§ *MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)
rose to call attention to all the circumstances connected with the explosion at Lord Ashtown's Lodge, Glenahiery, and to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, the interests of truth and justice require a full public inquiry upon oath into all the circumstances connected with the explosion at Lord Ashtown's shooting lodge at Glenahiery on 14th August last, including the subsequent attempt made to incite a number of the inhabitants of the County of Galway to commit an outrage upon Woodlawn Church on 31st August last." He felt himself confronted, he said, by a very great and obvious difficulty, the difficulty of stating, on an occasion when they had only two hours and three-quarters left for discussion, the whole of the facts of a case which was not only very mysterious, but in his opinion, of the very gravest character, demanding the most searching and merciless inquiry by the Executive that claimed to be fair and impartial in its dealings between man and man in Ireland. He wished to recall the fact that, in the first instance, the explosion at Glenahiery was of a character almost unprecedented in Ireland. It was not 591 caused by an infernal machine, or dynamite cartridge, which could be carried in a man's pocket; it was caused, according to the official evidence, by means of a large iron pot of considerable weight, a balk of timber, several quart bottles, assumed to have contained paraffin oil, some yards of specially manufactured fuse, a wheelbarrow, and a pole of wood. One of his hobbies had always been the study of criminology, and he remembered distinctly, when he opened his paper which contained news of the outrage, saying to his friends that the thing on the face of it was not done hastily by one man, that it had been done deliberately, and with not the least hurry, and that far more than two men, let alone one man, had been concerned in it. So far, this case had not been tried by a jury, not even by a jury of respectable Orangemen. It had been tried in the first place by County Court Judge Fitzgerald, and tried next on appeal by Mr. Justice Kenny. Against the personal integrity of these Irish magnates he had not one word to say. At the same time it was the merest affectation to assume that a strong party man ceased to think about politics, or the bearings of general events upon political parties, because he was translated to the judicial bench. Judges were amply protected in that House against any undue criticism in the discharge of their duties, although he might remind the House that the first thing they did after the great Revolution was to put a curb upon the great and dangerous increase of powers of the Judges of the land. And he was bound to say that since Judge Jeffreys, in the era of James II., publicly threatened an English juryman that he would get his nose slit for him if he did not consent to a hanging verdict, few worse displays had been made from the Bench than the display made by County Court Judge Fitzgerald on the first hearing of this case. Now he wished to say to begin with——
§ MR. MOORE (Armagh, N.)
On a point of order. I should like to ask if it is in order—[NATIONALIST cries of "Yes, it is."] This is not a matter to be decided by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway; it is for the Deputy-Speaker. I wish to ask, Sir, whether it is in order 592 for an hon. Member to say of a County Judge in Ireland that he is the worst example of judicial misconduct on the Bench since the time of Judge Jeffreys.
*MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. CALDWELL)
It is a well-known rule of the House that no reference of a derogatory character should be made to a Judge, and I hope that the hon. Member will withdraw it.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said that his hon. friend spoke of Judge Fitzgerald, not in his capacity of County Court Judge, but in his capacity arising from his being authorised under the statute to decide malicious claims.
There is no distinction. It is not a question of executive or administrative functions. I call upon Mr. Haviland Burke.
§ Mr. HAVILAND BURKE and Mr. Moore
rose together, and there were loud NATIONALIST cries of "Shame," "Name" and "Sit down."
It was rather out of order, but I did not think it necessary to call upon the hon. Member to withdraw.
§ *MR. HAVILAND BURKE
said that when interrupted he was about to say that he held no brief from District-Inspector Preston or any other member of the autocratic and military police force, which they believed to be extravagant, overmanned, and overpaid, and over which the Irish people and the representatives of the Irish people had no control whatsoever. But this matter of District-Inspector Preston did gravely concert the public administration of justice, and he said, and said it deliberately, with all respect to the feelings of the hon. and 593 learned Gentleman who had just interrupted him, that if District-Inspector Preston had been a thrice convicted criminal, if he had been a notorious and habitual offender, if he were a ticket-of-leave man when he came before County Court Judge Fitzgerald, he could not have been more hectored, bullied, and insulted from start to finish than he was on that occasion. And moreover, with all respect to County Court Judge Fitzgerald's personal character, and to the acute sensitiveness of the hon. and learned Member who had just interrupted him, he wanted to point out that the County Court Judge assumed, as the whole ascendancy party in Ireland habitually assumed, that a policeman's word was law and gospel as against a Nationalist, or against a Member of Parliament representing a Nationalist constituency; but if once in a way, just by accident, a policeman was so presumptuous as to express doubts in favour of the people, then he was a whited sepulchre and a traitor to his duty. He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends: Did they really think they could get any man of the world inside or outside the House to believe that an ambitious police official who wanted to curry favour in high quarters and to gain distinction and promotion would choose the method of doing, saying, or writing anything to hurt the feelings of a big Irish landlord and a peer of the realm? It was absolutely preposterous. If District-Inspector Preston had reported in the first instance that the United Irish League emissaries had been busy in the district and that he attributed the bomb explosion to the activity they had displayed—if he had expressed the conviction that the feed was done locally as an act of agrarian or political vengeance—then he would have been the curled darling of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would have been a prophet of the true gospel, the upholder of law and order against an effete and corrupt executive, and he would have stood higher in the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman and he low-down, anti-Irish English gutter Press that was fed by Lord Ashtown and by Members above the gangway. He had, however, the audacity to express a doubt as to the culpability of the local 594 people. He challenged any hon. Member on the Orange benches to get up and say it was so; but, if the hon. Gentleman above the gangway could produce evidence of reasonable ground for suspicion that there was a local Sergeant Sheridan in the case and of police complicity in this outrage, they would do their honest best to help them to track down the criminal policeman and have him punished, although they could not promise to assent to the immunity and hush money that Sergeant Sheridan and his satellites got from the Unionist Government. But, if there was no allegation of police complicity in this case, why should they have this forensic howl against District-Inspector Preston's Report? If he wanted anything to justify the phrase he had used, which might have been strong, and to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had taken objection, he could not do better than quote two or three phrases used by County Court Judge Fitzgerald in delivering judgment in censure of District-Inspector Preston. He alluded to what he called the gracious document which had been called the Report of District-Inspector Preston, and then said—As to the circumstances in which the so called report was manufactured, I have my own opinion, but I say nothing.Again, by way of showing his views against the District-Inspector, he went out of his way after he had actually delivered his judgment to say respecting the area of the outrage that he would ask County-Inspector Jennings to consider that question, as, in consequence of the opinion he had formed of District-Inspector Preston, he would not ask his assistance. Profiting by those eminently refined and impartial remarks, the next move in the Orange game was to represent that the original Report was, as the County Court Judge put it, manufactured, but if they could get at the original Report sent in by District-Inspector Preston, they would find that it was mild as compared with the scorching fire which blazed forth at the first hearing. Their law and order friends, in the Press and through other channels, had asked for the publication of the original Report, and they got it, and at the same time they caught a tartar. He had the original Report arranged in pages parallel 595 with the Report against which County Court Judge Fitzgerald fulminated and raved so voluminously, and he found that so far from the original Report being milder than the one upon which very largely the County Court Judge had to adjudicate, the Report before him was a milk-and-water Bowdlerised edition of the Report originally sent in by Mr. Preston, and that if the Report before the County Court Judge was cooked at all it was cooked handsomely in Lord Ashtown's favour. He would exhaust his time if he alluded to the many passages in the original Report which were omitted, in his opinion with gross impropriety, under Castle influence, from the Report upon which the original proceedings were taken, but there were two omissions to which he might call some attention. The inspector said, for instance, in his original Report that he was actually obstructed in the execution of his duty, and that he had difficulty in getting information. He said that Alice Cudd, the sister of the wife of Lord Ashtown's gamekeeper—the more they went into this Ashtown business the more they saw what a merry crowd and how closely related they were—who showed temper at being questioned at all, whose demeanour was flippant, gave impertinence to the District-Inspector who, in the ordinary discharge of his duty, had the audacity to ask her some questions as to the facts relating to the explosion. He said another thing, also omitted from the second edition, and he thought this was a most important matter. Any man accustomed to study human nature and police cases and criminal trials would see its importance. The Inspector said, in his original Report—At this point it occurs to me to put upon paper what has struck me all along as unusual and not to be expected—the fact that the women of the household had taken the whole matter calmly and had never shown the least sign of alarm or natural fear, quite the contrary.He put his own construction upon that, and it was that the ladies of the house were not in the least surprised and had some inkling of what was going to happen. But he would leave District-Inspector Preston's Report. The next sheet-anchor of the people who wanted to make this slur upon an Irish national movement was to say that County-Inspector Jen- 596 nings was dead against the District-Inspector. The only difference of opinion between County-Inspector Jennings and District-Inspector Preston was as to whether the window was open or not at the time of the explosion. District-Inspector Preston was of opinion that it was, and he was confirmed in that opinion by the evidence of the Home Office expert. He noticed that Mr. Justice Kenny, in his summing up, said he had three experts on one side and one on the other, and that other things being equal he would prefer the opinion of the three experts to the one. What did that amount to? It was as if after a railway collision the Board of Trade sent down its special inspector to make a report as soon as possible after the accident, and that then when somebody injured in the collision brought an action for damages against the Company he could bring up three experts who were not on the spot for weeks or months, when everything was put in order and tidied up, and the Judge told the jury to prefer the opinion of the three experts to the independent expert who was there as soon as possible after the disaster. Again, County-Inspector Jennings said, and this was going to lead him up to a graver chapter of his argument by and by—Lord Ashtown suspects none of his Waterford tenantry for the outrage. He is of opinion that it was planned by some of his Woodlawn tenants, aided by someone in the neighbourhood of Glenahierv.This remarkable passage followed—It is inconceivable how any man would approach the house, as in this instance and run risks of detection with practically four armed, and experts in use of firearms, on the premises. I do not believe any of the natives would countenance or conceive such an outrage.It might be of interest that he should remind the House that Mr. Graham, the mysterious gamekeeper who belonged to Lord Ashtown's menage, was one of those rolling stones that gathered no moss. He had never kept any responsible employment for any substantial period, and always appeared to treat Glenahiery as a safe harbour of refuge. He had, furthermore, to dwell upon the fact that he had been several times in trouble with the police, and that actually since this outrage he had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment for wanton and unprovoked assault, and was, for 597 some mysterious reason that he could not fathom, relieved by the authorities at Dublin Castle of the results. As he said, one sentence that he had just read in County-Inspector Jenning's Report led them up to a graver chapter in the case. They had been blamed for trying to connect the anonymous letters inciting certain Galway people to crime with the Glenahiery bomb outrage, and with Lord Ashtown. But who originally drew in the name of the Galway people to the Glenahiery business? It was Lord Ashtown himself. It was the explanation he gave to the local police. He did not believe any of his neighbours had done it. He said right out two or three times that it was the Woodlawn tenants, with whom he had had difficulties, who were responsible. Before he passed from that aspect of the case, he could not avoid reference to an ugly fact in Lord Ashtown's own conduct. At the first hearing of his claim for compensation he was asked, was he, or was he not, responsible for an article describing the outrage and life generally in that neighbourhood, that appeared in a very respectable and widely-read weekly paper in London. He point-blank denied all knowledge of the article, of responsibility for it, or of having given his signature, and only at the last moment, when beaten to the ropes under cross-examination by the hon. and learned Member for South Louth, confronted with the presence, at the second trial, of a special representative sent over by that paper to be there and give him the lie from the witness chair, then and only then did he admit that his article in Answers was not a concoction, that he was responsible for it, that he did give his signature for it, and he was censured by Mr. Justice Kenny for his previous evasions. The utmost plea that could be entered for Lord Ashtown was that he was the victim of occasional acute paralysis of the mnemonic faculties. If hon. Members on the Orange Benches preferred that definition of his mental state, he was perfectly willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It made no difference whatever as to the value of Lord Ashtown's testimony on oath, or the anti-Irish garbage which he retailed for the benefit of the Unionist Press in this country. What was the next fact they had to deal with? It was 598 that shortly afterwards a number of letters were posted from Dublin inciting certain Galway men in the precise locality Lord Ashtown had indicated as being the locality that had been most criminal in this outrage, inviting them to plant a bomb outside a local church with a view to injuring him. Those letters were written when Lord Ashtown himself was in Dublin, but more than that happened. Simultaneously he wrote to the police saying that he had good ground to believe that an attempt at this outrage, would be made in Woodlawn on the very date bargained for in the letter sent to the Woodlawn people from Dublin. As the hon. Member for Galway had pointed out Lord Ashtown warned the police before he left Dublin, and the County Inspector went to Lord Ashtown and said: "Where did you get the information upon which you applied for special police ambush against a proposed outrage upon a definite date? Will you show us the letter or give us the information upon which you proceeded?" But Lord Ashtown point blank refused. The few points he had tried to place before the House in themselves justified the Resolution he had moved, and however strong they might seem to some of his opponents he thought the case justified the words he had used in support of his Resolution. An active campaign was being directed at the present moment by certain hon. Members for Ireland, who were, so far as he knew, and he was happy to know it, the only body of legislators in any legislative assembly in the world who made it their daily task of joy to defame the country in which they lived, and the people they represented. He had never heard of an instance in any Parliament or in any country, where a regularly constituted political Party filled the Notice Paper of that Assembly with Questions tending to show that the people whom they represented were abnormally criminal and required abnormal measures of repression. Lord Ashtown in himself was not a very important individual, and the ratepayers who had been mulcted in a couple of hundred pounds would easily survive that infliction. The fine on those ratepayers, unjust as he believed it to be, was a mere trifle compared with, the principle involved, which was that 599 the one thing upon which all the local police, the District and County-Inspectors and constables alike, were agreed, was that there was no local feeling whatsoever against Lord Ashtown, and the utmost length that County-Inspector Jennings—whom it had been attempted to play off against Inspector Preston—could be got to go, was that when he was asked if he had any opinion as to whether the outrage was done by insiders or outsiders, he said that he would not express any opinion. He absolutely refused under pressure to say that he had any reason whatever to believe that the outrage was inspired by local animosity. With great respect he contended that it was a case for a sworn inquiry, which he felt sure would show that at the bottom of it there was something worse than had yet been revealed and for which responsibility should be tracked down. He begged to move.