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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 7 Feb 2013 - 0:51

Seventy-second Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, May 1, 1889





The Court was very comfortably full again today. Mr. Parnell, with Mr. Davitt, entered at just about a quarter past ten, and, until the opening of the Court, the former conversed with Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Asquith. Archbishop Walsh, with Canon Daniel, again occupied seats in the Jury-box, and watched the proceedings with a great deal of interest, the former taking very copious notes on several little slips of blue paper. Amongst those who had seats in the Jury-box and the seat parallel with the Judicial Bench were Lady Harcourt, Lady Coleridge, Mrs. and Miss Peel (wife and daughter of the Speaker), and Mrs. Jacob Bright.
The Lord Chief Justice occupied a seat on the Judicial Bench, near Mr. Justice Day.


Mr. Parnell took his stand in the witness-box immediately on the arrival of the Judges, and Mr. Asquith at once produced the original letter Mr. Parnell received from Frank Byrne, mentioned yesterday. The first important piece of evidence given had reference to the letter which a man named Timothy Horan, a secretary of the League in the South of Ireland, addressed to Mr. Quinn in acknowledgment of the receipt of a sum of money, presumably from the Land League funds, as compensation for some men who were alleged to have been shot and knocked about in a moonlighting expedition.
Mr. Parnell denied most emphatically that he knew anything of that transaction, and said when the letter was produced in Court it came upon him as a revelation. He assured the Court that he would under no circumstances sanction such a procedure as that suggested by the letter.


Having explained that the Land League was always the strongest in the counties that were the richest, Mr. Parnell again assailed the evidence of Le Caron. He especially refuted the statement of that person to the effect that Mr. Egan told him (Le Caron) that in 1881 the books of the League had been audited by three members of the League, and "that was all the audit they would get." As a matter of fact, said Mr. Parnell, there was no audit of the books prior to that period. Dealing with the evidence describing the circulation of the Irish World through the medium of the League offices, he said he had no knowledge that that journal was so circulated, declared that no money ever came from the League fund to cover the cost, explained that the paper had a fund called the "Spread the Light Fund," which would cover the expenses of free distribution, and asserted that had any copies been circulated through the League officials, he should at once have stopped it had it came to his knowledge. "They send me a copy every week to this day," he added.
"Do you read it?"
"Very seldom," replied Mr. Parnell, with a bland smile.
Did you receive pecuniary and journalistic support from the Irish World? - Not after the passing of the Land Act. After the passing of that Act they assumed a position of hostility to us. In a debate which took place in the House of Commons on the 23rd of February, 1883, I said that Mr. Patrick Ford's aims and hopes were not mine, and that represented my opinions at the time.


When questioned with respect to the Buffalo Convention of 1883, and the existence of the Clan-Na-Gael, Mr. Parnell said he never heard, until it was mentioned in "Parnellism and Crime," and by Le Caron, that the Clan-Na-Gael was a murder club, and that its policy was one of dynamite and assassination. "Had you," asked Mr. Asquith, at this stage of the examination, any knowledge or suspicion that Alexander Sullivan was engaged in the use of dynamite, or in advocating assassination?" "Not the slightest," was the reply. So far as he knew, no person at any time who had been an officer, or held any position of authority or control in the Land League or National League of America had professed a dynamite policy.
Mr. Parnell was next asked by Mr. Asquith if he knew O'Donovan Rossa, and Mr. Parnell replied that during his visit to America in 1880 he had a few minutes' conversation with O'Donovan Rossa, but he had had no communication with him since.
Has he ever held any position of confidence in your American organisation? - No.
Is O'Donovan Rossa a person who has had any position amongst the Irish people? - Not since the Land League was established, but he had originally, owing to his connection with the old movement in 1865.


Mr. Asquith asked Mr. Parnell if, during the Session of 1883-4, he and the members of his party introduced measures into Parliament for the relief of the Irish labourers.
The President said he intimated his opinion yesterday of that line of evidence. Unless they knew anything of the details of the Bill, how could they judge of its value?
Sir Charles Russell said it was in order to show that the action of Mr. Parnell and his friends was to redress grievances by constitutional means.
The President said that that would involve the necessity of an inquiry into the nature of the Bills.
Sir Charles Russell did not press for the admissibility of the evidence.


I want (then proceeded Mr. Asquith, speaking to Mr. Parnell) to ask you about these various funds, and your knowledge of them. You have the sheet before you. Have you any knowledge of the raising of the fund of $4,000 to the widow of Mr. Mitchell? - No. Mitchell was a prominent Irishman who took part in the movement of 1848. He died in America. Mr. Parnell also added that he knew nothing of the Skirmishing Fund of $88,306. The fund was closed before he went to America, and the Irish Land League never received any contribution from that fund. The fund was in fact closed before the League was established. He certainly was of opinion that it was unwise of Mr. Davitt to accept the money, and, perhaps, still more unwise of him to return it. (Laughter.) He knew nothing of the Rossa testimonial. With regard to the Land League fund, he explained that the Irish World opened a column to collect funds for the League. This action was strongly objected to on the part of the leaders of the organisation in America. He (Mr. Parnell), however, did not feel himself at liberty to refuse to accept remittances from the Irish World. The money was used for the purposes of the League, in the same way as the money was used which had been collected in Ireland. He had nothing to do with the Widow Walsh Fund, the Martyr Testimonial, or the O'Donnel Defence Fund.


Now with reference to the whole of this movement since it was started in 1879 up to the present day, have you, to the best of your ability, honestly endeavoured to conduct it within constitutional lines and within the limits of the law? - I can say that I have honestly endeavoured to conduct it within the limits of the constitution and the law, and have endeavoured to keep it free from crime. I will, however, make this exception with regard to the technical offences with which we were charged in Dublin at the State trials of 1880. We were charged with inciting the tenants not to pay their rents, and if that be an offence against the law we admit it; and if the same thing come over again we should do the same thing again.


Mr. Asquith then resumed his seat, and the Attorney-General at once rose and opened the cross-examination.
"I will first take one or two points to which you have referred this morning," he said. "Do I understand you to say that till Le Caron's disclosures you did not know the Clan-Na-Gael was what I may call a murder society? - Absolutely so.
Or that it had anything to do with dynamite? - I do not admit that I know it now, or that it is the case.
Am I to take it that it is quite a new suggestion to you that a dynamite policy was any part of the Clan-Na-Gael programme until Le Caron gave his evidence? - Yes, perfectly.


Do you remember purchasing United Ireland? - Perfectly.
By whom was United Ireland edited after its purchase? - By Mr. O'Brien up to the present time.
Practically continuously? - Yes.
I am dealing with the period from the 13th of August, 1881, up to the time you were arrested and sent to Kilmainham. I will call your attention to a paragraph in the very first number of United Ireland of the 13th August, 1881. Sir Richard then proceeded to read a paragraph headed "O'Donovan Rossa's warning to landlords." It was an extract from the Irish World, in which O'Donovan Rossa warned the Irish landlords, that the scattered Irish people were organising themselves to exercise vengeance on the landlords. They were not going to let the landlords carry on their work with impunity, and the scattered Clan-Na-Gael had determined, for every eviction in Ireland, to record a death sentence against the "murderer's house." The Irish race, all the world over - it was added - would give their support to the avenging angel.
Mr. Parnell said that he had never seen or heard of that paragraph before. He, however, explained that the "Clan-Na-Gael" was an expression used when alluding to the scattered Irish race, and he believed O'Donovan Rossa used it in that sense, and did not refer to the organised body of the Clan-Na-Gael in America.


Against the declaration of Mr. Parnell that the Irish World assumed a policy of hostility to the Irish Parliamentary Party after the release of prominent members from Kilmainham, the Attorney-General, in his question, emphasised the fact that the League continued to receive funds through the medium of that journal. That might be so, Mr. Parnell explained, but up to that period the American branches of the League were in the habit of sending their contributions to the Irish World, and from that journal they were sent on to the central offices of the League. Subsequently, and for some months after the change of the journal's policy, outlying branches continued to send the funds to the World office, and this they filtered through to the central office.
Asked whether he could give reasons why the journal changed its policy to the Irish Parliamentary Party, Mr. Parnell replied, "I have not the advantage you appear to have had of reading the Irish World all through these years."
"You are at liberty to put what you like upon me, Mr. Parnell," warmly retorted the Attorney-General. "You may speak of my advantage in reading the paper, but can you give me the reason of the change of policy?"
"I could, I am sure," was the careful reply, "if I had the opportunity of searching the files."
"Will you swear that the Irish Parliamentary Party has not received thousands of pounds from the Irish World since and between 1882 and 1886?" - "So far as I know, the party has received nothing at all from that source; if so, it is a surprise to me."


I admit (proceeded Mr. Parnell) that the Irish World worked very hard up to the release from Kilmainham, and was the means of transmitting large sums of money. Mr. Patrick Ford's hostility was due to the withdrawal of the No-rent Manifesto, the Kilmainham Treaty, and our Parliamentary action in the House of Commons in 1886.
Did you say that Ford had constantly denounced your policy for four or five years? - Yes.
Will you give the worst denunciation of Mr. Ford of your policy since 1882? - I cannot. I cannot carry these matters in my head. I have never stated that Ford was opposed to the Land League.
Is it not a fact that the Irish Parliamentary Party have received thousands of pounds after 1882, collected by the Irish World? - For the Irish Parliamentary Party?
The Attorney-General - Yes, for the Irish Parliamentary Party? - Not so far as I know. They did not collect anything for the Irish Parliamentary Party.
You swear that the Irish World was opposed to you after 1882. Will you pledge your word that you have not received thousands of pounds since collected by Patrick Ford? - The Irish World changed its policy after the introduction of Mr. Gladstone's Bill; but not, so far as I know, has the Irish World collected money for the Irish Parliamentary Party.
That is entirely new to you, then? - Yes.


Do you not know that Ford and the Irish World were, through the years 1884-85, collecting large sums for the Irish Parliamentary Party, and remitting it by the treasurer from America?
The Attorney-General, in connection with this question, called Mr. Parnell's attention to a letter from Mr. Davitt, published on the 24th of October, 1885, in the Irish World, in which Mr. Davitt, after alluding to the "unparalleled services it rendered to the Land League movement," spoke of the fact that "the first inspiration of the movement and most of its financial strength came from the Irish World." Would that, up to 1882, accord with the witness's views? - Mr. Parnell replied that he did not agree with Mr. Davitt that the chief inspiration came from the Irish World, but from the Irish people themselves. He had never heard until this moment that through 1884 and 1885 Patrick Ford and the Irish World collected large sums of money for the Irish Parliamentary Party.


A long argument ensued as to the admissibility of certain extracts from the Irish World, the Attorney-General remarking that his object in calling attention to them was to show that Mr. Parnell's statement was not correct when he said that the Irish World was constantly denouncing him, and not on his side for the last five or six years. Sir Charles Russell had stated distinctly that neither directly nor indirectly had Mr. Parnell ever received any funds after November, 1882.
Sir Charles Russell, who objected to the admissibility of the extracts, contended that there was no charge contained in the paragraphs which the Attorney-General now desired to read.
The President pointed out that one of the charges against the persons inculpated - and amongst them Mr. Parnell - was that they had been connected with the Irish World, and had used it for the purposes of their movement in Ireland. Mr. Parnell had contended that there was no such connection after a particular date, and he thought it was necessary to give the columns of the Irish World in evidence to show, if possible, that that statement was incorrect. It was, in fact, the only means by which the Attorney-General could contradict that statement.


The Attorney-General consequently proceeded to read extracts from the Irish World. They were written in support of the Messrs. Redmonds, who went to America in support of Mr. Parnell's policy. One extract was as follows: - "We believe in making reprisals against the English - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. All material damage possible ought to be inflicted upon the enemy. England ought to be plagued with all the plagues of Egypt - scourged by day and terrorised by night until England falls paralysed upon her knees, and begs Ireland to fall from her."
Mr. Parnell expressed his opinion that that article was written at the time of the transition of the Irish World to a policy of physical force, and Mr. Ford did not think it wise at that time to openly oppose his (Mr. Parnell's) movement. Other extracts were then read, all of which the Attorney-General contended were in favour of the Land League in Ireland. One referred to a circular which had been received from Patrick Egan, the Treasurer of the League; and stated that although they could not entirely support the League in the whole of its programme, they recognised its main object to be a true and patriotic one.


Mr. Parnell went on to deny that he knew the person who wrote in the Irish World under the nom de plume of "Transatlantic." He added that he was not aware that that gentleman had subscribed to the Irish Parliamentary Fund.
The Attorney-General read an extract from the Irish World, in which "Transatlantic" stated he had subscribed 1 pound towards the fund, and asked, "Can you say now that you were not aware he subscribed to the fund?"
"I must say (said Mr. Parnell) that I did not know "Transatlantic" subscribed to the fund; but I am very pleased to hear he did." (Laughter.)
"That may be adroit," was the Attorney-General's reply; "but it is not to the point."
Mr. Parnell added that he should not hesitate to accept "Transatlantic's" subscriptions if, at the time, he was not engaged in publishing his murderous writings.


The Attorney-General then asked Mr. Parnell with reference to a subscription of $50 from Patrick Ford to the Irish Parliamentary Fund in October, 1885, and the witness replied that that was a personal subscription of Patrick Ford. It was a complete revelation to witness, and he thought it was at the time of the downfall of the Liberal Government, and the Irish World was in some hope of getting an Irish Parliament from the Tory Government. "It," said Mr. Parnell, "indicated a change of policy on the part of Patrick Ford after my interview with Lord Carnarvon."
Mr. Parnell here said he wished to modify some of his statements made in his examination-in-chief. The Irish World did at times speak favourably of himself, but not in a sense that he could approve. With regard to the contributions, they appeared to have been made after the overthrow of the Liberal Government in the autumn of 1885. It would not be his duty to study the Irish World and see.


Further questioned, Mr. Parnell denied that there had ever been any connection between him and the Physical Force Party. The idea of attacking the landlords as a garrison had never entered his head. The landlords had always been known as a garrison.
Was it or not part of your policy that the landlords should be driven out of Ireland? - Not necessarily driven out as individuals.
Then, it never did enter your scheme to combine with the Fenian Party, or what I call the Nationalist Party, for the purpose of driving out the "English garrison," as a first step to independence? - I have always thought that for years the extermination of the landlords' interest in the soil, and the division of the classes under the maintenance of the landlord system, would materially remove formidable obstacles to obtaining an Irish Parliament.


Then, it is erroneous to suggest that there was a combination of the open Land League and the secret physical force movement? - Absolutely erroneous. I believe to this day that the physical force organisation has been consistently hostile to us.
Now I will deal with the question as it relates to Ireland. Now, after the year 1880, can you pledge your word to any instance of opposition on the part of the Physical Force Party to the Land League, except the two cases you have mentioned at the Rotunda and at Enniscorthy? - The League was driven out of a part of Mayo by the Physical Force Party, and I have no doubt there are many instances in which they had opposed the League. After 1880, however, the League became too strongly established for the physical force party to affect them. Mr. Parnell added that he could not give any instance of opposition on the part of the Physical Force Party after the Rotunda meeting. He admitted hearing of the Stephen's section of the I.R.B., but denied that Mr. Davitt told him that the opposition came from that section alone.


Now, when you went to America in 1879, were you not met by a prominent Nationalist at Queenstown, who told you that, as a Fenian, he should oppose your policy? - I have no recollection of the occurrence; but if you will tell me the man's name I might answer you.
I have reasons for keeping the name secret. Now, do you remember that prominent Nationalist meeting you attended at Queenstown, on your return to America, and to his telling you that he had changed his attitude towards your crusade while you had been in America? - I have no recollection of such a circumstance, but I will not swear that it did not happen.
Did you meet Mr. Doran at Queenstown? - Yes.
Did such a conversation take place with him? - I do not recollect it, but if Mr. Doran says it did, I should be inclined to believe him. I do not recollect meeting Mr. Doran on my return from America. Mr. Parnell added that while on that visit to America he did not meet any men whom he knew as Nationalists in 1878. He knew Mr. Davitt went to America in the middle of 1878.


Did you know what he went for? - No. He did not tell me he was going, or consult me about it. Neither did we discuss the question of a combination with various sections in America or elsewhere.
Do you remember receiving a telegram from Mr. Davitt, stating that the Nationalists in America would support you on certain conditions? - I believe the telegram was sent by Devoy, and was intended for me, but I never received it.
Then whatever scheme - if there was one in 1878 - which was entered into you had nothing to do with it? - Nothing whatever.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


On resuming, Mr. Parnell, replying to the Attorney-General, declared that he was not made aware of Mr. Davitt's plans prior to that gentleman's departure for America. He knew Mr. O'Leary from the year 1877, but he did not know of any negotiations between Mr. Davitt and the Extreme Party.
Do you know whom he saw when in America? - I suppose he saw those gentlemen whom he best knew.
Well, perhaps you think that an answer to my question. I do not. Did he see John Derry? - I can't say, but I presume he did.
Did he see anyone else? - I'm sure I can't say, but I presume he saw hundreds of thousands of people. (Laughter.) I can't say who he was in communication with.


As to John Devoy's presence in Ireland in 1878 and 1879, Mr. Parnell asserted that he did not know of it until after he had left the country, and was quite positive he had no interview with him at that period. He denied that at any time he met Devoy and Mr. Davitt, or that the constitution of the future Land League was discussed at such an interview. It was possible that Mr. Davitt mentioned that he was in communication with Devoy upon the subject, but he had no recollection of it.
Do you mean prior to Davitt's second visit to America in 1880 you had no knowledge of the Devoy connection? - I had no knowledge of Devoy, except in a general way. I did not have any knowledge that Devoy and Davitt had been arranging this plan. I did not, I repeat, know what Devoy came over to Ireland for.


When asked as to what name the Fenian organisation went under in 1877, Mr. Parnell said he did not know whether Mr. Biggar told him then that it was the Supreme Council or the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He did not remember that Mr. Davitt ever mentioned the names of those who were joining him in actively promoting the land agitation. Witness knew the Nallys - P.W. Nally and J.W. Nally - somewhere about the end of 1878 or the beginning of 1879. He did not know they were Fenians then. He had heard extracts read from "Scrab" Nally's speeches, and did not approve of them. He (Mr. Parnell) had much more important work to do in Ireland than to repudiate the speeches of the Nallys, but he disapproved of them then as he did now. He had no knowledge that Matt Harris was connected with the Fenian organisation. He did not know Moran.
Did you know Malachi Sullivan? - I knew him. He was rather a white elephant. (Laughter.)
The Attorney-General - Never mind about his being a white elephant. Was he a Fenian? - Very possibly he was.
Now I again call your attention to the "Landlord Garrison" speeches. Was not the "Landlord Garrison" spoken of as being a bar to the independence to Ireland? - No doubt that expression was often used.
Then, would not anyone listening to Mr. Davitt understand that that speech was in favour of driving the landlords out of Ireland? - I don't think so.
The Attorney-General next read a speech made at the same meeting by Mr. Malachi Sullivan, who was reported to have expressed an opinion that there was sufficient manliness still left in the Irish people to demand their rights and liberty. "A doctrine of the people for the land, and the land for the people, must be laid down, and, if necessary, the tenants must lay down their lives for it. It was better to die in the battlefield than in the ditch." Mr. Parnell denied that anyone listening to those speeches would not think that Mr. Davitt and Mr. Sullivan had not been invited to join the open and constitutional movement. Mr. Sullivan was, he added, engaged as a clerk of the Land League, and might have assumed the title of assistant-secretary of the League.


In your regard to your visit to America, who did you first meet when you arrived there? - John Devoy.
And you met him afterwards repeatedly? - Yes.
Did you know that he was a Fenian? - I knew that he had been connected with the old physical force struggle, and had suffered for it. Mr. Parnell further admitted that, while in America, he met Breslin, J.T. Finnerty, W.J. Hinde, and Alexander Sullivan, but he positively denied knowing that they were Fenians.
Did you know Dr. Carrol? - Yes.
Did you know he was a Fenian? - Well, shortly before I left America I was told he was a representative of the Physical Force Party.
And did you do anything to sever your connection with him? - Well, no. I did not hear of it until just before I left America.


Up to the time of leaving Ireland, continued Mr. Parnell, he had no knowledge whatever of the Clan-Na-Gael, and not till the end of his American tour did he hear of it, when he was led to understand it was a body corresponding with the I.R.B. in Ireland, and a mischievous organisation.
The Attorney-General hear read a long manifesto - a task which occupied about ten minutes - purporting to be signed by Devoy, Dr. Luby, and Dr. O'Carrol, in favour of the "National Fund," and containing strong expressions denunciatory of the landlords and the British Government. In the midst of his task Mr. Asquith interposed, appealing to their Lordships as to whether it was necessary that the whole of the manifesto should be read.
"I was thinking the same," retorted the President, smiling.
The Attorney-General explained that he thought it most important that it should be read, and, having gone through with it, asked, "Now, Mr. Parnell, will you say that you had never seen that manifesto?"
"I have never seen or heard of it," was Mr. Parnell's reply, received by the President and the spectators with much laughter.


The Attorney-General next read some extracts from the speeches of Mr. Parnell, including the "last link" speech, from a Cincinnati paper, and Mr. Parnell repeated that if he made use of the words they were largely qualified by other matter. It was possible, he thought, that that part of the speech was given by someone else, and attributed to him.


The Attorney-General drew Mr. Parnell's attention to the following paragraph in the report of his speech, which ran as follows: - "When England is at war, and is beaten to her knees, the idea of the Irish Nationalists may be realised." Mr. Parnell admitted that the Physical Force Party were generally known as Nationalists. He, however, confessed that he did not remember uttering that especial sentence.
The Attorney-General next asked for an explanation from Mr. Parnell why he, on a public platform at Detroit, accepted from Michael Kennedy $25, of which Kennedy said, "Five were for bread, and twenty for lead"? - Mr. Parnell replied that he was very glad to receive the money and he understood that $5 were meant for their charitable movement and $20 for the Land League.
Do you know that that expression of "$5 for bread and $20 for lead" was repeated all over Ireland, and that the construction was put upon it that it was in favour of the use of physical force? - By your side, Mr. Attorney.
What do you mean by that? - By the Tory Party in Ireland.


Sir Richard next called Mr. Parnell's attention to a speech which he made in Pittsburg, in which he was reported to have said that he did not care whether their objects were attained by constitutional means today or by an appeal to arms tomorrow. "Would not that speech," he asked, "lead one to suppose that he was in favour of physical force, if it was necessary." Mr. Parnell said he would not like to answer that question until the report of his speech was verified by the original reports in the local newspapers.
The Court then adjourned.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday May 1, 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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