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words, appears to me to convey his final, speeches of hon. Members and their impression. He did not arrive at any declared policy, taken in conjunction decision as to whether the Government with what happened afterwards at the were right or wrong in proolaiming the meeting, show that the Government Ennis meeting. Is that his view ? Bo- were justified in the action which they cause, if so, having stated an opinion, in took. My right hon. Friend the Chief a few minutes afterwards he proceeded Secretary has called attention to the to say that he had formed noopinion what- banners and emblems which were there ever
. (Mr. W.E. GLADSTONE dissented.] unfurled. The right hon. Gentleman I have not caught the exact meaning the the Member for Derby is aware, from right hon. Gentleman intended to con- what the Chief Secretary said, that the vey; but I have quoted him accurately, only meeting which was proclaimed by Does the right hon. Gentleman the late Lord Spencer under the ordinary law Home Secretary think that the state of was the meeting on the 24th of Nothe neighbourhood in which a meeting vember, 1883, to celebrate the memory is to be held is a legitimate matter for of the three Manchester martyrs. Does the Government to consider at all? Does the right hon. Gentleman and the late it enter into the question ? I say that it Prime Minister think that that celebradoes. It is a vital matter to consider tion was of an innocent character and what is the state of the place where the design? Would they have gone to it meeting is to be held. Does the right themselves? Have their opinions so far hon. Gentleman say, after what the changed that they would like to take Chief Secretary has told the House to- part in a meeting which was proclaimed night, that the state of Clare was satis- by Lord Spencer under the ordinary factory; that there was no intimidation law? Was Lord Spencer acting in a or danger to life; and that it was a place spirit of legality in 1883? And if it where inflammatory speeches inciting to was illegal in 1883, is it more legal to violations of the law might be made eulogize those martyrs at meetings in with impunity? That is a matter which | 1887? There have been circumstances must have escaped his attention. Again, which tend to show that if these meet. I may ask, is it or is it not material, in ings had not been proclaimed the considering whether a meeting ought to language used at them would have been be proclaimed, to take into account the de- of a violent character. Stones were clared intentions of some of the speakers thrown, and it was necessary for the and their fixed policy. The hon. Member police to make a movement before the for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has declared stone throwing was discontinued. Later that he would continue to pursue the on in the evening the police were utsame policy of intimidation that tacked in the town with bricks and system of Boycotting and oppression bottles, and some people were arrested which has brought so much misery to in consequence. I do not think it the people of Ireland. The hon. Mem- possible to doubt, having regard to the ber who was recently elected for one of disturbed state of Clare, to the emthe divisions of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) blems displayed in the town, to the made a speech a short time ago in which very large assemblage of persons, and he advised, that if the Government sup- to all the circumstances of the case, pressed the meetings and branches of that it would have been very wrong for the National League in any country, the Government not to interfere. What the members of these branches should would have been the alternative policy ? hold their meetings with closed doors. Were the Government to wait until the (Cries of “Hear, hear!” from Irish meeting had been held, and then to Members]
Hon. Members below the bring the people into collision with the Gangway applaud and approve of that police, the result of which would have sentiment. Is it not a distinct violation been a serious catastrophe ? One of the of the law? If there are powers con- stronger arguments for the Proclamatained in an Act of Parliament, is it not tion of the meeting is that, with the a distinct incitement to a violation of facts before us, we are able to say that the law, whether hon. Gentlemen may the dangers with which the peaceful like them or not, to say that the inhabitants of Clare were menaced have person who violates such powers is free been averted without disaster and withfrom moral blame? I say that the out bloodshed. It is not necessary for me to refer, in greater detail, to what the right hon. Gentleman referred to occurred at the Ennis meeting. I many matters as to which he intimated submit to the judgment of the House that he had a strong leaning of opinion that the Government acted well within which was not in favour of the action their constitutional rights in proclaiming of the Irish Constabulary. He said that the meeting, and that they would have the police had wantonly forced their way abandoned their constitutitional duty if through the crowd, that there was no they had failed to proclaim it. I sub. breach of the peace before, and that it was mit that the grounds of constitutional only by their own foolhardiness that the law upon which we relied are the same unfortunate collision was brought about. as were relied on by the right hon. Gen- Now, that appears to me to be a strong tleman's Government, and that it is only and a very dangerous prejudging of the to-pight that they were discovered by vital part of the case. In the first place, the right hon. Member for Derby to lhe condemned the Government for acting be entirely fallacious and wrong. I do on the reports of their own responsible not see how old letters are to outweigh officials-[An lon. MEMBER: The police.] the constitutional grounds of action, or --instead of newspapers. The right hon. to overule decided cases.
