HL Deb 07 August 1840 vol 55 cc1382-4
The Earl of Charleville

took occasion, on presenting a petition, to read a letter in reference to the late debate on the letter addressed by Mr. Macdonald to Mr. Langford, in which the writer stated that a memorial had been presented to the Lord-lieutenant, signed by those magistrates who had been named by Mr. Jackson in his letter to Colonel Macgregor, in which they denied, in the strongest and most, indignant manner, the statement of the police officers.

Lord Wharncliffe

begged to be allowed to remark, that it appeared to him, upon reading the late Riband trials that the evidence of Mr. Rowan, given before a committee of their Lordships last year, as to the character of these associations, was perfectly well founded. The facts of their having secret signs and passwords, of there being a confederacy for the purposes of murder, and of obedience paid to the orders of superiors, completely came out in the evidence given on the trials. If it were not a political society, it was at least so formed as to be turned with ease into a political engine. He had thought it his duty to make these few observations, and it was only justice to say, that having sat on the committee, and having read the evidence that was now lying on the table, he was satisfied that Mr. Rowan had given most excellent evidence.

Lord Portman

said, that having been a member of the committee, he could say that the facts stated by Mr. Rowan could scarcely be disputed; but the doubt thrown on his evidence had arisen from the inferences which he drew from those facts.

The Earl of Haddington

was anxious to say a few words on another matter which materially related to the peace of Ireland. He adverted to that agitation which, if the newspapers were to be believed, was now going on for the repeal of the union. It appeared that not long ago in the west of Ireland a very great meeting had been held, where the real character of repeal had shown itself. There the word "separation" was used, though he never had had a doubt on his own mind that if "repeal" meant anything it meant "separation," and nothing but that. This matter appeared still more serious when they considered who the leaders of that repeal agitation were; that they were persons—whether in the confidence of the Government or not he did not know—but they were persons many of whom were the most active friends and supporters of the Government, and yet they never heard any disapprobation expressed by the functionaries or the high authorities in Ireland of that agitation. It was the political character and connection with the Government of the patrons of agitation in Ireland that was one of the most dangerous incidents connected with the question of repeal. He must say, he thought the Government were highly culpable for not having expressed that disapprobation, which every man gave them credit for feeling deeply, at such mischievous and alarming agitation. That agitation too was taking place in a country where Ribandism was universally spread, and where that society might be turned by its leaders into an engine for effecting the purposes of the repeal agitation.

The Marquess of Normanby

had stated a fortnight ago, that it would be extremely inconvenient during the progress of these trials that any discussion on this subject should take place. He now only wished to say, that on the part of the Government there was every desire to give all information on the subject. Discoveries had been made of a very important nature, and the extent of the conspiracy was perfectly well known; and the Government had a right to take credit to themselves for the manner in which they had conducted the prosecutions that had arisen out of those discoveries. With regard to Mr. Rowan, he perfectly concurred in what had been stated by his noble Friend (Lord Portman). He did not think it necessary to say more on this subject at present, but if his noble Friend wished for more information in the next session of Parliament, there was every disposition on the part of the Government to furnish it.

Petition laid on the table.