HL Deb 21 June 1842 vol 64 cc280-2
The Marquess of Clanricarde

would take this opportunity of saying a few words in reference to what had passed the other evening with regard to the special commission issued for the trial of prisoners in Tipperary. That was a subject on which he had asked a question in the hope of getting some information, but he found that those noble Lords who had desired to set him right, had been themselves wrong. He was now informed that it would have given rise to a great deal of confusion, if the assizes had been changed, so as to allow the trial of the prisoners for this county to take place first, and that at the same time there must have been some loss of time in adopting that course. He should like to know when the assizes were likely to take place at Clonmel, and when the special commission was to be opened at that place.

Lord Fitzgerald

might perhaps be permitted to notice both points to which the noble Marquess had alluded. First, with respect to the re-appointment of Mr. St. George. He agreed with the noble Marquess in expressing his regret that his restoration to the position which he had previously held had not taken place upon the interposition of the noble Marquess, but he was sure that no blame was due to the learned and distinguished Lord Chancellor, who had been anxious to institute a full inquiry before he took upon himself to act at all in the affair. He believed that Mr. St. George himself had never applied to be re-instated, that he had never complained of the step which had been taken, but that the application for his restoration to the list of magistrates had been the act of his friends. He believed that a man more competent to the discharge of the magisterial duties, or who would more honourably, usefully, or patriotically fulfil them, could not be found in that or in any other country. With respect to the question of the special commission, when the noble Marquess had first brought this subject under the notice of the House, neither he nor any other noble Lord was prepared to give him an answer, and to say exactly when the assizes for Nenagh or Clonmel would commence. It would be satisfactory to the House now to learn that no delay would take place by reason of the issuing of the special commission. The special commission had been issued on the 10th of June, and it was determined that it should be opened at Clonmel on the 28th of the present month. The assizes at this place, according to their regular course, would not commence until the 28th of July, so that there would be a saving of one month. But it was not merely upon the time which would be saved, upon which the Government would rest their defence of the special commission. Every one who was acquainted with Ireland would acknowledge how important it was in that country that crime should be speedily followed by punishment, and it was not unimportant therefore that the Government should take the earliest possible measures to bring the guilty to justice, when they had reason to suppose that they really had the guilty in custody. In the present case, too, intimidation prevailed to a great extent. Murders had been committed, the whole frame of society was shook, and the delay of a month or a week was, in the consideration of the Government, of the highest importance. But there were other points also which it was important to consider. If the trial of these persons had taken place at the ordinary assizes for the North Riding of the county of Tipperary, the jurors for that Riding alone would be summoned upon their trial; but under the special commission this arrangement would not prevail, but the jurors of the whole county would be called upon to attend. It was besides highly desirable that the trial should take place at Clonmel, a large and populous town, removed from the scene of intimidation, where witnesses had been threatened with violence, and even murder. There was only one other circumstance to which he would refer. The noble Marquess had characterised this commission the other night, rather hastily he thought, as an unprecedented job—[The Marquess of Clanricarde had said, that it had been so designated.] Then, the noble Marquess had not used the expression as conveying his own views: but only the assertion of a newspaper that this was a gross job, and he should be the less sparing in his answer to the suggestion. He declared that the charge was grossly unfounded and unjust, and from whatever source it proceeded, he had no hesitation in denying its truth. A job for whom? Was it for the judges? They were the judges of the land; the two eminent individuals who held the respective positions of the two chief justices of Ireland. It could not be said, then, that they were to profit by it. Was it for the law officers of the Crown? His noble Friend well knew that no law officers were taken down on a special commission without heavy fees; but what was the position of these gentlemen? —that, in order to go down to the special commission, they must give up the circuit, and they were now placed, therefore, in no better position than that in which they would have otherwise stood. He believed that his noble Friend would not be sorry to receive this explanation.

Subject at an end.