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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 9 Feb 2013 - 3:21

Seventy-fourth Day of Proceedings - Friday, May 3, 1889





Mrs. Gladstone and her daughter (Mrs. Drew), Lady Rosebery and Miss Brett, Lady Coleridge and her sister (Miss Russell), and Lady Smith and her daughter, were amongst the earliest arrivals this morning. The Marquis of Huntly, Archbishop Walsh, and Canon Daniel had seats on the Bench and in the Jury-box. Amongst others present were Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, M.P., Mr. R. Leake, M.P., Mr. W. Mather, M.P., Canon McColl, Hon. Mr. Napier, and Hon. Bernard Coleridge.
The Judges took their seats at about five minutes to eleven - five and twenty minutes later than usual - when the cross-examination of Mr. Parnell was resumed.


The Attorney-General referred Mr. Parnell to another extract from the Irishman of the 5th of April, 1884, which mentioned that, "Beyond the Atlantic we have a staunch and powerful ally, with vast resources, daring courage begotten of freedom, and ready to strike whenever a blow can be delivered." Did not that article encourage recourse to physical force? Mr. Parnell said he did not approve of it. He wished to say that since last night he had ascertained he was wrong in saying the editor of the Irishman was William O'Brien. The editor was James O'Connor, who was received from Pigott's staff.
"When did this come to your recollection?" asked the learned counsel. "Have you had a conversation with anyone?" - Mr. Parnell replied that he had - with Mr. Davitt. He did not recollect that he had spoken to anyone else about it since last night. He told Mr. Davitt that he was sure the articles were very unlike anything written by Mr. William O'Brien, and he then found out that they were written by Mr. James O'Connor. He could not say that many paragraphs of the same character appeared in United Ireland. James O'Connor was on the staff of that paper now.
Do you know that many paragraphs of the same character which appeared in the Irishman appeared in United Ireland both before and after the death of the Irishman? - I cannot say without comparing the file of the two papers.
Will you undertake to say they were not? - I don't say anything about it. I have said that articles appeared in United Ireland which were stronger than I approved.


Have you repudiated them? - I have often remonstrated with Mr. W. O'Brien as to what appeared.
I am unwilling to press you, but I must ask you, have you repudiated in public speech any of these utterances in United Ireland? - Certainly not; it is not my habit to repudiate the utterances of my colleagues of which I may disapprove. That would not be the way to bring about the alteration I desire.


Is Mr. W. O'Brien a leader of the Irish people? - A most distinguished leader. He is beloved by the Irish people, and undoubtedly they would attach great and just importance to his teachings. I believe his teachings are considered to be in advance of mine.
Have you directly or indirectly in public severed yourself in the slightest degree from Mr. W. O'Brien? - Not at all - save as to the "Plan of Campaign." Had I thought Mr. O'Brien's articles
were seriously endangering our party, or the peace of the country, I should have considered whether the great advantage of the presence of a man of such distinguished ability as a journalist and eloquence as a speaker was not counterbalanced.
Speaking as to Mr. O'Brien as a member of your party, do I understand you separated? - No. The occasion has never arisen for me to do so, and I hope it never will.
The Attorney-General then put further questions to Mr. Parnell as to his connection with the Irishman. He said he carried on the Irishman in order to employ James O'Connor.
Am I to understand that you were in ignorance of Mr. O'Brien's policy in conducting the Irishman in 1882? - I assure you I knew nothing about the policy of the Irishman at that or at any other time. I suggested that it should stop when we had organised United Ireland. "The Irishman," said Mr. Parnell at this point amid laughter, "was a sort of damnosa hereditas received from Mr. Pigott."


Am I to understand that it was your intention privately to let the Irishman die a natural death after United Ireland held the field? - Undoubtedly United Ireland was the paper.
Are you aware that every copy of the Irishman down to the last issue, which was on the 28th of February, 1885 - two years after the time you have mentioned - there appeared the following notice, "Printed and published at the office, 53, Lower Abbey-street, Dublin"? Were those the Land League offices? - I think not. They were the offices of the Irishman and of United Ireland.
"By William O'Brien," Sir Richard added; "To whom all communications should be addressed"? - I was not aware of that. My impression is that Mr. James O'Connor was editor of the Irishman.
Am I to understand that you mean now to represent that from 1882 to 1885 you were ignorant as to whether your wishes, with regard to the death of the Irishman had been carried out? - Absolutely. I assumed my wishes had been carried out. I did not attach importance to it at any time.
James O'Connor is a convicted Fenian, is he not? - I think that may be so.
The Attorney-General here handed a copy of a letter to Mr. Parnell. He admitted that he had written the letter, which was sent as a circular to the various branches of the League in Ireland. The epistle related to the establishing of United Ireland by the Land League, and in it there appeared the statement that the new journal would not interfere with any other national journal. Mr. Parnell said that did not refer to the Irishman, but to the Nation, as he thought Mr. Sullivan, who was editor of that paper, and his readers would be indignant at the League starting an opposition paper.


The Attorney-General continued to read extracts from the Irishman, many of which Mr. Parnell admitted were highly reprehensible, and could not be construed as to being opposed to the use of dynamite. In this connection the Attorney-General read an article of the 24th of May, 1879. This referred to the fact that a few nights before a man named Ryan was fired at, but was not hit, for having given evidence against the Crusheene conspirators. It concluded thus: - "It is not an incomprehensible fact that the people who back up the English Government in this country are regarded by the Irish people as rats that should be exterminated?"
Do you approve that? - Certainly not.
Do you represent that that appeals to a Constitutional movement? - I should not, certainly.
Another extract referred to the man Daly, who was convicted of having bombs in his pocket presumably for the purpose of throwing them in the House of Commons, as one who, "like a soldier, would bear the enemy's vengeance until death came to his release."
Do you know what he was convicted of? - Yes, he had these bombs in his pocket, and it was supposed that he was about to throw them in the House of Commons, where they would have an equal effect all round.


I should like to add (proceeded Mr. Parnell) that he has also, I know, been a constant and avowed enemy both to Mr. Butt's movement and then to mine for many years. Upon one occasion, at a meeting at Dumbarton, near Glasgow -
Were you there? - Undoubtedly I was. He came down there and brought down a band of armed men, who violently attacked the meeting, put a stop to it, interrupted my speech, denounced us all, and Daly made his speech, and then drew off his forces and left us in peace.
Will you swear that that man Daly was not an organiser of the Land League? - I say distinctly he was not, and you are confusing him with another person.


An article of the 7th of February, 1885, from the Irishman, was next read by the Attorney-General. It stated that "Still the English people howl at Parnell for not denouncing dynamite. His silence is a proof of his statesmanship, and one of the best evidences that could be given of his sagacity." It went on to say that "for seven years the English press had never ceased to pour out its vituperation upon the Irish leader, and now it impudently called upon him to condemn the dynamitards." "Verily, Mr. Parnell has his revenge!" "Do you approve of that article?" asked Sir Richard.
"Certainly not," answered the witness. "The writer of that article evidently wished to represent what was not the fact, that I did not disapprove of the dynamite policy."
Then you think your utterances did not justify the paragraph? - Undoubtedly not.
The Attorney-General directed Mr. Parnell's attention to a speech he delivered in October, 1881, at Wexford, when he said, "He (meaning Mr. Gladstone) has a good word for Mr. Shaw. He has discovered that there are only four or five honest Irishmen in the country, and one of these is Mr. Shaw. He accuses me of not having repudiated what he calls the dynamite policy. Well, I am not aware that Mr. Shaw has repudiated the dynamite policy....Mr. Shaw did not repudiate the dynamite policy any more than I did." - Mr. Parnell replied that he was not aware that there was a dynamite policy; had he been aware of it he should have denounced it. If he had thought there was a movement in America in favour of dynamite he should have checked it at the outset. He did not repudiate O'Donovan Rossa's policy, because he thought O'Donovan Rossa only talked about dynamite to get subscriptions. He did not attach the slightest importance to O'Donovan Rossa.


Do you disapprove of the use of physical force in support of the aims - whatever they may be - of the Irish Party? - Most undoubtedly; altogether, I have always disapproved of it from the first time I entered public life. I have always thought that physical force was useless and criminal.
Then whatever is done must be by purely constitutional means? - If constitutional movement fails - of which there is no present prospect - I should have to consider whether I should not quit public life.


The statement of Mr. Parnell that he regarded the "five dollars for bread and twenty for lead" incident as a trivial incident, was the next subject of interrogation. The Attorney-General reminded the witness that in a speech at Wexford, following the incident, he alluded to the "five dollars for bread and twenty dollars for lead" at the meeting, when he was cheered.
Did you recite that incident with the intention of appealing to any particular section of the meeting? - No. I think it was a very stupid recitation, because it certainly had no object.
Could it be construed into the meaning that you had gained the support of the Physical Force Party in America? - I don't think so.
What effect did you think it would have upon the people who heard you? - That is impossible for me to say.
How did you interpret the loud and prolonged cheers which are reported to have followed your recitation? - I cannot speak as to the loud and prolonged cheers. I can only speak as to the accuracy of the report of my remarks.


Mr. Parnell's assertion yesterday, that until the Commission sat he knew nothing of the letters of John Devoy, which appeared in the Freeman in 1879, was the next subject on which the Attorney-General interrogated. In this connection Sir Richard read a speech made by Mr. Johnson on the 11th of January, 1881, who at that time was Solicitor-General for Ireland. In that speech Mr. Johnson called attention to the letter of John Devoy, advocating the disintegration of the British Empire, and said that letter had caused great excitement in Ireland.
Mr. Parnell admitted that he was present in the House of Commons when Mr. Johnson made that speech. "Then (asked Sir Richard) do you now deny that you have before heard that John Devoy's letter was the origin of the Land League movement?" "I doubt," said Mr. Parnell, "if I have ever read Mr. Devoy's letter to this day."
But you have sworn that your attention has never been called to this letter, showing the connection between John Devoy and this movement? - Undoubtedly my attention was called to it by Mr. Johnson.
That letter of Devoy's caused great excitement in Ireland, did it not? - I never heard that it did. It might have done amongst the landlords. (Laughter.)
Do you deny that that letter had a great deal to do with the formation of the Land League in 1878? - I don't think it had anything to do with it.
Were copies of the letters circulated by the Land League? - I never heard of it. I was not present at any meeting where it was decided upon such a circulation.
If it be true that such a circulation took place, will you adhere to your statement that the letter had nothing to do with the Land League? - I have already said that, so far as I know, the letter had nothing whatever to do with the formation of the Land League.


Turning to Mr. Dillon's speeches, the Attorney-General asked if Mr. Parnell was acquainted with any of them? - No. Mr. Parnell had never, he said, made himself acquainted with that gentleman's utterances. He had heard Mr. Dillon speak in the House of Commons; but he never made a practice of reading anybody's speeches except his own. (Loud laughter.) He regarded Mr. Dillon as a very prominent representative figure in the Irish Party; but he adhered, upon being pressed, to the assertion that he was totally unable to carry his speeches in his memory.
One speech of Mr. Dillon which the Attorney-General directed attention to contained an exhortation to the tenants to join the Land League in a manly manner, and not go before a Judge.
Asked whether he regarded that speech as conducting the movement within a constitutional line, Mr. Parnell replied that at that time he had occasion on several occasions to take grave exception to several things Mr. Dillon said, and to remonstrate with him for some of his public utterances.
Do you think that a private remonstrance was sufficient? - It was sufficient if, in addition, I by my public speeches, showed that I took exception to such utterances.


Your case is that whereas individual Nationalists supported you, the bulk of the Nationalists opposed you? - Excuse me, that is not my case at all.
What is it then? - I cannot tell it to you in a word; but as regards the position of the Nationalists, my position is this that in the organisation in Ireland the I.R.B. constantly and persistently opposed my views, and probably when the rank and file of that body joined us, the antagonism of the leaders was increased. Speeches by Barry and J.J. O'Kelly next came under review. "But at the time they spoke at Enniscorthy," said Mr. Parnell, "I did not know that they were members of the revolutionary party." Then there followed utterances of Mr. James Redpath - "who went about," said the Attorney-General, "from League meeting to League meeting." "Did you," asked Sir R. Webster, "take any steps whatever to separate yourself from Mr. Redpath, or terminate your connection with him?" - "I think I remonstrated with him very strongly." I think Mr. Redpath's objectionable speeches - and some were most violent and reprehensible - were limited in number, but the services he rendered to the movement in Ireland and America were considerable."
The Attorney-General alluded to a speech delivered by Mr. Redpath at an executive meeting of the Land League, held in Dublin, when he said, referring to the murder of Lord Mountmorres, "The friends of the Irish peasantry have altogether been too gentle in their conduct to this infamous scoundrel." It added that Lord Mountmorres had made "very disrespectful remarks about Fenians, and it they were going to do that they had better keep out of the West of Ireland, or else they would get hurt." - Mr. Parnell said he thought that speech most reprehensible. He should think he took an opportunity to remonstrate with Mr. Redmond.
Mr. Parnell further admitted to the Attorney-General that after his attention, and the attention of his colleagues, had been called to the violent speeches which had been made in Ireland, a convention was held in Dublin, at which he presided and at which Mr. Redpath spoke. Mr. Healy followed Mr. Redpath, and said he thought that, when Ireland achieved something of independence, it would express its sense of the work done by Thomas Redpath.
Do you not think that that kind of reference would be likely to enhance the value of the speeches delivered by Mr. Redpath? - I think Mr. Redpath's objectionable and reprehensible speeches were limited in number, and the services he rendered to the movement in America and Ireland were considerable.
Now, you have stated today that you have from time to time had to remonstrate with Mr. Redpath, Mr. Dillon, and others for their speeches and action. Before your cross-examination have you ever publicly stated that you have done so? - No; and I should not have done so now had I not been compelled to do so.


Some of the prominent men, mentioned in an earlier period of the trial, were now introduced. "I think it possible (said Mr. Parnell) I had an interview with Brennan just before Carey's statement appeared. He left for Paris. I have never seen him since. I last saw Mr. Egan in the late autumn of 1882. I think in Dublin or London. I have never seen him since. The last time I saw Byrne was the day on which I left the letter containing the 100 pounds with M'Sweeney at Palace-chambers. I last saw Sheridan at the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, a few days before my arrest. I saw Walsh some time before the formation of the Land League."
Did you know P.J. Tynan? - No.
Have you ever seen him? - No.
Under any name? - No.
Tynan's photograph was here produced, but Mr. Parnell denied that he had ever seen him, or that he ever knew that Tynan was in London or in Dublin with Byrne.


Now, you have stated that you have never lost confidence in Mr. Egan? - Yes.
He never expressed sympathy with the extreme section? - Not to my knowledge.
And has never palliated murder or advocated physical force? - No.
In fact, Mr. Egan would have been as unlikely to do so as yourself? - With regard to physical force as a contingency, in the event of the failure of the constitutional movement Mr. Egan would have gone further than I would have done; but with regard to outrage and crime, I am quite clear that Mr. Egan would never have palliated such things.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, the Attorney-General again directed his questions to Mr. Egan and his association with Mr. Parnell. He asked whether Mr. Parnell had not curiosity enough to follow the career, or, rather, read the speeches delivered by Mr. Egan during his residence in America? - Certainly not. He had never read, nor did he remember, his speeches. His opinion of Mr. Egan was formed at a period when he was working with him in connection with the Land League, and he had not followed his career since. As for his speeches, he would be less inclined to look for them than for his public acts, inasmuch as he was a person who very seldom made a speech.
The Attorney-General, however, produced and read from a speech of Mr. Egan's, in the course of which he asserted that from the days of the Whiteboys and Steelboys to those of the Land League their movement had always been directed against the "landlord garrison," and added that today they fought for their brothers and tomorrow for national independence.
Was that, asked the Attorney-General, within the limits of a constitutional movement? - Mr. Parnell thought it partook the form of a speech than an Irishman of Mr. Egan's position would deliver on St. Patrick's Day.
The question being again asked, Mr. Parnell replied, amidst laughter, that it seemed to be an after-dinner speech.


Did Mr. Parnell know that Egan was acquainted with Mullett? asked the learned counsel. No, Mr. Parnell did not know it. The Attorney-General reminded Mr. Parnell of a speech by Egan, reported in United Ireland on the 24th of March, 1883, wherein he said, "I know Mullett personally as of sound business principles and integrity of character. I do not believe that he has turned informer." Patrick Egan, said Mr. Parnell, joined the National League of America at its commencement. He was a member of the Land League up to the time he went to America. The witness never knew nor heard that Egan suggested the formation of the "Martyrs' Fund." Did Mr. Parnell approve of the "Martyrs' Fund" - a fund which was described as for the benefit of families of men who died on the scaffold, and under which it was intended that the families of those who pleaded guilty should not receive any portion of the fund? - The witness answered that he saw nothing illegal in the fund for the relief of the families of the murderers, but he thought it cruel that the families of those men who pleaded guilty should have been precluded in participating in it.
"Do you agree with it as a "Martyrs' Fund," asked the Attorney-General, and the reply was, "I don't think it is a correct appellation." He did not, he proceeded, know E.L. Carey - "not James Carey," explained the learned counsel - and was not aware that E.L. Carey was present at a banquet given to Frank Byrne after the Phoenix Park murders. When asked further as to John Devoy, Mr. Parnell said that Devoy was not in the O'Donovan Rossa section, but he believed he had been a member of the Clan-Na-Gael for a number of years past." This drew forth the remark from the learned counsel, "I am glad you agree with me on one point, Mr. Parnell." He knew it was charged against Devoy that "Skirmishing Fund" money had been used for Parliamentary agitation. That, he believed, was in 1879.


Now, you have stated your belief that the outrages in 1879-80-81, were the work of secret societies? - I have always been of opinion that this was the work of the local secret societies.
Have you ever before publicly expressed that opinion? - I cannot recollect, excepting in a speech of mine in the House of Commons.
Have you ever in any public speech denounced secret societies? - I dare say I have, but I cannot tell you.


Now, if in 1879-80 there existed secret societies who were adverse to the Land League, would there have been the slightest difficulty in the Land League detecting them and giving evidence as to what the societies were? - I cannot say. There was a great distrust in Ireland of the administration of the law, and people were very adverse to giving evidence against their neighbours, or getting the name of "informers." Mr. Parnell further admitted that he opposed Mr. Forster's Act of 1881, which was brought in subsequent to the abnormal increase in crime in Ireland. He admitted that it was urged by the supporters of the Act that the Act was justified by the increase in crime, and by the existence of secret societies.
Did you not, in the House of Commons, say that secret societies ceased to exist as an argument against the Bill? - I may have made an exaggerated statement.
Did you believe it to be true at the time you made that statement? - I have no recollection.


At this point the Attorney-General complained of being interrupted by running comments by counsel on the other side.
"Though I do not hear distinctly what is said," the President remarked, "I do hear a running comment going on, which, I think, must be exceedingly inconvenient to the counsel who is examining a witness.
Mr. Reid here interposed, and explained that he had simply addressed an observation to Sir Charles Russell.
"My observation did not apply to you," the President added.
The Attorney-General remarked that he had been personally inconvenienced by these proceedings during the past two or three days.


The Attorney-General next called Mr. Parnell's attention to the speech he made in 1881, in the House of Commons, in opposing Mr. Forster's Act, and in which he made the statement that secret societies at that time had ceased to exist in Ireland. Having read the statements from "Hansard," the Attorney-General asked if it was not a fact that it was made? - Yes. Mr. Parnell confessed he had made the statement, but it was made an as exaggeration of the actual facts of the case, and with the intention of misleading the House.
With the deliberate intention of misleading the House you said that secret societies had ceased to exist? - I think it's very probable.
Did you make that statement with the object of preventing the Act being passed? - I think very probably I did.
With the deliberate intention of exaggerating the fact? - Not necessarily so.
By gross exaggeration? - No.
How so, then? - I meant, undoubtedly, to convey, perhaps in an exaggerated manner, the effect of the Land League in the suppression of secret societies.
And you meant the House to believe, and through the House, the country, that secret societies had ceased to exist, and thus to prevent the passing of the Act? - Yes.


Have you ever said anything in your public speeches in the nature of a denunciation of the crimes of these secret societies? - After the passing of the Arrears Act crime decreased in a most remarkable and material manner, and thence-forward the necessity for denouncing it ceased to exist.
You have several colleagues and several newspapers working with you. Can you bring one instance of denunciation or argument against a crime? - I will inquire into the matter and tell you.
Can you tell me now, Sir? - I haven't noticed any.


Addressing his questions to Brennan and the Phoenix Park murders, the Attorney-General asked - Did you know that Brennan was acquainted with the Phoenix Park murders? - I do not know, and I can give you no information. Mr. Parnell went on to say that he remembered the explosions in connection with Cunningham and Burton, directed to the House of Commons, the Tower, and the Underground Railway; but declared that he did not know by whom the subscription was subsequently started on behalf of those men. He did not know, as a fact, till O'Shea communicated with him, that there was a suspicion against Sheridan that he was implicated in murder in 1882. He did not know that a warrant was out against him on that charge.
(The report will be continued.)


The Exchange Telegraph Company has good authority for the statement that, as the result of a consultation of Mr. Parnell's counsel, it has been decided to make an effort to conclude the evidence for the defence before the Whitsuntide vacation.

Source: The Echo, Friday May 3, 1889, Pages 2-3

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