HL Deb 09 June 1873 vol 216 cc618-34

who was imperfectly heard, in rising according to Notice to lay on the Table a Bill for the better government of Ireland said, he thought that both their Lordships and the other House of Parliament must participate in the interest with which he viewed the subject which he was about to bring before the House, and the anxiety with which he viewed the existing state of things in Ireland. He regarded the state of that country as anything but satisfactory. He had no wish to cast any blame on the present Government for the measures which they induced Parliament to adopt four or five years ago on the subject of the Church and on the subject of the land tenure in Ireland. In his opinion those measures were wise and beneficial enactments. Experience had, it appeared to him, shewn that the time had arrived when it was absolutely impossible to carry on the Government of that country in conformity with the rules and maxims which were observed in England and Scotland. But before he entered further into this subject, he thought it right to endeavour to show that with respect to the causes of the condition of Ireland there had been mistakes both in this country and in Ireland, the result of which was to present facts from different points of view. From the English point of view, it was alleged that Ireland was so steeped in barbarism that it was impossible to expect improvement on the part of her people. The other view, which he might call the completely Irish view, was that England, by her laws and her system of government, had always prevented the improvement and welfare of Ireland. He believed that both these were entirely mistaken views. With regard to the first, we must admit that owing to the cruelty and injustice of the penal laws passed by this country in former times, and systematically put in force, it had been made impossible for the Irish people to advance in material improvement. Remarkable testimony was borne to this by a writer in all of whose opinions he (Earl Russell) did not share, but whose statement on this historical point might be accepted by their Lordships. They were told on the authority of Mr. Froude that— The price of fleece wool in Ireland in 1730 was 5d. a pound; of combed wool 12d. a pound. In France Irish fleece wool was sold for 2s. 6d. a pound, combed wool from 4s. 6d. to 6s. The profits of the contraband trade were thus so enormous that the temptations to embark in it were irresistible. How did England behave under such circumstances? Instead of encouraging the people of Ireland to develope a trade in this commodity and increase it to the utmost, she showed the greatest jealousy, and forbad the Irish to sell their wool to any people but the English. They were prohibited from exporting it to France, and heavy penalties were imposed for disobedience to the prohibition. How unjust, then, was it to charge the Irish with not having endeavoured to promote their own commercial prosperity, when at the time to which he referred it was the policy of England to prevent them from doing so and to inflict penalties upon them if they did it—how absurd to allege that the Irish people were so barbarous and so given to discontent that they were incapable of improving themselves or of being amenable to the effects of good government! Mr. Burke, who as Member for Bristol, did great honour to that constituency, was displaced from the representation owing to the jealousy which prevailed in this country with respect to the trade of Ireland. And now for the Irish point of view. Notwithstanding the statement of a gentleman who was formerly an Irish agitator, but who had recently received the honour of Knighthood (Sir Charles Gavan Duffy) that the misery and poverty of Ireland were entirely owing to the policy which England had so long persisted in adopting towards Ireland, they had the authority of all persons who had practical acquaintance with Ireland, that they had not only shown a disposition to turn to good account the improved laws under which they lived, but that they had done it in the most effectual manner. Among the best evidences of the advance Ireland had made and was making in material prosperity, let them look at the greatly increased value of land property, and the large employment of labour at largely increased wages. In 1868 the late Lord Mayo—a man who conferred much honour on his country—pointed out in the House of Commons the contrast between the Ireland of 1779 as described by Arthur Young and the Ireland of the present time. He showed that while in 1779 the rental of the county of Cork was estimated by Arthur Young at £256,000; in 1818 it was £808,698; in 1848£1,284,140; and in 1867£1,351,208. In 1860 the deposits in the Irish Joint-Stock Banks were £15,609,000; in 1865 £17,000,000; and in 1867, £19,200,000. In 1841 the rate of wages in the agricultural districts of Kildare, Armagh, and Kerry was, in the first-named county, from 4s. to 5s. a week, for the second 6s., and for the third 5s. In 1868 it was for Kildare 8s., for Armagh from 9s. to 10s., and for Kerry from 7s. to 10s., In 1811 the value of the live stock in Ireland was £21,000,000, in 1866 it was £50,500,000. In his speech to the House of Commons, Lord Mayo said— Let the House now consider what has taken place since the commencement of the new policy which this country has pursued towards Ireland since 1824–5, the date of the first educational inquiry. In 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was passed. A short time afterwards a system of national education was adopted. A system of police which had been found excellent and useful was created. The constitution of juries was altered and greatly improved. The fiscal powers of grand juries were regulated. Municipalities were reformed and placed upon a different footing. The Poor-Law was established. The Landed Estates Court was created for the sale of incumbered properties. In fine, it is beyond a doubt that a greater number of beneficial measures were never carried in any country within so short a period of time. Professor Ingram has truly remarked that changes so great, and made within so short a period, constitute the largest peaceful revolution in the history of the world."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1368.] He trusted, then, their Lordships would agree with him in thinking that both the extreme views to which he had referred were equally unfounded, and that those interested in the advancement of Ireland ought to look for some other reasons for her present condition. This brought him to what had been going on in Ireland within the last year. He found one of the ablest of the Irish Judges (Mr. Justice Lawson) while presiding over the Criminal Court at Belfast, at the last Assizes, stating that an illegal and riotous meeting had taken place in that city a short time before, and that the authorities suffered that meeting to go on; and what was the consequence? It resulted in the excitement of the most violent passions—houses were wrecked, lives were lost, and many were threatened:—and such was the rioting in that flourishing place during four days that the town was described as having all the appearance of one taken by storm in which one party were acting as the assailants and the other as the defenders —and all this was allowed to go on without interference by the authorities. Complaints had been made of the course taken by Mr. Justice Lawson in reference to these riots; but he concurred with the learned Judge in thinking it most improper that the local authorities should have acted in such away as to expose them to the suspicion of favouring these disorders; and he entirely approved the promptness and vigour of that learned Judge in repressing the attempt to interrupt the course of justice by clamour and riotous behaviour. The Judge who endeavoured to put an end to such scenes deserved the thanks of the country. It would appear impossible that such scenes of tumult and disorder could occur in any other part of the United Kingdom. Let him ask their Lordships what would have been done if similar disorder had occurred in Renfrewshire, which was now represented by a right hon. Friend of his the Secretary for the Home Department? It would have been quite impossible that such disorders could have prevailed in the town of Paisley without the attention of the Home Secretary being called to it. On the contrary, the Secretary would have consulted the Law Officers and have taken the most decisive measures to restore peace and order. But in Belfast the affair was apparently unnoticed at the time by the Executive Government, and it was only at the ordinary Assizes that an explanation of the law was given by the Judge presiding in the Criminal Court. Another of the evils of Ireland was one which instead of diminishing seemed to become more aggravated from time to time—he meant the organized system of murder and assassination that existed in the rural districts, these were generally in connection with the possession of land. For instance, if a man ventured to take land from which the previous tenant had been ejected, he was denounced by a secret society, and his life taken by some of its members; and if the assassin was discovered—which was seldom the case —no jury dared to convict him. Thus this description of crime was committed with impunity. That was an evil which had existed for a long time, and which seemed to him to be as great a danger now as ever it had been, and surely it was full time that, within the limits of law and justice, some remedy should be devised for putting down such a system. Another question which had disturbed the people of Ireland was that of education. For many years grants to the amount of over £400,000 a-year had been made from the Consolidated Fund for national education in Ireland. It so happened that in the parish of Callan there was a parish priest to whom the Irish Board of National Education had intrusted the management of the schools in that parish. The parish priest conducted the schools exceedingly well, devoting much time to them, and attending personally for some hours every day during the giving of instruction. In fact, no one appeared to have had any reason to complain of the priest's conduct as manager of the schools. But suddenly he was deprived of the management of the schools, which was given to another clergyman in whom the parishioners of Callan had no confidence. Mr. O'Keeffe was removed, in the first instance, by his Bishop and Cardinal Cullen—he