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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 12 Feb 2013 - 9:47

Seventy-fifth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, May 7, 1889





The Court was very crowded this morning. It was anticipated that Mr. W. O'Brien and Mr. E. Harrington - the latter in his prison clothes - would be present. The consequence was that a throng of eager spectators crowded the Court long ere the Judges arrived. Mrs. Gladstone had her seat in the jury-box, near Lady Cunynghame and Lady Stanley, and Mrs. Adair found a seat amongst the artists on the opposite side of the Court. In other parts of the little apartment were ladies and gentlemen well-known in fashionable social circles. In fact, so great was the demand for seats that both ladies and gentlemen took possession of the usually vacant spaces on either side of the Judicial Bench.


At the outset Mr. Parnell made two corrections of his cross-examination. The first had reference to Dr. Siegerson. He had described that gentleman as a personal friend but a political enemy. That description, he understood, had caused Dr. Siegerson great pain, for it was not true, and the doctor wished it to be understood that he was entirely with the Irish Party. The second correction was a still more important one. It had reference to Mr. Parnell's assertion on Friday, made, it must be remembered, in reply to questions put by the Attorney-General, that he misled the House of Commons deliberately when he said, in the course of a debate in the House of Commons some years ago, that secret societies had ceased to exist in Ireland. "I find," said the Member for Cork, "on reference to my speech in 'Hansard,' that the representation that secret societies had ceased to exist was within the scope and drift of that speech, for in the passage in question I was referring to the great Ribbon organisation which had been very strong in the history of Ireland, and which commenced to crumble away in 1872, and the subsequent years, and which, at the date to which I referred, were practically non-existent. That was a fairly accurate representation of the state of existing affairs so far as I knew them, and not a misleading statement made either intentionally or otherwise. I, of course, knew that the great Fenian organisation had branches all over Ireland, and, looking at the statement that secret societies had ceased to exist, I suppose I referred to the cessation of the Fenian societies, as well as other secret societies."


Then followed a brief conversation, conducted sotto voce, between Mr. Lewis and Mr. Cunynghame, the Secretary.
"Have Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Harrington arrived yet?" asked Mr. Lewis, leaning across the bench in front of the Q.C.'s seat.
"I don't know," was the reply.
"Will you inquire?" and the Secretary forthwith gave instructions that news of the prisoners arrival should at once by conveyed to him. A few minutes later it became known that both gentlemen were in the witness-room beneath the Court, and Mr. Cunynghame immediately left the Court, with the object of ascertaining whether they were desirous of partaking of refreshments.


In the meantime, the Attorney-General resumed the cross-examination of Mr. Parnell, prefacing it with the remark that he would defer the examination upon Mr. Parnell's explanation of this morning. His questions were directed to the question of the League books, and to ascertaining their present locale. Where they were Mr. Parnell was entirely unable to say.


Mr. Parnell was next questioned at some length by the Attorney-General respecting his connection with Maloney. He was asked if he was not aware that in 1885 and 1886 Maloney signed Mr. Parnell's name by procuration. - Mr. Parnell replied that he believed that was so. How was it the witness had not made any inquiry as to Maloney and the League books? Mr. Parnell replied that his connection with Maloney ended some years ago, when he ceased to be treasurer of the Land League. Since that time he had not seen him, and he was not present in his mind in any way. "Subsequently, after these proceedings commenced," said Mr. Parnell, "we heard that Mr. Soames, on behalf of the Times, had subpoenaed Maloney to produce any books or documents of the Land League in his possession, and the very thought of that would be sufficient to prevent me or Mr. Lewis going to Maloney, because it might be suggested that we were tampering with him."
The Attorney-General - Who informed you that Mr. Soames had subpoenaed Maloney? I am not sure, but I believe Mr. Timothy Harrington.
Mr. Maloney was, added Mr. Parnell, the treasurer of the League in 1884-86 in England, and was associated with Mr. Justin McCarthy and Mr. Biggar. He did not draw cheques from June, 1886, to June, 1887. He believed that Mr. Maloney's treasurership extended to the June election of 1885, but he could not tell when it ceased. So far as he knew, Mr. Maloney had no official connection with the League after the bankruptcy of his firm, but he might have been given a grant by the League afterwards to set him up in business. He knew little, he added, again referring to the missing books, about the clerks of the Land League, except that he found they were demoralised. He could not give the names of the clerks of the League; but he did not suppose that any of them knew what became of the books.


