HL Deb 15 March 1886 vol 303 cc761-88

, in rising to call attention to the murder of the bailiff Patrick Finlay, at Woodford, co. Galway; and to ask Her Majesty's Government what steps, if any, have been taken to bring the murderers to justice; and, whether they consider their existing powers are sufficient for the protection of life and detection of crime in Ireland? said, there was no one who was present would ever forget that solemn scene in which both Parties in that House united to express horror at the murders of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke. There were murders in Ireland before, there had been murders since, and now to the long list was added the name of Patrick Finlay. He believed this to have been a murder, though the National Press had described it as "the alleged murder," and an Irish Member in "another place" insinuated it was an accidental death. This suggestion, to his credit, the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) had treated with contemptuous silence. The murder was thus described by the Dublin correspondent of The Times Finlay, who was boycotted, had been forced to gather fuel in a wood on the estate of Sir Henry Burke, a boycotted landlord. On the Wednesday, armed with his revolver, he went to the wood without previously informing the police, who for some time past had kept a protective watch over him when abroad. After an hour or so, his wife spoke to the sergeant, who, on going to the wood, found Finlay dead, his revolver beside him with one chamber discharged. So far from the murder exciting horror in the locality, the people, as in the Curtin case, openly rejoiced at the crime. When Mrs. Finlay was returning to the town, after viewing the body of her husband where it lay in the wood, a vast crowd assembled and mocked her grief with jeers and shouts of triumph. Six constables, in consequence of this display of popular feeling, had to be left that night to guard the widow's house, situate in the centre of the town. It is stated that there are evictions pending on a neighbouring property in which Finlay was to take part. He had also civil bill decrees against tenants of Mrs. Lewis, but there are no evictions in that case. It had been arranged that a strong force of military was to be sent to aid the constabulary, a body numbering 75 men, in executing the decrees, but after the Chief Secretary's speech the aspect of the situation was entirely changed and the people were told by their Sunday orators that the 'Government will send no military here for evictions, and we will be able for the police.' The arrangements about the military have been countermanded, and the proceedings to enforce the law are now in abeyance. The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), in his position as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was properly escorted by soldiers wherever he went; but military protection was denied to save the life of a poor process-server, and Her Majesty's Government claimed to represent democracy. His sad story was not finished. Horrible murders happened in England, but public sympathy in this country was not with the murderers. The Times correspondent, in describing the funeral of Finlay, said— It was with great difficulty that the police procured a place of burial for the remains, admission to the usual graveyards being refused. Ultimately they were interred in a small disused private burial ground. No one attended the funeral but Finlay's widow, Mr. Lewis and his brother, Mr. Lewis's steward, Mr. Donney, and the police, under the command of Mr. Dixon, district inspector. In Woodford a man went shouting through the streets, 'Finlay's soul is in hell, and that is where he ought to be.' The coffin was obtained from the workhouse at Loughrea, as no one in Woodford would supply it, and had to be taken out of the town by a back way instead of through the main street in order to avoid a hostile demonstration. Despite this precaution, the loud laughter and joyous shouts of the people could be distinctly heard. The murderers of Finlay did not think their hatred sufficiently satisfied by shooting him through the chest, but after his death, as there was good reason to believe, they discharged his own revolver into his mouth. His miserable widow was left absolutely desolate, and had no prospect but the poorhouse. Such was the end of poor Patrick Finlay, a man of good character, an Army pensioner, who had fought for England in the Crimea. Great allowance must be made for the increased difficulties in which Ministers found themselves owing to the lame, halting, and blind policy adopted as regarded Ireland by the late Government during the six months they were in Office. He did not wish to rake up the past, nor seemingly to harass Her Majesty's Ministers into divulging their Irish policy, nor was he desirous seriously to harass them in respect of Irish matters; and when they considered how gigantic were the issues involved, the time the Government had asked to prepare their policy erred on the side rather of modesty. But as Englishmen we had a right to know that fresh victims between this and then would not be sacrificed at the altar of the so-called Irish Nationalism, and that outrages such as he had described should not be permitted to disgrace our civilization in a part of the State still known as the United Kingdom only 10 hours distant from London. He asked the noble Earl to give a distinct answer to the Question—Whether in the opinion of the Government the present law in Ireland was strong enough to detect crime, which in Ireland meant to protect life? If the noble Earl could say "Yes;" his reply would be received with a sense of relief, not only in this House, but in the country, and especially in Ireland. If he could only tell us to wait till the 1st of April, it would be better for the Government to contract in the interim with the National League for the protection of life, or even to subsidize O'Donovan Rossa, than to let innocent men be murdered. He, a Liberal, asked the noble Earl, as a Member of a Democratic Government, whether the life of a poor man performing humble but legal public duties was to be less sacred than that of the Official highest in Dublin Castle, and whether the blood of Patrick Finlay appealed with less force to the Government than did that unhappily spilt in the Phœnix Park?


