Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

and he ca he say ab with regar I should 1 able to fix vd. and kirts che bout the

*

Is speaking 5 aivan pon the b

Was Cr

down thes ople pass sea the t the cand he opp lice ba

bezsa tra pres all the w

shots fired, and I walked across the road to-
wards the Court-house. I thought the police
were firing blank cartridge to frighten the
people. I got down. I saw about a dozen
rifles through the upper windows of the police
barrack blazing away. In the street "-
and here is the most important part of
his testimony, for he is the first witness
in the street while the firing was actually
going on-

locked, so I moved down the square, and when | The correspondent goes on to say that
I got within a few yards of the corner, I heard the best proof of "the trifling nature of
the attack, if indeed it can be so de-
scribed, is the condition of the barracks
itself." Well, I ask, have I not made
out a strong primâ facie case against the
alleged attack on the barrack? Now,
from whom did the Government get
their report? Seagrave was not on the
scene. Nobody could find him. Some-
body said he had gone to find the
Riot Act, which he had forgotten.
Other persons said he was up in Mr.
Eaton's. He was not on the spot. There-
fore, he could not give an account of
what took place. Was it from the
County Inspector the Government had
their story? I had him by the arm for
a considerable time, and I can state,
from my own knowledge, that he could
not have seen-nor was he in the state of
mind to judge of anything that was
going on. I wish to ask on what witness
the Government rely; and I say that
the people of this country, as well as
this House, will expect some indepen-
dent and credible confirmation of this
alleged attack on the barrack before
they will be able to wash their hands of
responsibility for the death of these
men at Mitchelstown. When I left the
barrack, I went through the square in
company with some priests, and engaged
in clearing the town, and in persuading
all the people to go home, and to abandon
all further attempt at holding a meeting.
An incident then took place which I shall
leave to speak for itself. Whilst we were
engaged in clearing the square, a body
of about 50 police, with rifles, appeared
on the scene, and drew up in the middle
of the square. They consisted chiefly,
I believe, of a reinforcement who had
charged into the square, batoning the
people, after the first body had fled to
their barracks. They had been attacked
with stones, and had fled into the
priests' house, and elsewhere, for refuge,
and they were not followed into the
houses. They emerged, and were joined
by another body of police, and these 50
or 60 men drew up in the middle of the
square. Recollect that some of these
men were cut and bleeding; some of
them had been struck with stones. The
square was full with people. Many of
our men were cut also. A drunken man,
or a thoughtless child, could have flooded
the square with blood in five minutes;
because both this large body of police,

-"in the street near the barrack there were
few, if any, people at the time, and the whole
street appeared to be almost empty. I tried to
get into the Court-house; but they would not
let us in at the front door, so I had to go round
a long way."

This is the only independent witness
who was in the street when the firing
was going on, and his testimony is that
there were few, if any, people at all in
the neighbourhood of the barrack. I
will finish with a quotation from an in-
dependent witness, who is the only wit-
ness dealing with the nature of the
stone-throwing. It is taken from an
account published by an eye-witness in
this day's Irish Times, also an unfriendly
source. He says-

"What I do know is this-that when I arrived, there were some men [he crossed after the police had fired]-there were some men out in the street throwing stones at the barrack,

which was too distant for them to reach.

Large stones were thrown in the direction of
the barrack; but they also fell short of the
door. It was when these stones were being
thrown that the police fired the shots to which

I have referred."

