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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 18 Oct 2012 - 21:18

Thirty-fourth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, January 17, 1889




The opening today was very tame. There were barely two dozen people in the body of the Court, excluding counsel engaged in the case, when the Judges arrived. Gallery spectators were also very few, notwithstanding the possibility of further sensational avowals being made by Delaney, the "life-convict." The latter, who, it may be incidentally mentioned, does not appear in convict garb, took his stand in the witness-box directly the Court opened. He has undergone the fire of Sir Charles Russell's cross-examination. Today an equally severe ordeal will have to be gone through in his cross-examination by Mr. Reid, Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Michael Davitt, and Mr. Biggar. Sir Charles Russell was not present at the opening of the Court.


Mr. Reid, with the preface that he "had a few questions to ask Delaney," rose and addressed himself to that individual. "You said," he observed, "you had seen Boyton giving an order to Brady as an Invincible. When was that?" - It was in Guiness's-gate, on the Quay, in July, 1882.
What was the order? - Boyton, pointing out Mr. Burke, who was passing, said, "That's the man." That was all he said. I have never seen Boyton since. It was Brady who told me that the man was Boyton.


Mr. Reid questioned Delaney concerning the letter which Mr. Shannon brought him while in prison, stating that he might speak to him with confidence. "Who was the letter signed by?" he asked. Witness said he did not know, but he objected to any one visiting him in prison. He thought Mr. Shannon was a Government official, as he did not think anyone who was not a Government official would be allowed to enter the prison.


Mr. Davitt then rose, and elicited from Delaney that while in London he was living in a prison, and not in an hotel.
Are you well treated? - No.
Are you badly treated? - Well, no; I don't look like a man who has been ill-treated. Delaney went on to say that while in Maryborough Prison he was engaged as a carpenter. He did not work with the other prisoners, but alone, in charge of a warder named Montgomery. He assured Mr. Davitt that he had had no conversation with the warder except upon the prison rules. He didn't mean the "prison rules in general," but anything that occurred in the jail, though it was a breach of his duty to say whether anything occurred there.
Now, tell me, has he ever spoken to you about this Commission? - Never.
Will you swear that? - I will.
Did the news never percolate through the prison walls? - Never. I don't even know how my wife and children are, though my wife writes to me every two months.
Delaney went on to say that Mr. Shannon, who took his statement in the prison cell, told him he was "authorised as a Crown solicitor to do such work." He told Mr. Davitt he saw him in the Mechanics' Institute, soon after Mr. Davitt's release from jail, at a meeting to which no one but members of the Fenian organisation were admitted, but he could not give the date or any indication as to when this alleged meeting took place.


It was a feature of Delaney's cross-examination, noted by the learned counsel more than once, that he could remember no dates. This fact at last drew from Mr. Davitt the remark, "You seem to have paid little attention to dates, but you wish to appear accurate about other matters."
"Ah, Sir," replied Delaney, "I never kept the dates in my mind, for I didn't expect to be placed in the position I am now in."
About the meeting in the Rotunda in Dublin at which Delaney said he saw Mr. Davitt with several Fenians early in 1880, Mr. Davitt very severely cross-examined him. He read the resolution which Delaney said Mr. Davitt particularly wished passed at that meeting, and about which there was a dispute. This resolution protested against Nationalists trying to secure the road to independence for Ireland by associating with "ex-convicts" and "renegades." "Is that not opposed to me," asked Mr. Davitt; but Delaney declined to give an opinion, or to say that he had ever heard that after the meeting four Fenians went to Mr. Davitt's lodgings with revolvers.


Referring to James Carey, Delaney said that man knew more about the Fenian organisation than he did, but he knew a great deal "to his grief." He regarded himself as one of Carey's dupes. "Yes," he said sorrowfully, "Carey made his dupes do the work he wouldn't do himself, and to my grief he was willing to sacrifice them to secure his own safety. Why, he was the only man who identified me."


Returning again to what Delaney says was the effect of the meeting in the Rotunda - a cessation of hostilities by the Fenians to the Land League - Mr. Davitt asked whether he had not heard that meetings were constantly attacked and broken up. "Not after the meeting," replied Delaney, who added that he had never heard Mr. Davitt was denounced in the organs of the Fenian organisation.


This closed the cross-examination, much to the astonishment of those who had watched the course of the examination. The Attorney-General re-examined Delaney on several points. Referring to Egan, Delaney said - and he made use of a very remarkable word - the "cleverality" of Egan's escape" was a matter of comment among the members of the Fenian organisation. Up to 1879 the Fenians were very poor, and the "Centres" had to pledge their watches to send delegates to a meeting in Paris.