, on rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether it was true that on the night of Sunday, 7th March, 15 head of cattle, the property of Michael O'Connor, were houghed or otherwise horribly mutilated at Ballyculhane, near Glin; whether on the same night, close to the same place, a cowshed containing eight cows was maliciously burned and the cows roasted to death; whether a meeting of the National League was held in Glin on that Sunday; and, whether the owners of the cattle stated to have been thus horribly mutilated or destroyed had been "Boycotted" for some time past, and were barely able to obtain the necessaries of life? said, the crimes which were occurring in Ireland were a disgrace to a Christian country. It was true that those outrages had recently been condemned by resolution of the National League; but it unfortunately happened that however powerful the National League was in other respects when it attempted to condemn outrages, those outrages did not in some way or other cease on account of that condemnation. It seemed as if within this National League there were some inner centres which exercised the real power. Whether they called them Invincibles or what else, it would seem that they did not shrink from outrage, and were not affected by the condemnations which the National League itself issued. The question before them was whether Her Majesty's Government were able to deal with these secret societies or centres which existed and carried on their secret work. He would not trouble their Lordships by relating at length statements to show that the horrible murder already referred to was not an isolated case. He would refer only to two. One of those was not yet attended with murder, and the other was that of which he had given Notice, which was attended with the horrible mutilation and destruction of unfortunate cattle. He alluded to these cases because they occurred in his own neighbourhood, and he could vouch for the facts. One of the cases to which he wished to call particular attention, because the persecution of those attacked had not yet ceased, was that of a farmer named Tesky, who had been attacked and injured in his house, and his life was despaired of. Well, Tesky identified one of the men who committed the outrage, and he was tried at the Spring Assizes at Limerick, but was acquitted. He was informed that threatening letters had been sent before the trial to jurors, and, since, to Tesky himself. He should like to hear some statement from the noble Earl (Earl Spencer) as regarded the cases heard at those Assizes, for he believed not a conviction had been secured. The outrage at Glin was a terrible one. The statements concerning it did not rest on newspaper paragraphs. They rested on a statement deliberately made and signed by the Knight of Glin, who had since written that since the outrage a notice had been posted calling on a tenant to "Take notice, I will burn you alive as I burned the cows last night." He desired to say that this outrage at Glin occurred within four hours of the holding of a Nationalist meeting in that place; but he wished to qualify that remark, and to be perfectly clear in regard to it. He believed thoroughly that the great majority of those attending those meetings reprobated such outrages as those he had described. Still the language used at those meetings stirred up the intemperate and evil-disposed, and nobody knew that better than the noble Earl (Earl Spencer). Whilst holding this opinion, still he thought it was impossible to free those holding the meetings from all responsibility for the outrages which in so many instances followed them. If these outrages were allowed to go on until some measure was brought forward for settling the state of Ireland for the future, Her Majesty's Government would for a longer or shorter period be practically abandoning the enforcement of the law in that country. He feared that the measure that was to be brought forward by the Ministry would not, under such circumstances, bring about peace and the settled order of good government.


said, a Question had been asked of Her Majesty's Government which he ventured to say they were absolutely powerless to answer, for at present in Ireland government existed only in name, and as an executive power the Government was valueless. If an unfortunate man came under the hand of the Land League the Government was powerless to save him. Mr. Baron Dowse, at a recent Assize, had called attention to the increase of crime for equal periods in the same district, the number of offences having been 151 in 1884, 166 in 1885, and in the last six months no fewer than 300; and these offences were of a serious nature, including two murders, 18 threats to murder, 39 cases of stealing cattle, horses, and sheep, 11 cases of arson, 18 cases of the killing and maiming of cattle, and 52 seizures of arms and levying of contributions. All these things were happening at the present moment. If the Government were powerful enough to carry out the law, why had there been these 300 cases in the last six months? Mr. Davitt, the originator of the Land League, had made a strong speech against Moonlighting and other outrages; and the language he had used was even stronger than had fallen from the Government. But with an impulsive race and nation like the Irish nation it was not so easy, when they had been roused and hounded on by the words of an eloquent man, to bring them back to moderation by asking them to be kind and gentle. In Westmeath, which once provoked the passing of the Westmeath Act, there were now few or no outrages, and that was owing to the influence exercised by the Roman Catholic Bishop in that county. But for the influence of him and his priests it would be almost impossible for a man to live in the county. Perhaps the measure to be introduced by the Prime Minister might do something to restore peace and tranquillity to the country; but at present the motto of the Government was non possumus.


My Lords, the noble Earl opposite alluded to the Question he has put down, and which would formally come on later in the evening. I do not object to his having alluded to it. Probably it will be more convenient that it should be brought forward and answered in the present debate. I, for one, shall say nothing to take away from the force of the language which both the noble Duke and the noble Earl have used with regard to these detestable murders and crimes in Ireland. No one, I am sorry to say, has had more experience of these terrible crimes than I have had during the years that I have had the honour of being Her Majesty's Representative. I know how violent they are, how much they intimidate the people in the neighbourhood in which they are committed. I know full well that sympathy with the perpetrators of these crimes is too often found to exist among the population of Ireland. I deplore all this from the bottom of my heart. The most serious thing of all is the terribly disgusting feeling of sympathy with the criminals which too often prevails in those districts in which the crimes are committed. I cannot say how deeply this has always impressed me. It is not only ordinary ruffians who take part in these crimes, but you too often find they are committed by fanatics who are led by a false love of their country to think they can serve it by these atrocities. This is the most serious part of the history of Ireland connected with these crimes. I fear that no repressive legislation can affect that terrible feeling; it has not been diminished by the successive measures of repression we have had. I sincerely hope that some day we may arrive at a better feeling on the part of the population of Ireland—a feeling in support of law and of order instead of one of sympathy with crime committed in the midst of the people. I have not been able to obtain detailed reports of the crimes referred to in the second Question on the Paper; but I believe that in the main the statements embodied in the Question are correct. I fear it is probable there was great sympathy with the criminals; and I know there was great difficulty about the interment of the man to whom the noble Duke referred. I cannot give information as to the steps taken by the Government to discover the criminals, as everyone acquainted with Ireland will agree with me when I say that that would not in any degree be conducive to the ends of justice. This, however, I can say—that the Irish Government are using their utmost endeavours to try and trace the criminal, but at present I regret to say that I am not able to give any very hopeful account of the success which is likely to attend their efforts. Not only are they using their utmost endeavours to trace the criminals, but to prevent a recurrence of similar outrages in that part of the country. The noble Duke referred to a speech of the Chief Secretary in the other House, and seemed to connect this crime, in some way, with remarks which were made by the right hon. Gentleman; but, as I said on a former occasion, I cannot help thinking that that speech has been very much misunderstood. I took occasion to explain that what was said was not that the aid of the military to the civil power would be refused, but that when the aid of the military was demanded, he would carefully consider each case, and would determine whether a necessity for using the troops had arisen. With regard to this first case, it so happens that after my right hon. Friend had made that speech he consulted me as to whether it would be advisable to send Her Majesty's troops to be present at the evictions at Woodford. My right hon. Friend was perfectly willing, if it was necessary, to send the military in aid of the civil power. The only question was whether it was desirable to send more police without soldiers, or a smaller body of police with military. I said it was always desirable, if it were possible, to avoid using the military, and that I should prefer sending double the number of police on this occasion to calling in the military; but if the people on the spot said the military were necessary, I felt he must authorize their being sent. He entirely concurred in that; but I believe that circumstances arose afterwards to indicate that the troops were not called for. I regret to say that the details of the outrage in the second Question are correctly stated. Some of the outrages that have been referred to were brutal in the extreme, and I have neither desire nor intention to extenuate them in the slightest degree. It is a remarkable thing, however, that the two men — Sullivan and M'Mahon — who were the sufferers by these outrages, were members of the National League, although doubtless it has been said that they had, previously to these outrages being committed, been held up to the odium of that Association because of their having taken the farms. It is, however, only fair to state that the day after the outrages were committed the National League offered a reward of £100 for the discovery of the perpetrators of these cruelties. It is certainly evident that nothing could be calculated to do so much harm to the cause which the National League have at heart than that they should be plotting, or in any way concerned in, such brutalities as those to which reference has been made. The noble Duke asked— What steps, if any, have been taken to bring the murderers to justice; and whether they consider their existing powers are sufficient for the protection of life and the detection of crime in Ireland? The Question of the noble Duke amounts to this—Is law and order perfectly enforced in Ireland? I hardly know whether at any time within my recollection it could be said absolutely that the condition of Ireland with regard to crime, and the sympathies of the people in favour of law and order, were all that could be desired; but the question now before us is, whether the condition of the country in these respects is not relatively more satisfactory at the present moment than it was during the period when the late Administration was in Office, and whether it is such as to call for special legislation? I have some Returns before me that tell with remarkable force upon this point. I shall not trouble the House by reading those Returns at any great length; but I think that the few figures I intend to lay before your Lordships will convince you that the condition of things which now exists in Ireland is far better than that which existed at the time when special coercive legislation was called into operation. I quite admit that there are some districts of Ireland which are far worse than others—for instance, the condition of Killarney in Kerry, and Loughrea in Galway, is far from satisfactory. Deducting threatening letters, the decrease of agrarian outrages since February, 1886, compared with the average in the six preceding months is very striking; 63 was the average for October, November, and December, 1885, and January, 1886, while in February it was 33, only four more than in the first seven months of 1885. That shows that crime had not increased—that it had, in fact, diminished in February. I do not lay great stress upon the fact, but it has diminished since Her Majesty's Government has been in Office.


Do these figures apply to the whole of Ireland?


Yes; to the whole of Ireland.


The month of February was a short one for comparison.


Only two days. What was the condition of things in the same month in previous years? In 1880, when crime was rising very fast in Ireland, the outrages, other than threatening letters, were—January 77, February 58; 1881, January 194, February 89; 1882, January 189, February 154; 1886, January 46, and February 33. There was thus an enormous difference between the outrages in those years and the present. I venture to think that although those figures do not show a condition of the country which is satisfactory, yet that that condition does not compare unfavourably with that which existed in previous years. In my opinion, no Government is entitled, after the lapse of exceptional measures, to renew them unless it can be shown that very grave dangers exist; and that certainly is not the case at the present moment. I maintain that the figures I have quoted will prove to your Lordships that although isolated cases of murder and of outrage of a very serious kind are still occurring in Ireland, yet that the general condition of the country has greatly improved since Her Majesty's present Government have been in Office. I will now give some particulars of "Boycotting" as it exists now and make a comparison with the state of things which existed when the late Government were in Office. In the quarter ending June 30, 1885, the number of persons totally "Boycotted" was 80, and partially 219. In the quarter ending September 30, 1885, the number totally "Boycotted" was 179, and partially 706. In that ending December 31, 1885, the number totally "Boycotted" was 175, and partially 716; in the month of January, 1886, the number totally "Boycotted" was 181, and partially 719; and in the month of February, 1886, the number totally "Boycotted" was 181, and partially 718. These figures are remarkable as showing that during the period in which Her Majesty's late Government were in Office just as many persons, within one or two, were "Boycotted" as at the present time. During the whole of that time, when "Boycotting" was at its height, Her Majesty's late Government contented themselves with looking on; and therefore they cannot now blame Her Majesty's present Government for not immediately taking very violent steps to put an end to the National League. I am sure your Lordships will not require me, until the time arrives when we can conveniently consider the whole ques- tion of Ireland, to state what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to remedy the present unhappy state of things in that country, and to restore law and order. I can assure your Lordships that Her Majesty's Irish Government will endeavour, in the meantime, in every way to insure that the lives and the property of Her Majesty's subjects are protected. No one denounces with more vigour than I do these crimes, and no one wishes more than I do to see them put down by the ordinary law. In any case we are determined to uphold and maintain the law of the land, and I sincerely hope that we may be successful in putting down these terrible outrages, which I am not surprised have excited the sympathy and indignation of the people of this country.


said, they owed a debt of gratitude to the noble Duke for bringing this matter forward; but he was afraid he could not congratulate the noble Duke upon having obtained a satisfactory answer on this subject from Her Majesty's Government. He (the Marquess of Londonderry) could not gather from the noble Earl's speech one crumb of comfort. He confessed he felt no surprise at reading the answer given on Tuesday in the House of Commons by the Chief Secretary for Ireland on that subject, as had the right hon. Gentleman given a straightforward answer that he would at once take steps to prevent the recurrence of such a crime, he would have lost the support of those of his followers who disapproved of crime only because it was a source of weakness to their cause. The noble Duke had not overstated the case. He could corroborate every word which had fallen from him as to the outrages that had taken place in the neighbourhood of Woodford. The noble Duke had told their Lordships of the character of the victims of those outrages; but he had not told them about the reign of terror which existed in the neighbourhood of Woodford. In an article in The Dublin Evening Mail of March 12, describing the state of things prevailing at the present moment in the neighbourhood, he found the following statement:— I will now give an instance of the kind of teaching the people here are subject to. A certain Mr. Francis Tully, previous to the murder of Finlay, had in a speech, as reported in the local Press, spoken of a certain medicine he possessed which could cure bailiffs, process-servers, rent-warners, &c. On Wednesday, March 3, Finlay was murdered; and on Saturday, March 6, the following appears in The Connaught People:—'The patent medicine of Mr. Francis Tulley, of the Woodford division, seems to be doing excellent service in these parts. It has already cured a large number of bailiffs, rent-warners, process-servers, and agents, and is expected before long to accomplish that most extraordinary feat which has baffled statesmen and physicians since the time of the Flood—that is, to cure the noble and aristocratic disease so prevalent among landlords namely, the go out or evict—or, as they themselves politely call it, the gout. If Frank Tully succeeds in doing this he ought to be made physician in chief to Mr. Parnell and the Irish Party.' I have said that the state of Woodford and surrounding districts is one of panic—nothing else can describe it. On Sunday last—the Sunday immediately following Finlay's murder—six more bailiffs, rent-warners, &c, resigned, influenced, no doubt, by fear of some more of Mr. Frank Tully's medicine, which already has had such a deadly effect. As these men are now out of danger there can be no harm in giving their names. They are Mitchell and Rafferty, wood rangers to Sir Henry Burke; Gorman, Flannery, Kenny, and Page, gamekeepers and bailiffs of the Marquess of Clanricarde. All would remember the Prime Minister's letter to Lord de Vesci of February 12, in which he said that the great questions to be considered in reference to Ireland were social order, a settlement of the Land Question, and the widely prevalent desire of self-government. He had no idea of what might be the Prime Minister's meaning of the words "social order;" but when he read to their Lordships a few instances of the outrages that had occurred since the day on which that letter was written, he thought they would see that in place of social order there was at present a reign of terror in Ireland. The following was a summary of outrages and crime, reported in the public Press since February 12— Two men charged before Resident Magistrate of Longford with having cut off the tails of cattle belonging to Mr. Dinegan, Killashee (Feb. 12). At Derrymore, County Longford, a sheriff's bailiff set upon in exercise of his duty, beaten with sticks and billhooks, and cattle rescued (Feb. 19). A party of disguised Moonlighters visit the house of Thomas Lehy; Patrick Finlay murdered (March 4). At Castleconnel, a farmer sentenced to one month for stabbing another farmer in the cheek whose father was suspected of having paid his rent; Denis Brennan, a bailiff, fired at while returning from an evicted farm. These were, irrespective of "Boycotting," almost the worst form of social disorder. Sheriff and 20 constables unable to carry out evictions at Scotstown, Monaghan, being attacked by mobs throwing stones (Feb. 25). Murderous attack upon a farmer named M'Sweeney, near Killarney, for refusing to give up his gun (Feb. 27). Attack on Captain Chute, of Leebrook, County Kerry (March 6). Conroy, a tenant of Sir Henry Burke, obliged to obtain police protection through having paid his rent (March 9). Threatening letters sent to Robert Tesky, and also to several Limerick jurors, in connection with the trial of three prisoners for a Moonlight outrage upon Mr. Tesky (March 8). Moonlight raid upon the house of a farmer named Dunne, near Rostrevor (March 7). Burning of house near Listowel, and 10 cows, 10 goats, and 15 tons of hay, the property of a farmer holding lands from which the tenants had been evicted (March 7). Mutilation of 15 head of cattle belonging to Michael O'Connor, of Ballyculhane, Glin; also two other farmers had an out-house set on fire, and eight cows roasted to death, in the same locality, for having taken evicted farms (March 7). Attack on a process-server in the Kilmurry district, Kilrush, by a party of men with pitchforks, &c. (March 11). Burning of Lord Clanricarde's wood at Woodford (March 9). Stripping and tarring of a process-server near Villiers Town, County Waterford (March 12). The Rev. John Callaghy, P.P., Ballinakill, for having paid his rent, was compelled to resign the presidency of the local branch of the National League, was 'Boycotted,' and unable to get his horse shod, and did not receive his accustomed dues; it was this priest who, a few days ago, read prayers at the grave of the murdered man, Patrick Finlay. James Cannon, shopkeeper of Woodford, was completely 'Boycotted' for supplying the police. Michael Dwyer, a car driver, Woodford, 'Boycotted,' attacked and beaten for having driven the police; he is now under police protection. Many tenants in the parish of Woodford are prevented from paying their rents by the grossest intimidation, and speakers at National League meetings in Woodford have advised open resistance to the law. One speaker at a National League meeting, recently held at Woodford, declared that the Government would not give the military for evictions, and that the people were well able for the police. His object in drawing attention to these outrages was because he could not prevent his mind from reverting to the terrible events of the years 1881–2, when crime and outrage stalked over Ireland unchecked; and when, to the appeals of the suffering and law-abiding people of the country, the Government of the day turned a deaf ear. Those outrages were over 10,000, and how long they would have lasted he was unable to say. But surely the climax was not reached till May 6, when the fearful assassination in Phœnix Park occurred, which sent a thrill of horror throughout Europe. Then, and not till then, did the Ministers take decided measures; and, thanks to the energy, ability, and courage of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Spencer), peace and order were restored. He wished that the noble Earl would take the same steps now. It might sound like audacity on his part to offer suggestions to the Government when suggestions from men of so much greater experience and weight had been before now ignored by the Liberal Government. But he could not forget that he was one of the Loyalists of Ireland; and, therefore, he called on the Government to take immediate stops for the prevention of such crimes as he had quoted to their Lordships—steps which, though they might alienate from them the support of men who had been described as "steeped to the lips in treason," would, nevertheless, secure to them the sincerest gratitude and respect of every loyal and patriotic Irishman. In conclusion, he earnestly hoped that it might never again fall to the lot of anyone in similar circumstances to call upon the Government to extend their protection to the humble subjects of the Queen, who were now paying the heaviest penalties of torture and suffering in consequence of their loyalty to their Sovereign and their country.


said, that the speeches of noble Lords opposite suggested painful reflections in regard to the present condition of Ireland. They should look plainly and distinctly at the actual state of that country, and not allow themselves to be blinded either by exaggeration on the one side, or by an attempt on the other to ignore plain facts, and not see what all the world outside of that House saw without difficulty. The task of the noble Earl who represented in that House the views of the Government in reference to Ireland was, no doubt, a difficult one. It might be doubly difficult for him, because no one had on that question a greater wealth of knowledge, or a greater record of experience, to fall back upon. Whatever might be the political exigency of the noble Earl at present, his sympathy was not with crime—was not with Irish crime; and if he were at liberty to speak with that absolute freedom which was sometimes denied even to politicians, he ventured to think the noble Earl could speak on that question in a way that would amply satisfy those noble Lords who took part in that discussion, on whatever side they might sit. The condition of Ireland was far too serious a matter to be a Party question. No Government—he cared not on which side of the House it sat—could enter upon the consideration of Irish policy or administration with a light heart; and it was the duty of the Opposition to recognize that any Government applying itself to the Irish problem must be treated with a certain amount of reasonable—aye, of ample—consideration. The question before their Lordships that evening was not one of policy; it involved simply the consideration of what was the position of Ireland with reference to the preservation of social order. The noble Earl had interpolated in his observations a synopsis of the statistics of Irish crime and outrage. It was well known that there was nothing so misleading as statistics; but two of the most recent and appalling outrages which had happened last week had been selected for notice and attention that day by the noble Duke (the Duke of St. Albans) and his noble Friend (the Earl of Limerick) as illustrative of the state of many parts of Ireland. Attention had been directed to them, and concentrated upon them, in order to elicit from the Government what were their views in reference to them, how they regarded them, and whether they thought that, at the present time, they had power sufficient to cope with the disturbed state of social order, of which the crimes were symptomatic. Those crimes were not exhaustive of the statement regarding the condition of Irish crime; but they were symptomatic of the diseased state of feeling which now existed in Ireland. The noble Earl (Earl Spencer) had used words of rebuke to the perpetrators of those outrages, and had fittingly denounced them; but he did not quite follow the noble Earl in his attempt to suggest that the state of Ireland was at present to be judged by the lists of a few figures that might be submitted by statisticians who furnished information to the Government. No one knew better than the noble Earl that nothing was so misleading regarding the present condition of Ireland as to look at the statistics of crime. What was the present condition of Ireland? That was a matter which, from beginning to end of his speech, the noble Earl had not dealt with. Did he not know that he had himself stated, in the debate on the Address, that never in his recollection, nor even in the history of the country, was the state of Ireland so bad as regarded intimidation? Did he not know that in many parts of the country at present there was an authority in force which was not the Queen's authority, which was all-powerful? This was a circumstance of profound and supreme significance. The crimes which had been referred to must be regarded in their real significance, which was that they were symptomatic, not of isolated feeling, but of the state of feeling which prevailed not universally in Ireland, but in too many of the large districts of that unhappy country. The noble Earl had referred to "Boycotting" outrages. He asked their Lordships to look at the figures in their naked significance as revealing the present state of Ireland? There were at this moment 900 persons who were being subjected to this frightful system, wholly or partially, of having their lives made a burden to them by "Boycotting." But how many persons must be taking action in such a proceeding? One person could not "Boycott" another to this unbearable degree; it must be a whole community leagued together which took part in this conspiracy against the peace of their fellow-men. In these circumstances, he wished to know what return of statistics would indicate how many thousand persons in Ireland were involved in this terrible system of "Boycotting?" The noble Duke had certainly not overstated the circumstances attending this frightful murder of Finlay. He had also drawn attention to what was the gravest thing connected with it—namely, the appalling state of sympathy on the part of the population with those who committed the crime. But this feeling of sympathy was not confined to this particular district or to this particular case. It might be said of this poor victim, who was partially crippled, that he was the instrument used by a landlord for the collection of rent; but that fact would be no excuse for the brutality of the outrage. The case of the Curtin family still lived in their recollection, however; and it could not be ignored by those who wished to understand what was the real condition of Ireland. There were none so blind as those who would not see. People could not forget, nor would they be allowed to forget, the incidents of the Curtin case, without being asked, at the same time, to consider the present state of Ireland, because in it were found all the incidents of this horrible and degrading sympathy. It was a case utterly free from all the elements of landlord and tenant. Mr. Curtin was himself an influential tenant farmer, closely connected with the people, living among them, worshipping at the same chapel, belonging to the same community, and, he believed, a member of the National League; and their Lordships were familiar with the circumstances which culminated in the Bishop of the diocese having to close the chapel for six weeks owing to the hostile manifestations of the populace against the members of the Curtin family. An effort had been made to confuse this question, by pointing out that this incident was closed, and must, therefore, be now ignored and put aside. This could not be done. Unless people wished to be deceived, they could not be deceived in reference to the circumstances of this outrage. It was true that the chapel had been re-opened within the last fortnight; it was equally true that the Curtin family had resumed worship there. He placed no undue significance on the fact that a substantial force of police was present at the chapel in order to see that the Curtins were not molested. Take it that they were allowed to live there without being subjected to outrage, and to worship in that chapel, was it not an appalling thing that manifestations of this feeling of sympathy could have occurred recently in Ireland in regard to people whose only offence was that they would not stand by and see their father murdered in cold blood? Was it not horrible that such a thing even could have occurred? He was aware that the Prime Minister laid stress on the fact that this outrage occurred in November last. A few months made ancient history with the Prime Minister; but he did not think that a period so recent as November could be ignored by responsible statesmen when they were about to legislate in reference to the condition of Ireland. When the Curtin murder first took place, it was denounced in Dublin and throughout the country by the Nationalist Press and the Press generally; and, therefore, at first, public opinion did not know the existence of this marked sympathy with criminals in the locality; but, notwithstanding, it was found that a month afterwards this element had been painfully developed. With reference to the outrages referred to by his noble Friend (the Earl of Limerick), they had been sufficiently discussed in detail; but he had drawn attention to a fact which should not be ignored, and that was that a National League meeting was held in the vicinity four hours before the outrages were committed. It was true that the League afterwards offered a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators; and the noble Earl (Earl Spencer) appeared to derive much comfort from the fact, although he admitted that he had very little faith himself in the potency of such an agency in the detection of Irish crime. For his own part, he was quite willing to believe that the National League offered a reward; but this case could be looked at from many points of view. It might be that the National League was not able to control, in many parts of the country, this feeling of criminal sympathy which had been called into existence. It was a much easier matter to raise a state of feeling of this kind than to control or allay it. It might be that the National League was not able to control, as it might think prudence required, a movement which was at present advancing at a rate they did not at all desire. But the state of the country could be judged of by other things than the outrages which had been referred to. During the past few days he had been struck with statements in the Press as to the way in which contracts were enforced and the payments of rent were carried out. It was impossible to ignore in an agricultural country like Ireland—whether the case was being considered for better or worse—the way in which contracts between landlord and tenant were carried out, and the manner in which payment of rent was enforced. A paragraph appeared in The Freeman's Journal of the 10th instant, describing an unsuccessful attempt to carry out an eviction with an attendance of 100 policemen; and in The Times of the 9th instant in reference to another case, it was stated that the tenants could have paid 20 times the rent, but they wished for process of eviction. Incidents of this kind could be found in any paper any day. They disclosed, not a universal condition of things in Ireland, but a normal condition in many districts. It was idle for the Government to shut their eyes to the significance of these facts; they could not be ignored by a Government seeking to deal with the country. The figures given by Mr. Baron Dowse in his Charge, and already quoted by the noble Lord opposite, were of greater significance than would be seen at first sight. In each case the offences were not ordinary ones, but those that were specially reported by the Constabulary between the Summer and Spring Assizes; and when the number had risen from 150 to 300 the matter had become serious indeed. There were several suggestive paragraphs in The Times of that morning, one relating to the difficulty the Executive had in dealing as they would wish with the quarters of one of the most distinguished of Her Majesty's regiments. It had been said that the true view of Ireland and Irish affairs might be obtained by contrasting crime and outrage now with previous periods, and by showing under the different heads what was going on. He did not think this was the way to meet the question. There was great ignorance displayed as to the number of persons who were "Boycotted;" and he had thought it right to draw attention to a few other circumstances, in order to show that they must look even deeper than statistics to find what was the present nature of the facts. He could assure their Lordships that it did not require much study to look deeper, because those who read the ordinary channels of information could discover for themselves, unless they wished to close their eyes to the information which was afforded. They could not, of course, make people see if they would not do so and intended to remain blind, nor could they make people understand if they would not accept the best information. The closing part of the Question of the noble Duke who introduced the subject was full of pregnant suggestion and meaning, and that was as to the present and future intentions of the Government—whether the Government thought that in the state of facts indicated in the speeches which had been made and in the statistics of crime issued they were adequately armed with the powers they at present possessed. He thought the noble Earl would acknowledge himself that throughout his speech he nowhere indicated that he did think the Government had at their disposal all the powers which were necessary; and the manner in which he asked for time further indicated that he considered that the present state of facts was not unfairly described by those who had preceded him. The noble Earl made no complaint whatever as to the way the matter had been brought before the House and the Government; but he seemed to think it would be unreasonable to argue that the Government should not be given a longer time before they were asked to take more violent remedies. But he would ask how long a time? He did not intend to press the matter at this moment; but he could not help remarking that, even in this grave state of affairs, the noble Earl the Leader of the Government in the House had only been able to tell them that by the 1st of April the Government would be in a position to indicate what their Irish policy was, and the broad aspect with which they would deal with it. But he would ask if the most sanguine of their Lordships thought when the proposals were put forward—proposals about which he would now make no observations — did they believe, if they had the consent of the Cabinet—about which, again, he would say nothing—did they believe that those proposals, whatever their character might be, would be instantaneously accepted by both Houses of Parliament? Whatever proposals were brought forward must take lengthened time in examination, discussion, amendment, and possibly rejection; and during all that time what would be the social state of Ireland? Were those murders to be allowed to repeat themselves, or was each murder to be brought under the attention of their Lordships, and to be accounted for or extenuated by threadbare statistics, which proved nothing? The government of Ireland was a difficult problem, and ought to be approached with a sincere, anxious, and conscientious desire to do what is right; and all criticism ought to be governed by a due consideration of the extreme difficulty of the task. He has said no word about the Irish policy of the Government—the time had not yet come. But their Lordships' attention had been brought to outrages which shocked humanity, and were symptomatic of a diseased state of feeling in substantial parts of the country. They must earnestly hope that, whatever might be the future policy of the Government, it would not be forgotten that human life and the decencies of civilization, at all events, demanded earnest and constant care from Her Majesty's Government.


, who was indistinctly heard, said, he regretted the noble and learned Lord was so late with his speech. It was a speech he should like to have heard some months ago, when the noble and learned Lord was in Office, because the crimes which he denounced so eloquently existed then in quite as great force as they did now. It was true that the state of parts of Ireland was exceedingly unsatisfactory. But, he was happy to say, there were other parts of which a wholly different account could be given. The whole of Ulster was comparatively free from crime, and would compare most favourably with any part of England or Scotland; the Eastern counties also, for the most part, were orderly and quiet. Westmeath was in a condition of profound peace. But in parts of Kerry and of Cork, and the South-Western counties generally, there was a prevalence of crime such as ought to be repressed with the strongest possible hand. The late Viceroy had rightly pointed out that the serious character of the evil consisted not so much in the crime itself as in the sympathy which was manifested for crime by the people. He hoped to have heard that it was the intention of the Government to protect people in those parts, and he denied that the legislation which was necessary should be called coercive. It was not coercion to protect the weak, and much of the legislation needed already existed in this country. They had heard by the Returns what had taken place according to the official Reports; but the actual state of things was much worse. He well recollected the statement made by the late Viceroy at the suggestion of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) as to the policy of the late Government. The noble Earl on that occasion pointed to the diminution of crime under the vigorous administration of Lord Spencer, and urged that as a reason for the Government's not renewing any portion of the Crimes Act. But in consequence of that policy intimidation had increased fourfold. Some of the provisions of the Crimes Act were most valuable, especially those which gave a summary jurisdiction in cases where previously a jury was required, and those which enabled the magistrate to hold inquiries by means of which the perpetrators of crimes had in some instances been discovered. It was to be regretted that none of those provisions were renewed, and that the late Government had not, till the moment when they sent Mr. Smith to enable them in 48 hours to form a policy, really considered what course they were going to adopt in this most difficult problem. It was true that the present Government had as yet done nothing; but they were given to understand — he hoped they understood correctly — that in a short time they were to be informed what the Government intended to do for the purpose of restoring social order in Ireland.


said, he wished to dwell upon the facts as they were, and the noble and learned Lord who had just spoken had told them what the state of Ireland really was. When the late Government mot Parliament they had their Bill prepared; but he would not take his stand on a circumstance of that sort. The question was, what was the duty of the Government in the face of such a great emergency as now existed? Kerry, Limerick, Galway, and other parts of Ireland were not under the Government of the Queen at all. Crimes were there committed of such a character as to bring discredit on civilization, and these were not merely the isolated acts of individuals, but they were sympathized with by the whole of the neighbourhood. In addition to these crimes a large number of people had been "Boycotted." The noble Earl opposite had not ventured to say that the law was dealing with this state of things in a manner which was satisfactory to himself or to the Government, or in a manner which was likely to bring about a change in Ireland; but he only referred them to some future legislation. The arguments of the noble Earl, as far as they went, seemed to be to the effect that no repressive measures were required. At the end of last Session, when the new Government came in, it was said by the Prime Minister that he and the Government who went out had a measure prepared for continuing certain provisions of the Crimes Act. Why was not the right hon. Gentleman now prepared to introduce such a measure? He agreed with the noble and learned Lord that measures of such a kind ought not to be called coercive measures. They were measures for the repression of crime, and, given the same circumstances in England, they would be welcomed as a necessity, and as justice to those who were affected by such crimes. A solemn responsibility rested upon the Government. They might put it off to bring in a general policy; but they were responsible for every day which had elapsed since the Thursday when the late Government were prepared to bring in such measures as they thought necessary and adequate to cope with these great difficulties in Ireland. Since that time the present Government had been responsible when the existing law was not sufficient. The noble Earl opposite, he was glad to admit, did his duty on many occasions in Ireland manfully, courageously, and with fairness to those whom he was necessarily treating as enemies to his Government. He admitted also the difficulty in which the noble Earl now found himself. The noble Earl was a Member of a Government which was engaged in studying a certain great policy for Ireland; but the crime of Ireland had been irrespective of all those policies. Conciliation was tried at various times, and the crime had always increased unless the law was able to deal with it. It had been said by Mr. Sheil that his countrymen were very bad people to run away from. It was necessary to have strong laws strongly administered, as they were by the noble Earl, to meet the exceptional circumstances in which Ireland was placed. Let any attack be made on his (Viscount Cranbrook's) conduct as a Member of the late Government; but let them not delay action further. The course taken by the late Government was not in question in this discussion. During the period of that experiment of seven months, he frankly owned that, personally, he longed for it to come to a conclusion, and for Parliament to be sitting, so that they could address themselves to it for powers to deal with the growing evils in Ireland. And now he said the same. He did not say it in a spirit of opposition; he did not mean now to comment on the future policy of Her Majesty's Government; but he said that they had a solemn duty to perform, and at that hour they ought to be in a position to say that they had in their hands such weapons as were adequate to cope with the circumstances which prevailed in Ireland, and that if they failed to use them they were not doing their duty to their country and to their Queen.


said, he sincerely agreed with the noble Viscount that the grave matter they had been discussing that evening could not be in any way advanced by Party recrimination. But he must point out that it was not merely recrimination, but reference to the situation created by the late Government, that bore upon the question which they had to consider. Whether the course pursued by the late Government was right or wrong, it was clear that the present Government had to deal with the situation so created. It was useless now to say that just before they went out of Office the Government of Mr. Gladstone had a measure prepared, and that they were ready to apply to Parliament for a prolongation of the Crimes Act. That was, no doubt, true; but, for whatever reason, the Government which succeeded them did not think it right to propose a renewal of the Crimes Act. This created a wholly new situation. To propose to prolong the operation of an Act which might have been working well was a perfectly different thing from proposing its re-enactment after it had been dropped by the action of one of the great Parties in the State. They had to consider what was the position in which they were now placed. First of all, by the action of the late Government—and here he could not avoid some recrimination—the hands of the Executive of this country had been weakened, and the difficulty of going to Parliament for any repressive measure had been enormously increased. That being the situation, the Government had to consider whether the state of things as regarded serious crime—and he was not now speaking of "Boycotting"—was so alarming that they were bound to put aside everything else, and, with- out anticipating any other measures, to come to Parliament for repressive legislation. His noble Friend behind him had given a sufficient answer to this contention, and had shown that although undoubtedly in the last six months there had been some increase in agrarian crime, apart from threatening letters, yet the state of things was far less serious at present than it was when they thought it necessary formerly to bring in the Crimes Act. Looking to that fact, he maintained that they were justified in not now going to Parliament for a renewal of that measure. Then, there was another thing which they could not help considering. His own experience of Ireland was getting rather ancient; but with regard to agrarian crime the experience of all connected with the Government of Ireland had been the same. It had always existed more or less, and the really grave part of the matter was that the perpetrators of these crimes had the sympathy of a large part of the population. And he feared they would continue until we could bring the Irish people to look upon the law as a friend, and not as an enemy. After an experience of six months the late Government, when Parliament assembled, did not think matters in Ireland were in such a serious condition that they should announce to Parliament the introduction of repressive measures. If the Government had made up their minds they would have stated it in the Queen's Speech. The present Government were in some respects in the same position, and they did not think the time had arrived when they were called upon to bring in repressive measures. He agreed with, the noble Viscount that nothing could be more grave than the circumstances in which they now found themselves, and that no subject could be more grave than the treatment of the questions in regard to Ireland; but if they had no greater difficulty in dealing with those questions than they had in repelling the attacks made upon the Government by noble Lords opposite for not bringing forward repressive legislation he should be very sanguine indeed of the result.


said, he rose with great reluctance to say a few words in reply to the noble Earl who had just addressed the House. He was most reluctant to leave the con- sideration of the subject to the question of a Party character raised by noble Lords on different sides of the House. But it was only right to point out that they ought not to allow one statement of the noble Earl to go unchallenged—namely, that the late Government at the time they met Parliament had not made their minds as to the serious condition of things existing in Ireland. Within two days of that time Notice was given of a measure which they were prepared at once to introduce and to prosecute in the other House. If that measure had been thought wrong it could have been resisted. But the Party opposite did not meet the Bill in that way; by a side wind they displaced the Government before they had had time to bring forward the measure of which they had given Notice. Noble Lords opposite had no right to say therefore—"You created a situation by what you did in the winter, and that situation we have to get out of now." They could not use that argument, as they had not allowed the late Government to bring forward measures which they recommended. Could they have refrained from making that dash at Office within the first few days of the Session, Parliament would have had before it the measure which they were prepared to propose, and then it would have been seen what it was that they thought it their duty to recommend, and what they should have asked Parliament to accept. Noble Lords opposite had not done that, and they had no right to come forward and twit them with what was really the consequence of their own action in displacing the late Government from power. The most serious point of this controversy was its effect on the situation at the present moment. Everyone felt that the situation was most serious, and that no more time than was absolutely inevitable should be taken up in endeavouring to re-establish the authority of the Queen's Government in Ireland. Yet the answer of Her Majesty's Government was that they must wait, partly because some controversy with respect to the action of the previous Government was proceeding, and partly because the whole question of Ireland—complicated as it was—was to be raised and discussed. Although told to wait, they had no assurance from Her Majesty's Government of their anxiety to support the authority of the Queen in Ireland; and he feared that the most lamentable results would follow from the delay in enforcing the supremacy of the law in that country.


said, he wished to point out that a difficulty with regard to legislation for Ireland could be met by applying it to the United Kingdom. Crimes in Ireland which the present law could not reach might be put down by legislation for the three countries. He did not believe anyone in this country would object to "Boycotting" being made illegal here as well as in Ireland. The legislation should be permanent, and not merely temporary in its character. If the measures necessary for the security of life and property in Ireland were applied to England and Scotland as well, the idea would at once be got rid of that there was any prejudice against Ireland in applying to it exceptional legislation.


said, with regard to what had fallen from the noble Earl who had last spoken, it was very undesirable, unless it were absolutely necessary, to have exceptional legislation for Ireland. But when it was proposed to introduce a law against "Boycotting" in the whole United Kingdom, he felt bound to point out that there was no "Boycotting" elsewhere than in Ireland.


But there might be.


said, that if "Boycotting" did not exist in the United Kingdom it would be impossible to bring in a Bill for its suppression. When complaint was made with reference to Ireland while the late Government was in Office, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), as a justification for the do-nothing policy of his Government, said that the present law could not deal with "Boycotting," and that they could not construct the law that would. It seemed to him at the time that the noble Marquess was giving a good deal of encouragement to the system by that remark; but still it was a declaration which could not be overlooked. Now, so short a time after, when Her Majesty's Government wished to bring forward the whole question, they were told that they were unreasonably delaying necessary measures for the safety of Ireland. What chance would they have of obtaining acceptance of any measures they might bring forward dealing with all questions with regard to Ireland if they were now to introduce some Bill which would take long to pass, and which, when passed, might be abortive and useless against "Boycotting?" It was very plausible to say—"We mean to introduce a Bill to destroy the National League." He objected as much as anybody to the policy of the National League, to much that they had done; but he had very great doubt indeed whether merely putting an end to the open action of the National League, as exactly the same machinery would be under the surface and working in the dark, would, in the slightest degree, relieve the great evils which now existed.