Leaving this topic, Sir R. Webster asked Mr. Parnell if he was aware that at the Cork assizes of 1881 the Land League paid a hundred guineas to defend moonlighters - the Attorney-General pointing out that a statement to this effect was made in the House by the then Attorney-General for Ireland in the presence of Mr. Healy, Mr. T.D. Sullivan, and Mr. Redmond.
Mr. Parnell replied that he thought some reference was made to it at the time, but it was not a matter within his own knowledge. He thought he heard at the time that a cheque for a hundred guineas was given for the defence. Mr. Parnell went on to explain the circumstances of this payment. Connell, or O'Connell, he did not know which, whom he himself knew committed a cruel murder shortly before the Assizes - the murder of a young man named Leary, in cold blood - turned Queen's evidence against a number of persons accused of a much lesser crime, and, he believed, within the knowledge of the constabulary authorities.
When did you have the knowledge that Connell, or O'Connell, committed the murder? - I obtained the knowledge in Kilmainham Prison from a Moonlighter who was brought in. I cannot tell you his name, but I daresay I can get it. I have never stated it before publicly. I did not communicate with the authorities, as I believed they were aware of it, and I did not think it would have had any effect if I had done so. Mr. Healy was, he added, in charge of the matter, and he obtained the release of the majority of the men charged. The Land League affairs were carried on by the Ladies' League when he and his colleagues were in Kilmainham. Some of the ladies might be able to give some information as to the payments. He, however, did not consider the payment a matter of importance after his release from Kilmainham.
Did you consider it of importance or not to ascertain who paid for the defence of the prisoners? I think it would have some bearing on the question. - It was not a payment over which I had official control.
Do you approve of the payment of 100 guineas for the defence of moonlighters? - If I had been asked to make the payment myself I should have made a careful inquiry into the circumstances of the case, and if I thought the law had been strained unduly, and that people were not likely to receive a fair trial, or persons were charged who were innocent of the offences charged against them, I might probably have entertained the request; but as a general rule my view with regard to applications for such payments was to limit them as far as I possibly could.


Mr. Parnell went on to explain that since his release from Kilmainham he had made one or two payments for the defence of men accused of serious crimes. In one case he recollected the man was acquitted. He forgot, however, what case it was. He thought it was one which occurred in Roscommon. He recalled the Watson House explosion. The prisoners were defended by counsel at the instance of Mr. Matthew Harris. He found the funds. His impression was that he sent a cheque on the National Bank, on Mr. Harris's representation that he (Mr. Harris) made himself personally liable for the defence. He was, however, instructed to take up no more defences in future.
What was the date of this transaction? - I should think about the beginning of 1883, or at the end of 1882.


From what fund did you draw the money? - It might have been from my own fund, or else out of the public money, or rather Land League money in the account of the Sackville-street Bank. Mr. Parnell added that he had paid money for Land League purposes out of his own private means.
What account was that money taken from? - That was the National Bank account.
Is not that the account which you instructed Mr. Asquith to say was a purely private account? - I have considered you were entitled to see the account covering the period of 1883-4-5, during which those payments were made.
Are you not aware that it has been stated that it was a private account at the National Bank which had been improperly obtained by the counsel for the Times? - Mr. Parnell replied that he had at that time had no opportunity of properly instructing Mr. Lewis. He admitted it was a fact that very large sums of money which he had drawn upon that private account at the National Bank came from Mr. Egan, from America, or from National League remittances.
Then, do you say that Mr. Asquith made the statement that you objected to the accounts being seen, only on the ground that they were private accounts, without your concurrence? - I think that statement must have been made at a time when I had not fully instructed Mr. Lewis on the subject.


