the public and farmers' daughters walking along the roads, are found in the ranks of seducers. I do not know whether there is a bad mark in the official records for such an offence, nor do I know whether there is an officer of the police force listening to me. I hope there is, but if there is not, there ought to be. I am not aware whether county inspectors take any steps in their districts to punish men under them who are proved guilty of the offence I have alluded to, or whether the Inspector-General has a general regulation to meet the case. This I do know, that if I had any authority as a police officer, I would at once say to these men 'out you go' from the membership of the force.He quoted that to show that the Inspector-General was not alone in taking a very serious view of cases of seduction when they were shown to have been committed. It was not wise to deal with these investigations as if they were Courts of law They were, in fact, councils to assist an officer, who had a perfect right to act as he pleased. Any man who went into a disciplined force sacrificed a good deal, He had to accept limitations on his liberty, he was subject to penalties for offences which were not crimes against the law, and he had to acquiesce in the right of the Crown to dispense with his services at any moment without assigning any cause or reason whatever. That the right of the Crown was not waived by the Court of inquiry, which was not 763 a judicial tribunal, was founded on a judgment of Chief Justice Dallas in the case of "Home v. Bentinck" in 1820. Dealing with the report of a Court of inquiry, the Chief Justice said—what was this report, in its very nature, but a confidential communication, in consequence of a direction by the Commander-in-Chief, for the information of his own conscience in the exercise of Ins public duty, as to whether he would suffer the plaintiff to continue an officer or not, in a case in which it must be agreed and admitted that, independent of any inquiry whatever, His Majesty in the exercise of his prerogative might have dismissed him at any time.That was the law about a Court of inquiry in a disciplined force. Any man who entered any such a force of his own knowledge, exposed himself to that risk. Therefore it rested with the Crown to dispense with the services of a man on suspicion or because he could no longer do his duty with benefit to the corps to which he belonged. But, although that power was unqualified and unconditional, it must be exercised with discretion and without undue severity, and if it could be shown in any case that that power of dismissal on the finding of a Court of inquiry had been exercised without discretion or with undue severity, then, of course, the Minister of the Department in which that had happened might very well be called to account. On the other hand, if he could show—and that was what he had to prove—that hat the action of the Executive Minister and of the deputies and officers for whom he was responsible had not been wrongfully influenced by persons acting on improper motives, then he thought that power revived in full force. It might have been erroneously exercised, but if it could be shown that it had been honestly and faithfully exercised, and not wrongfully influenced by other persons, then he thought the House could not bring in a true bill against the Minister or officer concerned. His case was that the action of nobody was influenced at all up to 9th October and that after that date it was not wrongfully influenced The whole case against the Governmen. was that Father O'Hara intervened to influence the Under-Secretary, who influenced the Inspector-General. If he could show that nobody entered on the scene except the local officials up to a certain date, that all was done by them 764 without reference to headquarters, and that when the authorities at headquarters of the Royal Irish Constabulary took action they were not wrongfully influenced, then he thought he ought to be able to claim a verdict.
The offence was alleged to have taken place on 24th June, but nothing of which he had any knowledge occurred until 26th July, when Father O'Hara undoubtedly wrote to the district inspector with a complaint, and the district inspector referred the matter, not to headquarters, but to the county inspector.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that Father O'Hara accused Anderson of using improper language before boys, and also said that two married men in his parish had complained to him that Anderson had been seen walking with a girl in byroads and woods. He said that this caused scandal, and asked that Anderson should be transferred from his parish. He did not then, or at any subsequent period, ask that Anderson should be punished. If this representation had no effect on the action of the local officer and did not reach headquarters, how could the motives charged be brought into the matter in order to create prejudice against the Under-Secretary? He would like to say a word about motives. It was assumed all through that Father O'Hara and others locally had a grudge against this man because he was a Protestant. That was a mere assumption, incapable of proof or disproof. It was a surmise, and a surmise which was not made at the time. The district inspector, who, he thought, had acted very properly and wisely throughout these transactions, when he referred the letter to the county inspector, said the animus of the rev. writer against the constable had no spontaneous origin, but the rev. gentleman was being used as an instrument by others to procure the constable's dismissal. That was a mere surmise. The district inspector at a later date said these charges were brought nominally by Father O'Hara but virtually at the instance of others. That was another surmise. In this village there was sure to be a lot of gossip and surmise and some ill-will 765 against a man based upon reasons that might have no reality. Constable Anderson himself made a statement when denying the charges. He declared that the Carr family had a grudge against the Sweeney family, and that he had no doubt that the charges were made in order to get him transferred because he had been doing his duty under the licensing laws. That was another surmise. Constable Anderson never suggested he was unpopular because he was a Protestant. That surmise was advanced later. But no one of these surmises affected the action of the police authorities. County Inspector Brooke, when this kind of talk was brought to him, saw no reason for removing the constable. That was the view of the county inspector on 10th August. Then these complaints were made, and the district inspector was directed (not by headquarters) to hear what complaint this clergyman had to make and to take down the stories the people had to tell. That he did, and this inquiry was held, but that was not a legal tribunal. Could it be said that the local police, after hearing these complaints and taking down the statements of Tom, Dick and Harry, and then sending them to the County inspector with the remark, "I don't think there is much in this," was a trial in a court of law? The county inspector, who on the 10th August pooh-poohed the whole affair, was away on leave and another district inspector was acting in his absence. He saw that written complaint and said that Constable Anderson should not be called upon to plead to the charges, but should be afforded an opportunity of making an explanation of the various matters alleged. Anderson made his explanation denying everything, and said the charges had been brought against him because he was unpopular through enforcing the licensing law rather strictly. On the 24th August the acting county inspector informed the district inspector that the papers disclosed nothing to justify these charges, but that, if he was of opinion that Anderson was guilty, he should be called upon to plead.
There was quite another matter relating to some story of an alleged threatening letter which came into the case but which had nothing to do 766 with it. Because of this the papers were sent to headquarters on 5th September for the first time, and that was the first contact between the little local trouble and head-quarters. The Acting Inspector-General, acting under the instructions of the Inspector-General received this document and confirmed the report of the county inspector that there was not sufficient ground for action. He said, however, that if Anderson desired a Court iof inquiry he would consent to one. Here there was therefore, on the 5th September, a local complaint which would not have gone to headquarters but for this irrelevant matter of an alleged threatening letter. And now they had to come to the crucial point which he had to make good. All parties were waiting for the county inspector to conic back. The county inspector came back and he evidently saw the rev. O'Hara. The rev. Father O'Hara complained that sufficient consideration had not been given to the statements of Carr. That Carr swore that he saw certain things going on and that sufficient consideration was not given to this statement. On the 9th October the county inspector wrote that he had had an interview with Carr, and that the impression he got was that there could be no doubt that Anderson was having immoral intercourse with a girl when seen by Carr.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
The county inspector wrote to headquarters a letter, which contained this paragraph, "I have now seen Carr." Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why he wrote to the Inspector-General and said that?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said reference was made to a statement in a letter of Father O'Hara that Carr had sworn so and set That letter was sent up to the Castle—he meant the headquarters of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and it did not come before Sir A. McDonnell. The county inspector, on the 10th August, had said there was nothing in the matter at all. He was the person who said he thought Anderson was the victim of persecution, and therefore it could not be said that he was prejudiced. Having seen this man and heard his story he reported that 767 it was a grave matter. Then the Assistant Inspector-General concurs and states that the county inspector's report renders it necessary that the Papers should be laid before the Inspector-General on his return from leave. On 21st October, the Inspector-General, having returned, informed the county inspector that his report of the 9th altered the aspect of the case and in the interest of both the constable and the public and rendered further inquiry necessary. He did not pronounce whether that was right or wrong—he himself thought it was right—but supposing it was wrong there was no ground on which there could be any suggestion that Sir Antony McDonnell had anything to do with it. The Inspector-General appointed the District Inspector of Athlene to hold the inquiry, and for the reasons he had given also appointed Inspector Hetreed to be present and preside. His hon. and learned friend said that Father O'Hara spoke to the Under-Secretary at the Congested Districts Board. But all this happened before then, and, although a great deal has been said as to that, it was really impossible to make anything of what occurred at the Congested Districts Board. Father O'Hara informed the Under-Secretary that there was trouble in his parish over the conduct of a constable, the Under-Secretary said, "Why don't you speak to his sergeant?" Father O'Hara replied that he had, but without effect, and asked the Under-Secretary to inquire into the matter. This the Under-Secretary did, and on communicating with the constabulary authorities was informed that an inquiry was progressing. If his hon. and learned friend had been a member of the Congested Districts Board what would he have done? He thought he would have done the same thing. He knew he should. Did the hon. and learned Member and the right hon. Member think that the Rev. Father O'Hara was the only person who complained to the Government? They must know that on one occasion or another innumerable letters come, and it was not a matter of surprise, in respect to the Royal Irish Constabulary, where they had a force of 9,000 men with their officers quartered throughout the country, that letters should come 768 and complaints be made. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman really suppose that nobody ever suggested they would sooner have this officer than that in this or that town? All that could be done in these matters was to sift a good deal of these letters aside as rubbish, but where a serious person sent a complaint and seemed to have something on his mind, then to send his complaint to the proper quarter. Sir Antony McDonnell asked him to say that Father O'Hara did speak to him at the Congested Districts Board, and he had stated that in reply to the hon. and learned Member. But for Sir Anthony McDonnell's request he would not have made the statement, which was quite irrelevant to the charge that Sir Anthony McDonnell had influenced the police authorities. He had not influenced them.
§ MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid.)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could fix the date on which Father O'Hara spoke to Sir Antony McDonnell.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said he thought he had made out his case, and if the hon. and learned Gentleman did not think so he was afraid he never should be able to justify himself in his eyes.
§ MR. WALLACE (Perth)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would object to tell them in what it was that the second statement of Carr differed from the first, which led to this change of opinion.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the county inspector did not see the first statement. The first statement was given to the inspector who did duty for him. That first statement eventually went up to headquarters, and, as he said, the Inspector-General himself thought it too vague. It was said in the first statement that there were improper relations or something of that kind, and he must confess it would not have impressed him very much. What Carr said to County Inspector Brooke verbally no one could tell, but the impression he created was that immoral 769 intercourse was actually taking place and it was because of that impression that County Inspector Brooke took the view he did and the Inspector-General had the Court of inquiry. As he had said, that House was not competent to re-try a case tried before a judicial tribunal, still less could they re-try a case which was taken before a Court of inquiry, and where there was no verbatim report. How absurd it would be to say, on the newspaper reports, that these two officers had taken any action which they ought not to have taken? This witness was examined and cross-examined by them, and they came to the conclusion that he evidently believed that there were improper relations going on between these two.
Now the charge came against him. Why, if that was the case, did he put Constable Anderson back? The right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh came to him one day and said here was a man who had been tried twice, acquitted once, and who was now condemned, and he did not think he had been treated fairly. He replied that his right hon. friend must have been misled. Somewhat similar statements reached him from other quarters simultaneously. He looked into the case as he would have done if any serious person had come to him and said that any man was not being treated justly. What other course should he have taken? He remembered perfectly well it was in the month of February and he at once wrote to the Inspector-General on the subject. He went through the full evidence and noted that subsequent to the dismissal of the constable Miss Sweeny had submitted herself to an examination by two Dublin doctors who certified that she was a virgo intacta. This certificate was forwarded to the Inspector-General by the constable's solicitor, but as the Inspector-General conceived the offence to have been an attempt at seduction he replied that the new evidence did not alter his decision in dismissing the man. He was very unwilling, for the sake of discipline, to put the man back unless he carried the Inspector-General with him. He confessed that the himself, without hearing the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, should have been slow to believe, having regard to the fact that the constable was walking out with this young lady, that he was neces- 770 sarily attempting seduction, but those who heard all the evidence came to another conclusion, and it was not for him who had not heard it to suggest that they were wrong. He merely submitted the fact that there was this certificate to his legal advisers, and they convinced him that that threw back a perfectly fresh light on the case, and that if it had been before the Court it would have been the duty of whoever defended Anderson to ask the Court to consider all the evidence in the light of the certificate. It must be remembered that the alleged offence took place in the beginning of June, and that no notice was taken of the complaint for weeks, and when it was taken the man was exonerated by his superior officers, and he was left free to walk, as he did walk, with this young lady; and when months afterwards, there having been every opportunity, it was certified that there was nothing against the honour and virtue of this young lady, it did throw an entirely fresh light upon the case. A truthful witness might have seen what might have been a very compromising position, but it was not for them to look into the relations between two people who were engaged and were now married. He regretted very much for the honour of the girl, who was married honourably to the man, that this matter should have been debated, and he hoped the rest of their lives would not be troubled by anything of the kind. But if this was the best case that could be brought forward to show that Sir Antony Macdonnell was interfering illegitimately with the administration of departments in the government of Ireland, and was carrying out a policy that was not his policy, he did not think it was a very strong one. This was a case of police discipline dealt with first locally and then at the Head Quarters of the Royal Irish Constabulary upon which Sir Antony Mcdonnell exercised no influence.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said that if it had not been for the action of his hon. friend the Member for Mid-Armagh in approaching the Chief Secretary, it was beyond all doubt that Constable Anderson, would have been the victim of an avowed conspiracy, whether on the part 771 of the Rev. D. O'Hara or of his accomplices, would have suffered a gross injustice which would have been a disgrace to Irish administration. No matter how the Chief Secretary tried to wriggle out of the matter, the responsibility belonged to him. He could not accept the view of the right hon. Gentleman that the men in the Royal Irish Constabulary force had complete confidence in the powers above them. If such implicit confidence existed, there would not have been so many grave complaints against the disciplinary power. It was a scandal that one man in the South-West of Ireland, who happened to be a Protestant, should be left isolated to become the victim of an avowed conspiracy. In the case of the Rev. Dixon Patterson, who was unable to walk through the streets of Dublin without being insulted, the Chief Secretary, in reply to a Question, stated that no complaints had been made. On receiving a detailed statement, however, he had to admit the facts of the case, and said that the police were doing all in their power to do justice to the Protestants of Dublin. But on 26th July, that clergyman had to bring five or six youths before a magistrate, by whom they were fined, and yet that very magistrate declared the evidence given by the clergyman to be unwarrantable and utterly untrue. He submitted that that was not the way in which the law ought to be administered.
The debate had shown that it was well worth while for the chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party to bring this case before the House, but he could not admit that the defence of the Castle by the Chief Secretary had been such as to entitle it to the confidence of Ulster Unionist Members. In view of the fact that the Press was teeming with letters from Protestants of all denominations complaining of the insults to which they were subjected when passing through the streets, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the advisability of instituting a further inquiry into the particular case which he had mentioned, and if he found there had been another miscarriage of justice or that base insinuations had emanated from the Catholic Association against 772 a Protestant clergyman, of calling upon the magistrate for a withdrawal of his statement.