Everybody at this point expected that some other link was about to be added to the lengthy chain of sensation already drawn around the case by the Times counsel. The Attorney-General looked carefully at a photograph he held in his hand, and then handed it to Delaney, who examined it very carefully. At the bottom of the card was a piece of paper, entirely covering the space where the name usually appears. "You mustn't remove that paper," said the Attorney-General, and Delaney looked up a moment afterwards, and exclaimed with a smile, "That's the man known as 'No. 1.'" Thus the hopes of something sensational were not realised, but the photograph was handed down to Mr. Reid, from him to Mr. Biggar, from him again to Mr. Davitt, and then to the Judges, who, on the advice of the Attorney-General, removed the paper at the foot, the inscription there revealing who "No. 1" is.
Delaney, in further re-examination, told the Attorney-General that he remembered seeing Mr. Davitt and two men, named Chambers and O'Brien, at a Fenian meeting, at the Mechanics' Institute. These two men had formerly been in the British Army. They had been imprisoned, and were released at the same time as Mr. Davitt, and witness thought it was a meeting for congratulating them on their release. Macarthy had also been in the British Army. He was released at the same time as the others. He died shortly after regaining his liberty.
In answer to Mr. Davitt, Delaney said he could not recollect whether it was a meeting in connection with Macarthy's funeral. He, however, denied that it was a public meeting.


This concluded Delaney's re-examination. Having left the box, a land agent took his place. This was Mr. Reginald Digby, agent to Lord Digby, who has property both in King's County and Queen's County. He said that in 1879 reductions ranging from 10 to 20 per cent, were given to tenants. That year they paid their rents willingly, but in the following year the land agitation was started, and then he could not get them to pay their rent. Many of them, while expressing their willingness to do so, refused to pay because of the fear of the consequences.
Mr. Murphy read a number of letters which the witness received from tenants, and in which they expressed their desire to pay, but stated that they were afraid to do so.


Mr. George Hewson next appeared in the witness-box. He was agent on estates in Limerick, Clare, Cork, Sligo, Donegal, and Kildare.
Mr. Atkinson read the several letters the witness had received from tenants on Major Malony's estate in Clare. Some of the letters contained money for rent, but the majority stated that the tenants were afraid to pay, although anxious to do so. Early in 1882, about twenty-six of the tenants were evicted. Some afterwards went to live in Land League huts, near those from which they were evicted.
Questioned as to the condition of tenants' houses in Gweedore, the witness said they were so dirty he should not like to live in them. "Nor more would you, I should think," he added to his questioner.
"I have lived in one of them," retorted Mr. Davitt. "I was born in such a place." Mr. Hewson added a definition of Whiteboyism. "Whiteboys were, he said, "sort of clans who visited other clans that were hostile to them."


Mr. Lockwood here mentioned the fact that Delaney had mentioned the name John O'Connor in the course of his evidence. He wished to say Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., was perfectly willing to be confronted by Delaney, as he denied that he was the gentleman referred to.
The Attorney-General said he had no instructions to say one way or the other. If no further evidence than this were given, he would not suggest it was Mr. John O'Connor, M.P.
The Court at this juncture adjourned for luncheon.


On the Court resuming after luncheon, the Attorney-General said he would now hand in a series of documents called the "Matthew Harris papers." They were principally copies of letters to and from Matthew Harris. Mr. Harris had been subpoenaed to produce the original letters, but they had not been forthcoming. Mr. Lockwood, however, had agreed to accept the copies in place of the originals. The first letter which the Attorney-General read was addressed to Charles Kickham. In it Mr. Harris recommended Kickham to call a convention, and also a great public meeting, as he thought the time had arrived for "speaking out."
Mr. Arthur O'Connor here interrupted, and said the letters were taken from Mr. Harris some time ago by Government officials. They then copied the letters, after which they were returned. Mr. Harris, having no further use for them, burned them, and was not now in a position to dispute the accuracy of the copies.
The Attorney-General then read a letter from Mr. John O'Leary, dated 30th June, 1879. Another letter was read from Mr. Davitt to Mr. Harris. One, dated 28th January, 1880, was from Michael Sullivan, the then Secretary of the Irish Land League. This gentleman declared he was surrounded by a set of very narrow-minded men, though honest and earnest. He also stated that Egan, Davitt, and Brennan were working together, and were displeased with the letter which he (Sullivan) had written. No person knew what they were about; they were all for themselves. Another letter purported to have been written by Mr. John Dillon to Mr. Harris. He said the state of Mayo required serious consideration. Only an organiser of great skill and judgment could do much good there, and he (Mr. Dillon) had no good organiser at liberty at that time. A letter from Mr. Davitt, dated February, 1880, was next read. He told Mr. Harris he would send him 10 pounds or 15 pounds privately for the defence of "these poor fellows to whom Mr. Harris had alluded." Mr. Davitt complained of being in ill-health, and stated that Brennan and himself had to bear the whole burden of the Land League movement. He said he was day and night occupied with the land and distress movement; and yet if anything went wrong he was charged with being indifferent.
The Attorney-General then read from Mr. Harris's diary a number of dates on which that gentleman had received sums of money ranging from 10 pounds to 20 pounds from Mr. Egan.


The Attorney-General then read a letter written by T. Brennan to Matthew Harris while he was in Kilmainham Jail. In that letter Brennan said, as he was not allowed to address Mr. Harris on political subjects, he would write to him about a little sporting matter in which they were both interested. He had learned how badly the dog, which their friends had so much relied on, but which they so mistrusted, had turned out. From the way the whole kennel had turned out it would be better to dissolve partnership with their friends over the water. The dog they sent over to win in France, the letter continued, was no better than the rest of them. He was as weak as possible, and not able to run.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Thursday January 17, 1889, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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