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said that the Glenahiery outrage had naturally excited great interest in Ireland, but it had excited in the constituency which he had the honour of representing a special interest. Hon. Members might not be aware that if an accidental fire occurred, or malicious injury was perpetrated in Ireland, the ratepayers of the district were called upon to pay the damage. In England no such law prevailed, and they hoped to lay before the House in a very few days a Bill for assimilating the law in Ireland in this respect to the law in England, and they would ask the support of hon. Members to bring the present state of things to an end. He had an exceptional opportunity last summer of witnessing how different the laws were in the two countries. He happened to be at Droitwich shortly after the occurrence at Glenahiery, and as Droitwich was a loquacious place that incident was talked about, and he heard all sorts of speculations as to what Ireland was coming to. Matthew Arnold once said that the born swallower of all clap-trap was the British Philistine, and they were well represented at Droitwich. It happened that about the same time in the Midlands there occurred a series of the most shocking mutilations of cattle and horses, including the great 600 Wyrley case. There were many of those outrages, and the people who owned the mutilated horses and cattle had to bear the loss themselves or provide against it by insurance. There was one thing about those outrages which struck him, and it was that if anything like them had occurred in Ireland they would have been placarded not only over the whole of England, but possibly over the whole of the world. Fortunately for England, there was not an organisation in this country whose object it was to blacken the character of the English people. It was a very bad characteristic for any person to endeavour to blacken his own country, however bad it might be, but what were they to say of an organisation which took little or no care as to the truth or accuracy of the reports which they circulated broadcast, or of the pictures painted in lurid colours, which were calculated to injure Ireland with the object of imposing coercion upon that country. He might say on behalf of his colleagues and himself that they hated and detested that pandering to the base passions of any people. They did not like raking up those things, but when they went down to the constituencies of those hon. Members who were parading the shortcomings of Ireland, it was rather remarkable that they were able to show such a state of criminality that made the contrast most appalling. His hon. friend who had moved this Resolution had referred to District-Inspector Preston's Report. He did not intend to go into that subject at much length, but he wished to say that they held no brief to defend Inspector Preston, and all he would say was that he hoped he would never witness again such a painful exhibition and want of self-control as he witnessed at the Court where this case was tried. He remembered that District-Inspector Preston ventured to say a word, and in a most peremptory way he was told to sit down or he would be put out of Court. There happened to be slight applause in one of the galleries when he went up there, and he learned and impartial Judge told the police to clear out the ragamuffins, who, by the way, included such men as the Chairman of the County Council and other most respectable people. The same thing had occurred in other parts of Ireland. 601 The right hon. and learned Gentleman who acted for Lord Ashtown spoke of Inspector Preston as the new Sherlock Holmes. The evidence of District-Inspector Preston was corroborated in the most extraordinary way by the evidence of Captain Lloyd, one of His Majesty's inspectors of explosives, who was sent over by the Home Office to make inquiry, and Captain Lloyd's evidence had not been contradicted seriously by any evidence yet produced. Mr. Hagreave, who was examined for Lord Ashtown, and would naturally be anxious to give favourable evidence, said—That the balance of probabilities was certainly in favour of the door being shut.That was all the exception he took to the report of Captain Lloyd, a gentleman whose life was spent in investigating such matters. District-Inspector Preston had been held up to odium for the action he had taken in the matter. He was informed, though he could not vouch for the truth of it, that District-Inspector Preston was the son of an Orangeman, and that his grandfather was an Orangeman, so that if he had any leaning at all it would have been on the side of Lord Ashtown rather than that of the people. The whole thing was only part and parcel of a conspiracy to defame Ireland. It might be in the recollection of the House that Lord Ashtown stated that, in his opinion, the plot originated in Galway, and that it was carried out by Galway men. A Mrs. Walsh approached Lord Ashtown with the view of finding out who the conspirators were. She wrote to Lord Ashtown, and after various letters had been sent to him and his agent she met Lord Ashtown in the agent's office, and the result was that she went to Galway and saw several people. Various letters were written, and several other letters were sent in the same handwriting to constituents of his hon. friend the Member for East Galway, who had done his best to unravel the mystery. She failed to get any direct evidence, and the most extraordinary anonymous letters were written to Mrs. Walsh stating among other things that a certain number of men were to meet at Woodlawn at eleven o'clock at night outside the church and opposite the pew which was 602 usually occupied by Lord Ashtown when he attended there. On the strength of that anonymous letter the police were asked to be in ambush. Five letters were sent in the same handwriting to the constituents of his hon. friend asking them to be there at eleven o'clock. Fortunately for themselves they never went there, because the police were brought across the fields, so that they should not be met by anyone, with the view of capturing anyone who might be implicated. It was said that that was done because Lord Ashtown gave the police the information. What he and his friends wanted to know was how Lord Ashtown got the information. His constituents were deeply interested in the matter. He believed that the campaign of vilifying Ireland, of holding up their shortcomings to the gaze of the world, was doomed to failure, and he believed it would fail in one respect. This Protestant Federation was, he believed, determined to fan up religious fanaticism as much as they could in Ireland. What strange things were done in the name of religion! He found that they made bad blood between Catholic and Protestant. He did not know what the result would be among Protestants, but he said with pride that he knew that among the Catholics of Ireland they would never succeed in stirring up that bitter feeling of animosity among those who differed from them. It had been the proud boast of Ireland—and God will that it should remain so—that if they found a man true to the people, they cared not from what land he came, from what class he sprang, or at what altar he might choose to worship. Their politics had always been essentially unsectarian, and they would hunt from political life as a renegade anyone who endeavoured to raise that wretched spirit of religious animosity. When he heard of intolerance among Orangemen, in his heart he blamed them hardly in the least; for this reason, they had been brought up in that spirit of intolerance, and if one generation was educated in that spirit it would take many generations to undo the work and to remove the poison which had been instilled into them. In a remarkable speech on the bigotry in connection with the class 603 of Protestant schools prevailing in Ireland, Lord Byron said—Better send children to those islands in the South Sea where they might more humanely learn to become cannibals—it would be less disgusting to see them brought up to devour the dead than to persecute the living. Schools do you call them! Rather call them dunghills where the viper of intolerance trains her young that when their teeth are cut and their poison is mature they may issue forth filthy and venomous to sting the Catholic.Well had the lesson been learned, and he said, with all confidence on the part of Catholics, that they would never retaliate in a spirit so lowering and degrading on those who differed from them. They and their forefathers had learned the lesson of religious toleration in the best of all schools—in the bitter school of persecution—and in the words of another eminent Englishman—The children of martyrs can never be persecutors.He begged to second the Motion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, the interests of truth and justice require a full public inquiry upon oath into all the circumstances connected with the explosion at Lord Ashtown's shooting lodge at Glenahiery on 14th August last, including the subsequent attempt made to incite a number of the inhabitants of the county of Galway to commit an outrage upon Woodlawn Church on 31st August last."—(Mr Haviland-Burke.)
§ MR. MOORE
said he could not help thinking, when he heard the reference made by the seconder of the Resolution to the avaricious maw with which the British Philistine swallowed clap-trap, that the observation must have been particularly odious to the mover, who addressed the burden of his remarks to British Members. He had heard a very spirited defence of Mr. Inspector Preston, for which that gentleman would be duly grateful. He had heard repeated over and over again, under privilege of the House, unworthy insinuations against the honour and uprightness of character of Lord Ashtown, and suggestions of complicity on the part of Lord Ashtown in the explosion at Glenahiery. [Cheers from the IRISH Benches.] He was 604 glad to hear those cheers, which showed that he was not wronging hon. Members below the gangway. He thought it was a hard thing that, under the shelter of the privilege of the House, a man should be attacked in that way after having faced the music, and having twice gone through the Courts. [Ironical cheers from the IRISH Benches] He understood the contempt which hon. Members below the gangway had for all Courts of Justice. After Lord Ashtown had run the risks of two. Courts, after he had stood the cross-examination of special counsel brought down from Dublin to blacken his character, it was a hard thing that when the findings had been conclusively in his favour, the same insinuations should be repeated under the privilege of the House of Commons in a manner which they dared not repeat outside. Did the House realise in what position Lord Ashtown stood? Lord Ashtown had been attacked that night by the proposer and seconder of the Resolution, who had stated in so many words that in their opinion he was a defamer of the Irish people. He put it to the sense of fair-play on the part of hon. Members below the gangway that, however much they might agree or disagree with a man's action in political criticism—he did not care how intense the disapproval might be—was it a justifiable thing, because they disapproved of Lord Ashtown's methods of criticism, to come there and repeat under the protection of the House, insinuations affecting in the grossest way Lord Ashton's personal character, and suggesting his connection with an outrage for which, if proved, he would be in ordinary course under custody? Lord Ashtown's defamation consisted in printing, publishing, and circulating extracts from the identical newspapers which were the organs of hon. Members themselves. It was no shame for those papers to make the statements, but it was a shame for Lord Ashtown to extract them and circulate them! However much hon. Members disapproved of such defamation, it did not warrant them to repeat there, under privilege, insinuations against Lord Ashtown which, if proved, would drive him into disgrace 605 for ever. The House had just listened to a very eloquent and moving peroration—not his own—of the hon. Member for East Waterford about the viper of intolerance. Did the hon. Member agree with him that the viper of intolerance should be crushed out? [Cheers from the IRISH Benches.] He concurred in those cheers, but he did not concur in the suggestion made by the hon. Member that the viper of intolerance was only bred to sting Roman Catholics. Lord Ashtown was a Protestant; he lived in the west of Ireland. He was unpopular, and the reason was that he was the champion of the Imperial Protestant Alliance. [IRISH cries of "Oh, oh," and "No."] He was only taking the ground occupied by the hon. Members below the gangway, and he wanted the House to consider how far the viper of intolerance in Lord Ashtown's case had been bred to sting Roman Catholics. Lord Ashtown could not walk up his own avenue without the protection of a patrol of four policemen, and he carried a shot-gun with him every day of his life. Twelve months ago a man was indicted in his own county, at the Galway Assizes, for inciting to murder Lord Ashtown. It was not an incitement sent by post to one or two people, but an incitement made to an excited and crowded audience on a public occasion.
§ MR. MOORE
said that the fact that a large number of police were present showed the character of the audience, and that the police were required to maintain order. The Solicitor-General for Ireland, who always discharged his duty with great ability, prosecuted the man who was indicted for inciting to murder Lord Ashtown, and the hon. and learned Gentleman told the jury—he could say nothing else—that it was a clear case, and that on the Crown side they were entitled to a conviction. The Judge also said that it was a clear case, that the evidence was all one way, and that the incitement had been made almost at Lord Ashtown's own hall-door. However, the jury triumphantly acquitted the prisoner, and no further action was taken under the present 606 Administration. That was a case where the viper of intolerance was brought up, but not to sting a Roman Catholic. Lord Ashtown had a gamekeeper to prevent trespassers on his property, and on two occasions within the last eighteen months his gamekeepers had issued summonses against men for poaching on the estate. Gamekeeping was not a popular business in some quarters, but assuming the existence of the viper of intolerance, it happened that the gamekeeper in this case was a Protestant. One of the men, as soon as the summons for poaching was issued, took out a cross-summons for assault. The taking from him of the rabbit which he had poached constituted the assault by the gamekeeper! As soon as the Protestant gamekeeper complaining of trespass by the man came before the bench of magistrates the case was dismissed as trumpery, and the prosecuting gamekeeper was lodged in gaol for assault. So gross was this, that even the Government which was loth and slow to run across the wishes of hon. Members below the gangway, telegraphed, without waiting for a process of certiorari, to the prison authorities to liberate the prosecuting gamekeeper. That had happened twice within the last eighteen months. If in England such a case had happened the Lord Chancellor would have moved the magistrates from the Bench, but in Ireland there still remained a sure and certain hope that the next time the gamekeeper summoned a man for trespass, similar treatment would again be dealt out to him. These were the conditions under which Lord Ashtown enjoyed existence! Reference had been made to Judge Fitzgerald. He had nothing but praise for Judge Fitzgerald, having known him long before he went on to the Bench at Waterford; and under stress of public life he would be sorry to hear anything said derogatory to that gentleman. As a Judge in a case which came before him he gave a decision according as lie saw it his duty to do. After that, Judge Fitzgerald proposed to hunt on the plains of Meath where he had hunted for years; but the local branch of the Irish Land League said he was an absolutely unfit man to ride to the hunt in his own country, and that if he did so they would break up the hunt.[An 607 IRISH MEMBER: And properly so.] Did the House want any further corroberation of what he had just stated than the interruption of the hon. Member below the gangway? Judge Fitzgerald was consequently obliged to go to England for his hunting amusement, but there was no viper in that case, because Judge Fitzgerald was a Roman Catholic. In the case in the County Court about the explosion, there were several witnesses for Lord Ashtown, including Mrs. Graham and Graham himself, and it was their misfortune to give evidence. The witnesses were met by a hostile crowd on their way back from the Court and were hooted and stoned. They heard a lot about intolerance, but surely in the case of Lord Ashtown, who was treated as an unconvicted criminal, there had been a greal deal. Moreover, everyone who dared to lift up their hand in a Court of Justice and swear to what was true was assailed, as also was the Judge, and if there had been a jury they would have been boycotted. They had as an expert professional witness a gentleman named Scully, a surveyor, and because he swore on his oath that in his opinion a window was shut on the occasion in question, he was ordered by the Corporation of Waterford to send in his account, and his employment with them had been terminated because he attended upon subpoena and gave evidence in favour of Lord Ashtown. And yet they heard so much of intolerance. How was Lord Ashtown situated? His character had been twice investigated in regard to these most despicable charges, and it had twice been cleared when every possible effort had been made by witnesses and counsel to blacken it. And these attacks continued, notwithstanding the fact that on one occasion the counsel representing the opposing interest got up in Court and with all the sense of responsibility of a professional man said that not a shadow or vestige of charge was made against Lord Ashtown.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
inquired if he correctly understood the hon. Gentle man to say that special counsel had been brought down with instructions to blacken Lord Ashtown's character?
§ MR. MOORE
said he never intended to apply that to the hon. and learned 608 Member. There was another special counsel who was brought down on behalf of the United Irish League, and anyone who read his examination would see that his instructions were to blacken Lord Ashtown's character. He said that, entirely unlike that counsel, the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who did not appear on that occasion, but on another with a full sense of his responsibility to those he represented, made no charge that Lord Ashtown was guilty of any personal or criminal complicity in any outrage.
A NATIONALIST MEMBER
said there was no counsel brought down by the United Irish League. The other counsel to whom the hon. Member referred was employed by the ratepayers of the county.
§ MR. MOORE
, continuing, said it was a hardship that, with all these circumstances in the knowledge of hon. Members below the gangway, again from those benches insinuations had been made against Lord Ashtown under the protection of the privilege of the House. Lord Ashtown had been placed in such a position that practically the only pleasure he had left to him was that of defending himself. In the face of the findings of these two tribunals recorded in his favour he did not see that Lord Ashtown had anything further to gain from an extraordinary inquiry. Why should he go to an extraordinary inquiry when he had already faced twice the regular tribunals of the land and left the Court according to the Judges without a stain upon his character? In the case of the hon. Member who was indicted and tried with great reluctance by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary at the Wicklow Assizes the jury disagreed.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHERRY,) Liverpool, Exchange
By what authority does the hon. and learned Member say that the case was tried with great reluctance?
§ MR. MOORE
went on to say that in the case of the hon. Member he alluded to the jury disagreed and there was no suggestion of another trial. He did not want another trial, but merely desired to point out that while the hon. Member was held to be exonerated, in the case of Lord Ashtown, although a Court had found twice in his favour, the suggestion was made that he was allowed to go about an unconvicted criminal. He was not going to rely upon the presumption of British law that every man was deemed innocent until he was found guilty. That was not what hon. Gentlemen below the gangway held in dealing with the case of Lord Ashtown, their idea being that he was guilty until he was found innocent. But let the House suppose that Lord Ashtown was an innocent man, he had been treated in this case with great unfairness. If he was an innocent man, charges which were absolutely false had been sedulously distributed throughout the country and to the public that the noble Lord addressed through his monthly magazine. Those charges had been brought into existence five or six months ago, and published and circulated with all the authority which must necessarily attach to a document which could be claimed to be official. He made no charge whatever against the Executive Government of Ireland. He was dealing with subordinate officials with whom the Government would have eventually to thresh out matters, and at present he was dealing with the Report of 11th September, which was formulated to the public, and he was dealing with the man who had been praised and defended that evening below the gangway, District-Inspector Preston, because he was the signatory of that 610 Report. He did not know how many statements District-Inspector Preston made against his own superiors, whether true or not, but by his Report the gravest injustice was done to Lord Ashtown if he was an innocent man, and not a tittle of evidence had been produced which would lead the House to assume Lord Ashtown's guilt. They had had a large amount of heated rhetoric, clouds of panegyrics and perorations, and a certain amount of argument, but absolutely without a new suggestion of fact from beginning to end. For seven months that charge of District-Inspector Preston had been circulated through the country as an official document, and if Lord Ashtown was an innocent man it did him grave injustice. What did that Report contain? They had it on the evidence of District-Inspector Preston who wrote it. There was no mistake on District-Inspector Preston's part as to how the statement of 11th September affected Lord Ashtown, because, on cross-examination at Dungarven, he admitted that his statement contained the inference of a most grave and terrible charge, that he knew it was contained in it, that he did not intend to convey it, and yet he signed it. That was the case at Dungarven in September, 1907. From that time to this every opportunity had been taken, by circulating that Report, to blacken Lord Ashtown's name. On 14th March, at the second trial, District-Inspector Preston made the same admission, and the men who circulated that Report knew that he admitted that he never intended to make that terrible charge, but had been obliged to sign it by order of his superiors. Was that fairplay to Lord Ashtown? That identical Report was part of the case on each occasion it came before the two Judges. Judge Fitzgerald recognised the serious import of that statement, and said that in his opinion there was no foundation for the imputations, charges, insinuations, and suggestions which from first to last had been heaped on Lord Ashtown and his innocent servants; and that those imputations had their origin mainly in the egregious document which had been called the Report of District-Inspector Preston. The other Judge dealt with 611 it in the me way. That document was not only unfair, but it was irregular, and the person who was responsible for it was District-Inspector Preston, who was held up by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway as a model of a straight forward witness. It was irregular because it contained that terrible charge, and because he admitted he never intended to make it. The constabulary regulations were very clear and explicit on that point as would be seen if they were referred to. But the matter did not end there.
§ MR. MOORE
said that hon. Members had brought the statement forward and made the charge, but as soon as a person got up to examine it inch by inch he was continuously and unfairly interrupted. The lie had had six months run in the newspapers which reported hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. There was another instance of the conduct of District-Inspector Preston and his subordinates. Sergeant Ryley was produced at Dungarven in September and stated that he visited the premises the day after the explosion and saw Lord Ashtown, who was under the influence of drink, but on 4th March after that lie had been running for six months he went into the witness box and voluntarily withdrew that charge and admitted that he was mistaken. He said he had seen Lord Ashtown since and had studied his manner and was perfectly satisfied that he was not under the influence of drink. In spite of that this charge continued to be circulated, and that was another specimen of the very unfair treatment Lord Ashtown had had meted out to him from first to last. The time had come when the Government should say that, having had a fall inquiry into the matter, they entirely acquitted, as two Courts had already done, Lord Ashtown of any share in the business. There were other extraordinary matters in the course of the trials. There was one about gunpowder. The explosion took place on 14th August. On the 17th County-Inspector Jennings became aware of the fact that a large quantity of gunpowder and the fuse with which it was said the explosion occurred had 612 been purchased of a man named Kelly in Waterford. District-Inspector Preston, who was in charge of the inquiry, and was a subordinate of County-Inspector Jennings, never learnt that fact until 17th September, and more curious still the Inspector-General never heard of it until 3rd October. It was not until 4th October that the matter became public property when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford wrote a letter which appeared in the newspapers, saying it was common knowledge that that large quantity of gunpowder and fuse had been purchased. All that was in the knowledge or the County-Inspector and the District-Inspector at the trial before the County Court Judge, but not a word of it was tendered in evidence by the police who were engaged in clearing up the matter. Another curious thing was the extraordinary amount of inadvertence there had been in the case. From start to finish, when endeavours were made to find the explanation of certain events which were not clear at the trial, they had been met with the statement that such and such a matter was an inadvertence. District-Inspector Preston made extraordinary charges against his superiors. He said he was forced under professional discipline to put his name to a charge which he did not believe; that he was obliged to do it in the presence of the law officers, the Inspector-General and Sir Antony MacDonnell; that it was a matter of authority. One would have thought that when those statements were made on oath hon. members who would be affected by the charges would have insisted upon an explanation. He would have thought that District-Inspector Preston would have been called on for an explanation of that charge which was found to have no foundation; that he would have been reprimanded, or that the authorities would have considered he was not a very efficient or safe police officer. But that generous flow of mercy which occasionally prompted the action of the right hon. Gentleman appeared and they were told that that momentary aberration on the part of District-Inspector Preston was a matter of inadvertence. The right hon. Gentleman told them on 11th March that the 613 statements of District-Inspector Preston, a responsible police officer, were entirely inaccurate, and that it was only another instance of the hopeless confusion to which an unfortunate witness could be sometimes reduced when in the hands of an able counsel, and, with those excuses, the very grave charges made by District-Inspector Preston against his superior appeared to be allowed to drop. District-Inspector Preston stated that he had prepared an original draft, that his copy was taken, typed, and signed, and that then the original draft was destroyed. The Chief Secretary gave them an explanation, practically in those terms, on 11th March. He wanted to draw the attention of the House to the full import of that matter. He was not suggesting that there was not a perfectly adequate explanation. There were only two documents in existence. There was the original manuscript which the District-Inspector called the draft, and there was the typewritten copy taken from it, which was signed. The original draft, he said, was destroyed, and in his evidence the District-Inspector said it was burned. A question was raised at a later stage, and a more extraordinary conglomeration of inadvertencies he thought had seldom come to the knowledge of a person unaccustomed to such cases. On 30th March the Attorney-General told them that the document which the Inspector-General produced at the Waterford Assizes was not the original statement of 11th September furnished to the parties, but District-Inspector Preston's original unsigned draft of that statement, which was exactly what the Chief Secretary had told them on 11th March had been destroyed after a typed and signed copy had been made. The Attorney-General's attention was directed to that on the spot, and he said no statement had ever been made and the original had been destroyed. Those statements were absolutely irreconcilable. It was quite possible the right hon. Gentleman might have an explanation, but so many inadvertences and discrepancies——
§ MR. CHERRY
Does the hon. and learned Member suggest that the documents were destroyed on my suggestion, or on the suggestion of my right hon. friend?
