§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."490
§ Mr. BYRNE
This country and our Allies are to-day engaged in the greatest War the world has ever known, and we are told the War is for the protection of small nationalities and for liberty of peoples. I ask Gentlemen on the Front Bench to turn their eyes to Ireland and to see what protection that country is getting at the present moment. Her industries are crushed out, and the best of her blood is to-day in Lewes Prison in solitary confinement and half-starved. I have in my hand, in spite of the fact that the Government would not publish the evidence of the court-martials in Dublin, a copy of the evidence of the trial of the Countess Marckievicz. I can only say that if this evidence of the trial of the Countess Marckievicz is published it would bring shame to the Government that inflicted such a sentence as she is now undergoing.
§ Mr. BYRNE
I suppose I should be prohibited under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. There was only one witness called, and that witness was an industrial schoolboy, and on his evidence the Countess Marckievicz was sentenced to a term of penal servitude for life. That is protection for the females of Ireland. As regards the male prisoners, the evidence of court-martial which I have received does not justify the brutal sentences imposed upon them by those who composed the court-martial in Ireland. Indeed, it would disgrace the Government on the day that they consented to have the evidence published. In the evidence there is no vindication whatsoever of the hasty shooting or of the brutal treatment of the Irish prisoners.
Compare the treatment of the Irish prisoners to-day with the treatment of the Jameson raiders. I ask you why such differentiation should take place. A few days ago one of the Irish prisoners attempted a hunger strike as a protest against the treatment of himself and his colleagues in prison. That man was taken from the prison and put into a criminal lunatic asylum, into a straight-jacket, and was forcibly fed. That man was an Irishman, and that is the excuse of the British Government. Compare his treatment with the treatment of ex-Inspector Syme, who went on hunger strike and after six days' imprisonment was released.
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present—491 492
§ House counted—
§ And forty Members not being present,
§ The House was adjourned at Nine minutes after Eleven o'clock till to-morrow (Friday), pursuant to the Resolution of the House of this day.