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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 25 Sep 2012 - 0:05

Twentieth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, November 27, 1888



The Commission resumed its proceedings today. There were very few spectators in Court when the Judges took their seats, but the galleries were, as usual, very crowded. Mr. Davitt and Mr. Biggar were the only Irish leaders present before the commencement of the proceedings. It was anticipated by those in Court that Mr. E. Harrington, M.P., would be arrested if he put in an appearance; but the hon. Member was in his usual place at 10:30 a.m. On inquiry, it was stated the warrant issued against him on the previous day in Ireland had not yet arrived.

The counsel for the Times are the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Sir Henry James, Q.C., Mr. W. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. W. Graham, of the English Bar, with Mr. J. Atkinson, Q.C., and Mr. Ronan, of the Irish Bar. The counsel for the Irish Members are Sir Charles Russell, Q.C., Mr. Asquith, Mr. R.T. Reid, Q.C., Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., Mr. Lionel Hart, Mr. Arthur Russell, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and Mr. Harrington. Mr. P.A. Chance is represented by Mr. Hammond, solicitor, and Mr. Biggar, M.P., and Mr. Michael Davitt, appear personally.

Today's proceedings opened with an intimation from Sir Charles Russell that a further application he had to make with reference to the discovery of documents would be postponed until later in the day, in deference to the wishes of Sir Henry James; who added that the Attorney-General would be present during the day.


A brief interval, during which two ushers were sent in search of a witness; and then Sergeant Gilhooly, of the R.I.C., a stocky, muscular man, with a very neatly trimmed Napoleon moustache, entered the box. He entered the force in 1874, when he was stationed at Casteisland, and the object of his evidence seemed to be to show that in 1880 there was an increase in the police force in the district. Gilhooly had made a few remarks upon this point when
Sir Charles Russell protested against the way in which the case was being extended by such a course. He admitted, he said, that there was an increase in crime - undoubtedly there was, for it was a record. But he must protest against going into the particulars as to the increase of the police, which entailed great expense, and especially upon those whom he represented, and wasted the time of the Court also.
Sir Henry James replied, contending that the object was to show the result of the agitation.
Mr. Reid supplemented Sir Charles Russell's remarks by observing that the particulars had already been given, but Sir Henry James declared that that was not so, in the way in which he was about to show.
The discussion had proceeded some few minutes when the President observed - amidst laughter - "I have been trying for some time to get in a word, but counsel seem to stand in the way."
Sir Charles Russell - I hope, my Lord, you do not think I am standing in the way, or reflect upon me in that remark.
The President - No, not at all. The learned President went on to declare that in his opinion Sir Henry James was traversing needless ground, and the point was not proceeded with.


Gilhooly's examination was resumed, but again Sir Henry James was pulled up by Sir Charles Russell on exactly the same point, this eliciting from the President, in rather petulant tones, the remark, "I have already expressed my opinion on the point, Sir Henry."
The increase of the police was not again alluded to. Gilhooly merely deposed to certain outrages in the district, and declared that men who were connected with them were seen to attend meetings of the League, and that crime increased after the agitation in connection with the Land League commenced in 1880.


Sir Charles Russell, in cross-examination, obtained from Gilhooly the statement that he kept an "outrage book."
"I call for that book, then," was Sir Charles's reply.
Sir Henry James rose. He had an objection to make. It will be remembered that on Friday some sort of a guarantee was given that the book would be produced today. But Sir Henry, who first of all objected to the term "outrage book," now represented that he was given to understand there were reasons why those who had charge of the book would not agree to its production. It was a book which not only contained records of outrages, but various documents of a confidential nature, which it would be very unwise to produce in public.
Sir Charles Russell, however, was not content to take that statement merely, as he said, on the instructions given to his learned friend, and should press for the production of the book. He declared that it was not he who styled the book the "outrage book" - an expression in which the Court agreed - and went on to say that the persons engaged in getting up the case for the Times had had access to the book; and if he was not allowed a similar privilege, then his clients would not be able to thoroughly meet the case.
Mr. Reid again rose, and submitted that, unless the book were produced, the other side would be guilty of a breach of faith.
Sir Henry James explained that his clients did not object to the production of the book, but the objection was taken by an official who had charge of it.


After very carefully considering the point with his colleagues for about five minutes, the President settled their dispute. He said the objection must be taken by the official when the book was produced, and the Court would then decide the matter. They thought that no substantial objection would be taken to the disclosure of all the cases therein recorded, including the remarks under the heading of "motives." He quite understood that there might be matters it would be desirable not to make public, and they might be examined by Sir Henry James, who could call in Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Reid.
Sir Charles Russell (to the witness) - Now, I call for the outrage book.
Gilhooly - I haven't got it, Sir.
Sir Charles Russell - Where is it, then?
Gilhooly - It isn't here, Sir.
Sir Charles Russell - Very well. (To the Commissioners): I ask that the cross-examination of the witness may be adjourned till the production of the book.
The President - Very well.


