HL Deb 21 June 1880 vol 253 cc413-5

asked Her Majesty's Government whether they they intend to send down an additional force of constabulary to protect Mr. Acheson and his property; and, whether in such an event the expense will be charged upon the district? He (the Earl of Leitrim) had protested against the non-renewal of the Peace Preservation Act; but as it been allowed to expire, his only wish was that the Government might succeed, under the ordinary law, in preserving that order and peace which they in Ireland so much desired, but which, alas! they knew so little of. Electricity must daily and nightly convey to Her Majesty's Government the news of the continual outrages which were occurring in that country; and it must, he thought, make them doubt whether, after all, their scheme of dealing with the grave situation in Ireland was the right one. He could only imagine that when the Cabinet met in Council, and when that happy circle was complete, they must receive such severe shocks and starts as could only be figuratively, though not lightly, compared with the shocks and starts of a galvanic battery worked by Mr. Parnell. The case of Mr. Acheson was this. The late Mr. Acheson, in the spring of 1879, evicted a tenant of 2½ acres of land because he owed three years' rent. That was not a harsh or capricious proceeding. The late Mr. Acheson was succeeded in that property by his youngest son, who was about 21 years of age, and he proceeded to exercise his undoubted right to fence round the land. He was met by a party of men with blackened faces, fired upon, and obliged to retreat. On the second attempt, though guarded by 13 of the Royal Irish Constabulary, about 1,400 people gathered on the hills in the neighbourhood, apparently in response to gun signals, and swept down on the party. Mr. Acheson, having been hunted well-nigh to death, in self-defence turned upon his pursuers, and warned them that if they advanced he would fire. One of those people, more foolhardy than the rest, pursued that unfortunate young man, in spite of repeated warnings, when Mr. Acheson fired and the victim fell, He would not attempt to prejudge that case; but it illustrated the unhappy state of that particular district. Their Lordships had had an assurance in the Queen's Speech that the Government would take such precautions as would give security to life and property in Ireland. He was confident that the Government had the best intentions in that matter; but he asked for a statement from them that would satisfy the House and the country that life and property would be secure, and that this persecution of landlords—he would call it by no other name—was not to be continued, and that they were not to be stoned like the Apostles of old in that cruel and ungrateful manner. He warned the Government that if, by weakness, they alienated the sympathies of the respectable, the good, and the true on the other side of the water, they would have so much fat in the fire that they would never again know what was a peaceable and loyal Ireland.


wished, before the Lord President rose to answer that Question, also to inquire whether he had received information of a serious collision between a large number of Militiamen and the body of police who were protecting Mr. Acheson on his way from the court?


I am unable to answer the Question put by the noble Earl who spoke last. I have had no Notice of his intention to ask it, and no facts have come to my knowledge on the subject. With regard to the Question of the noble Earl who spoke first, I have to say that it is the intention of the Government to give personal protection to Mr. Acheson and also to protect him in his property. It is believed that the ordinary county police will be sufficient for the purpose; but, if not, the Government will send a force from the Reserve, and a moiety of the expense will be charged on the district.


hoped the expense would be put on a restricted area so as to make it felt, and not on those parts of the district which were known to be orderly and loyal.


I am sorry that I cannot answer my noble Friend on that point. No inquiry has been made as to the exact area of the district; but if the noble Lord wishes to have information in that form I will endeavour to obtain it.

GREAT SEAL Bill, [H.L.] (NO. 90.) A Bill to amend the Law respecting the manner of passing Grants under the Great Seal, and respecting Officers connected therewith: