« PreviousContinue »
and that the classes will not be able to not allow themselves to be butchered. hold their own against such an alliance. The firing caused a panic, and in the I hold that the right hoa. Gentleman is space of about a minute the square was indirectly responsible for what has oc- cleared of all but a score of people. He curred at Mitchelstown, and that those was afterwards standing with others at who are directly responsible are Resi- the door of Father Morrison's house in dent Magistrate Seagrave and Inspector the square when 25 or 30 policemen Brownrigg. I accuse these men of gross rushed through, striking indiscrimi. and deliberate murder.
nately, and some even came through the Mr. O'HEA (Donegal, W.) said, the doorway into the hall and struck some speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland of those who were gathered there. He haud reminded him of the typical police avoided a violent blow by stepping out magistrate, who believed everything of the way, and someone else received told him by the police, and refused to it. It was now said that tho police pay any attention to evidence given entered the house for their own protec. by civilians, howevor respectable, which tion, but the truth was there was no discredited those statements.
necessity for thein to seek shelter anyNotice taken, that 40 Members were
where, for no one was then attacking
them in the square. not present; House counted, and 40 told they were intruders, and they had
The police were Members being found present,
better leave, and they did so. Mr. O'HEA resuming, said, that companied the hon. Member for East having been present during the whole Mayo when he appealed to Captain Seaof the proceedings at Mitcholstown, he grave to send someone to restrain the was in a position to state that The Free- police, and happened to remark to him man's Journal account of the disturbance You ought to be proud of this day's was in some respects accurate, but in werk." This remark perhaps explained others very highly-coloured and inaccu- why he did not receive a little more rate; but there was one fact about which civility, but, making allowance for that, there was and could be no controversy. he must agree that the captain's manner It was that the disturbance was initiated was rather supercilious, and he did not by the police obtruding themselves upon seem to have the aplomb which would fit the meeting. When the hon. Member bim for the responsible position he was for East Tipperary saw that the first placed in. He had no wish to use strong body of police and the Government language with regard to County Inshorthand writer had got near enough spector Brownrigg, but he must say that to the platform he proceeded with his had Bill Sykes been in the County Inaddress. That peace had been restored spector's uniform he could not have was evident from the opening sentences looked a more truculent brute. Before of his speech, but he was soon inter- the meeting he (Mr. O'Hea) and others rupted by a second disturbance, caused made every effort to find Captain Seaby a second body of police attempting to grave. It was the business of Captain Seareinforce their comrades who were in grave to be somewhere where he could the crowd, and a great deal of hustling be found. They hunted about threeand jostling took place. The people quarters of an hour round the little town were assaulted by the police in an un for him, but he was nowhere to be found. warrantable and brutal fashion, and he Their object in looking for him was to was proud to say that under these cir- come to a distinct understanding that cumstances they made use of their sticks would prevent any hostility, collision, or against the constables. After the retreat friction between the people and the of the police under a shower of stones, authorities. If they could have found
people had the intention of again him they would have undertaken to gathering round the platform, but the guarantee the safety of a reporter, and sound of a shot was heard, there was a he believed the unfortunate events stampede from the barracks, and the that had occurred would have been excitement became intense. The shot avoided. The whole responsibility for was followed by several others, and the what had occurred rested directly upon hon. Member for Northampton, as well Captain Seagrave and County Inspector as himself and others, iinplored the Brownrigg, and upon the Government people for God's sake to disperse, and which employed incompetent officials.
He believed that the occurrences
“I am not one of those who disapprove of Mitchelstown, like the writing on the prohibiting meetings which may be illegal or wall, would mark the early and igno- end in forcible intimidation.”
which by their multitudinous attendance may minious doom of tho Government, who were responsible for the lamentable As to the Common Law right of prohibitevents of that day.
ing public meetings, he might cite the MR. FISHER (Fulham) said, it opinion of Lord Brougham, whose laaseemed to him that the salient point guage, however, went beyond what he was the right of the Government to have should be prepared to adopt as the a reporter at the meeting. The hon. proper policy for this country. In Member for Northampton denied and speaking of the Chartist meetings in disputed the right. Mr. W. E. GLAD- 1848 Lord Brougham laid it down that STONE : No.] He referred the right it was most important for the peace
of hon. Gentleman to the hon. Member's the country, as well as the liberty of the speech at Cork on Saturday night. But he subject, for the rights of the Crown as would quote against the hon. Member for well as the rights of the people, that the Northampton the right hon. Gentleman right of Petition should be as little as may the Member for Derby, who, when in be interfered with. Lord Brougham also Office, laid it down that when the Go- held the right of public meeting to stand vernment had reason to anticipate a in the same position, but that it was an breach of law and order then they had absolutely essential condition for the a right to have a reporter present. He exercise of that right and for its existparticularly observed that the right hon.ence that the meeting should be for disGentleman in his long historical disqui- cussion alone; wherever the meeting sition as to the Common Law rights of was a mere assemblage of numbers, too public meetings refused to give the large for any possibility of discussion, House his definition of what constituted it became an assemblage of numbers an unlawful assembly, although he went merely for the display of physical force back to 1795, and although he gave and intended to overawe the Govern them one or two precedents within the ment. He held that it was impossible last 10 years. He should like to re- to give an exact definition of what an mind the House of what took place in unlawful assembly was, but he would connection with the great meeting of shelter himself behind the definition repealers at Clontarf in 1813, wbich was given by a late Irish Solicitor General de prohibited by the Government. What of the past Liberal Administration, Mr.
27 were the circumstances attending the Justice Johnson. That Gentleman laid Clontarf meeting? It was true that it down that if a riot occurred it was the the first notice announcing the meeting duty of the magistrate to quell it, if was couched in language containing necessary, by force ; and even when no military terms calculated possibly to in- riot occurred it was also the duty of the spire some terror and alarm apart from magistrate to disperse, and, if necessary, the ordinary circumstances in which a by force, an unlawful assemblage. The meeting might be called together. Prior commonest form of such an unlawful to the prohibition of the meeting, how- assembly, he said, was a meeting which ever, the military terms were carefully from its character and the circumstances ! expunged. The Irish Leaders in those in which it had assembled was likely to days, like the Nationalist Leaders of to prove dangerous to the peace of the day, were very anxious to keep just on neighbourhood or was calculated to excite the outside edge of legality, and so they terror, alarm, or consternation. It must expunged those terms in the notice therefore at all times be for the Execu. which might give offence or create tive to say, looking at all the circumalarm ; but for all that the meeting was
stances and details of the case, and all proclaimed by the Executive and stopped the local conditions, whether or not a to a great extent through the exertions meeting which was to be held was an of O'Connell himself
. `In the debate unlawful assembly, and whether they had which took place in the House on that a legal right to proclaim that meeting. occasion, Lord John Russell, while If the Government were wrong in point blaming the Government for not giving of law their conduct could be questioned longer notice of their Proclamation, in the Law Courts. If their policy said
inexpedient it could be questioned in the
House. For his part, he conceived there and most unconstitutional, and likely to was little doubt as to the legal right of disturb and break up the foundations of the Goveroment to proclaim the meet- social order in that country, we have ing at Ennis. The House and the done everything that was in our power country, he thought, would be satisfied by the use of most earnest and energetic that in doing so they closely adhered to language to encourage strict obedience their legal right and carried out their to the law. I will venture to tell the policy in the interests of law and order. right hon. Gentleman that I believe our
MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edin- respectful advice to the people of Ireburgh, Mid Lothian): I think, Sir, it land has been of more use in procuring was naturally to be expected that this obedience to the law than all your debate should mainly direct itself to Crimes Acts and your Constabulary, wards the distressing circumstances of managed as it was at Mitchelstown. I the recent occurrence at Mitchelstown; have spoken of the management of the but, notwithstanding this, I am strongly Constabulary at Mitchelstown, and I of opinion, and indeed I think the hon. hope that we shall hear in the course of and learned Gentleman who has just sat time much more on that subject. But down will probably not dissent from undoubtedly one point raised by the that opinion, that my right hon. Friend senior Member for Northampton (Mr. the Member for Derby has performed a Labouchere) appeared to me to deserve public service in drawing the attention the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. of the House to this subject, and in The first body of police to escort the giving to the House the great advantage reporter consisted of 22 men. I think of a very full, a very clear, and a very that number was given in The Standard weighty account of the authorities newspaper, but I am not quite certain. bearing on the subject of public meetings There were 50 constables in the second under the Common Law, and likewise body. We do not understand that they of calling attention not only to the facts were under any command or any reof the Ennis case, but, what is still more sponsible guidance whatever. If this important, to the doctrines in connection is so, the circumstance is so strange
with which these facts are to be judged. that I cannot take it for granted; but : The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Se- undoubtedly the accounts given in the
cretary for Ireland sat down after saying newspapers tend to that belief, and I that he and his Government would hope we shall have some explanation on persevere in their endeavours to bring the subject. The point, however, on about tranquillity in Ireland by a firm which I wish to speak and to draw the administration of the law nd by the attention of the House is the question removal, not of grievances-for there raised by my right hon. Friend the
Member for Derby. My right hon. MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Injustice was Friend has said that it appears to him
that the prohibition of the meeting at MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: Oh, I beg Ennis was an invasion of public liberty. pardon; I am much obliged for the cor. He has supported himself by references rection, but I see no difference. Still it to the very highest authorities. Those is much better to be verbally correct. authorities are not lawyers who might The right hon. Gentleman said that he be supposed to be tainted with Liberal was aware that he would find nothing or ultra-Liberal doctrines. On the conbut opposition from this side of the trary, my right. hon. Friend relied on House in his endeavours. I do not many other distinguished names; above intend to dwell on that somewhat invi- all, on the eminent and very distindious remark; but I must protest against guished name of Lord Eldon-I may it. I must say that whenever Her say, considering Lord Eldon as lawyer Majesty's Government have made a pro- and not as statesman, the illustrious posal which appeared to us in the name of Lord Eldon—as a very great slightest degree beneficial to the people lawyer whose conscience was keenly alive of Ireland we have hailed that proposal on the subject of law. Well, Sir, it seems and we have done all in our power to to be quite clear, upon the doctrine of forward it; and when they have been Lord Eldon, that it is impossible to engaged, as we think, during the justify the proclamation of the Ennis present year in a course most unwise meeting. Lord Eldon laid it down that
if a meeting were treasonable, that was (except as to a single case. I was prea reason, no doubt, for prohibiting and pared to meet the right hon. Gentleman, preventing it; if it were dangerous to on the part of Lord Spencer and the the public peace, that was a reason for Government at that period, with a simple prohibiting and preventing it. But, denial, and with regard to that single then, that means proximate danger to case I believe that denial applies. But the public peace, and not a speculative the right hon. Gentleman has narrowed danger, which it is within tho discretion his proposition so much that I will not of an official to imagine and to suggest. put it upon that part of the question. To my astonishment the right hon. Well, there were 130 cases from Mr. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ire- Forster. On a challenge from the hɔn. land, bracing up all his energies to the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) to es. business ho had in hand, proceeded with plain whether these were public meetings self-confidence to denounce the speech for discussion or not, the 130 cases sark of my right bon. Friend the Member for down to 30-a considerable collapse in Derby, bristling with legal authorities the case of a statement made by a Genthroughout, as empty and hollow, and tleman who speaks with all the facilities to pass by entirely the discussion and of official information. After that colthe bearing thoso authorities had upon lapse there remained 30 cases, and for the question of the proclamation of the my part I must say I am totally unaware Ennis meeting. What is the course of any act of the description the right taken by the right hon. Gentleman ? A hon. Gentleman has given us. Nr. simple iu qu que, neither more nor less. Forster is not here to speak for himself; In a matter of mere politics the tu I have no power of communication at quoqus argument is usually the resort of the moment with anyone who can speak persons who are in great difficulties. for him; but all I can say is this, that But in a matter of law it is absurd to whether we have done this or not-and suppose that in this House, when you I do not admit that Mr. Forster did it appeal to great legal authorities and until I have some clear account of what standards, you are liable to be over- he did it has no bearing whatever on thrown by saying-Why, you did it. the legality of the proceeding. If we What does it signify—what does it have tampered with the law so much signify for the purpose in view ? It may the worse, and so much the more neces. signify a good deal for the purpose of sary it is that the practice of the Exeruthrowing blame upon us. I do not wish tive should be brought back to the law. to escape from that blame; but it is We havo a Minister deliberately going absurd and preposterous, and not to be by the discussion of the law, and detolerated in a man who is a Minister of liberately setting aside, deliberately the Crown, that when it is said the law describing, in fact, as hollow and unreal has been tampered with and infringed, a speech made up in great part of citahe is to say-You did it. That is no tions from the highest legal authorities, argument whatever. It is a fresh accu- showing what the true legal doctrine sation, and as a fresh accusation may was, and resting himself upon an accu. deserve a good deal of attention. Lot sation made against a former Go. us look at this fresh accusation. What vernment, as if it were possible that was it? I heard the words of the right the practice of former Governments hon. Gentleman, and the words were combined with the
practice of his these—that Lord Spencer and Mr. Government could make legal that which Forster had in 130 cases at least used is in itself illegal. Therefore, I want those powers against public meetings. to know whether that is really to be the
MR. A. J. BALFOUR: I said Mr. ground of defence, or whether the GoForster in 130 cases, to which you must vernment arə prepared to grapple with add all the cases in which Lord Spencer the authorities laid down by iny right used them subsequently.
hon. Friend the Member for Derby, and MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: That, in particular with the authority of Lord Sir, was not the original statement Eidon? The hon. and learned Gentleof the right hon. Gentleman. There man who has just sat down dwelt on were, he said, 130 cases. Let us well the case of Clontarf, as if it had any. understand this. Lord Spencer has thing to do-he will forgive me for say. nothing at all to do with the matter, ing 80-with the discussion in which we are now engaged. The case of Clontarf | Will ho lay that down as a legal was a case in which, if I remember opinion? Does not common sense teach right, it was intended to gather together the meanost and most ignorant among 150,000 or 200,000 people; and I rather us that, if a Government is authorized think I am correct in saying that on that to prevent a meeting which it regards as occasion, or about that period--because called for an improper purpose, the there had been more meetings -- Sir meaning is that the entire liberties of James Graham, then Home Secretary, the people as regards public meetings was asked as to whether numbers made are placed in the hands of that Governa meeting illegal. I do not know whe- mont? Does the right hon. Gentleman ther that question had reference to the think that in this House of Commons opinion which the hon. and learned he could propose a clause which would Gentleman has quoted from Lord run to the effect--"Be it enacted that Brougham-an opinion which, I con- if Her Majesty's Government shall have fess, does not appear to be unreason- reason to consider that a meeting is able. At any rate, it seems to me that called for an improper purpose, they a meeting which is upon a scale so vast there and then shall proceod tu prohibit that the discussion cannot possibly be it?” The right hon. Gentleman the exhaustive, stands in a totally different Chief Secretary of Ireland carefully category from the meeting we are now eschewed the discussion of those legal considering, the meeting at Ennis, with doctrines. Now, what we want is to respect to which tliese considerations drag those legal doctrines into view. have the smallest possible application. However inportant is the prohibition of Now, with regard to the particular facts a particular meeting, much more is the of the meeting at Ennis, and whether general rule upon which these proceedings the right hon. Gentleman had any rea- are hereafter to be governed. I say that, son to apprehend that it would be of a if you are to prohibit a meeting on acdangerous character, I can only say that countofits tendency to disorder, that must it would be absurd for me to attempt bo proximate disorder. You have no right to pronounce an authoritative opinion to say, “ We think these are dangerous without a far more minute and accurate things, and will ultimately issue in social knowledge of the facts than I at present disorganization.” That is not ground possess. But this I must say—that in for prohibiting a meeting. Lord Eldon my opinion the right hon. Gentleman admitted no such ground; he only addid not in the slightest degree lay before mitted that which was likely to lead to us evidence calculated to command our disorder and riot in connection with the assent upon that subject. I leave that meeting itself. And then it is most im. point rather to be discussed by others ; portant we should know from the Gobut I wish to draw attention to the point vernment whether the Attorney General which my right hon. Friend had mainly intends to advise the Government that in his mind the fact of the prohibition when a meeting is called for an improper of the moeting, combined with the doc- purposo, ho is to be at liberty to pro. trine by which that prohibition has been hibit it. The right hon. Gentleman the justified. My right hon. Friend read Chief Secretary for Ireland said that out in the hearing of the Attorney there had been a great number of meetGeneral for Ireland the doctrine of that ing8-I think over 300—held since he right hon. and learned Gentleman, and had been in Office; which were per: what said he ? He said that, under the mitted to be held, and only a very small Common Law, it would be justifiable number subjected to prohibition. I even I am not quoting, but only giving the will venturo to hope that recent occursubstance—to prevent a public meeting rences may have taught a lesson to the which the Government, upon the evi- | Government, and I shall watch their dence before it, might regard as calen- conduct with a very great interest from lated to produce public disorder, or to a sincere and earnest desire to find that be called together for an improper pur- the right hon. Gentleman will be able to pose. Well, Sir, all public meetings give something like reality in the future held on the Liberal side are meetings more than in the past, to the principles called together for an improper purpose. he has laid down with regard to the Will the right hon. and learned Gentle value of the title of the people to asman adhere to such language as that? semble together for the purpose of dis