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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Fri 25 Jan 2013 - 21:27

Sixty-first Day of Proceedings - Thursday, March 7, 1889






So far as the general public are concerned the Court was almost empty when business was resumed this morning. The gallery contained only a few spectators, and the Jury box and well, which last week were crammed to excess, were occupied by about half a dozen persons other than those engaged in the case.


Before proceeding with evidence, the Attorney-General applied for an order to inspect the accounts of Mr. Parnell at the National Bank. He explained that already a similar order had been given for the inspection of Mr. Parnell's accounts at the Hibernian Bank, but it had only come to their knowledge within the past few days that there were accounts at the National Bank. He added that nothing of a private nature would be disclosed.
Sir Charles Russell opposed the application because he had received no intimation that it would be made. He asked that he might be formally, and in writing, informed that the application was to be made.
The President replied that Sir Charles now had the reasons why that formal intimation was not given.
Sir Charles Russell declared such was not the case.
The Attorney-General - The fact that there was an account at the bank only came to our notice within the past few days.
Ultimately the matter was allowed to stand over, it being understood that the Times' counsel would confer with those on the other side on the matter.


The Attorney-General - There is another which I wish to mention. I have been considering as to how the time shall be utilised today and tomorrow. There are two important witnesses who I must call, and who are at present ill. I think they may be able to attend on Tuesday. I don't think I have sufficient evidence to occupy more than today, and I would therefore propose that after today the Court should adjourn till Tuesday. There are witnesses whom I must call; and I shall endeavour to get them on Tuesday. Then, as far as I can see, on Tuesday we can conclude the evidence I have at present to lay before your Lordships. I don't think I have sufficient for tomorrow, but I can conclude on Tuesday.
Their Lordships adopted the proposal.


The President - With reference to the matters under discussion yesterday, we have carefully considered the course we should adopt. It must always be remembered what was the scheme or case as charged against the several persons. That is that they were engaged in a common undertaking which was carried out by illegal means, by intimidation, and by violence. It is common knowledge that the acts of the several persons engaged in that common undertaking, which was intended for the furtherance of one common object, are admissible in evidence. Of course the nature of the combination must be collected from the circumstances; and we are well aware of the very grave questions which will arise upon this subject. I am glad to learn that the time is fast approaching when we shall have the assistance of the counsel for the persons charged in analysing and estimating the value of the evidence now given for so long a period. Looking at it as it stands, we must apply to it the law which is applicable to every case. The law draws no distinction between what are sometimes called the smaller fry and more important persons engaged in illegal acts. The General and the common soldier, though they never see one another, may be engaged in an undertaking which may become the subject of investigation, and if found to be connected in carrying out certain actions, though they had no communication with each other, the acts of one would be evidence against the other. In the evidence given, the case, as it stands, is this: - That a person made certain statements. If those statements amount to an arrangement or a consultation with reference to what is to be done, they are admissible, and therefore it appears to us - if the questions are directed to eliciting evidence of the character I have suggested - they are admissible.
Mr. Justice Smith - I have again gone into this matter, and I feel satisfied that this evidence tendered, assuming it to be evidence of arrangements then planned, is admissible at this stage.


The witness who was under examination last night, Andrew Coleman, was then again put in the witness-box. The Attorney-General questioned him concerning the arrangements which he alleged M'Cawley made for the murder of a man named Wills. Wills (said the witness) was manager to Miss Gardiner, who was in disfavour with the Land League, and who had evicted some tenants. M'Cawley told me he had given two revolvers to Thomas Burke; but I did not see him give them to Burke. Thomas Burke was a member of the parish centre of the Fenian Brotherhood and a member of the Land League. I communicated what had been told me in writing to a police-officer. Wills was not shot.


Did M'Cawley tell you of any plan to shoot anyone else? - Yes, he told me about two or three, but the principal one was that to shoot George Scott, a Grand Jury 'cess collector. While I was standing at my door one night, in 1882, M'Cawley and Thomas Dally drove up in a trap. M'Cawley asked me to get into the trap, as he wished to speak to me. I did so, and he then told me that he and Dally had arranged to shoot George Scott, and asked me to join them. I told them I would do so, and promised to meet them on the following Thursday, and bring a double-barrelled gun for my own use, and two revolvers for them.
Where did you get the arms from? - From my own house, I was keeping three revolvers for M'Cawley, and the gun belonged to Colonel Cuff, whose gamekeeper I was at that time. On Thursday, the 1st of June, 1882, I went to the place where I had appointed to meet M'Cawley and Dally. Dally did not come, but M'Cawley brought with him a young man named Mullaney, whom I had never seen before. Mullaney and I went together to the place where we knew George Scott would pass on his way home, but we did not shoot him.