The Attorney-General proceeded to examine Mr. Parnell further with regard to these accounts. Several sums of money had been, said the witness, paid to Thomas O'Callaghan, which Mr. Parnell handed to him for making inquiries concerning a certain industry in Belgium. Then there was a sum of 100 pounds, which was paid to Mr. T.P. O'Connor. Mr. Parnell could not say whether that was a private matter or whether it was paid for Land League purposes, Mr. O'Connor then being the head of the Irish National Press. Producing his bank-book, Mr. Parnell said he was willing that the accounts should be gone into.
The Attorney-General then read through the various entries, amongst them being several showing that different amounts were paid at different periods to Mr. Redmond, Mr. Biggar, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Parnell's private solicitor, and others.


The hon. Member was in particular pressed to explain three payments of 170 pounds, 50 pounds, and 150 pounds, within the space of three months, to Mr. Redmond. "Some of them, I believe, for public purposes, and some for private," answered Mr. Parnell. "I think the 150 pounds would be to cover the expenses of Mr. J.E. Redmond to America in 1884."
The Attorney-General - If to cover the expenses at America, from whose pocket? - It would come out of mine. Mr. Parnell went on to say that he paid a gentleman named Larkin altogether 1,000 pounds. That was in respect to some property witness purchased in Ireland.
The Attorney-General (reading from a list of accounts) - "27th of October, 1884. Gallagher, 50 pounds." Who is that? - Mr. Parnell (thinking) - That I cannot say, but I shall be able to ascertain it.
But what Gallagher? - That I cannot say, but I will easily find out. (Referring to a packet.) I am just seeing if I had the Redmond cheques.
The Attorney-General - If you have any cheques you will kindly produce them.
The President said that now these cheques were produced it would be an easy matter to hand them in.
Mr. Parnell - At the time I made my affidavit, my Lord, I was not aware I had these.


Further questioned, the witness said he did not know a man named Michael Ryan; certainly he had not spoken to him in recent years. He believed Mr. Davitt knew him well. Witness never knew P.S. Cassidy.
Did you know General Millen? - I have met him. I knew Dr. William Carroll very well. I knew Dr. Carroll in 1877. I knew him in connection with the New York Herald Fund in 1880.
Now, on the 16th of November, 1880, did you not telegraph to Dr. Carroll stating the conditions under which you could join his committee? - Yes.
And did you send a similar telegram to the New York Herald? - Yes.
Now did you not know Dr. Carroll was a leading member of the advanced section? - I knew he was a man with advanced views and opinions.
Mr. Parnell next told the Attorney-General that he did not know that Alexander Sullivan came to Ireland in 1881-2. In fact, he had not seen Alexander Sullivan since he left America in 1880.
Do you know his wife? - Yes.
Have you seen her since? - I met her accidentally at the Westminster Palace Hotel in 1884.
Was she then chaperoning a young lady? - She was travelling with a young lady friend. I saw her again in 1886, when she was on a similar mission.
Do you remember Gallagher's trial? - Yes.
Did you know that Boyton was over here at that time? - I believe he was.
Did he come over from America with Gallagher's sister? - That I cannot say.
Did you know that Austin Ford was a member of the Clan-Na-Gael? - My impression is that some of the Fords were members of the Clan-Na-Gael.
Did you know J.P. Hayes? - Well, he tried several times to obtain an interview with me, but I always refused him. When Mr. Davitt went to Paris to obtain information concerning Richard Pigott, I sent to J.P. Hayes and Joseph Casey to come over to Paris. Casey gave information which enabled us to expose Pigott.


Now I understand you never heard of Egan joining the Clan-Na-Gael or starting the Martyrs' Fund? - Yes.
If he did join the Clan-Na-Gael, and continued as a member during its most active time, would that change your opinion of Mr. Egan at all? - I should regret his drifting back to revolutionary feelings and views.
If he had started the Martyrs' Fund - a fund for the families of the Phoenix Park murderers - "as an incentive to others to do likewise," would you consider that the action of a man in favour of constitutional action? - I don't see any objection to subscribing for the innocent victims of the crime.
"But as an incentive to others to do likewise?" - "As an incentive to others to subscribe," Mr. Parnell replied amid laughter.
"Do you really think I mean that?" added the Attorney-General (angrily). He further explained that his suggestion was that the words, "as an incentive to others to do likewise," meant as an incentive to others to do as the "Martyrs" had done? - "If that is the interpretation you put upon it," Mr. Parnell said, "I should say not."