Gentleman proceeded to advance a proSir WILLIAM HARCOURT: De-position very alarming, very dangerous cided cases !
to the administration of the law in Ire. MR. PARNELL: What are the de. land, and in complete departure from cided cases?
and contradiction to everything done in MR. SPEAKER: Order, order! Ireland by his own Executive. Nobody
MR. GIBSON: Is it to be suggested ever, until this debate, thought that any now that the opinions which have again Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench and again been given as to the power of would have questioned the right of the the Executive to proclaim meetings, Government to have a police reporter repeated deliberately in this House - is present to take a note of the speeches it to be tolerated, for one moment, that made when the Government considered those opinions which were given as to it necessary for the public safety. Nor the power of the Executive are to be did the right hon. Gentleman discover disavowed without one word of expla- before that it was an unwarrantable and nation by the right hon. Gentleman who impertinent intrusion on the part of the was a party to all the Proclamations ? I police to make their way into a public now pass from the Eanis Proclamation meeting. The right hon. Gentleman to the second matter referred to by the made his speech with a full knowledge right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. of the circumstances which surrounded Gentleman, I suppose, intends to prac- the Mitchelstown meeting. The night tice what he preaches. He commenced before the meeting the hon. Member for his observations about the Mitchelstown North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) anoccurrence by lamenting what he deems nounced that he would not obey the the reckless defence of the police, which order of the Court to attend his trial. my right hon Friend the Chief Secre- Advertisements had been inserted in tary made. He said that my right hon. United Ireland calling on the different Friend, in his responsible; position, ought branches of the League to go and hold to have held the scales evenly, and ought an indignation meeting under the walls not to have indicated any opinion what of the Court House to testify the opi. ever, but to have reserved the matter nion of the people as to the course the for future inquiry. But what are the Crown was taking. Accordingly, 3,000 facts ? The right hon. Gentleman must or 4.000 men did muster on tho day of recollect that we were pressed again and the trial io pursuance of those advertiseagain in this House for official informa- ments, and there were among them some tion; and when we gave it, we were of the gentlemen who were present on the told that it came from a tainted source. preceding night, when the hon. Member I say that my right hon. Friend would for North-East Cork definitely declared not have discharged his duty if, believing that he would disobey the order of the the official testimony he had received to Court, and who had gone down to attend be true, he had not indicated that belief the meeting. It is in a meeting of that to the House, especially when that offi- character, composed of men coming from cial testimony was so fiercely assailed. strange counties, armed with bludgeons, and, as described by The Freeman's Journal, ! Mr PARNELL: He has no right to with a force of mounted cavalry, that the disturb the meeting.
, was the meanthe first time, as to the propriety of pro- ing of the words of the right hon. Memtecting the police reporter in the crowd. ber for DerbyThe right hon. Gentleman the Member
“If it were necessary, in the interests of law for Derby seems to have learned some and order, to send note-takers to public meetings new law, and to have forgotten some old in England, it would bo dono as it is in the caso law. As long ago as the 29th of March, of Ireland ?" 1891, the right hon. Gentleman said- Did that mean that a crowd of 4,000
"If it were necessary in the interests of law persons was to punch the police reporter and order, to send note-takers to public meet- in the ribs if they liked, to knock him ings in England, it would be done as it is in about, and to keep him out? I regret the case of Ireland.”—(3 Hansard, (260) 152.)
that the right hon. Gentleman should Does the right hon. Gentleman believe have made a speech which appears to that the law he then statel was correct contradict the previous legal speeches or not; or has he since learned that it delivered by Members of his own Miniswas erroneous ? Now, what is neces
try, and also opposed to the invariablo sary in the interests of law and order ? practice in Ireland. The right hon. GenWho is to decide what are the interests tleman having intimated that the police of law and order ? Is it the persons reporter was a man to be resisted with present at the meeting; or is it the re- impunity, that he had brought the sponsible Government? Assuredly the attack upon himself, in desiring to take right hon. Gentleman will not pretend notes against the wish of the meeting, to convey that it is competent for per- proceeded to state that there were quessons to hold meetings in a public street, tious affecting the action of the police in or a public thoroughfare, under such regard to which he had grave doubts. circumstances, and not competent for The right hon. Gentleman asked, in one the guardians of public order to have part of his speech-" Where were tho a reporter present to take cognizance heads of the police ?” I think it would of what is going on, in order to give be inconvenient and undesirable, and in evidence afterwards. Yet that is the that I yield to the suggestion of the great point of the right hon. Gentle. right hơn. Gentleman the late Home Se
The right hon. Gentleman's pro- cretary, if I was to go into any detail as position is that a public meeting may be to the circumstances of the Mitchelstown held, as it was in Mitchelstown, with an The circumstances have been reenormous force of men, who, as was ferred to already, in general terms by afterwards shown, were prepared to re- my right hon. Friend the Chief Secresort to extreme measures, and that it is tary. Th-re are, however, some minor by the mere permission and indulgence points to which I may refer, because it of the speakers, and the crowd of people appears to me they do not necessarily present, that the police reporter can be involve any undue assumption as to the there at all.
