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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 13 Nov 2012 - 17:28

Forty-ninth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, February 13, 1889



"We are not going back upon the Irish part of the case," Sir Henry James explained, as Mr. Thos. Boyd, a solicitor and land-agent in the county Tipperary, a stout, grey-haired old gentleman, ascended the witness-box this morning when the Court resumed proceedings. "We are simply," he added, "going to prove a particular speech delivered by Mr. Parnell."
Sir Charles Russell assured the Court that the speech in question was admitted; but Sir Henry James retorted, "Perhaps you will allow us to conduct our own case."
So Mr. Boyd described the shooting of his son, which, however, occurred some time prior to the speech, and how he was boycotted after the speech was delivered.


Although Sir Henry had given the Court the gratifying assurance that they were not taking retrospective steps, another Irish witness followed Mr. Boyd - Richard Mitchell, who was referred to in Captain Slack's evidence as being boycotted for supplying boycotted people with agriculture machinery on hire. Mitchell declared that he was warned by the League not to supply the machinery, the secretary, J.B. O'Neil, assuring him that he would be quite unable to prevent his being shot if he did not desist. Altogether Mitchell has lost, he says, twenty-nine head of cattle, and has been compelled to go twenty miles to procure common necessaries of life - these, by the way, are incidents of the boycott. Mitchell made claims for compensation in twelve cases, but was always opposed by members of the League. "In fact," he added, with a distinctly aggrieved air, "one of the members swore that a cow was only worth 40s."


On another occasion Mitchell went into the shop of Mr. Condon, M.P., who is a butcher at Clonmel, and bought a piece of meat, and on leaving the shop he declared Mr. Condon met him. The latter attempted to snatch the meat from his hand, so he said, exclaiming, "If I'd been in the shop it's the knife you'd have got."
So, in point of fact, Mr. Condon was party to the boycott? - In that case he was.
"Where were you in March, 1888?" asked Sir Charles Russell, in cross-examination.
"I was passing through the Bankruptcy Court," retorted Mitchell; who added, "to which the parties you represent had brought me."
The Attorney-General followed the matter up. Mitchell told him that prior to the establishment of the boycott, in 1881, he reckoned he was worth 4,000 pounds. The effect of the pressure brought to bear against him was that he had to go into the Bankruptcy Court. He added that one of his sons was attacked on his way home, hit on the side of the head with a stone, "and made useless all the rest of his life, poor fellow."
After some further re-examination, the Attorney-General intimated that if, as the cross-examination indicated, the other side threw doubt upon the genuineness of their case, he should feel bound to go through all the incidents Mitchell had gone through.
Sir Charles Russell said he did not dispute that the man was boycotted, but they said it was because he was an emergency man.
"I was never boycotted properly till Mr. Davitt came to the neighbourhood," interpolated Mitchell.


Once again the Times counsel reverted to the old and wearisome task of speech-reading. They called a Mr. Hessey, who described himself as "a member of the Institute of Shorthand Writers," and proved taking a speech delivered by Mr. Biggar at Kinloch in 1880.


In this Mr. Biggar said he did not recommend the shooting of landlords, because that was an extreme measure. It was undesirable in the interests of the cause, and would bring the Irish people into discredit. Mr. Biggar, however, advised the tenants to become members of the Land League. Then, in cases where the tenants were prosecuted by their landlords, the League would get the best available counsel to defend them. If the tenants were evicted, and another man was about to take his farm, the League would make such representations to him that he would not take that farm. They would also make such representations that no one would work on that farm or send their cattle to graze there.
Sergeant Whelan, of the R.I.C., next entered the witness-box, and produced a report of a speech made by Mr. Boyton, at a meeting in co. Kerry, and which Mr. T. Harrington was present. In that speech Mr. Boyton in very strong terms denounced the Government.


In reply to Sir Charles Russell, the witness said he could not write shorthand, and consequently could not take down everything that was said. He, however, took down as many of the worst sentences as he could. Mr. Harrington also made a speech, in which he said the agitation was not merely a land agitation, but a struggle for the independence of the Irish nation. Sergeant Whelan, however, could not remember whether Mr. Harrington denounced outrage.
Mr. Ludgate, assistant editor of the Cork Constitution, deposed to having reported a speech of Mr. Biggar's, delivered at a banquet at Cork in 1880.


Stephen Connolly, a sub-constable of the R.I.C., produced a short extract from a speech of Mr. Matt Harris's, delivered at Killimore, which has already been given, and which recommended the boycotting of a man named Kennedy. Connolly admitted that he knew nothing of shorthand, had taken no notes of the speeches, and wrote the extract about fifteen minutes afterwards from memory.
This finished the monotonous task of speech-proving. Sir Henry James again reverted to the Nation extracts, which were partly read yesterday, Sir Charles Russell observing he thought it desirable that the whole of the context might be read. The extracts were from articles, interviews with prominent Irish politicians, letters addressed to the journal, and reports of speeches extending from 1880.