appealed to the Commissioners of the Board of National Education—but they confirmed the authority of the Bishop and the Cardinal. Why was it that this clergyman had been allowed to be thus summarily dismissed, when the evidence was clear that he had managed his schools admirably and enjoyed the trust and confidence of his parishioners? Their Lordships knew that in foreign countries where the great mass of the population professed the Roman Catholic religion the State had reserved to itself the direction of the education of the people. On the subjects of education and marriage these Roman Catholic States did not allow their secular ministers to be put out by any ecclesiastical or sacerdotal influence. This was the case in Austria, in Germany, and in Italy; and not long ago, when a complaint was made that the German Government were retaining in an educational office a Catholic priest who had not accepted the decree of the Vatican Council on the Infallibility of the Pope; the great majority of the German Parliament approved the explanation given by the Minister when he said that as the office was not one of public worship but one of education the priest could not be displaced. In like manner, he held that Mr. O'Keeffe had conducted the Callan Schools well, and if he had possessed the confidence of the people of that parish he ought to have been maintained in his post of manager. But he had not been maintained in it. His case had been brought under the notice of the National Board, and one would have supposed that the first inquiry of the Board would be as to whether he had conducted the schools properly and whether he was unfit for the place. But nothing of that kind was done. In his (Earl Russell's) opinion, the question for the Board of Education was whether this priest had discharged his duty as manager of the schools. That, however, was not the question the Board went into. They acted upon Cardinal Cullen's sentence suspending him as parish priest of Callan. Against that not a word of argument was heard from the priest. He did not wish to interfere with the particular questions of religion between Mr. O'Keeffe and Cardinal Cullen and the Church of Rome—it might be that he had been properly discharging his duty as a priest of that Church, and was a victim of slander; or it might be that he was not fit to remain the Roman Catholic parish priest of Callan—these were questions into which he did not want to enter:—but it was for the Courts of Law and the Imperial Parliament to decide whether the Pope's rescripts were in force in this country. In his opinion the only thing the Board of Education had had to consider was whether Mr. O'Keeffe had conducted himself properly as the manager of the schools, and they should have considered all the facts before them and decided irrespective of the religious element or the Papal authority. In his opinion it was a gross abuse of power and a violation of the principles of truth and justice to dismiss Mr. O'Keeffe if the propriety of his conduct in the management of the schools was answered in the affirmative. He was aware that precedents were alleged for the course adopted by the Board in this instance; nor did he deny that there were occasions on which a body exercising control might justly deprive a clergyman of office. Recently in Scotland the General Assembly had deprived of office a clergyman against whom there had been a charge of continual drunkenness; but nothing of this kind had been alleged—nor he believed could be alleged—in the case of Mr. O'Keeffe. Precedents were valuable as guides, but that species of knowledge was subject to close limitation. Of the knowledge acquired in office he would read to their Lordships a passage from Mr. Burke's speech on American Taxation. Mr. Burke said— Much knowledge is to be had undoubtedly in that line, and there is no knowledge which is not valuable. But it may be truly said that men too much conversant in office are rarely minds of remarkable enlargement. Their habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions, and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well as long as things go on in their common order; but when the high roads are broken up and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more extensive comprehension of things, is requisite than ever office gave or than office can ever give. He thought that extract was applicable to the course adopted by the Irish Board of Education. There was at the present moment a great conflict going on between the Pope and the priestly power on one side, and the Governments on the other. In Ireland the question was, whether Ireland was to be governed by Pius IX. and Cardinal Cullen, his viceroy, or by Queen Victoria and the Lord Lieutenant, her viceroy. He remembered that at one time he felt it his duty to allude to the Protestant party in Ireland as "a miserable monopolizing minority;" but he now asked were they going to exchange that for "an arrogant monopolizing majority." They must make a stand against such a power as that. The Pope had lost his temporal power in Rome; he had lost much of his influence in Germany, France, and Italy; but his spiritual power was still very great, because many millions of people still followed the dictates