Therefore, the account of this witness is
that stones were fired in the direction
of the barracks, which fell short of the
mark. I would like to point out, I have
quoted the testimony of a number of
witnesses besides what I saw with my
own eyes, which I think would be in
itself sufficient to prove that all the talk
about the attack on the barracks was
absolutely without foundation. Every
single witness unites in the statement
that no such thing occurred, and that
there was no justification for the firing
at all. Here is a quotation which has
just been supplied to me from the special
report in another hostile paper, The
Sunday Observer. The correspondent of
that paper says-

"Having witnessed the attack myself, I can
bear testimony to the fact that whatever
stones were thrown at the building from the

corner of the square were thrown by a few
small boys, who exposed themselves in the
most foolhardy manner to the fusillade,"

and the large crowd of people standing "Very likely," said he. There had
there, were smarting from their wounds. been no disturbance in the town for the
I asked where was the commanding offi- last quarter of an hour, and there was
cer? They did not know. I asked no man who had spared himself to get
another man. There was no command- the people away. The only answer I
ing officer. I said "Where is Captain got from him was- "Very likely."
Seagrave ?" The man said "I don't" For goodness sake don't do that, we
know." "Can anybody find him?" "I are doing our best to get all the people
don't know anything about him." out of the town." He turned away and
"Who is your commanding officer ?" used some oath. I could not exactly
"The only commanding officer we have say what it was; but so far as I could
is the Head Constable." I asked the make out it was-"I am not here to
Head Constable, (( Are you in com-
answer the questions of every damned
mand?" He said, "I believe I am. Jackanapes that chooses to address me."
I asked the Head Constable to take his I walked away. We worked away for

""

men back to the barrack. He replied-two or three hours endeavouring to get the town clear; but all the danger of a disturbance appeared over, and the best proof of the correctness of my judg ment was that this young officer agreed with me that the best thing to do was to get the police to the barrack. I hope I have not injured his chance of promotion by mentioning his name. I do believe that it was largely owing to his action that we were spared the loss of any more lives in Mitchelstown. That is all I have got to say about the case. I do not wish to use strong language about it. I think the case speaks for itself. We in Ireland have felt bitterly the cruel taunts which have been levelled at our heads by The Times newspaper. When we disperse quietly we are called cowards. We were told, when we did not lead an unarmed mul

"I cannot stir the men; I have no authority." "Where is the officer to be got?" "I do not know, Sir." Now, is not that a nice state of things? For five or ten minutes these men were drawn up on the square without an officer, some of them wounded; and all I could do was to get five or six priests, and as many people of influence as I could, to stand around them as near as possible, because the square was like a powder magazine, and one stone would have caused the police to fire. Fortunately a young officer arrived, and strayed across the square, and took command at once. I said to him-"Would it not be well to take these men to the barrack? I will give you my word that we will clear the town." "I think so," said he, and ordered them to barrack at once. That was the next stage of the proceed-titude to storm the hill of Ballycoree ings, and then we proceeded with the against the armed forces of the Crown, work of clearing the town; and then that we were cowards; we were told, the great hero of the day arrived upon because we did not lead the people up to the scene, with a cigar in his mouth, storm the barrack at Mitchelstown, that and with him arrived 60 military. The "the chivalry of Tipperary was not military at that moment marched across rallied." That is the way in which The the square. I followed them down, and Times newspaper seeks to preserve the they drew up in line, facing down the peace. I have never altered in the town, away from the barrack. For the advice which I have given to the people last 10 minutes we had been driving the in this regard, nor shall I alter it on the people down in that direction away from provocation of base and cowardly sneers the barrack, and the street was thronged like these. The people of Tipperary, with people. We had massed the when armed and disciplined, and well people down there, and the priests were ied, have shown on many a hard fought engaged in shoving them gradually field that they are slow to turn their out of the town. At that moment backs on any foe. But now, if they Seagrave appeared with a cigar in show a peaceable disposition, and dishis mouth, and with his hands in perse when called upon to do so by the his pockets. He came marching along. armed forces of the Crown, they are told I walked up to him and said-"Surely that they are cowards because they do you will not bring the troops down that not assail armed men without arms part of the town, where we have got all themselves. As I have said, notwiththe people removing out of the town?" standing this provocation of threats and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

- in the tri Cour, and then

ared bin

The or as-"Ter

e don't to get all tex He toradars

c

I could so far as I **I am th -ns of ever moses to alte

Ve worked ar endeavouring

all the dange ed over, and tness of young offwec st thing to dr barrack L is chance d ghis case argely orig spared the itchelstown y about these

se strong

the case and have ts which br eads by T we disperse ds. We ad an u e hill of F

orces of the ards; we re lead the per t Mitchelt Tipperary The way in cks to pres ever alteri e given to th shall I alter?