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that this was a matter of the gravest importance to Irish Loyalists and to the country generally. Altogether apart from the merits of the particular case now under review, and judging by the other cases with which the Under-Secretary was connected there could be little doubt that Sir Antony McDonnell's sympathies lay entirely with his fellow-religionists and were as entirely against the interests of the Loyalists in the North. Four notorious cases in which Sir Antony McDonnell was concerned had been brought to the notice of the House, and with two of them the rev. Denis O'Hara was connected. The sending to Father Gleeson of the evidence of the prosecution in the case of the two constables in Connemara was a disgraceful act on the part of Sir Antony McDonnell. Father Gleeson was the man who had set the law in motion against these men, and why should the evidence be sent to him for consideration and annotation? No proceeding could be more extraordinary upon the part of a responsible executive officer than the sending of confidential documents to a parish priest who had no claim whatever to see them. It might be noticed that while the Chief Secretary refused to lay Papers on the Table of this House on account of their confidential and Departmental character, no such considerations weighed with the Under-Secretary when the person desired to see the Papers was a parish priest. The strength of the case of the Irish Loyalists lay in the fact that in all four of the instances put forward Sir Antony McDonnell had interfered in a manner that was utterly unprecedented. The Under-Secretary was a purely executive officer, whose sole duty was to carry out the orders of those above him, the person responsible being the Chief Secretary, who was supposed to issue the orders. Unfortunately, Sir Antony McDonnell, apparently with the consent of the Chief Secretary, had arrogated to himself the entire direction of Irish affairs. He thought all fair-minded men would agree that in the Anderson case Sir Antony 773 McDonnell interfered in a way he should not have done.
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the Chief Secretary was not their leader at present, and in anything the right hon. Gentleman had said he had not to his mind furnished a proper refutation of the charges brought against Sir Antony McDonnell. The right hon. Gentleman had not been very clear with regard to the accusations really brought against Constable Anderson. At one time they were said to involve a charge of seduction, but that charge had never been tried.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said these Courts were appointed to advise the Inspector-General, and not really to try cases. Much inconvenience attached to the fact that these Courts, which were merely advisory boards, had a procedure so much like that of a true Court. That was a matter he intended to consider with the Inspector-General. It was far better that the decision should be given in the nature of a report rather than in the nature of a verdict. He believed the charge in this case was that of grossly immoral conduct.
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that whatever might have been the charge it was clearly proved at the trial that there had been no seduction, and the punishment of dismissal from the force after seventeen years service was absolutely unknown in such a case. He submitted that to inflict so heavy a punishment in a case of so doubtful a character was grossly unfair. That view was really upborne by the Chief Secretary, because no sooner did the right hon. Gentleman look into the case than he determined that a gross injustice had been perpetrated, and that the man must be reinstated in the force. The cases which had been brought forward revealed a state of things which could not be allowed to go on. If the Irish Administration was to be respected by that portion of the inhabitants of Ireland who lived in the North, this state of affairs must cease. Sir Antony Mc- 774 Donnell must see his way to occupying his position as Under-Secretary in the way in which it was intended to be occupied. That position was under the Chief Secretary, and he was intended to carry out the behests and the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, and not to initiate a policy which was distasteful and repugnant to a large section of the community. The feeling had been growing for some time that the policy of the Government was the policy of Sir Antony McDonnell, and that his was that of the Roman Catholic Association. He thought he might read a short extract from the Handbook of the Catholic Association which would enable the Committee to recognise that the system of approaching Sir Antony McDonnell by every petty parish priest throughout the country was simply carrying out the instructions of the association—Let the reader conceive to himself an organisation, with an intelligent centre in the capital; with branches spreading everywhere through the country, and the facilities for easy and intimate communication between the guiding head of the body and the members of branches. Let him picture to himself ubiquitous activity and the constant flow of streams of information and helpful suggestion between headquarters and the provinces; let him conceive all this aided, when needful, by private personal despatches and the use of a telegraphic code for expedition and privacy, and he will have before his mind's eye some faint image of what a well planned organisation—alert, alive, and at work—might mean for Ireland.He need not read more. He thought that exactly described the state of affairs which existed at the present moment with respect to Sir Antony McDonnell in Ireland. He had read that extract in order to enable the Committee to judge whether his hon. friends and himself had used exaggerated language, or language which in any way was inconsistent with a reasonable view of the facts. He hoped that the Chief Secretary, in replying to the supplementary criticisms made sine, he spoke, would be able to give some promise that the state of things of which they complained would not continue.