circumstances of the cash. Sme obserMR. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.
vations have been made as to the time MR. GIBSON: The right hon. Gen. at which the disturbance took place. tleman has forgotten his speech. Ho Captain Seagrave, the Resident Magis. was perfectly dialectic in his reasoning. trate, thought that as the business of the He stated that it was a matter of pru. Court was over, that there would be no dence for the Executive Government; l disturbance, and I believe he went to but he distinctly added that they had no Mr. Eatou's, Tue whole matter lusted a right.
very short time, and Captain Seagrave MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: I said did not appear in the street, I believe, that the reporter, like everybody else, I until the whole matter was at an end. had a right to attend a meeting to which Responsible officers of the police, the everybody was invited.
County Inspector and the District InMR. GIBSON : He distinctly stated spector, were there, and it is upon their that the police reporter had no greater testimony that my riglit hon. Friend has rights than the men in the crowd, made his statement tonight. It is, I though he is ordered to attend the think, better for me not to go into any meeting.
detail under the circumstances. I con
fess I think my right hon. Friend could evening. Suppose the trial had actually not have done less than he has done in been going on. Suppose a jury had stating for the information of the House, actually been deciding the case, could it the information he had himself received, have been tolerated that this great mass and of the accuracy of which he had of men should have been brought into certainly satisfied himself. My right the town? Could it be tolerated that hon. Friend would have done less than the police reporter who attempted to his duty, after the fierce attacks made take a note of what was going on should upon the police, if he had not stated be treated as an impertinent intruder, the information which he relied upon, who might be kicked, hustled, and and which influenced his judgment. beaten ? One of the most remarkable The right hon. Member for Derby, points in the matter, I am sorry to say following in the same direction as the is that the police reporter, a sergeant of late Prime Minister, has stated that the police, was a man who gave evidence only same meetings would continue to be held shortly before. Another man, Constable in Ireland.
Leahy, also received serious injuries. It MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: I did not is easy for hon. Members in this House bay so.
to talk about the public right of meetMR. GIBSON: That is the statement ing, but when regard is had to what of the late Home Secretary at any rate. happened at Mitchelstown, and to what Am I to understand that that is a state- may occur elsewhere, hon. Gentlemen ment with which the right hon. Gentle- should be careful in their language with man opposite agrees ?
respect to the Executive responsibility. MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: Pray do Our position is not made easier for us not understand anything about it. I by the language used here by great said nothing about it, and I have no statesmon to-night. In circumstances thing to say.
of great danger surrounded by peril, we MR. GIBSON: The right hon. Gen- shall endeavour to do our duty to the tleman observes an attitude of judicious loyal people of Ireland, and to carry out caution, and, in my opinion, he is acting the proper administration of the law. with great wisdom. If the late Home MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.): I rise, Secretary will take my advice, having Sir, for the purpose of stating to the regard to the bloody scenes enacted at House the facts of which I was an eyeMitchelstown, the fearful injuries in- witness at Mitchelstown on Friday last; flicted upon the police, and to what may and although I partly recognize the happen elsewhere he will take a like very great importance of the questions
involved in the suppression of the meetSIR WILLIAM HARCOURT: It is ing at Ennis, and would gladly say someimportant that what I said should not thing on that matter, the proceedings at be misunderstood. I said that I hoped Mitchelstown have become of such vast the people of Ireland would continue importance, and have so excited public their claim to hold meetings, and if the interest, I think I had better confine my. Government chose unconditionally to selfto describing whatoccurred there. And suppress them, I hoped they would not now, Sir, I would first ask this question. be forcibly resisted.