District Inspector Davis, who was stationed at Castleisland from 1880 to 1887, was the next witness. He deposed to attending various meetings held in the locality in the earlier part of his residence there.
Here arose another of those sharp passages between Sir Henry James, Sir Charles Russell, and Mr. Reid. The former gentleman was again accused of going over already covered ground, by asking what was said at a meeting of the Land League, at Knocknabull, about Mr. Arthur Herbert, who was murdered.
Considerable conversation took place on the point, and ultimately it was shown that the speeches had been read some days, or, as Mr. Justice Smith put it, "weeks ago."


Davis proceeded to say, after the Knocknabull meeting Mr. Herbert showed him a letter bearing the signature of Timothy Horan, the secretary of the League. He took a copy of the letter, and after Mr. Herbert's death he searched amongst his papers, having obtained permission, but failed to find the original of the letter.
Sir Charles Russell said that if the witness could swear he knew the handwriting of Horan, they would admit the letter if Sir Henry would promise to produce the original.
Sir Henry James replied that he believed they would be able to produce the original. The letter was then read. It set forth that the writer, Timothy Horan, was directed to draw Mr. Herbert's attention to certain statements made against him at the last meeting of the League by Eugene Connor, with reference to his farms at Barongheil and Gurnbeig, and that it was resolved that he should be asked to attend at the next meeting of the League.


Davis then went on to give evidence with regard to certain outrages that occurred in the district in 1880, 1881, 1882, and 1883, which Sergeant Huggins was unable to prove. Those outrages, which included "moonlighting," intimidation, and maiming cattle, were, witness asserted, committed on tenants who had paid their rent. One man, however, was threatened with death if he did not allow a hut to be erected on his property for an evicted tenant. Patrick O'Brien was also threatened with death if he continued to supply the police with provisions. Another notice which was posted up in the district threatened any farmer with death if he worked for a landlord who did not give him half an acre of land. In another notice 300 pound reward was offered to anyone giving information of persons paying their rent, and 500 pounds to any person who would shoot a bailiff. A notice was posted up on March 17, 1882, threatening with death those who did not vote for the Land League candidates for Guardians.

"OUTRAGES" - 1884-85-86-87.

In 1884, continued the witness, fifty-one outrages were reported, but only forty-one were recorded. Out of that number there were forty-seven cases in which no prosecution took place. These forty-seven took the shape of threatening letters. There were eighty-six outrages in 1885, of which seventy-seven were recorded. There were only ten prosecutions and two convictions. In 1886 there were ninety outrages, of which seventy-six were recorded. There were eighteen prosecutions, and eleven convictions. Only twenty-six outrages were reported in 1887, of which twenty-five were recorded. There were six prosecutions, and two convictions. Witness added that he had been in the police force for thirty-five years, but until 1880 he had never known such a practice as "moonlighting."


Sir Henry James then handed a letter to Inspector Davis, who recognised the handwriting as that of Timothy Horan. Sir Henry then read the letter. It was dated "Irish National Land League Branch Office, Castleisland, September 20, 1881." It was addressed to Mr. T.P. Quinn, and read as follows: - "Dear Sir, - I beg to direct your attention to a matter of a private character which I mentioned to you at the Dublin Convention. The fact is that one of the men from a shock lost the use of his eye. It cost him 4 pounds to go to Cork for medical assistance. Another man received a wound in the thigh, and was laid up for a month. No one knows the patients but the doctor and myself, and the members of the Society. I may inform you, that the same parties cannot afford to suffer again. If it was a public affair, a subscription list would have been opened at once for them, as they proved to be heroes. One other man escaped, but he got his jaw grazed. Hoping you will see your way to making them a grant, and send it through me or the Rev. John Hallan, C.C., (Signed), TIMOTHY HORAN." On the back of the letter was endorsed "6 pounds. 10-17-81. J.F."


Mr. Asquith conducted Davis's cross-examination. This is the first time he has taken such a prominent part in the proceedings since the Commission has been sitting. Davis declared that Mr. Herbert was not unpopular at any time. He asserted that Mr. Herbert never told the police to fire upon the people at Curran's, but he ordered a baton charge, owing to the fact that two factions engaged in a fight turned upon the police when they interfered, and attacked them in a body. With regard to the National League Branch at Castleisland, he admitted that it was not a particularly strong one. Davis further said that he gave evidence before Lord Cowper's Commission in 1886, and had recently purchased a copy of it. He admitted that before the Commission he said there was really only one branch of the National League in working order in the Castleisland district, and that the others seldom or never met, but explained that that answer referred to that period only.
To what class do the moonlighters belong? - They are composed of farmers' sons and other men.
Do you think that is an organisation? - Yes, I do.
A secretly organised body? - Yes.


Do they go by any particular name amongst the people? - They are known as "Moonlighters" and "Night Boys," which are synonymous terms, I believe.
When did you first become acquainted with these organisations? - In 1882.
How was this? - By reason of the inquiries I made as to how such a large district could become in such a state of disorder in such a little while.
What did you discover? - I found that in the Land League there was an inner circle, who organised the Fenians of the district into the Land League police, to carry out the behests of the League. I told that to the Cowper Commission, but it was not published.


How was that? - I refused to state it at first, and I was brought into the room after the reporters had left. I was informed by a certain person that this was the case.
Who is that person? - I refuse to give the name. My informant stated the central organisation was in Dublin. I have seen someone in Castleisland who was from the League in Dublin, and who was organising in Castleisland in 1881.
What was his name? - Boyton.
Mr. Reid - Give me the name of your informant? - I will not.
I press you for it? - Well, I appeal to my Lords.
Mr. Justice Smith - I always thought that a constable was not bound to give the source of his information.
Mr. Reid and Sir Charles Russell both submitted that this was totally different from the ordinary procedure; but after a few remarks from the President - who ruled that it would be better for the witness's objection to be made in a more formal way - Mr. Reid said he would defer the question till a later period.


When did you get this information? - In the early part of 1882.
Was the person who gave you it in the pay of the police? - He was not.
Was he a member of the Land League? - He was.
Did he purport to have ever taken part in the organisation of crime?
Sir Henry James again objected, observing that he was afraid Mr. Reid was on the track.
The President, however, ruled that the question was in order.
Mr. Reid (to the witness) - Did this man say that he had taken part in this inner circle? - He did.
Did he say that he had taken part in any crime? - No.
Did he say that he was an organiser of the crimes? - No, but he led me to infer that he knew all about it.
Did he give you any documents? - No, he did not.


Have you any other evidence of this statement that you can give my Lords? - I have another informant of the same class.
He was tarred with the same brush. Now, beyond what you say these two men have said to you, have you any evidence that you can lay before this Court? - No; not as to the disorganised state of the district.
Are these persons capable of being called as witnesses? - One is; but the other is not accessible.
Did you see either of those men after 1882? - Yes. One of them I did not meet until 1886. His statement was confined to the National League. That was the man who was available to give evidence.


Being questioned by Mr. Reid as to the causes of crime, witness said that private spite and family quarrels were undoubtedly a fruitful cause of outrage in Kerry. Inspector Davis, however, asserted that he only knew of two secret societies in Kerry. They were the "Fenians" and the "Moonlighters."
"Do you not know that Kerry is absolutely honeycombed with secret societies?" asked Mr. Reid. - I am not aware of it.
Mr. Reid then read extracts from a speech made by Mr. Riordan on the 5th of June, 1881, at a meeting which preceded the murder of Mr. Arthur Herbert, and which, it was contended, was the cause of the murder. In that speech Mr. Riordan certainly spoke strongly of Mr. Arthur Herbert. He then went on to say, "Let no one do him the slightest injury, nor offer him insult. The man who would do so would be the greatest enemy we have. I ask you also to tell everyone you meet not to do him the slightest injury, or in any way insult him." Mr. Riordan then called upon the people to put down those miserable outrages which was their shame and their disgrace."
Mr. Davitt then read portions of a speech which he made at Castleisland, in which he denounced crime, and asked the people to stamp out these abominable outrages, which degraded the Irish character in the estimation of mankind. Witness said that was a very fair report of the speech.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


On the Court resuming, Sir Charles Russell renewed his application with reference to "discovered documents," on an affidavit by Mr. Lewis.


This affidavit was to the effect that Messrs. Lewis and Lewis wrote to Messrs. Soames and Co., stating that, in addition to seven letters, which were purported to be signed by Mr. Parnell, and which were alleged to be forgeries, and seven letters, purporting to be signed by Patrick Egan, and which were also alleged to be forgeries, they had received information, which they believed to be true, that there were in the possession of defendants in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter and another," was in the possession of their solicitors, two letters purporting to be signed by Mr. Davitt and Mr. O'Kelly, which had been delivered to them by the same persons who had delivered the letters purported to be signed by Mr. Parnell and Mr. Egan. Messrs. Lewis, therefore, asked whether it was correct that those letters were in the possession of Messrs. Soames and Co.


