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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 23 Oct 2012 - 22:15

Thirty-sixth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, January 22, 1889



The public manifested a little more interest in the proceedings when the Court resumed this morning than had been noticeable during last week. There were numerous spectators, ladies being in the ascendant, in the galleries and in the Jury-box. Captain Plunkett is still hovering about the aisles leading to the well of the Court, although he was disposed of - so far as his evidence is concerned - on Friday.


Sir C. Russell, directly the Judges took their seats, mentioned the application Mr. Reid made on Friday with reference to the contents' bill of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, which, it will be recollected, contained these words: "The League's murder ring. Full confession in open Court." Sir Charles observed that since Mr. Reid's application a paragraph had appeared in the Telegraph, which, he understood, was owned by Sir W. Christopher Lang, in which he stated that this bill was issued, without his authority, and expressed his disapproval of it. Under the circumstances, Sir Charles said he would not renew the application made by Mr. Reid, but would merely express the hope that the Court would make known its opinion of such comments.
The President replied that he was pleased to hear of Sir Charles's decision. He emphasised the remarks he made when deciding the case of Mr. O'Brien, observing that he again appealed to journalists, if they were capable of being appealed to, to refrain from criticising the proceedings of the Court, and to leave the Commission to discharge its arduous duties without being called upon, from time to time, to settle these difficult and unpleasant matters.


The old, old story told be land agents from different parts of Ireland, who have appeared in the witness-box during the past few days, was repeated by Mr. Halham George Stoddart, an agent in the County Clare. It amounted to this - No crime, no outrage, no disorder, prior to the formation of the League; discontent, disorder, outrages of various descriptions, afterwards. Mr. Stoddart gave no incidents, except to mention that he himself was shot in the latter part of the year 1881, but he very emphatically asserted - and adhered to it in cross-examination - that prior to the establishment of the League outrages never followed evictions.


Sir Charles Russell's cross-examination was directed to ascertaining particulars connected with the tenancies on estates under Mr. Stoddart's control. Referring particularly to the estate of Mr. Hector Vandeleur, Sir Charles read statistics showing the fluctuations in the rentals between 1873 and 1880. In one case, where the rent had been 13 pounds 16s., it was increased in 1873 to 22 pounds; in another, where it was 32 pounds, in 1873 it was increased to 42 pounds; and in another, where it was 12 pounds 10s., in 1873 it was increased to 18 pounds; in fact, there was a general rise all over the estate in 1873.
Mr. Davitt, testing Mr. Stoddart's statement as to the non-existence of crime prior to the formation of the League, related various murders and outrages which occurred in Tipperary and Clare in 1870, some of which Mr. Stoddart admitted hearing of.


Patrick J. Farragher, a thick-set, intelligent-looking man, who was originally a Mayo farmer, described his eviction at the latter end of 1879 for non-payment of rent. He spoke to a meeting being held near his farm at Aughamore about six months before that, at which Mr. Davitt and J.W. Walsh spoke, and the tenants were told to "hold out until they got a reduction of rent," and Mr. Blake, the agent of the estate, was denounced. Mr. Blake, by the way, shortly afterwards resigned. After the meeting Farragher had a conversation with Messrs. Davitt and Walsh, in the course of which, said he, they both told him to hold out for, and not pay unless he got, a reduction, promising that if he were evicted they would "see him all right," Walsh especially saying that, in the event of eviction, he would give him a position in the Land League, if he did nothing else. After eviction he went to Dublin and saw Mr. Davitt, Mr. Brennan, Mr. Walsh, and Mr. J.P. Quinn in the Land League rooms, each of whom he asked for employment. He was eight or nine months in Dublin walking about doing nothing, and in the result he was employed in the Land League Rooms - the Law Department - at Upper Sackville-street, at 1 pound per week. This was increased to 25s., and subsequently to 30s. per week. The work in the department consisted of dealing with writs sent up from the country, taking the circumstances of the case, the names of the defendants, and sending instructions back to where they came from.


Were cheques sometimes sent also? - Certainly. He had seen Patrick Egan at the rooms as treasurer, and Brennan as secretary, Dr. Kenny and Mr. Arthur O'Connor, who was in charge of the whole department for a time. He also remembered persons named Harrison, Pearson, Phillips, and O'Donoghue being employed at the offices. Several Members of Parliament attended the meetings of the Executive, of which Mr. John Fergusson, of Glasgow, was the chairman, and which were usually held at night, or perhaps two nights, before the general meeting. When in the service of the League, Farragher used frequently to convey messages for Egan.
Have you ever taken letters from the League room to James Mullett's public-house? - I have.
By whom were they given you? - By Mr. Egan.
And to whom were they directed? - To Mullett, at 4, Dorset-street.
Is that where the public house is? - Where it was.
And have you given them to Mullett? - Yes.
Were they ever in Egan's handwriting? - Certainly; and I have seen Mullett open these letters.
Have they or have they not sometimes contained money? - They have.
In what shape was the money? - Cheques. I can't say how often I have seen this sort of thing going on, but very often.
Can you give me about the date, while you were at Sackville-street, that you took letters to Mullett? - I remember taking one to him in July, 1881.


Have you ever seen the cheques open - so as to know their value? - No.
Were you in the habit of going to Mullett's public-house apart from the purpose of carrying messages? - Yes.
Have you seen Egan at the public-house? - Yes.
How often have you seen Egan in the company of James Mullett? - Ten or twelve times.
At the public-house? - Yes, and I have seen them in the street together.
When you first went to Dublin did you go to him with a man named Weldon? - I did.
Was he the man who had been tried for firing at a man named Young and killing him at Castlereagh? - Yes. He was acquitted.
Was Weldon known as a Fenian? - He was.
And was he considered an important man? - Well, he was a very nice fellow; that is all I know about it.


Have you seen Weldon with Egan at Mullett's public-house? - Yes.
And have you heard their conversation? - Yes.
From that conversation, can you say whether there was any particular object in those three men meeting? - I do not know. About Christmas, 1881, Weldon went to Manchester, but before going he showed Farragher a cheque on the Hibernian Bank, which he cashed before starting.
Do you remember ever having seen Mullett, Egan, and Weldon together at Weldon's public-house? - Yes, I have seen them go into the room behind the bar together.
Farragher went on to say that the Ladies' Land League took possession of the room the night the "suspects" under Mr. Forster's Act went to jail. They catered for the "suspects," and paid moneys away, the principal movers being Miss Parnell, Mrs. Maloney, Miss Stritch, and Miss Nally. Farragher further said that P.W. Nally was a frequent visitor at the League rooms.


Did Nally, of your knowledge, ever receive money from the League?
Sir Charles Russell submitted that the question was not admissible. The question, he said, ought to be, "Did you see any money pass?"
The President refused to interfere with the course pursued by counsel, whereupon Sir Henry James observed, "Quite so. It's a form of question that has become sanctified by use." (Laughter.) The question was then directed to Farragher, who declared that he had never seen or known, as a matter of fact, that Nally received money from the League, but added that Nally had made a statement to the effect that he had been paid by the League.
A discussion arose here as to the admissibility of evidence as against Nally, who, Sir Charles Russell pointed out, was now in prison serving a term of imprisonment. However, the Court ruled that the evidence was admissible, as it was proved Nally had taken part in the combination, although generally regarded as exercising no ______.
Sir Charles Russell informed the Court that a mistake in fact had been made. The evidence in dispute was not as to "Scrab" Nally, but Patrick Nally.
The President - We still think the evidence is admissible as pertaining to both the Nallys.
Farragher, in further examination, spoke of Michael Kelly being paid, first of all, for his services as a clerk in the Dublin office, and subsequently as an organiser.
You remember the Phoenix Park murders. Do you remember whether Egan left Dublin before or after that? - It is a public fact that he did after.
Did you ever see him again in Mullett's public-house after the murder? - I don't think so.


Did you know a man named Joseph Poole who was executed for a murder in Dublin? - I did.
Did you ever see him in Dublin? - Yes. I saw him coming out of the Land League rooms in Sackville-street, where he showed me some money, about 50 pounds in notes, and told me where he got it. After the suppression of the League (continued Farragher) I knew of several meetings at the Imperial Hotel, Members of Parliament usually being there. Some of the books and letters of the League were removed, when the League was suppressed, to the house of Mr. Pearson, who was a clerk, and to that of Mr. Maloney.


Did you know James Carey? - Not by that name.
Did you know the person called James Carey? - I did.
By what name? - I can't remember.
Have you ever seen him at Mullett's public-house? - Yes.
Seldom, or often? - Five or six times, if not more often.
Mr. Justice Smith - Why can't you remember the name? - It is so long ago.
Was it an assumed name? - Yes.
One word, or two? - One.
Sir Henry James produced various documents, the handwriting of which Farragher said he recognised. The first read was a letter written by Mr. William Dorris, a clerk in the employ of the League, promising "5 pounds towards the expenses of the prisoners at the Quarter Sessions at Galway"; a second, which was dated at the latter end of 1881, and addressed to Castletown, regretted that notice of a certain trial was so short that counsel could not be sent, and enclosed a form asking that the expenses might be set out in it and returned.