§ MR. GORDON (Londonderry, S.)
said that nothing had carried such strong conviction to his mind in regard to the position his friends and himself had taken up in the Anderson case as the speech of the Chief Secretary. He would ask the question—Why did Father O'Hara go to 775 Sir Antony McDonnell? He knew perfectly well that the only way in which a constable could be got rid of was by an order issued by high authority. And so he went to the Under-Secretary. Why did he not go to the Inspector-General? In the interval between the report of the district inspector and its approval by the acting county inspector and Inspector-General, they would find that Father O'Hara discussed the matter with Sir Antony McDonnell. The Inspector-General, in his statement, did not say that Sir Antony McDonnell did not discuss the matter with him. If they did what light had they to discuss the character of a man who had nothing but good conduct to his credit, and who, when the charge was made against him, was acquitted of it. It was very easy to say that the whole inquiry was one of routine, but it should be remembered they were dealing with a man with seventeen years service in the force, and depriving him of his means of living. They gave the Chief Secretary every wish to cover up anything done by his subordinates, but they could not be blind to the obvious facts of the case. What was the result? This man was dealt with with all the rigour applied to cases which had been substantiated in Courts of justice. It was all very easy to say that this was merely routine in dealing with a disciplined force. But in this case the life of a man who had had an unblemished record for seventeen years was being dealt with. He was being deprived of his means of livelihood, apart altogether from what this poor girl had had to submit to. The moment the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had the facts before him he reinstated the man. He would give the right hon. Gentleman credit for the feeling which dictated to him a desire to cover up anything that had been done by his subordinates; but he ventured to say that there had never been any case, after the certificates of the doctors had been produced, against this man, and that Anderson was not guilty of any offence known to the law. He thought that the House ought to mark its strong sense of the wrong perpetrated in the case of Constable Anderson, by voting in favour of this Motion.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said that the debate had left an extremely disagreeable impression upon the minds of impartial men on both sides of the House. What were the facts of the case? A Protestant constable of good character became engaged to be married to a Roman Catholic young lady. From that point onwards a network of conspiracy was gradually drawn around him, supported by this priest O'Hara. Unfortunately, owing to the influence of Sir Antony McDonnell, the constable after long years of good service was dismissed from the force, and the young lady subjected to a stigma. But for the action of several of the Ulster Members this unfortunate man would have had a ruined life, and the unfortunate young lady would have remained under a wrong imputation. The Chief Secretary in his ingenious speech had appealed to Ulster Members for their continued confidence. Until he resisted the sinister influence that surrounded him in Dublin, he would forfeit the confidence of the Party that had always been in the past among- the most loyal and faithful supporters of the Unionist cause.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester,. N.E.)
said he knew this case had excited much feeling in the minds of many people not only in Ireland but in England. The only reason why he intervened, and that for a moment, in an Irish debate was to do what he would like another man to do for him were he concerned in such a matter. It would take a great deal to make him believe that a Wean with such antecedents as the present Under-Secretary for Ireland would be guilty of such conduct as had been attributed to him, that he had been influenced by sectarian feeling, and that he had done other than simple justice in a case which was brought before him. A man who had obtained a place so high in the Indian service by his own talents, industry, and merit—and many had expected that he would rise even higher—a man of his immense administrative capacity, could not be rightly accused of partiality or injustice. It was not inappropriate that a distinguished official should be selected for high employment in Ireland who belonged to the religion of the great majority. He trusted 777 Sir Antony McDonnell would not think for a moment that he had in any degree laboured under the imputation before this House of any failure in his duties, which all who knew him knew him to be incapable of.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said that so far as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was concerned he really thought that Sir Antony McDonnell required no defence in this case at all. The Chief Secretary had entirely demolished the case made against him, and he thought if one could penetrate into Sir Antony McDonnell's breast and discover what his feeling was on this subject one would find that he was animated by supreme indifference to the attacks levelled against him in this debate. No impartial man who had listened to the speech of the Chief Secretary could have any doubt that these accusations, one and all, were absolutely without foundation. That being so, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh might be surprised when he said that he intended to vote for his Motion. His reasons were entirely different from those of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. He complained that a certain respectable clergyman in the West of Ireland had been able to go and use an illegitimate influence with the Government to get a man prosecuted for a false charge. He (Mr. Redmond) would not go into that question at all, but his charge against the Chief Secretary was, that a competent tribunal having received sworn evidence, having considered this charge, having come to a decision unfavourable to the Man and having convicted him on it, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was able to go behind the Speaker's Chair into the Chief Secretary's room, to exercise an illegitimate influence on him, and to get the decision of a perfectly competent tribunal arrived at on sworn evidence overturned by the Executive action of the right hon. Gentleman acting alone.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he would be very glad to believe this man innocent, 778 but he had no means of knowing. What ought to happen in this case was that there ought to be a full inquiry into the whole facts. It was a very remarkable thing that when this case began to be spoken of in the public Press, when in this country and in Ireland efforts were set on foot to arouse evil passions and religious bitterness over this question, and when there was a unanimous chorus demanding a full inquiry into all the facts of the case, as had been put forward with great vehemence by the Globe and the Daily Mail and the Irish Times; yet suddenly the demand had been allowed to drop, and not one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite made any demand for an inquiry.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said that he gathered the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would rather like an inquiry, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman and his friends would press on his friends the necessity for an inquiry into this case. The whole allegation was that there was something hidden in this matter, and that when the truth was known it would be something very disgraceful to Canon O'Hara, Sir Antony McDonnell, and the Catholic body in Ireland generally. If there was any real belief in the charge let it be put to the test. Let them have an inquiry into this matter. The charge was a very serious one, concerning practically the whole Catholic body in Ireland, a very respectable clergvman, and members of the Government. The most disgraceful charges had been made, and he asked for a public inquiry into those charges. He thought it was a pretty good test of the real measure of belief which hon. Gentlemen had had in the truth of their own accusations that they had not said a word about inquiry until he spoke, and then, after all, what they said was that they had no objection. Why had they dropped this demand for an inquiry? He declined altogether to go into the merits of this case. He confined himself entirely to this demand for an inquiry, because he believed that the Chief Secretary had been guilty of a most improper decision in overriding the decision of a 779 competent tribunal, taken on evidence on oath, and because he thought his refusal of an inquiry was nothing less than an outrage. For that reason he and his friends would vote against the Chief Secretary's salary that night, even if they had no other reason, and for these reasons they would vote in favour of the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who, he hoped, before the debate ended, would rise and enforce his demand for an inquiry.
