HL Deb 22 May 1857 vol 145 cc701-3

rose to move that there be laid upon the table a copy of the Correspondence which passed during the month of April, 1857, between the Dublin Protestant Association and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The grounds on which he moved for this Correspondence were these. In one of the districts of Dublin there was a certain large school, in which a number of persons of both sexes, all Protestants, gave their gratuitous assistance in the education of children. During the latter part of the month of March, and the commencement of the month of April last, mobs of Roman Catholics surrounded the building, ill-used and insulted persons going in and out of it, and, among others, several ladies of respectability and station were subjected to that treatment. It appeared, moreover, that several policemen witnessed those disturbances, and not only refused to take any part whatever in trying to suppress them, but actually gave their countenance to the proceedings; for upon one occasion, when two policemen, met a body of women who were pursued, and assailed by a Roman Catholic mob, and were entreated to interfere, they not only refused to do so, but, by their laughing and cheering, actually encouraged that scene of riot and violence. In consequence of repeated outrages of that description, the Dublin Protestant Association thought fit to memorialise his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, for the purpose of ensuring for their Protestant brethren the protection of the law. Now, he was not himself a member of that association, nor in any way connected with it; but he could state that it was composed of persons, not only of the highest respectability, but also of property and station, and that it was both a legal and a constitutional society, and not of an aggressive character. In their memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, they stated, that from the circumstances they had set forth, they had been led to think that persons who faithfully adhered to the Protestant creed were debarred from the protection of the Executive Government. The reply they received from his Excellency was to the effect, that although he had never distinctly recognised the body called the Protestant Association, he had been in the habit of receiving any representations coming from them; but that upon this occasion he felt compelled to consider that they had used expressions insulting to himself and to his predecessors in office—in fact, that they had cast a reflection upon the Executive Government in Ireland. The Association, in their reply, denied that they had intended to treat with disrespect his Excellency, or any other Member of the Irish Government; but they added that they were anxious to claim for themselves that protection to which they were by law entitled. The Lord Lieutenant then sent them another communication, in which he stated that he understood them to have withdrawn the offensive expressions used in their memorial. He (Viscount Dungannon) confessed, however, that he did not see how it could be held that they had withdrawn any portion of the language they had at first employed, or what there was for them to withdraw; for he did not conceive that there was anything offensive in the expression of an opinion, borne out by facts, that Protestants did not receive a fair share of protection from the Executive. The Government and the Parliament of the day might for a time regard with indifference proceedings of that character; but he believed the time must arrive when the feelings of the Protestants of Ireland would become aroused by the injustice with which they were treated, and the attention of the Government and of Parliament be directed to the subject. If such acts as those which he had stated had been committed by Protestants against Roman Catholics, he was persuaded that a hue and cry would be raised from one end of the kingdom to the other; and he did not say that such hue and cry would not be justifiable. He thought, however, it was not too much to expect that the protection accorded to one class of people in Ireland should be extended to every other. The Protestants who had been thus wantonly assailed were engaged in the meritorious duty of instructing the rising generation, and yet their efforts had been met by even worse outrages than any he had yet stated. It appeared that persons in the neighbourhood of these schools had had their houses violently entered; and that the inmates of those houses had been cruelly beaten, solely because they had sent their children to those establishments. It further appeared that the authors of those acts of violence had been encouraged to perpetrate them by a Roman Catholic priest, and by the teacher of a neighbouring national school. These were matters which loudly called for inquiry, and if Her Majesty's Ministers should refuse to institute that inquiry, it was high time the subject should be taken up by Parliament. He hoped the Government would have no hesitation in acceding to the Motion which he then made for the production of this Correspondence.


said, he had no objection to the Motion. After the papers had been produced, their Lordships would be enabled to judge of the merits of the case.

Motion agreed to.