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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 6 Feb 2013 - 5:59

Seventy-first Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, April 30, 1889






The brief Easter recess over, the Judges, counsel, and Nationalist M.P.'s settled down again this morning in the Royal Courts, to the further consideration of the "charges and allegations" against Mr. Parnell and his followers. As everybody connected with the Court expected, there was a great rush for seats as soon as the building was thrown open. The prospective examination of Mr. Parnell had quickened the interest in the proceedings, and worked up the excitement amongst politicians almost to the point it attained during the memorable Pigott period. Every available seat was disposed of when the Court adjourned just before Good Friday, and the issue of tickets was forthwith stopped. The result was that the Court was today crowded in every quarter by a fashionable and interested company.


Mr. Michael Davitt was one of the first of the parties included in the Times indictment to arrive. He secured his old seat at the solicitors' table, and, until the arrival of the Judges, alternately exchanged courtesies with his compatriots and wrote letters. Archbishop Walsh was the next Irishman of note to arrive. Accompanied by the Rev. Canon Daniel (Dublin), he took a seat in the Jury-box. At about a quarter-past ten o'clock Mr. Parnell, wearing a long, light grey overcoat, and carrying a huge black bag, passed in quietly, and, shaking hands with Mr. Davitt, took up a position by his side at the solicitors' table. Mr. Biggar reached the well of the Court through the door behind the Bench, usually reserved for the Judges, and was followed by Mr. Reid and Mr. Graham. In the meantime, several others intimately associated with the case were gradually filling the gangways. Amongst these were - Mr. H. Campbell, M.P. (Mr. Parnell's secretary), Alderman Dillon (of Dublin), and Mr. W. Redmond, M.P. Mr. H.H. Fowler, M.P., took possession of a seat on one of the book-shelves, on what is now regarded as the Parnellite side of the Court.


The Judges - Sir James Hannen, Mr. Justice Day, and Mr. Justice A.L. Smith - took their seats exactly at half-past ten, and Sir Charles Russell at once applied for an order for the attendance of Mr. W. O'Brien and Mr. E. Harrington, adding that when they arrived he should have to ask for a further order so that they could have proper access to them.
The President - It shall be looked into, and the proper order given in the proper form.
"Mr. Parnell," called Mr. Asquith, and Mr. Parnell - who was attired in a long black frock-coat, and wore a black tie - entered the box. He was very pale, and appeared to be somewhat excited. He was examined by Mr. Asquith.


You are the son of the late Mr. John Parnell? - Yes.
Your father was, I believe, an Irish landowner? - Yes, he was; in several Irish counties - Wicklow, Kildare, Carlow, and Armagh, in the north. He was also a very extensive land agent, a deputy Lieutenant and Magistrate for the county of Wicklow, and Chairman of the Board of Guardians, and took a very extensive interest in local affairs.
Your mother was, I believe, the daughter of the late Admiral, Sir Charles Stewart, of the United States Navy? - Yes, the only daughter. I was educated (Mr. Parnell continued, replying to other questions) in private schools in Ireland and England, and subsequently at Cambridge. After my father's death I, then a minor, came into possession of a great deal of his property. I returned to Ireland, and took up my abode on my property for some years. Until the year 1874 I took no really active part in politics; but I had interested myself in the candidature of a Liberal Member for the county prior to that.
Were you at that time interested in social and political questions in Ireland? - I can't say that I was. In 1865 I watched the rising of the Fenian movement with a great deal of interest.


Do you remember the Ballot Act of 1872? - Yes; the passage of that Act was the first public event which more intimately directed my attention to politics. I thought that, arising out of the passage of that Act, the whole political situation of Ireland was capable of a very great change. I had some knowledge of Irish history, and I knew of the independent movements of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and the late Mr. Lucas in 1852; and when I thought about politics, I thought that would be the ideal of the movement for the benefit of Ireland and -
The President - This is rather too discursive, I think.
Mr. Asquith - I was only directing attention to the passage of the Ballot Act. (To Mr. Parnell) - How did the passage of that Act affect the situation? - In my mind it rendered it possible, for the first time, for Ireland to have an independent party representing the people, and acting independently in the House of Commons, free from the influence of either political party, pledged not to take office or to form any combination with any political party until the wants of Ireland had been attended to.


The passage of the Ballot Act rendered this possible, because it enabled Irish voters to vote free from the coercion of the landlords. Up to that time the electors had been driven like sheep to the polls, and in many cases where they resisted the efforts of their landlords, they were fined heavily by the imposition of excessive rent, or driven from their farms.


In the year 1874 I was (continued Mr. Parnell) High Sheriff for my own county, and was therefore ineligible for election. Early in 1875 I was a candidate at a by-election for County Dublin, but was defeated. About that time I joined the Home Rule League, and there made the acquaintance of Patrick Egan. He was a member of the Council of the League. The League was composed of a great number of gentlemen, and Mr. Isaac Butt was the President. Mr. Butt introduced me to Mr. Egan. I saw a great deal of Mr. Egan at that time and subsequently, and I formed a very high opinion of him indeed, for his honesty, patriotism, and singlemindedness. That opinion I hold to this day. Shortly after joining this League I was elected for the County of Meath, and became a member of Mr. Butt's party.


I did not take a very active part during the Sessions of 1875-6, but I was a keen observer of the proceedings of Mr. Butt's party. My observations led me to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. I came to the conclusion that, of the fifty-nine members of that party, many of them were lukewarm about Home Rule, others intended to take office at the first opportunity, and others seemed to be hostile to the platform to which they had pledged themselves before their constituents.


At about this time did you join the Amnesty Association in Dublin? - Yes.
What were the objects of that Association? - To obtain the release of political prisoners. At the time I joined the Association, its work had been almost entirely successful, only a few political prisoners - including Mr. Michael Davitt - remaining in prison.
Were the meetings of the Association secret, or were the Press admitted? - The meetings were open, and the Press were admitted.
Did you see the convict Delaney at any of these meetings? - No, and I never heard of him until the attempt on the life of Judge Lawson.


Were you ever a member yourself of any secret society? - No, or rather, only of a secret body called the Foresters. (Laughter.) (* I may make mention at this time that Dr. Alfred William Pearson was also a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters) I may also add I never wanted to join any secret society.
Were you ever a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood? - No.
Did you ever apply to anyone to join the Irish Republican Brotherhood? - I never did, and was never asked to join it.
Is there the slightest truth in the evidence given by Le Caron, that Mr. Egan told him you applied to join the Irish Republican Brotherhood, but was refused? - I don't believe Mr. Egan ever made such a statement. I never told Mr. Egan any such thing.
Did you know that Mr. Egan had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood? - I did not know, but I may have heard from others that in the old time he had been a member of the physical force movement of 1865-7. I did not know until Carey gave his evidence, in 1883, that he had been so recently connected with the organisation as Carey swore.


At this point, Mr. Parnell handed in a list which he said he had prepared of the Bills and resolutions pressed by Mr. Butt's party during the years he was in the House of Commons. He explained that the Bills included measures for the equalisation of the franchise, measures for the extension of Local Government, measures to ameliorate the condition of Irish tenants. The efforts of the party also dealt with the Municipal Franchise. The Bills altogether amounted to 171. All those measures were rejected.
Sir Charles Russell proposed to hand the list in.
The President said it might be handed in, but he did not think it ought to be printed. He presumed the object was to show that Mr. Parnell and other Irish Members were engaged then in constitutional agitation.


Mr. Parnell, resuming, said that all those measures were rejected. Recalling this fact, he and some other Members, at the end of 1878 or the beginning of the following year, began to take independent action.
What form did this independent action take? - Well, we took action upon Imperial questions in the House of Commons. With reference to our action upon the Prisons Bill, we were successful in the Session of 1877 in introducing a number of important amendments, which were accepted by the then Home Secretary.
Do you remember, in discussing that Bill, that reference was made to Mr. Davitt? - Yes; the discussion was very material in bringing about the release of Mr. Davitt, because Mr. O'Connor Power, in moving a resolution on the Report of the Prisons Bill, took occasion to illustrate it by the history of the barbarity which had been inflicted on Mr. Davitt in Portland Prison.
Mr. Asquith - Dartmoor Prison.
Mr. Parnell - Yes. Mr. Davitt was very shortly after released, together with the other convicts - McCarthy, Chambers, and O'Brien. On the release of Mr. Davitt a public reception was given him in Dublin. I attended the reception. I also attended a dinner, and invited them to breakfast at Morrison's Hotel, and it was while walking into my room that Colour-sergeant M'Carthy dropped down dead from heart disease. That was my first acquaintance with Mr. Davitt. I formed a very strong opinion indeed of Mr. Davitt's judgment, decision of character, and courage, and I looked forward to him then in taking a very distinguished part in the future in connection with the social distress of Ireland. I still hold that opinion of him.


Did you, in 1878, pay a visit to the West of Ireland? - Yes. I was on that occasion very much struck with the wretchedness of the people, with the smallness of their houses, with the squalor I found there, and the smallness of their holdings. It was upon the occasion of this visit that I met the Nally's. "Scrab" Nally has already been described in this Court, so I don't think I need deal with him.
When you were there did you notice where the congestion was most observable? - In the barren portions. You could drive for miles through rich fattening land without finding a single human being, while on all hands you could see on these drives the ruins of huts and cabins.
Had Mr. Davitt consulted you before he went to Irishtown and started the land movement? - No. He had never consulted me, though he had often spoken of his opinion being that there should be a combined land and political movement.


In 1879 was your attention directed to the prevalence of a great deal of distress in Ireland? - Yes. It was mentioned in the House of Commons, Mr. O'Donnell having called attention to it just before the rising of the House for the holidays. I made a speech on that occasion.
Mr. Lowther was then the Chief Secretary? - Yes.
What attitude did he take? - He pooh-poohed the idea of the existence of any exceptional distress, and refused to hold out any hope for the relief of the tenants. I subsequently, in June of that year, made a speech at Westport, and this was the first I made in connection with the agitation.


Mr. Asquith read extracts from this speech, in which Mr. Parnell expressed his belief that if by some arrangement, without injuring the landlords, the tenants could own and cultivate the land, it would be for the benefit of the country. "I look to that," the speech continued, "as the final settlement of the question, but it is necessary, in the meantime, to ensure that the farmer only pays a fair rent, and that he shall be left to enjoy the fruits of his industry. In bad times no tenant could be expected to pay as much rent as in good times, and if such rents are insisted upon a repetition of the scenes of 1847-8 will be witnessed." Mr. Parnell further urged the people to rely upon the Constitutional Party to obtain redress of their grievances, and added that "when the farmers of Ireland are owners of the soil we shall not be long in getting an Irish Parliament."


"Had you a political as well as a social object in this land movement?" Mr. Asquith asked with reference to this last extract. "Undoubtedly, and I think it was clearly and plainly expressed in that passage. I looked to the redress of the grievances of the tenant farmers, as well as to obtaining an Irish Parliament. I considered that the movement to redress the grievances of the tenant-farmers would not endanger the prospects of obtaining an Irish Parliament. I believed that the more you increase the contentment of the people, the more politically capable they became; and that we had nothing to fear, but everything to gain, from the redress of the grievances of the Irish tenants. That was my opinion, and is still my opinion, though other people think and have thought differently." I delivered several other speeches after that one in various parts of Ireland (continued Mr. Parnell), and had a good opportunity of observing the condition of the people. The reports which had been received as to the then existing distress had not been exaggerated. I believed no mere fixing of rents would reach the case of the smaller tenants. We ought to look to a peasant proprietary, or occupying ownership carried out by a compulsory expropriation, as the first step to be taken.


