11. Captain CRAIG
asked the Chief Secretary under what circumstances a criminal prosecution was instituted against James Larkin in Dublin for criminal conspiracy, intimidation, etc.; whether this prosecution was instituted on the advice of the Attorney-General for Ireland and Law Officers of the Crown; whether the Attorney-General, when conducting the case against Larkin and others, declared that the Crown had no interest in the social aspect of the Dublin strike, but were solely interested inbringing to justice the instigators of the desperate riots, assaults on the police and peaceful citizens, and the destruction of property which had resulted from the strike; under what circumstances Larkin and others, having been convicted by a jury after a long and expensive trial and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, were unconditionally released by the Irish executive; and whether their release was granted with the approval of the judge who sentenced the prisoners and of the Law Officers who advised the prosecution, and carried it out in Court?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Larkin was prosecuted for a speech delivered by him on the 29th August, 1913, in Dublin. The speech was made to a large crowd of excitable persons and was calculated to incite to the commission of crime, and was also a breach of an undertaking given by Larkin to the police magistrate two days before. The prosecution was directed by the Attorney-General, and his address to the Court and jury was 1108 fully and accurately reported in the public Press. The Attorney-General did not say the Crown had no interest in the social aspect of the Dublin strike. His statement was that the prosecution did not take sides in the disputes prevailing in the city, and that Larkin was prosecuted not because he was a strike leader, but because he had broken the law. The trial was neither long nor expensive. Larkin was convicted on the first count of the indictment for speaking with a seditious intention, but the jury acquitted him on the other counts of having spoken with the intention of inciting to riot and with the intention of inciting to pillage and rob the shops. It would be contrary to practice to state the grounds upon which the Lord Lieutenant exercised the prerogative of mercy vested in him.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why he prosecuted Mr. Larkin, and let him out after he had been found guilty?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Oh, no, no, that is not so. Mr. Larkin's case went before a jury, in no way partial to him—as would appear by the result. Three counts were submitted to the jury—one of seditious language and the other two of inciting to riot and pillage. He was found guilty of using seditious language, but he was acquitted on the other two more serious charges. He was in prison for several weeks.
Why should the Crown go to the trouble and expense of bringing these charges against a man, immediately afterwards letting him out of prison?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
He was not let out of prison immediately afterwards. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman ever found himself in prison, he would not speak of three or four weeks there as "immediately afterwards."