and cou eople of I disciplined many a fr

slow to t
But no

disposition upon to dec. Crown, the rds becase. men with have sid cation of the

the people. I venture to say without hesitation that it will be difficult to find a precedent in our Parliamentary history for the conduct which ex-Ministers of the Crown have found it to be within their power to pursue. Sir, on questions of policy the largest latitude is allowed by our Parliamentary customs to the Opposition. I acquit hon. Members below the Gangway opposite from all blame for the action they have taken in this debate. I offer this remark rather to the Front Opposition Bench, and I doubt if you can find a precedent; and if you can find a precedent, I doubt whether it will be a precedent which will commend itself to the minds of the leaders of the Opposition, for ex-Ministers of the Crown to hurry up specially to town in a demonstrative manner, in a manner calculated to excite public attention, not to oppose the Government on a question of policy,

LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL | but rather to bring to bear all the forces (Paddington, S.) Although, Mr. or their condemnation and all the weight Speaker, this Parliamentary Session of their influence on the Executive in its has been protracted beyond all pre- executive capacity. Never have I seen, cedent, and although the labours of during the 12 or 13 years that I have hon. Members have been hard beyond been in this House, and I do not supall record which our Parliamentary pose I shall ever see it again, such annals tell of, still I do not myself curious conduct as I have seen to-night regret, and I do not think that any on the part of ex-Ministers of the Crown. Member who has been present this I have seen the Leader of the Opposition evening will regret, that this debate has (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), I have seen the taken place. In the first place, it occurs right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Seto me that when any great tragedy has cretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. occurred which has moved people's John Morley), I have seen the right minds, it is well that Parliamentary de- hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby bate as to the facts of that occurrence (Sir William Harcourt), who was Home should be immediate and prompt; and, Secretary in a former Government-I in the second place, from a Party point of have seen them sitting there on that view, I can conceive nothing more satis- Bench, and although they could have no factory than that we should have had knowledge whatever of what has taken this debate, because I can imagine place at Mitchelstown they have ostennothing which is more likely to bring sibly identified themselves with every vividly before the country and to re- opinion, with regard to those occurrences, mind the country as to the nature of the which has fallen from hon. Gentlemen struggle in which the Government and below the Gangway opposite, and to the Unionist Party are engaged with such an extent has it been carried that regard to the government of Ireland- every statement of fact which has the nature of the struggle, the difficulties been made by hon. Gentlemen who have to which the Government and the Party spoken from below the Gangway has behind it had to contend with, and the received the enthusiastic applause of the unlimited resources of the opponents Leader of the Opposition. I believe with whom they have to fight. The conduct such as that to be unpreceElection which brought this Parliament dented. It may be right; but how coninto being took place upon that struggle duct such as this is to contribute to the and upon that issue, though circum- stability of the Executive Government stances of one kind and another may I fail to understand. [Interruption upon have combined to remove the sharp- the Benches below the Opposition Gangway.] ness of the impression from the mind of I listen with the utmost attention to the

VOL. 000XXI. [THIRD SERIES.]

O

insults, I shall not alter the advice I have always given to the people of Ireland; and while we in Ireland shall continue to hold our meetings in spite of Proclamations, my advice will always be to the people, when required by the forces of the Crown, to disperse without violent resistance, putting the Government to the shame of violating the law, and allow the cruel wrong of using force to disperse these meetings, not opposing force by force, but leaving the Government in the face of the democracy of England to break the law and break up these peaceable meetings-convinced as I am that by pursuing this policy we shall raise in this country such a storm of popular indignation that the hour will soon come when we in Ireland shall have the same right of public meeting which you have struggled for and persisted in maintaining in England.