We have heard from the Chief SecreMR. GIBSON : I think there is much tary and the Attorney General denungreater elasticity in the later form of ciations as to the impropriety of hold. the right hon. Gentleman's expression, ing a meeting at Mitchelstown that day. but I am willing to take the right hon. What I want to ask the officers of the Gentleman's later statement. The cir- Government is this—Do they consider cumstances of the meeting at Mitchels- that it was wrong to hold a meeting at town were, as I have said, of a very Mitchelstown on that day; and, if so, serious nature. It is impossible to deny in view of the declarations which they that it was dangerous for the adminis. have made as regards the power of the tration of publio justice to hold a meet- Executive Government in Ireland to ing of 3,000 or 4,000 persons within proclaim and prohibit any meeting in sight of the Court House on the day that Ireland which they considered dangerous the trial might have taken place there. and improper, why did thoy not proThe right hon. Gentlenian must see that, claim and prohibit the meeting at and indeed, it was admitted the other Mitchelstown that day? They had
experience of the meeting in Ennis, and, which wo did-I say, if the authorities what was their experience as they allowed that to be done while the Court boasted here to-day? That the meet- was sitting, how on earth could it be ing, when ordered to disperse, did dis- supposed that any objection would perse peacefully. We have been sneered bo held or taken to our holding a at because the people dispersed at Ennis meeting in the square at Mitchelspeacefully; that is the reward we get. town two hours after the Court rose ? The Times newspaper called us cowards And now let me draw the attention of because we did not storm the hill at the House to this circumstance. I Ballyooree, but dispersed peacefully. I heard in astonishment, for the first have always said that I intended to time, where the Special Resident Magis. assert the right of public meeting in trate was the magistrate in comIreland; but I shall always advise the mand of the whole of the forces at people not to be made silly by the miser- Mitchelstown-I heard just now where able taunts of The Times newspaper, but he was. We bought for him and could to yield to force, when the force is not find him anywhere, and nobody exercised, although illegally; and it know where he was. Where was he the meeting had been prohibited at when the row commenced? When the Mitchelstown, my advice to the people Court rose, although he knew a meeting would have been to hold no meeting, was to be held in about two hours, he, or to hold it outside the town where no thinking no disturbance could possibly disturbance could have arisen. The arise, having seen the whole of our meeting was not prohibited; and what people march past him in procession, occurred ? We started from the town and seen the very peaceful attitude of of Cahir in company with a number of the people, with secret information in English people in several carriages, and his possession, and considering from the when we reached within one mile of state of the town that no tumult could Mitchelstown we met a multitude of possibly arise, he went to see Mr. Eaton. people and the local managers of the Of course, he went to have
glass of demonstration. The first question I punch and some social enjoyment with asked of the gentleman who had charge the Resident Magistrate of the town, of the proceedings at Mitchelstown was, and they were shut up enjoying themif the authorities had prohibited the selves when the row commenced. I will meeting. And his reply was—"No ; leave the House to digest this circumwe have already been allowed to parade stance. What was the next step which through the town while the trial was oocurred? We proceeded to the town going on. We passed in procession by of Mitchelstown with this procession, the Court House, and a police officer which was a very fine one, and we came out and said, 'I will not allow the passed through the square and by the bands to play while passing here, lest it Court House. The police were stationed should interfere with the proceedings.' at the corners; but, Sir, nobody uttered We ordered the bands to cease playing, an insulting word to the police, nor did and passed by the Court House in any angry word pass between them and silence, and on these conditions the the mass of the people.
We passed police were withdrawn, and we were through the square and went round the allowed to proceed with our procession." town, and came back again after about That was the statement made to me a half an hour. Now comes the next mile outside Mitchelstown. “In that question I want to put to the Governcase," I said, “ you will be allowed to ment. Why, in the case of this meethold a meeting ?” “Certainly; so Iing, of which they had full notice, did understand," the gentleman replied. they depart from the universal practice, What I say is this—if the authorities in as I know perfectly well has been the the town, with their full military and universal practice in Ireland with regard police force at their back, allowed a to the Government reporters ? What is procession of something like 8,000 that practice? A hon. Gentleman, whose people to pass by the Court House with experience of Irish politics is not so great out remonstrance, and with approval— as mine, stood up and made a silly obbecause they actually entered into an servation. He said—" Are the officers agreement to withdraw the police, on to submit to the humiliation of asking condition that we silenced our bands, the promoters of the meeting for accom