Was anything said about shooting James Scott, his brother? - Yes. M'Cawley said there was 25 pounds in hand for shooting James Scott. He said 10 pounds had come from the Ladies' Land League, 10 pounds from the Fenian organisation, and 5 pounds from five tenants. One of the tenants was a Miss Kirk, who I knew to be a member of the Ladies' Land League, and two others were men named Melville and Ducking, who were also members of the Land League.
Did M'Cawley tell you where James Scott was to be shot? - Yes, at his own house; but I don't think he was shot. I heard he was under police protection.


A man named Richard Lennard (proceeded the witness) quarrelled with Dally about some land, and it was arranged that M'Cawley and the witness should shoot Lennard on a bog. Part of the scheme of assassination was that the witness was to bring a quantity of old clothes, some revolvers, and a boat to expedite their escape. However, that night the witness gave information to the police. But he went to what was to be the scene of the murder, and there met two men, named King and Hallern, who were to assist in its perpetration. After waiting some time under some bushes, M'Cawley put in an appearance, and then said that he had heard the police were about in the neighbourhood. Consequently, the murder party went home, and Lennard was not shot.


Another individual who made himself objectionable to M'Cawley was Thomas Ronane, who would neither join the League nor the Fenian Brotherhood, "and was talked badly of by the Society." What society? Well, he supposed the League, but he "disremembered." Poor Ronane was to be shot, said M'Cawley, on a stormy Sunday in October, 1882, as he passed through the woods to Mass. But here again the witness gave information. He communicated with the police, and Ronane's life was saved.


The witness also knew a man named Valentine Knox, who lived at Ballynany. M'Cawley, Melville, and witness on one occasion went into a room in a public-house. M'Cawley then asked Melville about a law-suit. After some conversation, in which Knox's name was mentioned, M'Cawley said, "Why don't you shoot him?" and Melville replied that he should be shot before a week was out. "I warned Knox (proceeded witness) of the contemplated attack upon him, and I believe Knox got police protection." M'Cawley also told him that Nally was going to shoot a man named O'Donnell; and he also made a communication to the police about the contemplated outrages.


He also knew P.W. Nally. He knew that he went under the name of "Birdie," and under other names. In July, 1882, M'Cawley and witness went to Ballyhaunis, and there met Nally. M'Cawley introduced him to Nally as his confidential friend. They went to the races together. Nally and M'Cawley had a conversation, in which Nally said to M'Cawley that what was to be done must be done cautiously, and by four or five selected "Vigilants." He (witness) was a "Vigilant" - at least M'Cawley told him he was after taking part in the James Scott affair.


It was arranged to hold a meeting on that night at a public-house, but M'Cawley told him he had received orders from Nally not to hold the meeting, as the town was full of detectives. In conversation which they afterwards had about Nally, M'Cawley said, "Nally got 300 pounds for the shooting of Mr. Burke. He gave the men who helped him 25 pounds each, and kept the rest for his share." M'Cawley also expressed his opinion that that was a very mean thing to do, and said he never acted like that. He said something about the Land League in connection with that money, but he (witness) did not remember exactly what he said. Coleman next related that some time in 1881 he was sent by M'Cawley to Ballina to fetch some arms, which had been sent over from Manchester by steamer from Liverpool. He was told to see a man named O'Keefe.
Some sensation was caused in the Court by the production of a large revolver, which the witness recognised as one he had had from M'Cawley. It was branded on the butt with a shamrock and the letters "I.R.B."


Sir Charles Russell's cross-examination was very severe. The learned counsel adopted his most serious attitude. Did the witness know Sergeant Whelehan? "Yes," was the candid confession. Was that the Sergeant who lost his life? Well, indade, he couldn't say, for truth. This was received with laughter; so was the confession that "he believed he was a member of the Land League, but thought he was not, although his superior officer, M'Cawley had told him he was.
Who brought you from America? - My pocket.
Who filled your pocket? - I paid my own way.
Who asked you to come? - Nobody.
You swear that? - I do.
Did nobody communicate with you about coming? - I wrote and said I would come.
Have you had no communication as to what remuneration you are to get? - No. I have plenty without.
Do you expect any money? - I don't care whether I get any or not. I have plenty without.
Do you expect any? - If I get any I will take it; if I don't I will do without. (Laughter.)
Do you expect any, Sir? - Well; yes, I suppose I do.
Have you formed any idea in your own mind as to how much you are worth? - No. (Laughter.)


Where have you got your money from? - Work.
What sort? - I won't tell you.
What sort of work, sir? Did you not send information to the Government? - Yes.
Did you get any pay from them? - I did.
What amount? - 1,000 pounds.
Do you get any now? - Yes.
How much? - 10 pounds a month.
Do you expect to get it again? - Yes, when I get back.
Who do you get it from? - From a company.
What company? - I won't tell you.
What company, Sir?
The Attorney-General (interposing) - I have no objection to the name of the company being written down. Perhaps the witness objects to mentioning it in open Court.
Sir Charles Russell - What is the name of the company, sir? - The Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
What do you do? - I am a labourer on the road.
Where? - At Keewheaten, Ontario.
How do you spell it? - Can't you spell Keewheaten? (Loud laughter.)
What kind of work? - Everything I was told by the "boss." (Laughter.)
And you say you got 10 pounds a month for that work? - About that.
Did you not tell me that you were in receipt of other monies? Have you received any other money except for your work in the Canadian Pacific Railway? - That is all, Sir.
And the thousand pounds you took with you? - Yes.
Did you not say, in answer to my question, that you received money as an informer? - I did not understand your question.


Sir Charles Russell next reminded witness that he was once called as an important witness in a trial at Cork, and that he identified letters in the handwriting of M'Cawley and P.W. Nally. "Now, in the face of these letters," asked Sir Charles, "is it not a fact that, so far from their being supporters of the Land League, M'Cawley and Nally were enemies of the League?" - No. I do not believe they were opposed to the League.


Sir Charles next read some of the letters which witness had identified as being written in the handwriting of Nally and M'Cawley, and which expressed enmity towards the Land League.
Now did M'Cawley ever tell you that the Land League had offered 20,000 pounds to get hold of the Fenians? - No.


Now I will read another letter of M'Cawley (said Sir Charles), but he was at once stopped by the Attorney-General, who requested to be allowed to see the documents which Sir Charles possessed relative to the trial.
Sir Charles Russell, at this, became highly indignant. "A more audacious," he said, "seeing the way in which we have been treated by the Attorney-General and his colleagues, in declining to let us see any but what they chose, I have never heard of in a court of justice.
The Attorney-General, however, pointed out that he had never seen the documents relating to that trial. Consequently Sir Charles might pick out letters for his own use, and there might be other letters which could be brought forward.
Sir Charles Russell - I will not give them that facility even, unless I am ordered to do so.
The President (to Sir Charles) - But I am entitled to see the brief you have in your hand.
Sir Charles Russell - And if your Lordships had seen the whole of this brief, I think the witness would never have been called. I don't think your Lordship would have allowed it.
Mr. Justice Smith - I don't think you have a right to say that.
Sir Charles - Well, if the witness was called I should have been greatly disappointed.
Mr. Justice Smith - I don't agree with your observation.


The discussion thus ended. Sir Charles proceeded to ask Coleman whether he was still - in the face of those letters - of opinion that Nally and M'Cawley were not opposed to the Land League. The witness replied that he was. Continuing his answers to Sir Charles, the witness asserted that he always understood from M'Cawley that the Land League and the I.R.B. were one and the same, and that the "Society" of which he was a member and the League did all the work "under one cloak."
Did you ever, in the course of the many examinations you have gone through, say that, or anything like that? - I was never asked, Sir.
Answer my question. - No.


There is one achievement you were asked join in that you have not told us of, is there not? - I don't know.
Just think. Wasn't there a scheme to rob Robert Lindsay? - Yes, Sir.
Did you think when you were scheming with M'Cawley you were doing that under the cover of the Land League? - I don't know. I don't suppose it was. M'Cawley was short of money.
Was the scheme this - that when Lindsay was returning from the fair you were to waylay him and rob him? - I wasn't to.
Was not that the scheme? - Yes.
The witness, after severe pressing, admitted that when he said Lennard was to be killed because he had spoken badly of the "Society," he meant the society to which he was sworn in as a member, and not the Land League.