On the conclusion of the evidence of Farragher, the question was raised by Sir Charles Russell as to whether evidence as to P.W. Nally was admissible, he contending that Nally was not associated with the Land League.
The Attorney-General, however, read the evidence of witnesses given in the earlier part of the proceedings, in the course of which it was distinctly said that P.W. Nally was, with other gentlemen, interested in the Land League in various districts in Ireland. The evidence of Sergeant Feeley was especially emphasised, it being to the effect that P.W. Nally, "Scrab" Nally, and another headed a Land League procession.
Mr. Asquith replied, contending that the only evidence they had of the connection between the League and P.W. Nally was his presence at the head of the procession, and on a League platform.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.
Upon resuming, the President said he and his colleagues were not at present prepared to admit the evidence incriminating Mr. P.W. Nally.


Sir Charles Russell next asked that they should have a printed copy of the entire list of documents taken from the Land League offices, presumably in some surreptitious and improper way. There seemed to be at least sixty-nine of these documents.
The Attorney-General objected to the language used by Sir Charles Russell. Their Lordships would, he said, hear in the course of this case how the documents came into the possession of Mr. Soames. As a matter of fact, they were documents which came into his possession in connection with the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter." They were placed in a box, and were privileged and protected documents. All of them had not yet been put in.
The President said he thought the time had come when these documents should be inspected by Sir Charles and his colleagues. This ruling, however, did not apply to documents which had come into the possession of the Times counsel since this case has been proceeding.


Farragher's cross-examination was resumed. He stated that, until the 3rd of January, he was master of the Ballinrobe Workhouse. He was then, however, called upon to resign, because of the "continual bickerings" going on there. Four charges were made against him. The first was that of immorality; the second, using insulting language to the matron, and immorality - out of which he got, and the third, for not making his rounds regularly, and drunkenness. He did not "get out" of the latter. He declared that he was never "spoken to" about giving evidence at the Commission, but the matter rose inadvertently in the course of a conversation at Ballinrobe, in the presence of a police-constable. "What was the next he heard of the conversation?" Well, he was subpoenaed. He couldn't say by whom, but he thought it was by a "black man" - (laughter) - a "black-whiskered man" he meant.
Pressed very severely by Sir Charles, Farragher at length declared that he could give no indication as to how long he was in the employ of the League, and he positively refused to swear that he was so employed there a year. He adhered to the statement that Thomas Brennan engaged him, and asserted that Patrick Egan was frequently at the Land League rooms, and after he left for Paris he returned often, and visited the offices of the League. As to Mullett, Farragher said he at one time looked upon him as a respectable man.


Were you ever a member of a secret society? - I was.
What society? - The Fenian; but I took no part in its working, and was sworn in when quite a young man, in 1867.
Further pressed as to the letters he conveyed from Egan to Mullett, he said he was sure he took "more than two, more than three, more than four, more than five, more than six, more than seven," but he couldn't say that he took eight. (Laughter.) Neither could he say whether Mr. Egan lived only a few yards away from Mullett's house or not.
In reply to further questions, witness said, so far as he knew Mr. T. Harrington held no position in the Land League.


Mr. Davitt then questioned the witness. Do you say that both Walsh and I told you not to pay rent? - I do.
Your memory is very clear upon that point? - It is, because it affected me very much.
Did you not represent to us that you could not pay your rent? - No, I did not.
Sir Henry James then questioned witness as to the return of Patrick Egan after the suppression of the League in 1881. As witness could not remember the date on which he saw Egan in Dublin, Sir Henry read an extract from United Ireland of October 8th, 1881, stating that Patrick Egan had returned from Paris, and had visited the suspects at Kilmainham. Witness could not remember that occasion.
The Court then adjourned.


The brief of the Attorney-General in the Special Commission case is said to be marked "fifteen hundred guineas," and then there are, of course, "refreshers"; but it is not at all likely (so the London Correspondent of the Manchester Guardian opines) that the distinguished counsel on either side rejoice in the lengthy proceedings which detain them for so long a time from customary and general practice. The first account which is now being made up for the estimate to be presented to Parliament will, it is believed, amount to more than 3,000 pounds, the heaviest item being for shorthand writers, who are, it is understood, to be paid from the vote of Parliament, as the advantage of the report so provided is assumed to be of equal benefit to both sides. It does not appear likely that the vote will have any concern with the cost of witnesses or of counsel.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday January 22, 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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