In October of that year the Land League was formed. A discussion took place between Mr. Davitt and myself concerning its formation. Mr. Davitt was anxious that the League should be formed, and that the tenants should be supported by an agrarian movement. I had in my mind at the time the advice given to me by Mr. Butt a few years previously, when I proposed to him an extension of the Home Rule Association by the formation of branches. He told me we should be made responsible for every foolish thing done by the members of the branches. I was disinclined to entertain the idea of the formation and extension of an agrarian movement on account of that advice.
Ultimately you acceded to Mr. Davitt's wishes? - Yes.
Mr. Parnell was handed a printed document, which he said was apparently a report of the inaugural meeting, adding, "I was the chairman."
Mr. Asquith - Mr. Kettle was the chairman. Mr. Parnell, correcting himself, said that was so. Witness did not know that Brennan, who was a member, belonged to the Irish Republican Brotherhood until afterwards, when it was mentioned by Carey. Egan, one of the members of the Land League, was then in a good way of business at a place called the North City Bakery. Mr. W.H. O'Sullivan, also a member, had belonged to Mr. Butt's party. The document alluded to as "the report of the inaugural proceedings of the League," was Mr. Davitt's composition.


At the end of 1879 did you proceed to America with Mr. Dillon? - Yes. I proceeded to America on behalf of the Land League, with the double object of collecting funds to relieve the distress and also funds for the use of the Land League in Ireland.
Up to the time when you started for America had anything been done either by the Government or charitable committees to relieve the distress? - Nothing whatever had been done either by the Government or any organisation whatever. Ours - the Land League's - was the first appeal published to relieve the distress.
Were you accompanied by Mr. John Dillon? - I was accompanied by Mr. Dillon. When I got to New York I was interviewed by newspaper correspondents.
Mr. Asquith proceeded to read the account of an interview with Mr. Parnell in New York, which has already been produced in evidence, headed, "Fenianism in Ireland." He (Mr. Parnell) thought the report fairly represented what he said. When he referred to "the action of the revolutionary or Fenian body" he had in his mind the fact that at the beginning of 1874 the Fenians contemplated being themselves represented as a body in the House of Commons, and they had actually returned one Member as a representative of their ideas. Afterwards they denounced the Member whom they had returned, and expelled him from their organisation. Mr. Parnell, whose voice seemed rather weak, and at times scarcely audible, was understood to say that when he referred to the "Revolutionary movement" he was not referring to the Land League. It was not true that he saw Patrick Ford in America. He had never met him.


On landing at New York (continued Mr. Parnell) I received an address of welcome from the citizens of New York. The Reception Committee consisted of three hundred gentlemen, and was composed of gentlemen who occupied very eminent positions in America, and of various nationalities, some being Germans and some French.
Before going to America had you heard of the existence of the Clan-na-Gael Society? - I heard about it while I was in America. I heard about it from a gentleman who was very much opposed to the movement, and not from any one connected with it.
Did you find the Irish party separated into various sections in America? - Yes. There was the physical force party, represented by the Clan-na-Gael - men who believed that Ireland could only be benefited by physical force, and not by Parliament. And then there was the section of the Irish World, which might be called the Socialistic party, which adopted an attitude at times favourable and at times hostile to us.
Was there at this time a dynamite party? - I never heard of a dynamite party till 1883.
Mr. Asquith read Le Caron's assertion that the arrangements, throughout Mr. Parnell's tour, were in the hands of the leaders of the revolutionary movement. "Is that true?" he asked Mr. Parnell. "No," was the emphatic reply. "In fact, we had to complain frequently of the entire want of organisation during our tour. Mr. Dillon and I were left entirely to our own instincts as to where we should go. We managed our tour in a most absurd fashion, going here, there, and everywhere, owing to the want of organisation. For instance, upon one occasion we traveled right out to the city of Indianapolis, a distance of about a thousand miles, to attend a meeting, passing many important towns on the way, and then returned the next day."
There was no organisation at all? - No.


You addressed about forty meetings, and also made a speech at the Congress of the United States? - Yes.
How did you come to address the Congress? - I was invited by a resolution at the House of Representatives to address them.
Mr. A. Russell read the speech which Mr. Parnell made on that occasion. Mr. Parnell explained to the Congress the objects of the land agitation in Ireland. He also referred to the scheme which Mr. Bright had at that time proposed in a speech at Birmingham. The radical difference between the opinion of the Irish Party and the opinion expressed by Mr. Bright, was that the Irish Party thought the State should compel the landlords to sell the land to the tenants, while Mr. Bright relied upon self-interest and the force of public opinion to compel them to sell. The Irish Party by means of that Land movement were enforcing the landlords to do that which it was the duty of the British Government to compel them to do.
Do you remember attending a meeting at Boston? - Yes. The chair was taken by Major Quinn. The Hon. P.A. Collins and Mr. Wendell Phillips were there. Mr. Wendell Phillips made a brilliant speech in sympathy with our object.
Mr. Asquith proceeded to read Mr. Parnell's speech given on that occasion, when he compared the land system of Prussia with that in Ireland.


"I afterwards (said Mr. Parnell) attended a meeting at Cincinnati. That was about the fortieth meeting - towards the close of my tour. It was on the 20th of February.
Mr. Asquith - The Attorney-General said you could not have stirred hand or foot in America unless you made that speech? - I heard that statement. It does not accord with the fact. No one ever suggested anything of what I should say in my speeches.
Mr. Asquith said he would read what purported to be a sentence of that speech: - "None of us whether we are in America or Ireland, or wherever we may be, will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland bound to England." Did you use that language?
I think it is exceedingly improbable, but at this distance of time I cannot say I did not. I do not believe I used it. It is unlike everything else I said in America.
The witness having handed in a copy of a Cincinnati local paper (the Attorney-General had remarked that the passage quoted was given from the Irish World), said the paragraph did not appear in that Cincinnati paper, adding, "If I did use those words, or anything like them, I should say they were very largely qualified by other matter."
Did you afterwards visit Canada? - Yes; when I left the United States I went to Canada.


You were proceeding to Canada when you heard of the dissolution of Parliament? - Yes; I had addressed only two meetings in Canada when the news arrived. I then suspended my tour, and returned to New York, having previously sent a circular telegram to various prominent Irishmen to meet me, amongst them being Patrick Ford.
Mr. Asquith handed what purported to be a copy of the telegram, which was dated March 9, 1880, which appeared in the Irish World. That, Mr. Parnell said, was not an exact copy of the telegram he sent. He informed those to whom the telegram was sent that he was called to a hurried conference of leaders in New York, and would leave Mr. Dillon behind. Mr. Parnell denied that the other references in the telegram to the "glittering banner of the Party," and to Mr. Dillon "keeping the ball rolling" were his, and described them, amid much laughter, as "journalistic padding."
What was the result of that Conference? - The Irish National League of America was formed.
Is there any truth in the statement that you left your interests in America in the hands of Patrick Ford and the Fenians? Is there any truth in that? - None whatever.


You left your interests in the hands of Mr. Dillon and this newly constituted body? - I did.
Mr. Parnell went on to say that the principal object of his visit was to collect funds for the relief of the distress in Ireland. All the proceeds, without exception, of all his meetings, went to the relief of distress, and he handed over for this purpose about 60,000 pounds. Upon returning to England he found that other agencies had been at work for the relief of the distress, and probably during two months 1,000,000 pounds was sent into Ireland from foreign sources which would never otherwise have reached the people there. The first action taken by the legislature in the matter was the passage of an Act which related to the purchase of seed for the distressed people.
How was the 60,000 pounds sent to the Land League spent by them? - A considerable amount, 10,000 pounds, I think, was spent in seed potatoes, and it was just in time to enable the farmers to get the crops in.


When you returned to Ireland did you find the country in the thick of an election? - Yes, and I set myself about to improve the Parliamentary representation.
Did you find any difficulties? - Yes. I found that the Land League had passed a resolution to the effect that no money should come from the League for election purposes. I was not aware of this, and when I found it staring me in the face, I must say I did not agree with it. However, I went to Mr. Egan and he met me in a very large manner, and gave me 2,000 pounds, which, I think, was about all we had for election expenses. I may add that I was myself indebted to the Conservative Club at Cork for the expenses of my own return. I was then returned for three constituencies.
Was Mr. O'Kelly one of your party? - Yes; I first met him in Roscommon, in the autumn of 1879.
Did he tell you that he was, or had been, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood? - No; but I got to know it about 1884-5.
So far as you know has Mr. O'Kelly belonged to any revolutionary organisation? - Not since he joined my party in 1880.


Now, do you remember going to Enniscorthy and taking part in an election campaign in support of Mr. Garrett Burns, in March, 1880? - Yes.
Do you remember what occurred there? - Yes. We found the platform in possession of an armed and organised party. We were also attacked by a portion of these men, our band was broken up, the instruments smashed, and many of us were knocked down and illtreated. Some of us managed to gain the platform and cling to the railings.
Did you afterwards hear who these men were? - I afterwards discovered that they belonged to what was called the Physical Force or I.R.B. Party of the town.


Now, in 1880 the Land League summoned a Conference to consider a programme of Parliamentary land reform? - Yes.
Did Mr. Davitt refuse to sign the report of that Conference? - Yes, because he thought that the compensation which it was proposed in the report to give the Irish landlords - namely, at the rate of 20 years' purchase under the Poor Law valuation - was excessive, and ought not to be so much. After that meeting there followed the meeting at the Rotunda. That meeting was called to formally sanction the resolution at the Land Conference. The meeting was open to the public, and I presided. A number of my Parliamentary colleagues were on the platform with me; and a resolution was proposed approving of the programme of the Land Conference, which has been put in.
Mr. Parnell went on to say that when the resolution was proposed by Mr. McCown, a number of men burst in on the platform and put a stop to the proceedings, and assaulted everyone who opposed them. They drew revolvers, and took possession of the platform. One, O'Hanlon, came to the front, and said he wished to propose a resolution, and then one of his friends threw a water-bottle at the head of Mr. Davitt, who was thrown off the platform into the body of the hall. After endeavouring to move his resolution, Mr. O'Hanlon tore it up. There was no truth that Mr. Davitt or anyone on the platform supported it.


Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Egan, and, secondarily, Mr. Brennan were (said Mr. Parnell in continuing his evidence) engaged in starting local branches of the Land League in various parts, and in organisation. He (Mr. Parnell) took no part in the working or controlling of the League. With the exception of about three months he had nothing to do with the funds of the Land League. The Legislature having failed to protect the tenants, a Protection Association for mutual defence was formed, one of the principles being that the strong were to aid the weak. Witness advised the use of boycotting.


Mr. Parnell went on to deny the assertion that one of the speeches made by Mr. Matthew Harris was made in his presence. He said he was present at the earlier part of the meeting, but left some time before Mr. Harris spoke. Subsequently Mr. Davitt directed his attention to the great increase in crime and outrage in various parts of Ireland, and it was agreed that a circular, condemning these acts, should be printed and circulated wherever the Land League existed. Mr. Davitt also agreed at the forthcoming meeting he had to attend to strongly denounce crime, and point out the injury done to the cause by this crime. At each of the subsequent meetings Mr. Davitt did denounce crime in the strongest possible manner. The arrest of Mr. Davitt Mr. Parnell described as a most deplorable event - deplorable from the point of view of the Government and from their own, for he was the one man who by his history and position was alone able to control the people within the limits of legality.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, the examination of Mr. Parnell was continued. Mr. Parnell said that when he went to Paris to see Patrick Egan, Mr. Matthew Harris was with him. On that occasion he wrote the letter to the Land League which had already been read in Court.
Is it true that while you were in Paris on this visit to Egan, you, Egan, and the others who were in Paris at that time were arranging for some unconstitutional action in Ireland or elsewhere? - Absolutely untrue. There was nothing of an unconstitutional or illegal nature proposed, suggested, or discussed by anybody, and our proceedings in Paris were perfectly legitimate in every way, and had sole reference to the conduct of the movement in Ireland. The question was discussed as to whether it was desirable to continue our advice to the tenants, and how we were to relieve them when they were evicted - just what we had been doing in the autumn of 1880. We also discussed whether it was possible to carry on the organisation of the League from Dublin. Some one made the suggestion that it should be carried on secretly. Ultimately, however, it was unanimously resolved to carry on the organisation from Dublin, and that no attempt should be made to carry on the movement in a secret form. It was also decided that as fast as the officials of the League were arrested others should take their places.


Is it true that there was any discussion on the subject of reprisals against English and Irish officials? - No.
Is it true that it was agreed that Sheridan, Walsh, and Byrne should be sent to Ireland to reorganise the centres of the Fenian Brotherhood for the commission of murder and outrage? - Not at all.
Is it true that any of them were provided with money out of the League funds for that purpose? - Absolutely untrue.
Were Walsh and Byrne in Paris at that time? - No, and Byrne did not belong to the movement until some time subsequently.


Mr. Asquith next asked Mr. Parnell whether in 1881 he took part in the discussion in the House of Commons on the Land Bill of that year. Mr. Parnell replied that he did, and added that at the time he was greatly impressed with the largeness of the measure, but he and his friends could not conceal from themselves that, as regards the smaller class of tenants, the measure would prove defective for their protection; while the absence of any provision for dealing with arrears was one which also impressed them. The Bill only proposed to protect yearly tenants. All this speeches at that time were directed towards pointing out those deficiencies in the measure.
Sir James Hannen said the evidence had a very remote bearing upon the questions before the Commission. The suggestion was, that the persons accused had been engaged in an illegal transaction. It did not prove that they were not engaged in an illegal transaction to show that they were engaged in a constitutional movement. He (the President) did not think this line of evidence should be carried further.
Mr. Asquith said he wanted to show that they were engaged in a constitutional movement.


The witness proceeded to state that, when he saw the Land Bill was likely to pass, he told Mr. Sexton that he thought they should moderate their movements somewhat, having regard to the idea that if they were moderated too much the House of Lords would throw out the Bill.
Mr. Asquith asked Mr. Parnell what he meant by "moderating" their movements, and the witness replied that it meant as to the advice given to tenants allowing their interest in their holdings to be sold. Mr. Sexton then went over to Ireland.


That was about the time when witness might have seen Le Caron in London, although he did not remember his name or appearance.
Were you in the habit of seeing in the House of Commons visitors from America? - Very frequently. I often see American gentlemen in the House. Le Caron would have no difficulty in getting an interview with me had he desired.
Did you ever, in the course of any interview with any person, say,"I have long since ceased to believe that anything but force of arms will bring about the redemption of Ireland"? - I never even said or thought about it. At the worst period of coercion I never doubted that the constitutional movement and our Parliamentary action would succeed in the end.
Did you ever say that at a proper moment an insurrectionary movement could be organised in Ireland? - I never said that to anybody.
Or words to that effect? - Or words to that effect.
Did you say that from the outlook you would, at the end of the year, get a fund of 100,000 pounds, and that that would form a nucleus? - No.
Or "You folks ought to do as well at that"? - I never made use of such an expression.
Did you enter into the question of the number of men and the amount of money that would be required for the insurrectionary movement? - No, never.
Did you at any time enter into an understanding with the physical force party, as alleged by Le Caron, on the other side of the water? - No; I never communicated with the persons mentioned by Le Caron with that object or at all. In fact, the only one I ever communicated with at all was Mr. Sullivan, when he was the president of the League in America.
Was there any understanding between the V.C. and your organisation? - No; I never even heard of the V.C. or the U.B. till I heard it from the witness Le Caron.
Had your organisation any organisation with the Clan-na-Gael? - Never, and I never heard it suggested by any person connected with our organisation.
Le Caron said you gave him a photograph of yourself, and also that you sent him one? - I think it is very unlikely that I did so. I was not in the habit of giving my photographs to anybody.
The photograph Le Caron alleges Mr. Parnell sent him having been handed to Mr. Parnell, he proceeded. This appears to have been taken in Paris, but I am inclined to think it is a copy of one taken by Laurence in Dublin. I may have had my photo taken in Paris, but I have no recollection of it, and I do not remember having any of these in my possession at the time mentioned by Le Caron. This appears to be my genuine signature at the bottom of the photo, but I must explain that I often have photographs of myself sent to me by people with the request that I should write my name upon them, and return them to the persons sending them. Possibly this one had such a history as that. I cannot say for certain, but I am inclined to think the witness must have got it from somebody else than me.
Did Mr. Sexton fall ill shortly after getting there? - Yes, and the result was that for a couple of months no proper books were kept in the office. Mr. Parnell added that when he went over to Ireland again he found the office in a "most complete state of demoralisation." He consequently sent for Mr. Arthur O'Connor to take charge of the office, and open a new set of books.


After that time, in 1881, a Land League Conference was held in Dublin, at which it was resolved to test the working of the Land Act. While he was engaged in selecting a certain number of cases, which it was resolved to bring before the Courts for testing, he was arrested. Then followed the arrest of the other Land League officials and the subsequent issuing of the "No-rent" Manifesto.
Now, what explanation do you offer for the issuing of that "No-rent" Manifesto? - The Land League, although not formally suppressed, was practically suppressed. All the officers of the Central League had been arrested or compelled to leave the country by the issuing of warrants for their arrest. Even the same thing was done in regard to the clerks, and it became absolutely impossible to carry on the League so far as the central organisation was concerned. They were arrested on a charge of intimidating the office-boy who was taking the letters to post. The local officials of the branches were also arrested in large numbers. Owing to the suppression of the tenants' protection organisation, and our want of faith in the Land Act as an instrument to protect the smaller tenants, it became necessary for us to consider what we could supply in its place. The only effective form of pressure open to us was in the issuing of the "No-rent" manifesto. The manifesto resulted in those tenants who could pay getting very large and substantial reductions throughout that winter.


Now, is it true that, while you were in Kilmainham, you instructed Egan to communicate with the Fenians in America? - Absolutely untrue.
Is it true that a man called Eugene Davis, disguised as a priest, visited you? - It is untrue.
Did he, or anyone else, deliver a letter to you from Egan asking your consent that a payment should be made to the representative of the Clan-Na-Gael of 20,000 pounds, to be used for the removal of Government officials and other obnoxious persons? - I never received any such communication.
Is it true that you gave him a few lines authorising the payment of such sums? - Never.
Mr. Parnell further averred that he never, indirectly or directly, sanctioned or ratified the commission of outrage, never sanctioned the payment of any sum of money to person engaged in the commission of outrage, and never knew of the pay of any money for such a purpose.


Mr. Parnell went on to say that in April, 1882, when in Kilmainham, he was informed of his nephew's death, and applied to Mr. Forster for permission to attend the funeral. Mr. Forster granted it, and witness left Kilmainham on the 10th of April, 1882. When he got to Willesden-junction he saw Mr. Justin M'Carthy, Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Quinn, and Frank Byrne, who was the General Secretary of the Land League organisation in Great Britain. He had (continued Mr. Parnell) met Byrne for a number of years, but never saw very much of him. He had a very good opinion of Byrne, and thought he was a respectable man. He never knew he had been a Fenian.
Did any of those persons tell you or hint to you that there was a plan for the assassination at Phoenix-park? - No. I was told that there was a demonstration at Willesden to meet me, and I told them that I could not take any part in it. He was (proceeded Mr. Parnell) too late to catch the train for Paris that night, and he accordingly stayed at a house in London. He did not stay that night in the house of Mr. Justin M'Carthy. On the next day he saw Captain O'Shea when on his way to Paris, at the Albert Mansions. He was (said Mr. Parnell) about ten days in Paris. While there he did not have any communication, either directly or indirectly, with Mr. Egan, as he considered, from his parole, that he was precluded from having any communication with the treasurer of the Land League. The only person he communicated with was Mr. Sexton, and the subject of their discussion was Mr. Redmond's Land Bill. It was not true that he urged Egan to stir up Tynan, and declared that it was discouraging to the cause that all of the British officials concerned in the imprisonment of the members of the Land League should escape, especially Forster.


On his return he went to Eltham, and saw Captain O'Shea. Captain O'Shea showed him a memorandum in Mr. Chamberlain's handwriting. He said it represented Mr. Chamberlain's idea of what might be done on both sides. There was nothing said about keeping Brennan in prison if the others were released. He (Mr. Parnell) had no suspicion that Boyton or Sheridan had been engaged in carrying out crime. He had, he repeated, not the slightest suspicion of it. There was a suggestion in his conversation with Captain O'Shea that the No-rent Manifesto should be withdrawn. As to the point of denouncing outrages and resistance to law, he told Captain O'Shea that it looked very much like a bargain, but that, of course, he should denounce outrages as he always had denounced them.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Tuesday April 30, 1889, Pages 2-3

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