remarks which hon. Gentlemen opposite | Harcourt), and, of course, I thought it address to the House, and I claim from very full of legal lore and of learning, them the same amount of patience for some of which seemed to me to be musty, myself. I say that I fail to understand but all of which would have been inhow conduct such as this upon the part teresting if Parliament had not been of ex-Ministers of the Crown, and sitting for such a length of time. Under those who, perhaps, hope to be again the circumstances, I think we might Ministers of the Crown, is to contribute have been spared the lucubrations on to the stability of the Executive Govern- the 18th century in which he indulged; ment. It seems to me that conduct such but what has struck me about this whole as this throws a lurid light upon the business very much is, that not only has wild appeals which have been made by the conduct of the Opposition been the Leader of the Opposition and his unusual, but that the Opposition have Colleagues to the Irish people to exer- made a great tactical blunder in putting cise patience in the coming crisis. We up the ex-Home Secretary to lead the have had most impressive, and, indeed, attack. If they had put up the right pathetic appeals to the Irish people from hon. Gentleman the Member for Newthat Bench opposite, not to allow the castle (Mr. John Morley), we should Government to provoke them into any certainly have listened to anything which act of resentment against the Executive fell from him with much more attention Government; but what have we to think, and respect than we listen to anything and what have the Irish people to think, which falls from the right hon. Gentleof the value of these appeals, when the man the Member for Derby. But there most ferocious, unmitigated, and un- is this to be said that it is not possible limited condemnation of the Irish police for the right hon. Gentleman the Memand of the Irish Government in this ber for Derby to make a speech about House receives the enthusiastic support law and order in Ireland which does not and the enthusiastic applause of the recall vividly to our minds speeches made Leader of the Opposition? Do hon. and by him, more forcible and more eloquent, right hon. Gentlemen opposite think in a sense diametrically opposed to that the Irish people are unacquainted that he delivered to-night, and that is with what happens in this House? On why I say the Opposition have made a the contrary, the Irish people throughout tactical blunder in putting him up to the length and breadth of Ireland are lead the attack. I remember there was better acquainted with what happens in once a gentleman who stood for a conthis House than any similar portion of stituency in the South of England as a people throughout the United Kingdom. strong Protestant Unionist, but he was What do they see? They see the whole defeated. He was anxious to get into serried ranks of ex-Ministers bustling Parliament, and a friend of his, an up to London in order to lend their Irishman, said to him-" I think I can sanction to every species of disgrace get you a seat in the South of Ireland." and abuse being poured upon the officers He said—“Oh, yes; that will do very of the law and the officers of the Crown. well;" but he said-" On what platform The right hon. Gentleman the Member shall I have to stand?" And his for Mid Lothian and his Colleagues are friend said-"Oh, as a strong Catholic apparently under the impression that Home Ruler." The gentleman who such a course of conduct and such a had been defeated said-"But won't it course of policy is likely to conduce to be rather a sudden change?" This peace and to order in Ireland. That has Irish friend said—“Oh, dear, no; there struck me very much indeed. I do not will be no difficulty in the matter as know whether it has struck hon. Mem- long as you allow a decent inbers opposite, or hon. Members on this terval to elapse." The great weakness side of the House; but I do assert, with of the right hon. Gentleman's (Sir out fear of contradiction, that conduct of William Harcourt's) position is, that he this kind on the part of ex-Ministers of has not allowed a decent interval to the Crown, whether it is right or wrong, elapse between his preaching of the is without precedent in the annals of the doctrines of Lord Sidmouth and Lord House of Commons. Now, I come to Castlereagh and his preaching of the the speech of the right hon. Gentleman principles of Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke. the Member for Derby (Sir William He now preaches the principles of Mr.