of the Pope and his Cardinals. The power of the Pope might, therefore, become dangerous to the peace of Ireland, and it was the duty of the Crown and Parliament of this country to make a stand against it. He had now placed before their Lordships under three heads the evils which in his opinion were hostile to the peace and progress of Ireland. There were, in the first place, unlawful meetings, by which lives and property were placed in jeopardy, and no immediate authority seemed to exist capable of dealing with an emergency. In the next place, the existence in Ireland of secret and unlawful societies, which organized plans for the assassination of obnoxious individuals. And in the third place, by the policy pursued by the Pope's Legate and the Roman Catholic Prelates, the confidence of the people in the administration of national education was destroyed. Their Lordships would now naturally expect to hear what were the remedies he proposed to apply to these evils. It seemed to him that there was great wisdom in the declaration made by Lord Somers in the early part of the last century, when, the year after the union between Scotland and this country, he proposed that the Privy Council of Scotland should be deprived of all power. Lord Somers said that he was prompted to that proposition by a true concern for preserving the public peace; and that while he was heartily desirous of the Union, and no less desirous to make it entire and complete, he considered that it could not be at all perfect while two political administrations subsisted; and that Scotland would be in a worse state after the Union if a distinct administration continued, because while there would be no Parliament to resort to in Scotland, the marks of distinction would continue. The same argument he (Earl Russell) contended, was applicable to Ireland. What had been our mistake in regard to that country? We effected a Union with Ireland, but preserved two distinct administrations. The consequence was that a marked distinction still remained. What he had to propose was what he proposed so long ago as 1850 in the House of Commons, when he introduced a Bill for the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy and the appointment of a Secretary of State for Ireland. He had no better remedy to propose now. When his Bill came on for second reading on the 17th of June, 1850, he was followed into the division lobby by 295 Members against 70. In the majority were Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Goulbourn, Sir George Grey, Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Marquess of Kildare, Mr. Monsell, Mr. Morgan John O'Connell, Lord Naas, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Sheil, Mr. Walpole, and Sir Charles Wood, and other distinguished statesmen; while the only eminent politician in the minority was Mr. Disraeli. When in this country serious disturbances occurred anywhere, the Home Secretary brought it under the notice of the Cabinet, and proposed measures: the Cabinet listened to his reasons, considered the matter, and came to a decision. Suppose the First Lord of the Admiralty wished to build a vessel of the tonnage and form of the Devastation, he stated directly to the Cabinet what he proposed, and what was the expense to be incurred; the matter was then and there considered and settled. But what was the course with regard to Ireland? When the Lord Lieutenant received a deputation with some important propositions, his only answer to their representations—and a very proper one it was under the circumstances—was that he would represent to the Government in England the proposals which had been made to him. After this the Cabinet might or might not take the matter into consideration; but the Lord Lieutenant had no power to bring it personally before the Cabinet. Now, that was not a satisfactory mode of conducting Irish business, and he believed that it would be much better to have Irish affairs brought directly under the notice of the Cabinet by a Secretary of State for Ireland who should be a Cabinet Minister. His next proposal was that, in the case of criminal trials, except where conviction might be followed by sentence of death, the verdict of 8 out of 12 of the jury should be sufficient. Then with regard to education he would give an appeal to the Committee of Council in England, which Committee if wrong were committed or alleged, should have power to investigate and to redress any proved grievance. There were a great number of details which he had re-introduced in his present Bill from his Bill of 1850. The question was whether in Ireland, in accordance with our prayer, our councils were so ordered that truth and justice could be established among us for all generations. In his opinion, under our present system of dealing with Ireland this could not be: neither did he think they could be attained by allowing Cardinal Cullen unrestricted and complete control over the education of the people of that country. Having thus stated his views to their Lordships, he begged to lay his Bill on the Table, and to move that it be read a first time.

Bill for the better government of Ireland presented (The Earl Russell.)

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 1a." —(The Earl Russell.)


said, that when he first saw the Notice of the noble Earl, that he proposed to lay on their Lordships' Table a measure for the better government of Ireland, he had awaited with anxiety and interest the proposal which his noble Friend was about to bring forward. His noble Friend's great experience, and his knowledge of Irish matters especially, must enforce attention to any opinion he might express, and he had accordingly listened with great interest and attention to the address of his noble Friend. As to the scheme for the administration of the Government of Ireland by means of a Secretary of State having a seat in the Cabinet, instead of by a Lord Lieutenant residing in Dublin, it was quite impossible that he should express an opinion on a plan he had not yet seen; and it would be equally out of place for him to express, or attempt to express, the opinion of the Cabinet on a scheme which they had not had an opportunity of considering. As to the topics referred to by his noble Friend, he (the Earl of Kimberley) agreed in the main with the historical view with which his noble Friend commenced his address. No doubt the laws which formerly prevented the progress and prosperity of Ireland no longer existed, and it was universally admitted that since 1847—the close of the famine—there had been a general revival. As regarded the condition of the country, no doubt there was still much to be desired; but unquestionably since the time to which he had referred there had been a very considerable advance in the general prosperity of the country. As to the riots at Belfast, to which his noble Friend had alluded, and as to which he complained that the Government had not acted with sufficient vigour—there was no doubt that those disturbances were very serious; and he regretted to say the occasion alluded to by his noble Friend was not the first one on which there had been riots at Belfast. Just before he had the honour of going over to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant there were riots there, and during the period of his Vice-royalty attempts were made to renew them. He knew therefore from experience the exceeding difficulty the Executive had to encounter in dealing with such outbreaks, where parties were so strongly opposed to each other as was the case in Belfast. He was afraid that it was too much the case that the local authorities did not act with the vigour that was desirable at the commencement of these riots; but unless the Executive resolved on taking the administration into their own hands and allowing the local authorities to have no voice in the management of their own town, it was difficult to see how the Government could be held responsible for not having taken the initiative in repressing the rioters. He was far from complaining of the course taken by Mr. Justice Lawson in dealing with the rioters, or with the persons guilty of contempt of Court. On the contrary, he believed that the determination shown by the learned Judge must be matter of satisfaction to all who were interested in the peace and the welfare of Ireland. As regarded agrarian crime—a malady under which Ireland had long suffered—he concurred with his noble Friend in lamenting its existence; but he thought it was a subject that need hardly have been brought forward, because at the present time there was a considerable decrease in the number of agrarian crimes as compared with what it had been of late years. For the last year it had been, as far as he could remember, about 250, as against more than 1,000 two years back. It was not so low as in 1867 and 1868; but it was not much higher. He attributed the cessation of agrarian crime in a great measure to the Act enabling the Lord Lieutenant to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, which had recently been renewed, and however painful the resort to such a measure was, it was satisfactory to find that, unlike many former attempts at the repression of crime, it had been efficient. That Act had enabled the Government to seize the men who were the mainspring of these crimes, and had given time to the Church and Land Acts to operate calmly, free from the constant recurrence of serious crimes. His noble Friend, therefore, had no ground for dissatisfaction with the action of the Government and Parliament on this head. As to the Callan Schools, the matter having been referred to a Select Committee of the House of Commons, before which the Education Commissioners were allowed to state the facts, he did not think he ought to enter upon any discussion of the subject;—he would only say that he fully agreed with his noble Friend, that nothing could be more disastrous than that having freed Ireland from the domination of the minority they should allow it to pass under the domination of the majority. The abolition of an unjust ascendancy on the part of Parliament was no reason for allowing the Roman Catholic population more than their just rights as subjects of the Crown. This would be contrary to the interests both of England and Ireland, and to the policy which this country had steadily pursued. It must not be forgotten, however, that, a very large part of the population belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, the heads of that Church necessarily possessed great influence over the different communities. In deciding upon the O'Keeffe case, it seemed to him necessary to consider two things—whether the Board had acted in accordance with precedents, and what was the proper policy to be pursued by the Government and Parliament as regarded national education in Ireland. The question was, whether the present system should be maintained, or whether—which he was far from admitting—it was so defective that, as his noble Friend thought, it was practically in the hands of Cardinal Cullen? The Government and Parliament would certainly not place Irish education in the hands of Cardinal Cullen or of any hierarchy, Protestant or Roman Catholic; but they would proceed with great caution in interfering with a system which, whatever its defects, had been, on the whole, one of the most successful institutions in Ireland, and had conferred great benefits. There had been extreme difficulty in establishing and carrying on a sound system of education in Ireland; while, therefore, maintaining fair play among all classes, and seeing that the lay element had its full weight, he hoped Parliament would not lightly destroy a structure erected with great care, and which had now existed so many years. The abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy had often been considered; but the Government would await the noble Earl's Bill before expressing any opinion upon it; and admitting, as all must do, that improvements in the Government of Ireland bad never hitherto succeeded to the full satisfaction of their authors, any remedies suggested by so high an authority were sure to deserve and to receive patient consideration at the hands of the Cabinet and of Parliament.


remarked that the noble Earl who had just sat down had given no answer to Mr. Justice Lawson's charge against the Government of neglect of duty in connection with the Belfast riots. It was seldom that such an indictment for neglect of duty had ever been uttered by a Judge against the Government of the country, it was this the noble Earl (Earl Russell) called attention to, and as no answer could be given, it showed at least prudence not to attempt, but left Her Majesty's Government under a serious imputation. He also complained that though the Irish Secretary had in "another place" acknowledged the prevalence of crime in Mayo, yet Government refused the peaceable people of Mayo the same protection that the Peace Preservation Act extended to West-meath.


said, it was a very strong thing to state that Irish education had been handed over to Cardinal Cullen and the priests, and as a Member of the Board of National Education in Ireland, he challenged the noble Earl for proof of his assertion. The system founded in 1832 by the late Lord Derby of united secular and separate religious instruction had not been departed from; and though in a country where Roman Catholics were in a vast majority—forming in some districts almost the entire population—many schools were necessarily under the management of Roman Catholic clergy and laity, every school receiving grants was bound to admit every child to the benefit of secular instruction without any interference with its religious opinions; and so long as this system was maintained he did not see how it could be said that education in Ireland had been handed over to Cardinal Cullen. Many schools were very naturally under the management of Roman Catholic priests; but the question was whether they were or were not managed according to the principles originally laid down by the Board. The Callan case had been looked at too much from the manager's point of view, and too little with regard to its effect on the education of the country. It seemed to be thought that Mr. O'Keeffe had been deprived of a position of great honour and emolument, and the noble Earl had stated in his recent book that the Board had deprived Mr. O'Keeffe of £300 a-year; but he himself (Viscount Monck) having for some years been manager of schools, had found the office a source of expenditure, and never of emolument, managers being simply the agents of the Board for the administration of the system and for paying the salaries of the masters. By the rules of the Board the idea of such a thing as an ex officio right of appointment was expressly negatived. Rule No. 9 was to the effect that in all cases the Commissioners reserved to themselves power to determine whether the person nominated by the patron as local manager could be recognized by them as a fit person to be manager. Every one who had had any connection with popular education knew that one of the great obstacles to be overcome was the difficulty of securing the regular attendance of children at the schools. One, therefore, of the principal elements for consideration in the selection of a manager was the necessity of obtaining a person who from his local connection with the people and his moral influence was most likely to bring the children to school and to keep them there. No one, he thought, fulfilled those conditions so completely as the clergyman, no matter to what persuasion those belonged, of whom he had pastoral charge. On that ground, and on that ground only—not ex officio as clergyman, but because his position as a clergyman gave him the sort of influence which the Commissioners were desirous of seeing exercised—he was, as a general rule, selected as manager of the school in his district. But if his moral influence with the people was the principal ground of his selection, it followed that the loss of that moral influence would be a sufficient and a proper ground for his removal; and he could not help saying that the clergyman, who from whatever cause had incurred the displeasure of his ecclesiastical superiors to such an extent as to induce them to suspend him from the exercise of his clerical functions, came within the rule to which he had referred; because it was inconceivable that such a state of things could exist in any parish without dividing the district into two parties and so depriving the suspended clergyman of his influence with one portion of the people. This subject had been treated as if Cardinal Cullen and the Roman Catholics were the only parties treated in that way. The fact was that the same rule was applied indiscriminately to Protestants of the lately Disestablished Church, to Presbyterians, and to Roman Catholics and all other Communions with which the Board had to deal. He conceived that what he had stated was incontrovertible —namely, that a dispute having arisen between his ecclesiastical superiors and a clergyman must divide the district into two parties, one of which would take part with and the other against the clergyman, and that that pro tanto deprived him of the influence which the Commissioners desired he should bring to bear upon the school. He went further perhaps than his Colleagues in the matter, for he held that if a clergyman of any persuasion quarrelled, not with his ecclesiastical superiors, but even with ally member of his flock, he would be equally deprived of that moral influence of which the Board wished to avail themselves, and ought to be deprived of the management of the schools of his district. These were the grounds on which he had acted. He might be egotistical on the subject, but he confessed that until some good reason was given to the contrary he would remain of opinion that the majority of the Board had acted rightly in removing Mr. O'Keeffe from the management of the Callan Schools, not because he was deprived of his office as a priest—just as he was not appointed ex officio as a priest —but because he had lost that influence which the Commissioners considered it indispensable that a manager of schools should possess, his suspension from sacerdotal functions having divided his flock into two parties, by one of which he was opposed.


observed that what he had contended was, that had the Commissioners confined themselves to their proper duty they would have inquired whether Mr. O'Keeffe was fit to be manager of the schools, and not whether he was fit to be a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.


was understood to say that the noble Earl (Earl Russell) was wrong in supposing that the Commissioners had appointed the manager of the Callan Schools. What they had done was to confirm the appointment of the School Committee. The noble Earl had also made a mistake in stating, as he had done in his recent pamphlet, that gross superstition was taught in many of the national schools in Ireland; that could not be, because no religious education was given to the children during school hours.


said, he did not rise to enter into a discussion of the case of Mr. O'Keeffe, as he had not anticipated that it would on that occasion be made the subject of conversation or comment; but after what had fallen from the noble Viscount (Viscount Monck) he desired to make one remark. He understood the noble Viscount to say that, so far as he was concerned, the decision of the Board of Education removing Mr. O'Keeffe from the management of the schools was founded on the principle, not that Mr. O'Keeffe had ceased ex officio to be a priest of the parish, but that he had by his conduct divided his flock into two parties, and had thereby lessened his ecclesiastical influence.


explained—What he desired to convey was, that the removal had occurred, not because of the suspension of the priest by ecclesiastical authority, but because he had divided his flock into two parties, and had thereby diminished his moral influence in the parish.


said, he felt a difficulty in knowing what the ground really was on which the noble Viscount had acted. He understood him to repudiate the idea of an ex officio removal. It was not, therefore, the ground of removal that he had been deprived of his office of parish priest—there must have been something more—something in the conduct of the manager—which justified the action of the Board. If that were so, he thought their Lordships would be of opinion with him, that the first principle of justice required that, in that view of the case, the Commissioners ought at least to have heard what Mr. O'Keeffe had to say for himself.


said, it was obvious that the subject was one in the discussion of which on that occasion no Member of the Government ought to take a part. It was sufficient to say that a Select Committee of the other House was considering the whole matter. It was quite natural, however, that his two noble Friends who were members of the Board of National Education should think it necessary to make the statements they had done. He could not help, in common fairness to his noble Friend (Viscount Monck), saying that he entirely differed from the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) in the construction which he had put upon what his noble Friend had said. He did not understand his noble Friend to make any attack whatever upon the personal character of Mr. O'Keeffe. His argument—whether good or bad—was this—that they thought it desirable to have as manager one who had influence in bringing the children to his school, and that they thought that influence was more likely to be possessed by the clergy of the different denominations than by other persons. His noble Friend added that where a clergyman was incapacitated from acting as a clergyman, his usefulness was diminished for the purposes for which the Commissioners had appointed him. He was not saying whether that argument of his noble Friend was good or bad, but he thought it would be very injurious to him if the impression were to go to Ireland that he had made any attack upon the character of Mr. O'Keeffe.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 1a accordingly; to be printed; and to be read 2a on Monday, the 30th instant (No. 147).