Sir Charles Russell next read from the witness's depositions his statement at that time with regard to the 25 pounds for the shooting of James Scott. In those depositions he said "M'Cawley told me that three tenants gave him 5 pounds each outside Deal Castle, and the remaining 10 pounds was to come from the Land League, but he did not know which League." Sir Charles pointed out that that statement differed from the one he had made today, and asked him which was the correct statement. Coleman replied that, so far as he could now remember, the statement he made today was correct.


Have you much of your thousand pounds left? - Yes. I have about five hundred pounds' worth of property in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I bought two or three houses at the corner of MacWilliam-street and Leonard-street, Winnipeg. Coleman also said he went under another name in America, but on being pressed by Sir Charles Russell, asked to be allowed to keep the name secret, as he feared to disclose it. Sir Charles Russell said he would not press the question.


Sir Charles Russell, after concluding his cross-examination, addressed the President as follows: -
"My Lord, with reference to my observations relating to this document (holding up the brief), *I will hand it to the Attorney-General if I am desired to do so, but I wish to complain that the same courtesy and the same facilities in defence have not been afforded us."
* It is not prudent to just hand over documents containing witness's names over to the defence team when individuals have been murdered wholesale in Ireland.
The Attorney-General - I will bear the brunt of any complaint.
Sir Charles Russell - I shall have to make them very seriously.
Sir Richard Webster (laughing) - I am not very much afraid.


Mr. Davitt then rose and cross-examined Coleman. He asked him whether he had been charged with various crimes, including the theft of 14 pounds, manufacturing and selling illicit whisky, and firing two shots through a farmer's door. Coleman denied that he had ever been charged with these offences, but he admitted having been fined for having illicit whisky in his possession. He further admitted that during the Crossmolina conspiracy case he was living apart from his wife.
And did you know a girl named Carsons? - Yes.
And did you not ruin the character of that girl? - Well, there was some talk about it. She afterwards (said the witness) lived with him.


Did you not send your wife to America to get her out of the way? - No; something happened between us and she went away of her own accord.
Now, while you were giving evidence in the Crossmolina case, you lived in the jails to protect yourself. Did an "accommodating" Government provide lodging for the girl Carson also?
The President and Mr. Justice Smith considered that an improper question, and Mr. Davitt withdrew the word accommodating. Coleman replied that he never saw the girl Carson either in the jail at Castlebar or at Cork.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming after luncheon, Sir Charles Russell called for the letters the last witness had written to the police, while giving information to them from time to time.
The Attorney-General offered no objection, and produced a long list of letters and read them through. The first was addressed to Sub-inspector Ball, of the R.I.C., and enclosed letters written by M'Cawley giving directions as to the precautions to be taken in carrying out the plans of the organisation. The next was addressed to the same gentleman, and after detailing several particulars as to the proposed shooting of a man named Wills, concluded, "Don't be severe in my potheen case." (Laughter.) Other letters contained details of petty occurrences, many of which were not connected in any way with the inquiry.


The witness, who had been out of Court during the reading of the letters, was recalled and re-examined by the Attorney-General, whom he told he had purchased some property with the money he had received from the Government. He emphasised the statement that he had never been asked by anybody to come over here to give evidence, and never been offered any remuneration, and appeared in the witness-box solely because he was desirous of doing so, and quite voluntarily. At the Cork trial, he declared, there was "never a mention of the League."
(The report will be continued.)


With regard to the forged letters, newspaper readers will be interested to learn a piece of singular evidence, which apparently puts the forgery beyond the possibility of cavil or dispute. This evidence is supplied by means of the science of photography. The letters were produced in Court, and were photographed in the usual way. The photograph was afterwards enlarged, and the enlargement disclosed in the clearest way that a tracing had been made of the forgery in pencil, including the signature of Mr. Parnell, and that over the pencil tracing, plain to be seen by the naked eye, there was the careful pen of the forger, and where he had missed the exact tracing the pencil marks became clear on the photographic plate. This much Mr. Labouchere has told us. Not only this, however; the lines the forger had made appeared across the face of the letter; and, most astonishing of all, at the foot and end of the letter the enlarged photograph revealed the most curious scribbling of names. Mr. Healy's name, for example, was, the London Correspondent of the Manchester Guardian says, pencilled in Roman characters.

Source: The Echo, Thursday March 7, 1889, Pages 2-3

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

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