[ocr errors]

ourse. I th

re and of e

Ito meten

bent had

gth of time. I think vez he let

which beb ne about t

s that p

Oppost ie Oppositio blunder

cretary t
1 put up
Member it
[orley), wes
d to anything

uch more
listen to a
right bon b

Derby. B

at it is not

entleman t ake a sp land which inds speeche and more ically -night, sition har putting member th 10 stood fav h of Engli

ionist, but 2 nxious to

friend of 1-"I think South of E that will "On what and ?" £ a strong

li gender ad-Bu

8

change! Oh, dear, in the Ta dec he great Gentleman position is lecent intere preaching dmouth preaching & and Me prinajle

Fox and Mr. Burke; but it is only about | certain newspapers which are now cur-
12 months ago he was preaching the rent, and to some extent popular, in the
doctrines of Lord Sidmouth and Lord Metropolis, which convey their news to
Castlereagh. That is a tactical blunder, the public in paragraphs. The state-
and no amount of dialectical ingenuity ment of the hon. Gentleman did not
will do away with it in the public mind. seem to me to be altogether connected.
People cannot forget that the right hon. It was really a series of paragraphs which
Gentleman the Member for Derby was succeeded each other without much con-
the greatest exponent of the government nection as far as I could make out.
of the bayonet, and therefore for him to I put aside the statement of the hon.
act as he is now acting is either the Member for Northampton, because I
depth of audacity or of burlesque. Well, have difficulty in regarding him as
now, Sir, what I want to ask the Front altogether serious in this matter. I
Opposition Bench is this. If they have take the statement of the hon. Member
such serious accusations to bring against for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the
the Government as they have brought statement of the right hon. Gentleman
to-night, if they identify themselves the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieu-
with all the expressions which have tenant of Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour),
fallen from hon. Gentlemen below the and I find that the evidence with regard
Gangway, why have they raised no to these occurrences is terribly conflict-
definite issue in the House? Why have ing; and I say it is quite impossible for
they confined themselves merely to the House by any means whatever to
making vague and inconclusive speeches? arrive at any conclusion as to whe-
Why have they not brought their opi-ther the Executive have been right
nion to the test of the Division Lobby? or wrong in this matter-there must be
Not only have they not set up any dis- a judicial inquiry. The hon. Member
tinct issue, not only have they not ven- for Northampton stated that the matter
tured to propose to the House any would not form the subject of a judicial
definite Amendment, but I believe that inquiry, because the Government would
the House has never been called upon take no notice of the affair. When the
to discuss a more confused and indefinite Coroner's jury returns a manifestly
issue. We have two questions before ridiculous verdict, that, no doubt, is no
us. We have, in the first place, before sufficient ground for the Government
us the question of the general conduct instituting criminal proceedings against
of the Government in regard to public the persons incriminated by that verdict;
meetings in Ireland, as exemplified in but the case is different where the ver-
the case of the Ennis meeting. And, dict is not manifestly absurd. But, be-
in the second place, we have the other sides this, I believe it is in the power of
question with regard to the action of any individual to go before a Grand
the Executive at Mitchelstown, and the Jury, and prefer an indictment against
results which have flowed therefrom. any individual; and if the Grand Jury
Now, in my opinion, the House is not believe that a prima facie case has been
in a condition to decide upon the events made out, it will, in due course, go for
at Mitchelstown. We have heard several trial. I believe I am right in saying
statements upon the matter. We have that, therefore, there is no question
heard the statement of the hon. Gentle- whatever that if hon. Members wish
man the Member for East Mayo (Mr. that this matter should become the sub-
Dillon), a lucid and impressive state-ject of judicial inquiry it must so be-
ment from his point of view, which I
listened to with great attention; but we
have also heard the statement of the
Minister of the Crown, the Chief Secre-
tary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. A. J.
Balfour), also extremely lucid, most
impressive, and spoken evidently under
the sense of heavy and great Ministerial
responsibility. And then, Sir, we had
the statement of the hon. Member for
Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), which
seems to me to resemble in its nature

come, and it is only a judicial inquiry
which can determine the rights or the
wrongs of the question which has been
put before the House by the hon. Mem-
ber for East Mayo and the right hon.
Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the
Lord Lieutenant; therefore I hope the
hon. Member for East Mayo will not
think me wanting in respect for him if
I find myself quite unable to follow him
controversially through the details of
his very interesting statement. Rather

02

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »