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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 16 Oct 2012 - 21:27

Thirty-third Day of Proceedings - Wednesday January 16, 1889






Mr. William O'Brien came down to the Court very early this morning. He occupied the seat by the Solicitors' table, from which he delivered his impassioned address yesterday. He looked a trifle paler than yesterday - perhaps in anticipation of the result of the charge of contempt which was the cause of his appearance. The public showed a remarkable lack of interest in the proceedings. At half-past ten there were very few people in either of the galleries, and counsel's benches were only tenanted here and there by juniors. Five minutes later, however, the Court wore its accustomed aspect of activity, among the spectators being Prince Malcolm Khan (the Persian Minister). Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Davitt conversed very earnestly together for some minutes prior to the entrance of the Judges, the latter producing a bundle of telegrams which, in a monotone, he read to Mr. O'Brien.


Immediately on taking his seat, the President said: - I proceed to deal with the case we had before us yesterday. The Attorney-General has called our attention to the publication some time ago, in United Ireland, of an article which he invites us to deal with as contempt of Court by the publisher of the newspaper. Mr. O'Brien has conducted his defence, and he has addressed us in a perfectly becoming manner in a speech of great ability, which has certainly favourably impressed us. He says that he didn't write the article in question, but he admits his responsibility for it, and he argues that he was within his rights - identifying himself with the writer - in commenting upon the proceedings of this inquiry as he has. He said - and said more than once in the course of his speech - that this tribunal is an exceptional one, and that, therefore, as he would have us infer, these proceedings are not to be conducted, and not to be protected in the same manner as other tribunals. He says the question before us is not of a judicial character but a political one, and that he is entitled to deal with it in the manner he has. He also says the Times has continued to circulate the charges which constitute the foundation of this inquiry, and that he and those associated with him are not bound to wait until the termination of the inquiry before replying to the charges of the Times circulated throughout the country.


Dealing with these points in order, it is to be observed that the tribunal, although exceptional, is based upon the same foundation as every other Court in the Kingdom. It is constituted by Act of Parliament, and, therefore, is the creature of the law, which we are all equally bound to obey, even though we may think it harsh or unjust; and it is obvious that we must deal with the matter, as this Court is entitled to the same respect as any of the ordinary Courts. Then he says the questions before us are not judicial, but political. Let me say, most emphatically, that we have nothing to do with any political questions whatsoever. We entirely past them over, and they cannot influence our judgment. We have set before us a purely judicial question to investigate - certain definite charges which we have to inquire into. We do not allow ourselves to be influenced in any way by any political questions.


I myself must point out that this distinction between a judicial inquiry, in which we are all engaged, and the political question connected with it, indicates exactly the proper line of division between that which may be permitted and that which cannot be permitted to writers in the public Press. With the political questions they are free to deal with and comment upon, as they were before the institution of this tribunal. But the judicial questions we have before us they are not entitled to discuss in a manner calculated to prejudice the due investigation of facts.


With regard to the last argument Mr. O'Brien has put forward, that the Times has been circulating the pamphlets known as "Parnellism and Crime," it appears to me that there is a good deal of force in what Mr. O'Brien has said. The Times has continued to offer for sale - and no doubt has largely sold - the pamphlet; and I must myself say that I cannot in any way regard it as a contempt of Court on the part of Mr. O'Brien or others to say what they think or say in answer to those charges, and if that were the character of the article complained of I myself should be wholly disinclined to regard it as contempt of Court. But it is to be observed that this article does not confine itself merely to answering the charges made by the Times. It is, and purports to be, a comment upon the proceedings before us, and, above all, it contains comments upon the evidence given and the witnesses who have appeared before us.


Now, no doubt this subject of contempt of Court is an exceedingly difficult one to deal with. I will not hesitate to avow my great unwillingness to exercise the power which the Court possesses, and it is only in extreme cases that I can be brought to do so. But it must be obvious to every man, however excited he may be by passion or indignation, that a Court of Justice cannot carry on its proceedings if it is to be permitted to the persons interested in the matters of dispute to denounce the witnesses who are likely to be brought against them. It would tend to intimidate other persons from coming before the Court, and it would prevent, therefore, our having the means of arriving at a just determination of the matters submitted to us.


Now, I must say that I think that the writer of this article has exceeded anything that can be fairly allowed to persons discussing the questions before us. He begins by alluding to this inquiry as the "Forgers' Commission," but I do not take so much notice of that. Then, however, follows the sentence, "Bribery and intimidation by which the "Forger" and the Government are desperately struggling to escape from the terrible mess into which they have landed themselves." It must be obvious that no person is in a position to make such a charge as that. It must entirely depend upon the evidence that we have to receive, whether or not it will be established that the letter is a forgery, and, above all, whether the forgery can be imputed to any particular person. There is also another passage in the article which appears to me to entirely exceed the bounds of fair comment, particularly with reference to that which, in my judgment, is the most important point to be considered in this matter - viz., whether or not the writing complained of has a tendency to prevent witnesses coming forward here. One of the witnesses is described as a "tuft-hunting old Catholic clergyman - thank God there is only one such in all Ireland" - an expression, I venture to think, which would deter others, for fear of opprobrium, from attending here. For these reasons, it appears to us that it is impossible to admit that Mr. O'Brien has established that he is within his rights - if he had been the writer - in making the comments made in the course of this article.


But I have already said, believing that his expression of a desire not to say anything disrespectful of us was sincere, and as I think that there has been much force in his argument that the political questions connected with this inquiry are of such a character that they must be, and may be, fairly discussed by the public, in the course of which a writer may unintentionally overstep the bounds between that which is permitted and that which is not permitted, the result is that in this case we have thought it necessary not to impose upon Mr. O'Brien any punishment. But we prefer, for reasons which appear to us to have weight, to remit any punishment in the case, having laid down the rules which we think ought to govern public writers, and which we trust Mr. O'Brien and others will accept for their conduct in the future.


If either he or anyone else, after this expression, should give cause for us to consider his conduct, it will, of course, be impossible to treat the matter as we are treating this. We are well aware that our motives in pursuing the course we have proposed to adopt may be subject to misconstruction by one side and the other, but we must act upon our convictions, and I am satisfied that the paramount duty we have before us is in the interests of all parties concerned - the persons accused and the Times, the counsel, ourselves, and the public - it is, I say, our paramount duty to bring this inquiry to a conclusion as satisfactorily as possible, and with as little friction as possible. And therefore I, with my colleagues, have come to a conclusion which, I hope, will save us from having our time consumed with matters of this kind in the future, and that, as far as possible, angry feeling will be excluded from the proceedings of this Court.
Mr. O'Brien rose from his seat by the side of Mr. Davitt, and bowed courteously to the Judges.


Iago, the witness from Killoo, in Longford, who was under examination when the Court rose last night, again entered the witness-box. He was cross-examined by Sir Charles Russell, who informed the Court that they had learned something of him since last night by telegraph. It will be recollected Iago stated that he gave a man a "stroke" while driving home, because he had taken an evicted farm, that the man died four days later, and that the crime was instigated by the Land League, of which he (Iago) was a member. Today, Sir Charles elicited from Iago that he was the only person who struck the deceased, and that the police never apprehended or prosecuted him. He denied that he had been for years in direct communication with the police, but admitted that he had been imprisoned for assault.


"Have you any means of support?" asked Sir Charles Russell.
"I have," answered the witness, somewhat proudly. "I have two and a-half acres of land."
"How much a year?"
"Och, shure, it's 14s. a year rint." (Laughter.) The witness, continuing, said he had not boasted that he had plenty of money. He only received 5 pounds from Mr. Bolton - none from the police. Witness did not expect the police to be kind to him when they put him in prison. The Relieving Officer and two publicans were mentioned by Iago as men who would give him a good character.
By Mr. Reid - Witness was sworn in by a secret society.
Mr. Reid - Was that before you murdered Hoolagan? - Yes. All the members of the Land League Committee were not members of this secret society. The meetings were held in a stable close to a chapel. Before I received the money from Hart I gave people "strokes" - not with an instrument, but with my hands.


Mr. Reid - What was the reason you came over here to give evidence? Was it as repentance for having murdered Hoolagan?
Witness - It was to keep my head out of the halter. (Laughter.)
By Sir Charles Russell - The stable near the chapel, where the secret meetings took place, belonged to the priest. Witness did not think that the priest knew of the arrangements made for the murder of Hoolagan, otherwise witness thought the priest would have stopped it.
In answer to Mr. Davitt, Iago said he had neither received money nor drink from the police. The police had fined him for "being a little intoxicated with liquor." (Laughter.) He paid the fines.
Mr. Davitt - Did you ever strike for a reduction? (Laughter.)
Witness - No, I did not. The police came to my house sometimes to look for arms. I was suspected of burning Campbell's house, and was prosecuted for it. I got a week in jail, and (with emphasis) - they couldn't find me guilty. (Laughter.)
Mr. Davitt - Did you burn Campbell's house?
Witness - No; and they couldn't find me guilty. (Laughter.)


Iago then left the witness-box, and was succeeded by Patrick Delaney. He is a powerfully-built fellow, and when asked by the Attorney-General where he came from, he replied, "From Maryborough Prison, Queen's County, at present." He also said he was 36 years of age. About the year 1875 he joined a Fenian Society at Dublin. He was sworn to take up arms at a moment's notice to establish the independence of Ireland. He was also sworn to obey his superior officers. He continued a member of that organisation until he was arrested in 1882. The leaders of the organisation were Patrick Egan, J. Macallister, John Leary, and J. Donovan. They were called the Executive Council.


Do you remember delegates coming from a council in America about 1879? - Yes; John O'Connor came from Cork, General Millen and Derry came from America. Edward Hanlon also came at that time.
Do you know whether John O'Connor has been a Member of Parliament? - He might have been after 1882, but I don't think he was before.
Can you describe his appearance? - He was tall, had a fresh complexion, light hair, and sandy moustache. Delaney went on to say that O'Connor always went by the name of "Dr. Kenealy." The Council used to meet at Dublin; and amongst others who used to meet together were James and Joe Millet, Daniel Delaney, James Carey, and James Elmore. Devoy came, representing the Council in America; and Millen came to inspect the military organisation. The meeting he particularly mentioned was one held in 1879 in the Forresters' Hall, in Dublin.


At this period a little scene occurred between the President and Sir Charles Russell. The former could not understand the answer of the witness; the Attorney-General offered to repeat it.
Sir Charles Russell objected to that course.
The Attorney-General - Sir Charles doesn't seem to trust me.
The President - I assure you I trust you, and would have accepted your interpretation; but the shorthand writer had better read it. It is very unnecessary.
Sir Charles Russell - My lord, I must protest; I will not be put upon. I think it is necessary, and I do most strongly deprecate such expressions from the Bench.
The President - Very well; if you make the explanation, I accept it.
Sir Charles Russell - But I ought not to be expected to explain.
The disputed answer was then read by the shorthand writer, and the matter dropped.


Delaney proceeded to refer to other meetings of the council which he attended, and also to meetings of the "Centres."
Was there anyone besides "Centres"? - Yes.
What were they? - They were called "Bees."
Were you a "Bee"? - Yes.
Was you brother in either of the "circles"? - Yes, he was a "Centre." Millen once inspected the branch of our organisation, and when the meeting of the Council was being held I watched about round the hall. Delaney went on to describe the feud which existed between two parties - the Stephenites and the party working under the organisation in America in 1878 and 1879. In the latter year a meeting of the Land League supporters was held in the Rotunda Hall in Dublin at which he believed Mr. Biggar, Mr. Egan, Mr. Matt Harris, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. Thomas Brennan were present. He and each of the members of the circles under the American movement received orders to attend, and support an amendment proposed by a man named Hanlon.


After that meeting did any orders come to you respecting the Land League? - Yes. Not to give it any opposition, but to support it.
Did you ever become a "Centre"? - Yes, about 1882. Before that I was often told off to watch outside of Mullett's public-house when a meeting was being held, and to prevent anyone surprising the meeting. I knew that P.J. Sheridan often attended those meetings, and was told he was one of the Supreme Council, working under the American party, and was an organiser of the Land League in the South of Ireland. The League at that time was represented as being intended to organise the country, and the Fenians, with arms and money, would do the rest.
That, Delaney explained, was told him by the "Centre" who was his superior officer.
Did you ever see Sheridan in any disguise? - I did. I saw him in the disguise of a Roman Catholic clergyman at the end of 1880.
Where? - Going from the Angel Hotel, in Dublin.
After Sheridan was arrested, continued the witness, P.N. Fitzgerald attended the meetings of Centres, travelling about Ireland on behalf of the organisation.


The Attorney-General - You have mentioned the name of Matt Harris. When did you know him?
Witness: In 1876.
Was he connected with the Fenian organisation? - He was one of the Centres in County Galway.
Further questioned, the witness said that at Byrne's Hotel, Dollymount, near Dublin, a meeting of all the Centres of the Fenian organisations was held in 1878 or 1879. Mr. Matt Harris was there. Mr. Harris was then a slater by trade. "I didn't know him then as a Member of Parliament," added the witness.
When did you first hear of any Invincibles? - The latter end of 1881. I was an Invincible with James Mullett, James Carey, Daniel Delaney, Joseph Brady, Michael Fagan, Patrick Molloy, Lawrence Hanlon, Joseph Hanlon, Patrick Egan, Thomas Brennan, P.J. Sheridan, and Francis Byrne.
They were all Invincibles? - Invincibles.


Anyone else? - A person who went by the name of "No. 1." I heard he was Tynan. Then there were James Bolan, John Walsh (from the North of England), and the two Boytons. Boyton gave orders to Brady as an Invincible. Patrick Molloy was about 5ft. 5in., of fair complexion. He was a law clerk of some description. I knew him in 1882. He was then about 22 years of age. He was one of the persons "watching" Judge Lawson - pointed him out in the forecourt. That was when I was arrested. Molloy was sub-centre of the Fenian organisation, and Fagan, who was hung for the Phoenix-park murder, was the Centre. Frank Byrne was a member of the Fenian organisation in Ireland, and was Secretary of the Land League in London. Tynan was about 5ft. 6in., and wore large spectacles. I never saw him without his spectacles. He always went disguised - you never saw him twice in the same dress.
Did you know Boyton? - Yes; Boyton pointed out Burke to Brady in Phoenix Park. All the men I have named were Invincibles connected with the American organisation.
What was the difference between the American Party and the Stephenite Party? - One was governed by a council, and the other by Stephens himself.
Have you seen Matthew Harris very often? - I had seen him in Ballinasloe in 1876. I had also seen him in the Land League rooms in Sackville-street, Dublin. I had seen him, too, talking to James Carey and Daniel Curley. It was he who swore Curley into the Fenian organisation.
Were you there? - No; but Curley told me so himself.


Witness continuing, said the "Invincible" organisation was started in 1881. Witness was sworn into that body by his brother. P.J. Sheridan, John Walsh, M'Cafferty, and "No. 1" were the committee who introduced the society into the country, and another committee was formed in Dublin. James Carey, Curley, and E. M'Cafferty were members of the committee. The Invincible oath was different from that of the Fenian body. They were sworn to assassinate the Executive Council in Ireland at the time - namely, the Lord-Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, and other obnoxious officials.


Do you know where they got their money from? - From the Land League. They had several hundred pounds from them. It was given into the hands of Joseph Mullett, Daniel Delaney, James Carey, and J. Brady, by Patrick Egan at the end of 1881.


Frank Byrne's wife (proceeded the witness) brought some Martini-Henry rifles, some revolvers, and knives. He (witness) was set to watch Mr. Forster, the Chief Secretary, after that. He got his orders from his brother and other members of the Council.


Subsequently he was told to watch for, and assassinate, Mr. Forster in Brunswick-street. He watched, but the intended victim did not come. Pat Molloy was one of the persons selected to carry out the orders of the Invincibles. Mr. Anderson, the Crown Solicitor, was also fixed upon as a person who was to be killed, and Molloy was one of those chosen to carry it out, because he was a law clerk, and knew Mr. Anderson. Shortly after that he received orders about the assassination of Mr. Burke, the Under-Secretary. "We were told to meet at King's-bridge, and assassinate a gentleman, but he didn't come."
Had you any part in the Phoenix-park murders? - No.
How was that? - I was not told to, and I didn't know until the murder had taken place. I was taken by force into Phoenix Park.
Where were you at the time of the murder? - Close by.
What were you doing? - Watching.
On the ground? - Yes.
What communications were made to you about the murder? - The first orders I got were to meet at King's Bridge. I was then fetched from work by Timothy Kelly and the carman Kavanagh.
Where were you taken to? - To the public-house in James-street, and thence to Phoenix Park.


Do you remember anything about the knives? - Yes. James Carey had the knives hidden in a dispensary he was rebuilding. He was afraid of being found out, and asked me to take them to Brady, with instructions to destroy them.
Did you take them? - Yes. They were the same as Mrs. Byrne brought over.
What did you do with the knives? - They were destroyed in my presence. I saw Brady break the handles and burn them and the knives.
After that, continued Delaney, "No. 1" attended a meeting at which a committee was formed. One of the meetings was attended by Byrne, who brought with him a large amount of notes and gold, which was given to the funds of the Invincibles.


In 1882 orders were given about Judge Lawson, and at one of the meetings of the committee Brady "went in" for the assassination of some of the police and Detective Department, and declared also that "he would go in for the murder of Spencer." Byrne, who was at the same meeting, declared that the order would have to come from Egan, and they could not act without that order. After that meeting more revolvers and knives were conveyed to the committee. Of the party deputed to assassinate Judge Lawson he was one. It also included Pat Molloy, who pointed the Judge out as he left the Law Courts.
The Attorney-General - You were arrested? - Yes. Judge Lawson was under protection of four men. I had a pistol in my possession. I "plucked a man by the arm" - one of those guarding Judge Lawson - to warn him, and it was then I was knocked down. I did not want to see the Judge assassinated. James Mullett and James Brady were there. I knew John M'Carthy at Loughrea. He belonged to the Land League. I was introduced to him and another at a public-house. M'Carthy said he wanted some arms to go to Loughrea, as there was "some work to be done." I took M'Carthy to a Centres' meeting, but could not get him in. P.N. Fitzgerald, who was there, said the arms should be at Loughrea in a few days.


Did you know anything of Cork-hill? - Yes, a house was to have been taken there in order to assassinate Earl Cowper as he came out of the Castle gates. Cork-hill looks over the Castle. The house could not be got. That was in 1881.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


On resuming, after luncheon, the examination of Delaney was continued. In reply to the Attorney-General, he said he remembered seeing Matt Harris at the O'Malley's funeral. He also saw him conversing with members of the Fenian organisation. He remembered James Carey standing as a candidate for the Corporation of Dublin in the autumn of 1881. Egan urged this course upon him, and said he would pay all expenses.
Will you tell me what Carey said about Egan?
Sir Charles Russell objected to the question, but the Attorney-General said he was quite prepared to connect the matter with Egan.
Sir Charles remarked that the Attorney-General had already made several promises.
"And they have not been broken," said Sir Richard. - "But," retorted Sir Charles, "they have not been fulfilled." (Laughter.)
Sir Richard Webster, however, was allowed to put the question; and Delaney said that Carey told him that Egan had assured him that the reason he wished him to stand for the Corporation was that he wished one of the principal Invincibles to be Lord Mayor of Dublin.


The Attorney-General then handed several letters to the witness. He stated they were signed in the handwriting of Patrick Egan. They were dated from Paris. In a letter dated the 9th of November, 1881, addressed to "My dear James," and signed by Patrick Egan. The writer declared his satisfaction that Carey was standing for the Corporation. He also expressed his willingness to pay 30 pounds towards the expenses, and hoped that "miserable creature John Burns" would be defeated. The writer also advised Carey not to say much in reply, as his letter was liable to be opened. He also advised him not to give his name or address, but simply sign himself "I." In another letter, dated the 27th of November, 1881, and also addressed to "My dear Thomas," the writer said he could scarcely say how sincerely he wished Carey success. A letter, dated 20th of December, 1881, was addressed "City Bakery," Dublin, and was addressed to "My dear Mr. Carey." The witness said that Egan had a place of business in Dublin which was known as "The City Bakery."


Another letter was dated February, 1881, and was written from Paris. It said, "Mr. Parnell is here. I have spoken to him about a further advance to the "A Fund." He has no objection. You may count upon it. I have spoken to other friends here and to "I.O." They think prompt action is necessary." This letter was signed "P. Egan," and witness said it was that of Mr. Patrick Egan. Yet another letter. This was also signed by "P. Egan," and informed the recipient that the writer had had a conversation with Mr. Parnell about the advance, but Mr. Parnell regretted that he could not manage the matter just now, as funds were low. Another letter - still bearing the signature of "P. Egan" - informed the recipient that "his presence in the West was urgently asked for, as the thing must be done promptly. A further letter referred to the fact that there was an enclosure of 50 pounds, and another, addressed to Mr. J. Carey, asked "When will you get to work, and return us value for our money."
Sir Charles Russell pointed out that there was no objection to three of the letters, which were considered genuine.
The President - Am I to infer that there is a doubt as to the others.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Wednesday January 16, 1889, pp. 2-3

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