This question Messrs. Soames refused to answer; but in his affidavit Mr. Soames said he had no letter purporting to be signed by Mr. O'Kelly since the 12th of October last. He further stated that he deposited in a box, amongst others, the letters which, it was alleged, he had possession of, and which purported to be signed by Mr. O'Kelly and Mr. Davitt. Those documents had been placed in the box, said Sir Charles, apparently in such a way - he would not say it was done intentionally - that Mr. Davitt's letter and Mr. O'Kelly's letter, both of which were alleged to be forgeries, had escaped their Lordships' observation. He, therefore, asked for a further affidavit of documents.
The President pointed out that their Lordships had seen the letter purported to be signed by Mr. Davitt, together with several others which were admitted to be Mr. Davitt's, and which were detained for the purpose of comparison, and they had directed that Mr. Davitt's letters should be shown to Sir Charles.
Sir Charles then made a similar application with regard to the letter which purported to have been signed by Mr. O'Kelly. Mr. Soames, by not denying it in his affidavit, practically admitted Sir Charles's contention that he had it in his possession.


The Attorney-General pointed out that Messrs. Lewis and Lewis, after stating that they had received information which they believed to be true, that those letters were in the possession of Mr. Soames, suggested, without any prima facie evidence, that the letter purporting to be signed by Mr. O'Kelly was a forgery. He further suggested that it was an attempt on the part of Messrs. Lewis and Lewis to obtain further information with regard to the Times case than they were entitled to. With regard to the placing of the two letters alleged to be forgeries, the Attorney-General argued that all the letters that were placed in a box were labelled, so that their Lordships could see what they were. There was, he contended, no attempt at concealment of any of the documents. If their Lordships did not see the letter, he was perfectly willing that it should be submitted to their notice, and, if they decided it was a document Mr. O'Kelly ought to see, that he should see it. He contended that, upon such grounds as those stated by the other side, there was no precedent or principle for a further affidavit of documents.


Mr. Justice Smith - Do you ask for a further affidavit of documents, Sir Charles?
Sir Charles Russell - We don't care at all. All we want is to see the document.
The President - Very well. We will take time to consider the matter, and will take care to see the document.


District-Inspector Davis was thereupon recalled, and cross-examined by Sir Charles Russell. He said that he had made no charges upon any information he received with reference to the "inner circle" of the Land League. So far as his own knowledge as a police officer went, he was not aware that Boyton was in the Castleisland district, except on one occasion, and that was at a meeting.


Sir Henry James here put in an article in the Kerry Sentinel with reference to the murder of Mr. Herbert. In the course of the article it was stated that, in addition to Mr. Herbert's unpopularity, he had incurred the displeasure of the Land League, and added that his death was due to his foolhardy bravery and his repulsive championship of the interests of a class with which his interests were not very great. The learned counsel also read extracts from a speech made by a man named Riordan, at a meeting of the Land League, in which Mr. Herbert was denounced, being styled a "village tyrant," upon whom they would keep their eye, and whose "course of licentious disorder" they would endeavour to stop in that district.
Did you know of any means other than those of the Land League police, to which you have referred, by which the League could carry out their decrees? - No. I knew people in Castleisland who were pointed out to me as Fenians.
Were they or were they not known to you as Land Leaguers? - They were.
Mr. Reid again produced a file of the Kerry Sentinel, especially reading extracts from an article dealing with the murder of Mr. Herbert, which was referred to as a "horror," a human life having been "foully and brutally taken."


Sergeant Gilhooly was recalled, and produced the "outrage book," about which there was so long a wrangle this morning. This book contained entries upon innumerable and varied subjects from the breaking of the window of a dispensary, and the destruction of medicine bottles, with the "theft" of a cow, which Sir Henry James, amidst considerable laughter, said was found straying a day later.
When Sir Charles Russell came to cross-examine Gilhooly, the latter made the admission that the book he had now produced was not that that was kept at Castleisland in 1880, and the whereabouts of which he was ignorant of. Gilhooly told Sir Charles also that he was subpoenaed to attend the Court as long ago as last June by Mr. Bolton, a Crown official in Ireland. He had not, he said, given his evidence to anyone; but he had "made a statement" before coming to the Court.


Are they not a very poor class of people in Kerry? - They are, indeed.
Living on potatoes? - Yes.
And meat on Christmas Day? - Yes; and other days, too. You often see meat hanging up in their kitchens.
Yes; playing the part of "potatoes and point," I suppose? (Laughter.) - Well, I could not say.
Gilhooly was further cross-examined as to whether certain men who were convicted of outrages were members of the Land League. He could give no positive evidence on this point. All he could say was that he had seen these particular persons attend a meeting of the League on certain Sundays, and he refused to swear whether a man named Crowley, one of their number, was secretary of the Scartaglen branch of the League.
The Court then adjourned.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday November 27, 1888, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
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