§ *MR. LONSDALE
said he had intervened in this discussion in order to call attention to a matter which closely concerned the county of Armagh; and which was also of great interest and importance to the whole of Ulster. He alluded to the strange method which the Irish Government had recently adopted of dealing with what was known as the extra police tax—that was to say, the charges which were levied by the Government upon local authorities for the occasional services of additional police. It would be within the knowledge of some members of the Committee that during the last few months the Government had remitted this extra police tax in the case of nine counties, while they had refused to make similar remissions in the case of other counties in the North of Ireland.
§ MR. MACVEAGH
asked whether the hon. Gentleman was in order in raising that question on the Vote for the Chief Secretary's salary, seeing that there was a separate Vote for the police?
ruled that details could not be discussed, as there was a separate Vote for the police; but the hon. Gentleman was in order in referring to the policy of the Chief Secretary in the matter.
§ *MR. LONSDALE
said the counties in which remissions had been made were Cavan, Clare, Fermanagh, Galway, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, and Waterford; they were all Nationalist counties, and the total amount which had been remitted was £7,400. While the Government had relieved those Nationalist districts from payment of this tax, they had refused to afford any relief 780 to the counties of Armagh, Down, and the city of Londonderry. He contended, therefore, that in this matter the Government had discriminated between Irish counties in such a way as to inflict serious injustice upon the loyal and law-abiding section of the Irish people. He did not assert that his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary had any intention of favouring one section at the expense of another, but he pointed out that the action of the Executive had unquestionably produced that effect arid that the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for what had been done. His charge against the Government was that their new policy of concession and conciliation was being carried out with an utter disregard of the just claims of Ulster. In their anxiety to be generous to their opponents the Government had forgotten to be just to their own supporters. This mistaken policy was producing the result which might have been expected. On the one hand, it had failed to reconcile hon. Members opposite and their supporters, who declared as vehemently as ever that no concession would, turn them from their agitation for Home Rule. On the other hand, this policy was estranging those whose loyalty to the Constitution had been the main barrier against separation.
The people of Ulster were, to-day, smarting under a keen sense of wrong, and he warned his right hon. friend that there existed a widespread feeling of indignation against the present Irish administration. He would like to recall to the memory of his right hon. friend what he said in that House two years ago. At that time intimidation and boycotting were prevalent in many parts of Ireland, and it became necessary to take strong measures to put a stop to those criminal practices. His right hon. friend assured the House that his policy was not to kill Home Rule with kindness—but to "kill crime with common sense." One of the "common-sense" methods he adopted was to send additional police into disturbed districts and charge half the cost of those police against the counties concerned. That was a very sensible arrangement. It was in every way proper that those who called the tune should pay the piper. 781 Clearly the object of his right hon. friend was to teach the people that lawlessness was an expensive luxury. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman wished to give those who were being oppressed confidence in the determination of the Government to protect them. But what really happened? The theory was excellent; but in practice it did not work. The payment of these charges for additional police was resisted. Sligo led the way. Sligo was the largest debtor. Last autumn the bill of the Government against Sligo for extra police amounted to £2,323. It was to be presumed that the extra police were not sent into Sligo without cause; and that the reason this county had more to pay than others was because there had been a greater amount of disorder in Sligo than in other places. But Sligo would not pay the Government demand. No doubt Sligo was strengthened in that determination by the example of the city of Limerick, which had not paid any tax for extra police for more than twenty years. The Sligo people found the Castle authorities in a yielding humour, and their surprise when they were told the charge would not be pressed could be imagined. The success of Sligo naturally encouraged other counties to agitate for similar treatment; and the Government surrendered their claims in case after case. These concessions, however, were confined to Nationalist counties in the South and West. The official reason given for this change of front was wholly unconvincing. In reply to a Question on the 24th March, the Chief Secretary stated that—The claim made against Sligo was in respect of a reserve force of Constabulary, and when it subsequently transpired that the additional men had not been drawn from the reserve, which is located by statute at the depôt in Dublin—but had been drafted from other counties—the Government was advised that there was no legal power to recover the claim.That was to say—the Government having surrendered to clamour, now tried to shelter themselves behind a confession of incompetence. Somebody, it seemed, had blundered. The weak point about this explanation was that the "blunder" affected only Nationalist counties. In those counties, of course, the abandonment of the charges had naturally been hailed as a "victory for agitation," 782 and that seemed to be the proper description to apply to it. But the Chief Secretary could not be surprised if the favour shown by Dublin Castle towards a section of the Irish people, at the expense of the taxpayer, should have led to an outcry from Ulster against the unfairness of the whole proceeding. The county council of Armagh had claimed that that county should be also relieved from payment of the extra police tax. Similar claims had been made by the counties of Tyrone and Down and Londonderry city. Their demands were the natural consequence of the concessions made to the Nationalist counties, and he submitted that they were based upon reason and justice. His constituents in Armagh rightly contended that the effect of the remission of £7,400 in the counties he had named was to place an additional burden upon them. This £7,400 had to be met out of the general taxation funds to which, of course, Armagh contributed its share. It was manifestly unjust that while this extra expense was placed upon Armagh, the county should still be expected to pay its own charges for special police. In the case of Armagh the amount immediately in dispute was not large, but the principle at stake was one of considerable importance. During the last ten years, Armagh had paid a total of £2,663 for extra police; and he maintained that the county had a good claim for the return of a part of this money, if not the whole of it, especially as some of it seemed to have been quite unnecessary expenditure. They based their claim for remission mainly upon the broad ground that there should be equality of treatment as between one county and another, in this and in all other matters. If these police charges were remitted in one case they should be remitted in all.
He would doubtless be told that the case of Armagh was different from the case of Sligo and the other counties favoured by the Government, but he was unable to discover any difference which would justify a difference of treatment. To his mind the so-called dissimilarity was like the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It was absolutely undetectable by the eye of common sense. His right hon. friend had relied upon the fact that in Sligo the extra police were 783 not drawn from the Reserve Depot in -Dublin, but from other adjoining counties. That was also the case in Armagh. In that respect the two cases were absolutely similar, and it followed that if Sligo was relieved on that ground, Armagh had the right to claim similar treatment. To contend that a difference should be made because in one case the police were sent under one Act of Parliament, and in the other case under another Act of Parliament, seemed to him to be quite beside the point. The question still remained, why should police be sent into Sligo under one law and into Armagh under another? There seemed to be a perfect maze of Acts of Parliament dealing with this matter. The advisers of the Chief Secretary, by their own confession, lost themselves in this maze, and at last stumbled upon a reason for relieving nine Irish counties from the tax. He suggested that they should make a further exploration. They would then discover a flaw in the claim against Armagh and the other counties in the North of Ireland which would enable the charges to be remitted in those cases also. In any case, they who represented Ulster constituencies felt bound to protest as strongly as they could against what they regarded as the unfair treatment of Ulster. Thor were not only refused equality of treatment, but the effect of the action of the Government was to impose upon loyal and law-abiding people a double share of the cost of repressing disorder. That was most unfair. He submitted that they were justified in their protest; and should receive the support of all Unionists in this Committee in their demand that in this, and in all other respects, there should be equal treatment for all.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the charge now brought against the Government was that in order to carry out a policy of conciliation they had remitted taxes in Nationalist counties and refused to remit corresponding charges in counties returning Unionist Members. When the resolution was sent to him by the Unionist Members he dealt with that charge in a very long letter, and showed that it was impossible to collect the money in the particular places in which the tax had been remitted. The resolution was pub- 784 lished, but not his reply, which he thought was a pity. It was clear that Sir A. McDonnell was not concerned in this matter, as the mistake was made long before his appointment. When endeavouring to deal with disorder in Ireland he directed that extra police should be sent into the disturbed districts, and that the charge should be placed upon the counties concerned. That could be done only under two sets of Acts, and the extra police had to be really extra police, they had to be sent from the depot. Owing to a blunder, the police, instead of being sent from the depot at Dublin, were sent from an adjoining part of the same county. The debt was therefore irrecoverable, otherwise the people would have been paying for the police twice over. They would be paying for the police of the county, and obviously if the men were simply transferred from one part of the county to another they could not be charged again for the same men; they were not extra police at all.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the blunder was discovered by his legal advisers, who went through the Acts of Parliament and told him that he could not recover the money. That being so, would anybody suggest that he ought to have gone on trying to recover the money illegally, with the absolute certitude that the Government would be brought before the High Court and cast in damages?
§ *MR. LONSDALE
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman contended that those conditions applied in all the nine counties in which the police tax had been remitted. The city of Limerick had paid no police tax for twenty years!
§ MR. WYNDHAM
submitted that when the Law Officers advised that a particular tax could not be recovered it was not the duty of the Government to go and break the law. He was not anxious to this £7,000. The money would have come in very handy, and he parted with it with the greatest regret after exercising the ingenuity of his legal advisers to the utmost to see whether he could not in some war collect it. It was unfortunately true that the disorder was 785 almost entirely, if not entirely, in counties returning Nationalist Members to Parliament, but his hon. friends could hardly suggest that they had a grievance, and that charges in their counties that were legal and could be collected should also be remitted. No Minister could adopt such a policy as that. A cardinal feature of the case had been left untouched, viz., that in a large number of Nationalist counties the police tax had not been remitted. The amount remitted was doubtless a large sum, but the Committee should bear in mind that it had not been remitted in Cork City, in Fermanagh, Kildare, King's county, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, or Waterford. In those cases the amounts were legally requisitioned, and, as they could therefore be sued for, he was suing for them. There had been no disparity of treatment, and he really thought his hon. friends ought not to bring charges of unfair treatment against the Government upon such a slight foundation.
With regard to the Anderson case, he thought some of those who had spoken after him had done scant justice to what he had placed before the Committee. He had proved successfully that Sir Antony McDonnell had nothing to say in the matter at all. His right hon. and gallant friend had said lie took a pessimistic view of his Irish administration because of the appointments that he had made. But of the three appointments to which his right hon. and gallant friend referred, one was made before he took office. With reference to Mr. Finucane he was glad to hear no suggestion from his right hon. and gallant friend that the appointment was not a proper one. It was true that he recommended the appointment of Sir Antony McDonnell. He was proud of having made that recommendation. Before he knew there was likely to be a vacancy in the Under-Secretaryship he had met Sir Antony McDonnell, and from what he heard from Lord Lansdowne at the time, and from Lord Curzon since, and from what he knew of him himself, he was convinced that there was no public servant who less deserved to be attacked as Sir Antony McDonnell had been 786 attacked that afternoon. Was it not distressing that these charges should be male against a public servant who had covered himself with such distinction in India, who before being appointed to this office was summoned to be a Privy Councillor, and who was admitted to the Privy Council at the same time as himself. Was he to be silent when charges were made against that eminent servant of the King and of the Empire—charges for which there was no justification, and which rested upon no foundation of any kind at all?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh brought forward another matter. In Ireland they had from time to time a good deal of trouble about the hanging out of flags and bunting at various celebrations. This was familiar to anyone who knew anything of Irish life. Because of these difficulties the law said that flags were not to be hung out by the owners of licensed promises. In practice, and he believed legally, the law had been interpreted to mean that Party emblems were not to be hung up. This, he believed, was sound law, and he was sure it was sound sense; otherwise they would have to pull down the Royal Standard or the Union Jack in order to prevent the law being broken. The police were warned not to pull down Union Jacks or flags of that kind but to report any doubtful point to their authority before acting. A complaint was made by the Rev. Mr. Gleeson that two policemen had objected to the display of flags at a public-house. That complaint was sent without comment to the Inspector-General, and he sent it down to the district inspector there. The district inspector made a mistake. Instead of sending at once for the men, and asking why they did not go to him for instructions, he went to all the publicans, and having seen all of them, he found that one only had been addressed by these two constables. The error, and the only error, was that, without seeing the policemen, the district inspector reported that, in his opinion, it was imprudent to discuss the matter at all. The county inspector passed that on, and endorsed it to the Inspector-General. This was the whole case. The 787 right hon. Gentleman asked why Sir A. McDonnell came in. He came in because the Rev. William Gleeson persisted in his complaint, and kept on writing, and saying that he had been badly used because no notice had been taken of the complaint. Sir A. McDonnell then answered and stated very fully what had been done; and he himself could not say that was any mistake. It might be said that it was better not to answer letters. This would make their work a great deal easier than it was. But, in his opinion, it was the duty of a Government Department to send detailed replies to show why the Government had not taken certain action which they were asked to take. The acknowledgement of correspondence was not a fault that should be charged against a public administrator.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
said he quite agreed with what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, but it was very hard indeed that a public servant in the position of Sir Antony Mcdonnell should be subjected to the charge which had been stated so broadly by some hon. and right hon. Members. It occurred to him that there should be an inquiry into the whole of this case. He thought that what had taken place reflected not only on the character of the individual, but also more or less on the administration of the law in Ireland. He did not offer any opinion one way or another upon the conduct of Constable Anderson, but they had the fact that he was condemned by a Court of inquiry and that he was dismissed. It was a very strong measure for the Chief Secretary, ex proprio motu, after a conference with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, to reverse that decision. He thought that circumstance alone, and the fact that the character of the Under-Secretary had been more or less impeached in a public manner, required that there should be an inquiry into the circumstances of the whole case, and on that ground he would support the Motion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Sun JAMES HASLETT (Belfast, N.)
said he thought this debate had answered one very good purpose. He did not question in any degree the 788 Chief Secretary's answer with regard to the case of Constable Anderson. A charge had been made that a minister of religion had intervened and asked witnesses what they were going to say, if he did not actually coach them. He did not say that in any reproachful sense, but the clergyman had tried to find out what evidence the witnesses were going to give before the tribunal that tried the case. That showed that whatever fresh inquiries they might have, there must be some different form of Court. It was utterly unsatisfactory that these semi-trials should be held. He held that there must be some radical change in connection with the police administration of Ireland, and that they must have some thoroughly judicial form of proceeding under which a man brought forward on a charge would be treated in a judicial manner.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.