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
, on a point of order, called attention to the fact that the hon. Member had been speaking fifty minutes, when there was only a limited time for the discussion, and asked whether that was not an abuse of the liberties of the House.
§ MR. MOORE
said that no interruption from below the gangway would deter him from doing his duty justly and fairly. On 29th February, in order to take adequate steps for the conduct of his case, Lord Ashtown's advisers wrote to Dublin Castle, asking if the Reports would be produced. They got a reply that they would not be forthcoming. Two days later the Attorney-General wired to the Castle instructing the Inspector-General to produce them, but, by another inadvertence, no step was taken to contradict the information already given to Lord Ashtown's advisers, who went down, not expecting to have the Reports, although, according to the statement of the Attorney-General at the time, they wore entitled to have them. When the Inspector-General was called upon to produce the original statement of 11th September, he did not do so because, as the Attorney-General said in his answer, he had with him a marked copy, and he considered he could not hand that in. Then when asked on 30th September to produce it he claimed privilege, and, when the Attorney-General was asked why privilege was claimed for the Report, he said their instructions to produce the Report at the trial were not present to the mind of the Inspector-General. With such an accumulation of inadvertencies at Waterford Assizes, Lord Ashtown could, if the trial had been in any way adverse to him, have called for a new trial; but, in spite of them, he was able to succeed. The ratepayers 615 who made the original charge against Lord Ashtown had withdrawn, and the Courts which tried his case had unreservedly acquitted him. These horrible and unfounded charges were absolutely and in every way unsustained. Every police officer called in the case, including District-Inspector Preston himself, told the Court that they had not a tittle or suggestion of evidence against Lord Ashtown. When asked, they one and all on their oaths said they had no evidence or suspicion against him, and, yet after the sworn evidence of that army of witnesses, hon. Members below the gangway attempted to raise suspicion against him again in that House. Reference had been made to the evidence of Major Lloyd, the Home Office expert. His evidence went to establish that the window was open and not shut and that, therefore, the explosion took place from inside. There had been a good deal of declamation on the part of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway because the Judge did not accept his evidence; but what was the evidence on the other side? Every police officer—County-Inspector Jennings, County-Inspector Richards, District-Inspector Tweedle, all competent men against whose characters not a word could be said—contradicted Major Lloyd. Mr. Hargreave, of the firm of Hargreave and Curtis, of London, a gentleman who ought to be just as good a practical man as Major Lloyd, swore that the window was down and the shutters barred. A second expert from Glasgow, Mr. Hunter, who had been trading in gunpowder all his life, gave evidence absolutely the same way. Some of these experts were on the spot before Major Lloyd. The County-Surveyor of Tipperary, Mr. Hackett, and Mr. Scurry, all gave evidence agreeing that the window was down and the shutters barred. That absolutely knocked the bottom out of the structure on which this terrible charge was based, that the outrage was committed from the house. He thought, when the House considered all the circumstances, they would think it unfair that such a charge should have been made that night. So far as Lord Ashtown was concerned, he did not think any further inquiry was required. The proper place to investi- 616 gate a criminal charge was before the regular tribunals of the land with Judge and jury. If there should be an inquiry, then the proposals made were not adequate. There must also be an inquiry into the conduct of the subordinates who conducted the prosecution, and who made the statements containing that terrible charge against Lord Ashtown. The whole matter must be inquired into as to the inception of the charges and as to how the statement of 11th September, on which the hon. Members based their case, came into existence, and he moved an Amendment to secure that end.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said he would not detain the House many minutes in seconding the Amendment. He would like to recapitulate very shortly to the House, because he thought it had for the moment forgotten, the sequence of events. The explosion, which formed the subject of that debate, took place on 14th August last. A few hours after the explosion a police-sergeant arrived and made a Report, to which he had no objection of any sort. Later in the day County-Inspector Jennings together with the county-inspector of the adjoining county and a district inspector arrived on the scene, carefully examined the results of the explosion, and one of them at least, Inspector Jennings, made a Report practically on the spot, which was forwarded to headquarters in Dublin. The police authorities in Dublin, for some reason or other, did not see fit to leave the investigation of the crime and the conduct of the case generally in the hands of any of the three officers, but telegraphed to District-Inspector Preston, who had been detached from his ordinary duty in Waterford for special duty in the North of Ireland, to come back and take charge of the case. He arrived on the scene of the explosion on 17th August, inspected it, got together all the information he could, and then telegraphed to headquarters asking for a personal interview, he presumed, with the Inspector-General, and also for the services of an expert in explosives. Both these requests were granted. The services of Captain Lloyd were given him, and he went to Dublin and interviewed, he presumed, the Inspector-General. That 617 information was contained in the first Report made on 7th September. Presumably after that interview he compiled the Report, which he supposed, in the ordinary routine of police business, was submitted to the Inspector-General before being handed over to the parties to the case. He was not in the slightest degree astonished, in fact, he would be astonished if it was otherwise, that the Inspector-General, or whoever read that Report, decided instantly that it was a Report which ought not to go any further. The reason was perfectly apparent why the Inspector-General did not wish, it to see the light of day. A subsequent document, founded upon it, was called by one of the Judges who tried the case an egregious document. If he had had an opportunity of reading the first Report of Inspector Preston, he could not conceive what adjective he would have applied to it. Of all the ridiculous documents that ever came from the hands of one who was supposed to be an impartial person giving a calm and reasoned statement of what he saw, there never was the equal of that first Report of Inspector Preston. The instructions to police officers in Ireland said that the statement which they were expected to furnish should—Have no relation to evidence which would indicate the views or suspicions of the police, but should simply be a record of the appearance presented by the scene when visited by the police.Inspector Preston said in one place—A searching examination led me to form a very definite conclusion——that was the first thing he had no right to say—That at the time the explosion occurred the window was wide open.He had no right in the world to make any such suggestion as that.Secondly, that the shutters of the window were neither shut nor barred and the drawing room door was wide open.Later on he said—In view of the statements of Graham and Curran on 17th August, and the facts as regarded the window, I drew the four conclusions which I reported personally at headquarters on 20th August, and which I now repeat as they practically amount to facts: (1) Strangers would have been deterred from a criminal intention on finding the window unexpectedly open; (2) Had the perpetrators intended to kill Lord Ashtown they would have been more likely to do so if they had put the bomb inside the room, which was simple when the window 618 was open;(3) To open the window shutters and door was calculated to minimise the damage by reducing the resistance (4) If Graham's and Curran's statements are correct the shutters must have been unfastened by someone from inside between 9.30 and the time of the explosion.There were many more pecularities in that egregious document with which he need not trouble the House. Whatever authorities the Report came before, exercised a very wise discretion in deciding that it was not to be supplied to either party in the case. Another Report was furnished—a Report which was ostensibly founded on the Report from which he had read extracts, and that Report, although boiled down very considerably—he did not say in favour of Lord Ashtown, because there were several statements contained in the second which, had they been printed as they were originally made in the first, would certainly have been very much more in his favour, was sufficiently extraordinary to have had an instant effect when it was posted to the parties concerned in the case, one of them being the district council, which was the party against whom the action for malicious damage was brought. From one end of Ireland to the other, and in England also, to a very great number of people who read it the idea was at once borne home that Lord Ashtown was guilty of the abominable charge of trying to blow up his own house. Here was a