Mr. Creagh, a solicitor, of Listowel, was afterwards called, and deposed to defending several men who were charged with a moonlighting outrage. They were acquitted, and witness sent in his bill of costs to the Land League at Dublin. He ultimately received a letter from J. Brennan enclosing a cheque for 60 pounds.
J.G. Ryan, a solicitor who, up to 1884, practiced at Athlone, gave similar evidence.


John Connolly, a constable, was called with reference to a man named Michael O'Brien, who has been previously mentioned. Earlier in the case the Attorney-General was about to put in letters found in O'Brien's possession; but, as it was contended there was no evidence that he was a member of the League, the evidence with reference to it was withdrawn then. Connolly now stated that O'Brien, who was arrested by Sergeant Power, had frequently styled himself a member of the Rhoda branch of the League.
Power found upon him several letters, some of which the Attorney-General now produced.
Considerable argument followed as to the admissibility of one of the letters. It was contended on the part of counsel for the Parnellite Party that, even if the membership of O'Brien were proved, it had not been suggested that he ever held an official position in the League.
On the other hand, it was contended by counsel for the Times that it was a letter of an official character, written to O'Brien in his capacity of a member, and about the affairs of the League.
The Judges at first ruled that the letter was in order, basing the ruling on the ground put forward by the Times counsel. They, however, suggested that they had better read it first. The letter was accordingly handed to and read through by the Commissioners, who adjourned for luncheon before giving their decision.


Upon resuming, the President said a document found in the possession of one of the persons alleged to be engaged in an illegal combination might be evidence if it related to the alleged common purpose of the persons stated to be engaged in the combination. The Attorney-General had stated that he expected to show that it did relate to what had been called the business of the Land League. "We have, however," he continued, "read that letter, and it is, at least, of so doubtful a character, that we are not disposed to admit it as evidence."
The Attorney-General - It will be necessary for me to tender it again if I succeed in bringing up some further evidence.
The President - It is a letter from a member of the I.R.B. to a member of the Land League, to which the member of the I.R.B. states something which he intends to do, or which he expects to be done. That is so far as it goes.
The Attorney-General then handed in a copy of the Irish World for the 16th of February, 1884, being an original copy, the facsimile of which was given in "Parnellism and Crime."


James Walsh, a solicitor, of Dublin, was called, and gave evidence with respect to witnessing the signatures of several relatives of the men who suffered for participation in the Phoenix-park murders, to receipts for certain sums of money from Miss Ford and Miss Doughty from the Martyrs' Fund collected by the Irish World. He witnessed the signatures of Mrs. Daniel Curley, Thomas Hanlon, Mary Ann Fagan, Mary Kelly, Thomas Brady, and Kate Fitzmaurice. Witness was present at the request of Mr. M'Inery, a barrister, who asked him to witness the payment of sums of money to the "friends of the Invincibles."


A sergeant of the R.I.C., named Doyle, gave evidence supporting the statement of Iago, who, it will be remembered, turned informer. He also deposed to the murder of Howligan, who Iago stated he gave a "few strokes" to, from which he died. Doyle explained that he didn't think Iago was the cause of Howligan's death - he attributed it, in fact, to a man named Cain - but if Iago swore before the Court that he did actually kill him, he (Doyle) would not deny it. (Laughter.)
Inspector Kennedy, who left the R.I.C. six years ago, and was stationed at Bantry in 1882, deposed to seeing a letter written by Mr. Gilhooly, M.P., in that year, to a local landlord, a Mr. White, asking him to reinstate an evicted tenant.


The next witness was a short, round-headed youth, who kissed the testament, when sworn, with remarkable vigour. The Court had a great deal of difficulty in spelling his name, and when he himself was asked "How do you spell it?" he replied, amidst laughter, "I couldn't say, Sir." However, this difficulty was got over by Mr. Atkinson saying it was spelt - H-e-a-n-n-e. This individual lives near Letterfract, in the county Galway. He gave evidence as to Land League meetings being held in the locality shortly before the murder of a man named Lydon, and to meetings being held, at which the killing of the cattle of persons who had taken evicted farms was discussed. The night before the murder of Lydon a meeting was held, and late at night the party deputed to carry out the murder left the house.


Sir Charles Russell's cross-examination caused great amusement. The object of it was to prove that Heanne did not understand most of the questions put to him by the examining counsel. Replying to the latter, Heanne had said a certain person "took the chair" at these meetings of the League.
"Was there a chair to take - wasn't it a stool?" asked Sir Charles. Heanne looked amazed. He played with the brim of his hat, and grew gradually more and more confused. At length he candidly confessed, "I couldn't know what you mean, Sir."
"You said a resolution was passed," next essayed Sir Charles. "What is a resolution?" - "Well, indade, I couldn't tell," was the sharp reply.
Then you told us there was a secretary. What is a secretary? - Not to tell anybody, Sir. (Laughter.)
Then you weren't secretary? - No. Sir. (Renewed laughter.)
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Wednesday February 13, 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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