HL Deb 01 July 1872 vol 212 cc420-1

asked the Secretary for the Colonies, How he reconciles the discrepancy between his statement made in this House on Monday, the 24th June, as reported in The Times of the 25th— At no period since the Fenian raid had Fenianism been more quiescent, and at its headquarters across the Atlantic it had never been at a lower ebb, and the statement contained in Enclosure No. 8, at end of page 9 (being a letter from the Privy Council of Canada to Lord Lisgar, dated 28th July, 1871), that the Committee must add "the fact that Fenian organization is still in full vigour," and whether the noble Earl has since that date had any fresh information touching the Fenian organization; and, if so, whether he will lay it on the Table of the House? The noble Lord said he asked this Question because it appeared to him that Fenianism was in full vigour instead of being at a low ebb; and from what the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) in "another place" said the other night, it seemed that the Government was of the same opinion. This was also apparent from the fact that they had for several years not called out the Militia in Ireland, neither had they sanctioned Volunteer corps there; but, strange to say, under the new Army organization system they were forming an Irish Army, the only reasonable object of which must be an anticipation of the disintegration of the Empire.


said, he did not propose to follow up the noble Lord's Question as to the Irish Militia or the condition of Ireland by any reply, further than to say that he did not make his statement on that subject the other night specially as Colonial Secretary, but simply as speaking with reference to an Irish question. With regard to the Question now put to him by the noble Lord, he would begin with the first branch of it. He should have thought the question supplied an answer to itself, because it appeared that the statement of the Privy Council was made on the 28th of July, 1871; whereas his statement was made on the 24th of June, 1872. Therefore, he did not think he was bound to reconcile the two statements. At the same time, when he said that Fenianism was quiescent, he did not mean that the Fenian organization had entirely ceased to exist. He knew that it still continued to exist in the United States. The noble Lord asked him whether he had received any further information touching the Fenian organization, and, if so, whether he would lay it on the Table? Now, he believed it was matter of general notoriety, and might be ascertained from the ordinary sources of information, that the Fenian organization still existing in the United States was quiescent at the present time, and probably never was more quiescent than it was now. He had no further information on the subject to lay on the Table.