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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 27 Jan 2013 - 17:07

Sixty-second Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, March 12, 1889







"There are two very important witnesses I wish to call, both of whom are now ill," observed the Attorney-General last Thursday, in making his application to the Commissioners for an adjournment till today. "As far as I can see," he added, "I hope on Tuesday to conclude the evidence I have at present to lay before your Lordships." Doubtless these two announcements were the real cause of such a large attendance - not so great as that of the memorable "letter period" - at the Court today. Then, again, there was another extraordinary source of attraction - the expected appearance in the witness box of the two detectives who went over to Madrid and identified the remains of poor Pigott, and the possible production by them of such letters and documents as were found among the suicide's effects.
Counsel did not arrive until nearly half-past ten. The only "representative" of the Times legal party up to five minutes of that time was the same clerk who brought the startling news to the Court a fortnight ago that Pigott had left his hotel, and had fled. Then Mr. Soames came in, followed by Sir Henry James and Mr. Atkinson, and a few moments later Mr. Reid, on the Nationalist side, took his seat with Mr. Asquith and Mr. T. Harrington. The Attorney-General arrived with a bundle of printed documents just at half-past, but the Commissioners did not take their seats until a quarter to eleven.


In the Jury-box there was quite a crowd of ladies and gentlemen. Amongst these were Lady Stephens, Lady and Miss Roberts, Sir John Clarke, Major Prendergast, and General Graham. Sir George Long Innes, a Colonial Judge, of Winslow, Darling Point, occupied a seat on the Judicial Bench.


Sir Henry James having intimated that the question of accounts would stand over until the arrival of Mr. Parnell, when, he thought, some arrangement might be come to,
Inspector John Gregory Webb was called, and produced the original report he made to the authorities of the arrest of Mr. W. Redmond as a suspect at Ballyraggit. The report described what the inspector found in Mr. Redmond's luggage, such as League cards of membership, several copies of United Ireland, and several copies of the no-rent manifesto, and a pocket-book in which was an entry to the effect that Mr. Redmond had authority "to engage K. as organiser at a salary of 1 pound a week." There was also a letter from Mr. Thomas Quinn, now M.P., to Mr. Redmond, respecting the drawing up of some rules for the Ladies' Land League.
By Mr. Reid - I had these letters, and took them to the Castle. I called attention to the letters when I sent them. There were other memoranda in the pocket-book with respect to sums of money paid to people.


Mr. Hardcastle, an accountant, said he had been engaged in investigating the books of the Hibernian Bank, in accordance with the instructions of the Court. The books had not been kept in the usual way, and there was thus no means of tracing to whom the money had been paid, and the purposes to which it had been applied. There was nothing more than the distinguishing number of the cheques. The lodgment slips gave only the amount, and not any particulars from where they came or upon whom they were drawn. The same practice applied to all the customers of the Hibernian Bank.
Have you examined the books of the National Bank in connection with the Land League? - Yes.
The Attorney-General then read the witness's report as to his examination of the accounts, under various groups, in connection with the account kept at the Hibernian Bank. At one time it stood in the names of Mrs. Anna Parnell and E. O'Leary. It was afterwards transferred to C.S. Parnell, John Dillon, and Arthur O'Connor.
Referring to Group B the Attorney-General said it was composed of the Irish Labour Industrial Union account, the Irish National League account, the Irish Parliamentary Fund, which was afterwards transferred to the Irish National League Fund, and the Irish National Parliamentary Expenses Fund, which was opened in 1886. Group C was composed of the United Ireland Fund, while in Group D there were accounts in the names of Mr. C.S. Parnell, Mr. M. Davitt, Mr. Egan, Mr. E. Harrington, Mr. W. O'Brien, and others.


The receipts of the Land League group of accounts which was opened in November, 1879, up to the 7th of September, 1882, amounted to 261,269 pounds, and the payments to 261,276 pounds, there being an ultimate overdrawal of 6 pounds 5s. 9d. The following were some of the items - Organisation Fund receipts, 103,203 pounds; payments, 101,073 pounds; Relief Fund receipts, 71,078 pounds; payments, 70,697 pounds; Ladies' Land League, 75,355 pounds; payments, 70,071 pounds.
The accounts in Group B were opened on the 31st Aug., 1882, and remained open until 30th June, 1887. The receipts were 115,628 pounds, and the payments 111,729 pounds.
The accounts in Group C were opened on the 5th August, 1881, and remained so till the 30th June, 1887, the receipts being 71,151 pounds, and the payments 69,580 pounds.


The witness explained that after 1880 the bank had no indication as to whence the amounts paid into the bank came. The lodgment slips were not, after that period, presented in the ordinary way, and thus the amounts paid in could not be identified with amounts acknowledged in the public press. Mr. Hardcastle went on to say that from the books he had been able to ascertain how the National League money had been disposed of, but with regard to the Land League, he had been unable to arrive at such a result. He believed the amount received on behalf of the latter was 261,000 pounds. He produced receipts of two amounts from America, from January to June, 1880, one amount being for the relief fund, and the other for the Land League fund.


Mr. Hardcastle, continuing, said that there was one lodgment slip the bank declined to produce.
The Attorney-General - Are there any others they declined to produce? - Only those with reference to Moloney.
Mr. Reid - United Ireland account.
Replying to further questions, Mr. Hardcastle said that there was a "Breem account," showing that on the 13th of January, 1881, there was paid 10,000 pounds to that account. It was marked "cash" in the ledger, but on the lodgment slip it stated that it was paid in in bank notes. Then there was a second sum of 1,451 pounds 7s. 6d. Those amounts came from the Land League accounts, and the 10,000 pounds corresponded with two sums of 5,000 pounds paid in to Breem's account on the 6th of January and the 8th of January. Those sums were afterwards paid out, and there was no means of finding that those sums found their way back to the bank.


Mr. Hardcastle next produced a copy of the Miss Mary O'Connor, Miss Anna Parnell, and the Miss Elizabeth O'Leary account-books. That account began in February, 1881, and in September, 1882, was transferred to the Messrs. C.S. Parnell, Dillon, and O'Connor account. Mr. Hardcastle further pointed out that some of the accounts of Miss Mary O'Connor were long overstanding, and that some of the cheques drawn by the ladies were debited to the C.S. Parnell, Dillon, and O'Connor account. Mr. Hardcastle, at the request of the Attorney-General, next read out several amounts of money, which, during 1881 and 1882, were paid into the Ladies' Land League accounts from other accounts. These included 200 pounds and 500 pounds from the Egan, Biggar, and Kenny account, and sums of 240 pounds, 3,500 pounds, and 2,000 pounds from the J.E. Kenny No. 1 account. A sum of 300 pounds was also paid from the C.S. Parnell, Dillon, and O'Connor account.


Mr. Hardcastle then produced a series of balance-sheets, showing the result of his inspection of the Land League books. Two broken periods were first dealt with, namely, from the commencement of the League to the 30th of April, 1883, and from thence to the end of the year. He had, he said, extracted information with regard to the Revenue accounts, and found that over the first broken period the receipts were 4,370 pounds. During that time 937 pounds 7s. 10d. came from the United States. Mr. Hardcastle could not at present give the details as to how that money had been sent over. There was also an account of a number of payments made at the desire of Mr. Parnell. Among these payments there was one of 200 pounds for the defence of prisoners, and an advance of 200 pounds for the English League. During the latter eight months of 1883 the total receipts were 11,069 pounds. Of this sum only 435 pounds 11s. 3d. came from Irish branches of the League, the remainder being subscribed by - America, 2,128 pounds; and Australia and New Zealand, 8,443 pounds.
By Mr. Reid - The method of keeping the accounts of the Land League at the Hibernian Bank was the same as adopted with the other customers in all respects. I have not found any books about. The withdrawal of Breem's account was quite consistent with the money being invested.


Mr. Thomas Breem was called, and deposed that he was secretary of the Hibernian Bank.
Why was this account deposited in your name? - Mr. Egan called on me, and said he had money to invest. He handed me 10,000 pounds. I invested it in United States Government Bonds, and opened the account as the "Breem No. 2 account." I had the bonds from a London broker and two Dublin brokers. I cannot remember the names of the Dublin brokers.
Did any moneys come from Paris to you, Mr. Breem? - Yes, several sums - mostly considerable sums. I don't think there is any means of identifying when those sums came. They came to me as secretary of the bank. Whatever instructions were given to me I carried out.


What were the instructions? - They were from Egan in Paris.
Are you aware that in respect to those sums there is no lodgment slip? - I am not aware. I think there should be. The sums were between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds. I cannot identify the amount. They went to accounts mostly in two or three names. I cannot give the date of these remittances.


Mr. Breem then left the witness-box, and Sir Henry James rose, saying that he thought they could now dispose of the matters which were under discussion on Thursday last. With respect to the deposit account which had been mentioned there were four items in the copy of the account already handed to him by Mr. Reid, with respect to the deposit of the account. That was all they would require. The second matter mentioned was subject to Mr. Parnell's private account. Mr. Soames had received Mr. Parnell's account from the Hibernian Bank, but had not opened it until this morning. That was certainly a private account, and they would take care that no publicity was given to it. Then there remained the National Bank account which Mr. Parnell opened in 1883. Sir Henry stated that if that account were shown to Mr. Soames in the presence of Mr. Asquith or of Mr. Lewis, Mr. Soames would make no copy of it, and would give an undertaking that he would only deal with entries in those books which bore on the matters before that inquiry. The reason why they wished to see those books was because, in the books belonging to the National League, frequent reference was made to payments of moneys that were in the hands of Mr. Parnell.
Mr. Asquith, on behalf of Mr. Parnell, assented to that course being taken with regard to the accounts for the years 1883-84.
Sir Henry James - I will be satisfied to take it for those years. Will Mr. Parnell make a statement as to whether he has any other banking account, and, if so, where?
Mr. Parnell - I have no other account, my Lord, in the hands of bankers. I hold some bonds in Paris conjointly with Mr. Justin M'Carthy and Mr. Biggar. From time to time, when the advances on the dividends become due they are forwarded to the branch of the National Bank in this city, where Mr. Biggar keeps his account.
Mr. Parnell - Prior to March, 1883, the only operative account I had was that at the Hibernian Bank, in Dublin, which was open from March, 1882, to November, 1882, and was in the names of Mr. A. O'Connor and Mr. J. Dillon.
Sir Henry James - Thank you; that will do.


Timothy J. Coffey, a reporter, formerly employed on Irish newspapers, deposed to having attended meetings of the Land League right from its commencement, as a journalist. He especially referred to meetings of the League held in co. Limerick. Sir Henry James, who examined him, could not elicit the desired information, whereupon the witness observed, amidst great laughter, "I see the difficulty the learned gentleman is in. If you will allow me I will make my own statement."
The President - But we must conduct the business of the Court properly.
Sir Henry James - I have quite sufficient information, Mr. Coffey. Sir Henry proceeded with his examination, but could get nothing from the witness.
Did you make a statement, Mr. Coffey? - Yes.


Did you sign it? - I did; but if I had had time to fish up the correspondence that has passed on this matter, and had been allowed to produce it, you would have formed a different opinion on my evidence. All the statements I have made in this matter are utterly untrue.
You say it is untrue? - It is absolutely untrue. A constable came to me, and I made the statement as plausible as I possibly could, incriminating some of the most prominent members of the Irish Party.


And you made it, knowing that it was untrue? - Untrue. I knew it was, and I swear that it was.
Of your own knowledge? - Yes.
And you signed it? - Yes. (Laughter.)
The President - I am surprised that -
Coffey - What do you say my Lord.
The President (warmly) - I say that I am surprised that people should laugh when a person in your position in life confesses to having made such a statement.
*Coffey - My Lord, if you were in my position of life, and lived in Ireland, you would understand it.

* It is quite obvious that Mr. Coffey wishes to go to prison in order to stay safe and alive! Concocting this false statement was done deliberately on his part in order to be arrested in Contempt of Court.

Sir Henry James (to the witness, to whom he handed a document) - Did you make that statement? - I did; but it is all an effusion of a fertile imagination. (Laughter.)
Did you make it to Mr. Shannon? - I did.
And did he take it down in your presence? - Yes.
At your dictation? - Yes.
And then you signed it? - Yes; but I had not the opportunity of explaining it.
(To the Commissioners) - My Lords, I don't know whether you think I am entitled to cross-examine the witness.
The President - Oh, yes.
Sir Henry James (to the witness, and handing him a document) - I think that you signed that? - That is my signature. That was signed immediately after the adjournment before Christmas.


You have said that a constable came to you. Upon your oath, did you not volunteer a statement to the constable? - Every statement that he asked me for, but if you read this one you will find it is a sensational production. He was fishing for sensational information, and I tried to cater to his requirements. (Laughter.) My Lord, I should like to qualify my statement. I did not volunteer. What I call a volunteer is one who comes forward and makes a statement without being asked. I never did anything of the sort. He fished me up. (Laughter.) He came to my place one afternoon and said I was in a position to give information. If I gave it I would be remunerated far beyond my expectations, and that instead of living as a journalist in a remote country place like that I could get a very good place. I say that I made that statement purposely. I knew it would take, because I had purposely incriminated two members of Parliament, Mr. Abrahams and * Mr. Finucane.
You say this policeman came to you. Had you given information to the police before that? - I never gave what you call information to the police before.
Constable Chalk, have you given information to him? - No, never.
Have you communicated with him? - Yes.


About how often? - Three or four times, and at his instigation, and at his suggestion, and by his desire: But not one of these communications has contained a particle of truth. (Laughter.)
When did you first commence to do this? - In July, 1882.
How long has it continued? - July and August, 1882; that was all.
Did you ever send any information to Dublin Castle on your own account? - Except at his suggestion, never.
Did you ever send communications there direct? - Every one was fabricated suitable to the market. (Laughter.)
Did you ever send them direct? - At his suggestion. He said, "If you send them you will have an opportunity of making a most respectable position for yourself." I then -
Did you ever send them direct? - You have asked me a question, let me answer.
The President - Let me say you were asked a question, and you must answer it in a proper manner.
Sir Henry James (to the witness) - Have you made a report since 1882 till now? - Yes.


Sir Henry James then proceeded to read a statement which the witness made to Mr. Soames, and which he signed, in December last. It was to the effect that he was a reporter, and had been engaged on the Leinster Lector in Limerick. He was a member of the Limerick Branch of the Land League, and had attended the meetings. At one meeting the tenants were advised to pay no rent, and to boycott anyone who disobeyed the orders of the League. At one meeting it was advised that an Emergency man should be "got rid of," and afterwards he was murdered by two men named Dwyer. A man named Wheeler was also murdered. The League gave the Dwyers about 35 pounds, and witness was deputed to see them out of Ireland. They were, however, arrested; but as there was no evidence against them, they were discharged. They were then taken in charge by the Land League. "Now," said Sir Henry, "am I to take it that the whole of those statements are untrue?" The witness replied that those statements respecting his professional engagements were true, but that the rest of the statement was merely a fabrication.


He denied that when he made that statement that he knew Wheeler or the emergency man were murdered. Wheeler, he said, was found dead by the roadside, and the Jury returned an open verdict. Witness thought he had met with an accidental death. With regard to the emergency man, he was found lying on the roadside with punctured wounds in his body. There was a revolver lying by his side, and the doctor said he might have inflicted the wounds himself.


Sir Henry James - But he could not inflict punctured wounds with a revolver. Now, were two men by the name of Dwyer arrested? - I don't know that they were. That was a fabrication.
Did the League furnish the two Dwyers with money to go to America? - That is a fabrication also.
At the time you made this statement had you ever heard of the name Dwyer before? - The name of Dwyer is as plentiful in co. Limerick as blackberries in autumn.
I ask you - Did you know, upon your oath, that these two men were arrested upon this charge of murder? - I did not.


Supposing they had been arrested, do you say it is merely a coincidence, and that you merely invented the names. Witness replied that he had himself invented the names, and did not remember that two men named Dwyer had been arrested for the murder.
Did you recollect that any men had been arrested? - I do remember that two or three men had been arrested.


When you made that statement, did you not know that the trial of those men would be printed in the newspapers throughout the country, so that your statement could be checked? - It never struck me at the time.
Does it strike you now? - It may have.
So that, if you stated what was untrue, your statements would be found out? - I daresay.
Now, Sir, on your oath - Did you not know that these two men who were arrested were named Dwyer? - No.
Did you ever report anything in connection with this murder? - Yes, from beginning to end.


And having reported it, do you tell their Lordships that you do not remember these men's names? - I can't be expected to remember everything I report. I should want a brain as big as this Court.
Did you refer to any newspapers to refresh your memory? - No.
Or to any extracts or notes from newspapers? - No.
Were the persons you call Dwyers taken into custody? - Two or three persons were taken into custody.
Were these persons you called Dwyers - (Sir Henry repeated) - taken into custody? - Yes.
Were they released? - I don't remember.
Did you report the proceedings? - Yes; but I can't be expected to remember everything I report.


What, because of those men? - I don't know. I believe their people have never heard of them since.
Who are the people you allude to? - They are people who have only an imaginary existence.
Who, Sir, are the people to whom you refer? - I don't follow you.


Sir Henry James pointed out to the witness that he had said "I believe their people have never heard of them since." What he wished to know was, Who were the people he referred to as "their people." Witness, however, burst into laughter, and professed he could not follow Sir Henry's meaning.


During this time the President had been watching the witness with evident anger. At this point he addressed him in a severe manner. "Will you endeavour to conduct yourself with decency? If you do not conduct yourself in a different manner -"
"All right," interjected the witness.
"Be careful, Sir; I will not be trifled with," sternly remarked Sir James.
"Neither will I," ejaculated the witness.
The President apparently overlooked this last remark. "Consciously or unconsciously you have been (he said) exhibiting something that is really painful to see in your character. Attend to the counsel, and if you don't take care you will be sent to prison."
"All right, my Lord," said the witness.
"I don't consider that is all right - you answer the counsel's questions," said his Lordship. "But I am answering the counsel, my Lord," protested the reporter. To this the President made no reply.


Sir Henry James then again proceeded to question the witness concerning his expression of "their people." Witness, however, explained that the men Dwyers being only imaginary people, it was in a physical impossibility that "their people" could have heard from them.
Then what foundation had you for your statement? - None.
Then why did you make it if you had no foundation for it? - It may have been an error of memory.


The President - It is useless to pursue it further. It is painful to hear such statements as that made in the witness-box. (Rising) We will adjourn.
Sir Henry James (rising hurriedly) - My Lord, will you order the witness to remain in Court during the adjournment?
The President - Yes.
Witness - May I be allowed to get some refreshment?
Mr. Cunynghame - I will have some refreshment brought to you.
The Court then adjourned. Mr. Coffey was immediately placed in charge of the superintendent of the Courts, and stood in the witness-box, and discussed a plate of soup and roll during the absence of the Judges.


Upon the return of the Commissioners, Sir Henry James continued his examination of the witness.
In the statement you say that Lloyd Apjohn's house was to be blown up in 1882? - I heard it by hearsay.
Have you heard it? - Yes. I investigated it. I found he was in a very low financial condition, and I heard that he committed the outrage to get compensation himself. Apjohn's house was used as an emergency residence for caretakers of evicted farms.
Sir Henry James (reading from the statement made by the witness) - "At a meeting of the Land League it was decided to blow up Apjohn's house. I was present. Mr. Finucane and Mr. William Abraham supported the proposition." Was that true? - It was untrue.
Did you make that statement about those gentlemen, knowing it to be untrue? - Certainly.


(Reading from statement) - "Patrick Hayes, of Doom, was to do the work." Is that untrue? - I don't know. I made a charge against Pat Hayes, of Doom, knowing it to be untrue.
Have you made any statement before respecting this house of Upjohn's? - I don't believe I have. The whole communications of July and August, 1882, were deliberate fabrications. I was scarcely in a position to obtain any facts.
The President - You have repeated that before.
Sir Henry James - Did you in July, 1882, make a statement that Upjohn's house was to be blown up?


Mr. Reid said he did not like to interfere with Sir Henry James in his cross-examination of the witness, but the charge read out to the witness related to the murder of a number of men, and one whom he (Mr. Reid) represented was accused of it, and also related to blowing up a house. If Sir Henry James was going to refer to a document, it ought to be produced.
Mr. Justice A.L. Smith - Before he cross-examines the witness?
Mr. Reid - Contemporaneously.
Sir Henry James - At present I am only finding out if there is such a document. (To witness) - Did you make any statement of this previous to 1882? - I did. (Thinking.) If I did you have the document.
The witness was observed to be reading from a paper.
Sir Henry James: What is that? - The proof.
The President (sternly, to witness) - You are not to refer to it. Put it away, Sir.


At the conclusion of his examination, the witness was committed for contempt.
(The report will be continued.)


The impression that the Times case before the Special Commission would close today was - according to the London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post - based upon a too hasty reading of the Attorney-General's words in referring last week to the matter. It is, however, thought certain that it will end this week, and the Correspondent learns from an authoritative source that it immediately it closes Sir Charles Russell will ask the Court to adjourn for a fortnight, in order that he may fully prepare the rebutting case for the Nationalists - an application which it is believed will not, under the circumstances, be refused.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday March 12, 1889, Pages 2-3

* Finucane is a name which is mentioned in my book "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team," as being connected with Mary Jane Kelly's relations in Ireland.

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

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