document published and given a full week's start before any other document counteracting or minimising its effect in any way was sent out. For one week that document was allowed to have currency throughout the length and breadth of the land. He was not at the moment blaming anybody in particular for that. All he said was that that document having been published, the effect was that Lord Ashtown was looked upon, not only by hon. Members below the gangway, but by many persons in England probably with Unionist leanings, as the author of that vile deed. It was no wonder that they, the friends of Lord Ashtown, had taken a great interest in the matter and had scrutinised each step in its progress and everything connected with it. They were justified in doing so because the very first act of those responsible for the document was to throw, wittingly or unwittingly—and 619 it was very hard to believe they did it unwittingly—a very heavy cloud of suspicion over Lord Ashtown. Without going into details he maintained that Lord Ashtown had thrown all those suspicions off in the most conclusive manner, and that, according to the evidence given at the two trials, to every fair-minded man Lord Ashtown stood to-day absolutely absolved from any complicity in the crime. One of the chief questions brought up at the trials was as to whether a certain window was open or shut. There were two witnesses who said the window was open. One was District-Inspector Preston, whose opinion he did not suppose anybody claimed to be better than that of the three other police officers who examined the scene of the explosion. The other was Captain Lloyd. District-Inspector Preston in his evidence admitted that he accompanied Captain Lloyd to the scene of the explosion and went round with him, without having at the same time any representative on behalf of Lord Ashtown, and pointed out the shutters lying on the floor, the burning window-sash, etc., and explained to him his own theory as to the windows being open. That was a very curious and significant fact, and to his mind very largely minimised any weight that might be attached to Captain Lloyd's evidence. On the other hand, every other witness who examined the premises said he had no doubt in his mind that the window was shut, the shutters were barred, and the pot had been put on the window-sill by some person outside. Another significant fact was that he left out from his Report practically all the information with reference to what he saw under the tree some 60 or 70 yards away. When giving a full statement the inspector ought to have put down all he saw beneath that tree. In the first Report drawn up by Inspector Preston he did state all he saw under that tree, but in his second Report he only reported the part which told against Lord Ash-town. The two Judges before whom the case was tried both said in the most distinct terms that there was no jot of evidence to prove that Lord Ashtown or any one in his house had any part in the outrage.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member's observation is most improper. In the first place it is an interruption which is not permissible, and in the second place it is grossly offensive. [Cries of "Withdraw."]
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that he and his hon. friends would be failing in their duty if they did not try to elucidate the question and clear the character of Lord Ashtown. They welcomed, therefore, the opportunity again given to do their best to remove the unjust suspicion resting against Lord Ashtown, and in that he felt perfectly sure that they had been successful. And then as to the case of Minnie Walsh.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the Amendment was supposed to apply to the whole Resolution, and he understood that the idea of the mover of the Resolution was that if there was to be an inquiry the whole case of Minnie Walsh, as well as the case of Lord Ashtown, should be inquired into. As to the case of Minnie Walsh, he said that on two occasions it had been stated by the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Crown, that he had not made the slightest accusation against Lord Ashtown. Every letter that had passed between Lord Ashtown or his agent and this lady had been at once communicated to the police. ["No."] It was impossible to argue in the House of Commons a legal case which had been argued in Court and that was not the place to do it, but he stood by his statement that every letter which passed between Minnie Walsh and Lord Ashtown and his agent was handed to the police as soon as it was received. The whole thing was a job. Heaven knew by whom it was got up, and all he had to say was that the House and the country had the word of the Attorney-General for Ireland and the Chief Secretary that Lord Ashtown had no more to do with that outrage than he had.
In line 4, after the word 'last,' to insert the words 'including the action of the police
authorities, and all the circumstances connected with the preparation, contents, and circulation of the police reports, and of the statement of the 11th September, 1907, signed by District Inspector Peston relating thereto, and.'"—(Mr. Moore).
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHERRY
said he was sorry he could not give way to the hon. Member for East Mayo, as there was not much time left and somebody must speak on behalf of the Government. The hon. and learned Member for North Armagh, who moved the Amendment now before the House, had done so in a speech of unusual length for a Wednesday evening debate, and another long speech had followed, the effect being to exclude a large number of hon. Members who desired to take part in the discussion. He proposed to take notice of one or two of the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh's remarks before he stated the case for the Government. The hon. and learned Member began his remarks by making some observations about Lord Ashtown being very unpopular, and he stated that because he was a Protestant he was unable to go about in the county of Waterford without the protection of a gun and the police. Personally that observation he certainly must resent very much, for he knew, and every person who came from Waterford or Galway knew, that no man would be attacked there because he was a Protestant.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the impression conveyed to him by the hon. and learned Member's remarks was that Lord Ash-town was unpopular and required the protection of firearms because he was a Protestant. That was a statement that he resented very much, because he was a native of the county and he knew no man who was attacked by reason of his being a Protestant, and the statement was directly traversed by the Report of County-Inspector Jennings, who was supposed to be the friend of Lord Ash-town. At the end of his Report, Inspector Jennings, dealing with the ques- 622 tion as to whether he thought the outrage had been committed by persons in the neighbourhood of Glenahiery, said that he did not believe that any of the native would countenance or conceive such an outrage, because Lord Ashtown had always been well-disposed towards his tenants, and appreciated by them as a landlord. The Inspector stated that Lord Ashtown was popular in the district, that there was no ground for suggesting that anybody in the neighbourhood committed the outrage, and that he was quite satisfied that those tenants who had been suspected of committing the outrage were quite incapable of carrying out such a plan. He had been able to trace satisfactorily the movement of several local persons whose names were suggested as being implicated. As he was trusted with a free hand in the case, he thought it hardly necessary or expedient to set forth in detail the methods adopted by him.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the later Report contained the following—I visited the scene again yesterday and spent a considerable time in looking into matters in connection with my first visit. It was by no means clear what was the motive, or how or where the outrage was planned. The only point of which there is no doubt is that whoever placed the explosive engine had a thorough knowledge of the domestic arrangements.A curious thing about the Report was that it was one of the documents which the Government were charged with suppressing. It was moved for by an hon. Gentleman opposite, and it was published at his request. The hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment had made some reference to the unpopularity of Lord Ashtown, and had gone on to say that he made no charge against the executive Government, his only charge being against the subordinates of the Government. Only the Government, however, were there to answer; the subordinates were away. After the last seven or eight months, during which, on the platform and in the Press, the Government had been charged with fraud and actual forgery in connection with the matter, he thought that was a cowardly attitude to take. The charges were made, among other places, in Court, 623 where the Government were not represented, and where a Member of that House, appearing as counsel for Lord Ashtown, turned what ought to have been the trial of a Civil matter into an attack on the Government as regarded their conduct of public affairs. When the Government came to the House prepared to face their accusers the charges were withdrawn. [An HON. MEMBER: Not withdrawn.] The hon. and learned Member, after formally withdrawing the charges, went on to make insinuations practically repeating the charges made in Ireland of falsifying reports and suppressing documents. [An HON. MEMBER: Who made the charges?] The charges were made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and by Lord Ashtown himself.
§ *MR. JAMES CAMPBELL (Dublin University)
said there was not one particle of truth in that statement. He never made any such charge against the Government until District-Inspector Preston stated to him in Waterford that he had but his name to this Report of the 11th under the coercion of the Inspector-General, that he did not believe the contents of it, and that, so far as he knew, the contents were false. When the District-Inspector said that, he replied—Very well. I withdraw any imputation against you, and the blame should rest on your superiors who compelled you to do this.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the right hon. Gentleman addressed a meeting in Dublin on 28th November before the Primrose League, and in the Irish Times there was a full report, headed "Paralysis of the Law in Ireland." In that speech the right hon. Gentleman said that the circumstances would yet be brought to the light of day, and when revealed would form the most discreditable incident in the lifetime of the present tottering and discredited Government from whom might God grant them a speedy and happy deliverance. The right hon. Gentleman also addressed speeches to two Judges, and both speeches contained a violent attack on the Government, and totally disregarded the facts of the case he was supposed to be stating. What had been the action of the Government? The first they knew of the matter was on 11th September, when they heard In- 624 spector Preston's Report. It occurred to them that that Report contained a number of statements which were grossly compromising to Lord Ashtown. It also contained a number of statements which it occurred to his learned colleague and himself it was only fair that Lord Ashtown should know before the hearing before the County Court Judge, but they were anxous also to protect him from statements which were not direct evidence, but only hearsay evidence, obtained by Inspector Preston from his subordinates. They therefore directed the inspector to prepare a statement of the facts giving only the facts to which he could himself depose and excluding any inference from the statements of other parties. He obeyed that instruction to the best of his ability, and ally person who could say that that second document was cooked or prepared for the purpose of injuring Lord Ashtown said what was absolutely contrary to the facts, For eight months the Government had been attacked on the platform with a violence seldom equalled even, in the busy politics of Ireland. When certain documents were published Members of the House, friends of Lord Ashtown, suggested that there were other documents more friendly to Lord Ashtown, and asked that they should be published. Now that the Papers were in the hands of hon. Members, he would ask anybody to say whether the papers which were published or those which the Government were accused of suppressing were the more fair to Lord Ashtown. Absolutely unfounded as the charges were against the Government—and he believed hon. Gentlemen opposite knew them to be unfounded, although they had not the courage to withdraw them—they were still more unfounded, if that could be possible, against the permanent officials Sir Neville Chamberlain and Sir Antony MacDonnell. Both were gentlemen high in the service, and both were incapable of dishonourable conduct. [An HON MEMBER: "What about the inquiry?"] It would be impossible to hold an inquiry which would be of any real use. The only power the Government had was to appoint a Vice-Regal Commission, and that Commission would have no power to compel the attendance of witnesses, or to administer an oath. The 625 only alternative would be to have a special Act of Parliament passed, and with the amount of business before the House now it would be utterly impossible to pass a Bill for the purpose of setting up a fresh tribunal with the requisite powers. In a case of this kind, where there was such a conflict of testimony and such serious charges made, it was highly undesirable that anybody should be examined before a tribunal no0t empowered to administer the oath. Therefore he hoped the hon. Member would withdraw the Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
Before we go to a division I only wish to say we are for an inquiry. The one point made plain by this debate is that hon. Members above the gangway are afraid of an inquiry.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
Before the Amendment is withdrawn, I would like to say that it is impossible
§ for us to reply to the speech of the. Attorney-General, which I may say was not the most fortunate speech under the circumstances, and in view of what has fallen from the hon. Member for East Mayo, I have only to say that throughout the whole of this matter we have contended that any inquiry ought to be complete and thorough, and I entirely agree that an inquiry other than by oath would be ridiculous and a farce. In these circumstances, so far as Lord Ashtown is concerned, we maintain that he ought to be defended from the bench opposite in the face of the fact that the inquiries which have already been held have cleared him. If a special Act of Parliament were to be passed in this case, there are many other matters which would have to be dealt with.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 110; Noes, 137. (Division List No. 66.)627
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hazleton, Richard||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Dowd, John|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hodge, John||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Hogan, Michael||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hudson, Walter||O'Malley, William|
|Boland, John||Jowett, F. W.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Kekewich, Sir George||O'Shee, James John|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kelley, George D.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Reddy, M.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kilbride, Denis||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Crooks, William||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Delany, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lundon, W.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Dillon, John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Seddon, J.|
|Duffy, William J.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Shackleton, David James|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Sheehy, David|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Smith, F.E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Kean, John||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||M'Killop, W.||Summerbell, T.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meagher, Michael||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Mooney, J. J.||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Muldoon, John||Walsh, Stephen|
|Gilhooly, James||Murnaghan, George||Watt, Henry A.|
|Gill, A. H.||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Glover, Thomas||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hall, Frederick||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Halpin, J.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Captain Donelan and Mr.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Connor, T.P. (Liverpool)||Patrick O'Brien.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Findlay, Alexander||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Agnew, George William||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Nicholls, George|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Fuller, John Michael F.||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Fullerton, Hugh||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Barker, John||Hart-Davies, T.||Radford, G. H.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Rees, J. D.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Beale, W. P.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Hedges, A. Paget||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Helme, Norval Watson||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Higham, John Sharp||Robinson, S.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Rowlands, J.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Horniman, Emslie John||Runciman, Walter|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Russell, T. W.|
|Bright, J. A.||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hyde, Clarendon||Sears, J. E.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Illingworth, Percy H.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Causton, Rt Hn. Richard Knight||Jardine, Sir J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Chance, Frederick William||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Laidlaw, Robert||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Clough, William||Lambert, George||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lamont, Norman||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Thompson, J.W.H (Somerset, E.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Tomkinson, James|
|corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Toulmin, George|
|Cory, sir Clifford John||Lough, Thomas||Walters, John Tudor|
|Cowan, W. H.||M'Callum, John M.||Waring, Walter|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||M'Crae, George||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Crosfield, A. H.||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Dickinson, W.H. (St. Pancras, N.||Massie, J.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Menzies, Walter||Wiles, Thomas|
|Duckworth, James||Micklem, Nathaniel||Williamson, A.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Middlebrook, William||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Mond, A.||Winfrey, R.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Montagu, E. S.|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Montgomery, H. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Morse, L. L.||J. A. Pease and Mr. Herbert|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Lewis.|
Question put, and agreed to.