The Attorney-General - turning to the Irish World - questioned Mr. Parnell concerning his professed ignorance of the policy of that paper.
Mr. Parnell said he had never continuously read the Irish World at any time. He had, however, a general knowledge of its policy from rumour. He did not express any public approval of its teachings until after he separated from Mr. Ford in 1883.


The Attorney-General then proceeded to read from the Irish World the report of a speech which it was alleged Mr. Parnell made while in America. - Mr. Parnell, however, interrupted him, and said he did not admit any speeches reported by Mr. Ford, as they were not correctly reported. He deliberately charged Mr. Ford with publishing in his paper a garbled or incorrect report of his (Mr. Parnell's) speeches; and further charged that, by doing so, Mr. Ford endeavoured to persuade the Irish people that his (Mr. Parnell's) views were more advanced than they really were.
Do you mean to say that Mr. Ford was deliberately inserting in your speeches words and sentences which you had never used? - I do. He "twisted" several sentences.
The Attorney-General produced a message published in the issue of January 26th, 1881. Mr. Parnell denied that he had ever written such a message, or that it was either cabled to Mr. Ford or sent to him by letter. Having read the cable through, he pointed out several paragraphs that he did not agree with, and added that the message had once been brought to his notice either by Sir W. Harcourt or Mr. Forster, in the House of Commons, to show that there was a connection between the National Party and Mr. Ford.
Have you ever made a statement to the effect that Ford inserted words you had never used before today? - My attention had never been called to the matter until the commencement of this case.


The Attorney-General now wished to again call Mr. Parnell's attention to his statement respecting secret societies in 1879 and 1880. "You said you had received reports from people respecting them. From whom?" - "Mr. Davitt and Mr. Matthew Harris. Mr. Davitt had told me that the outrages in the West of Ireland were caused by secret societies, and Mr. Matthew Harris spoke about the breaking up of the Ribbon Society."
The Attorney-General referred Mr. Parnell to his speech in the House of Commons. Had he then Mr. Davitt's report that there were secret societies in the West of Ireland? - The witness replied that he did not think he had. He had in his mind the anticipation of the revival of a great Ribbon conspiracy, if the open organisation of the Land League was suppressed. He did not caution the authorities about the existence of these secret societies, as he thought the authorities knew more about them than he. He endeavoured to put down crime on Mr. Davitt's return from America; but his efforts were frustrated by the passing of the Coercion Act. It was impossible (he added) to get the Irish people to assist in detecting crime until they saw the law was justly administered in all parts. He could not, he proceeded, call to mind that he had denounced secret societies.


Le Caron was now the subject of a few questions. Mr. Parnell averred that he had no recollection, either of the name of Le Caron, or of his appearance. He had several interviews with American gentlemen at about the time when Le Caron alleged he had the interview with Mr. Parnell. He would not say he did not have any interview with Le Caron, of forty minutes' duration, in the Lobby of the House of Commons; but he thought it was highly improbable.
Did you speak to Mr. O'Kelly about it? - Yes.


The Attorney-General then resumed his seat, and Sir Charles Russell rose to examine Mr. Parnell. Sir Charles first questioned Mr. Parnell concerning his statement that, after 1882, no money was received by the National League through the Irish World until in recent years, when Mr. Ford again changed his policy.
Mr. Atkinson, in this connection, read a number of extracts showing that money had been received from America in 1885, but Mr. Parnell pointed out that that actually bore out his statement, that they had again received money from the Irish World, when the Irish Party turned the Liberal Government out of office and brought in a Conservative Government.
At this point the Court adjourned.


Upon resuming, Sir Charles Russell resumed his re-examination of Mr. Parnell. "My opinion is," said the witness, "that, after the release from Kilmainham, the Irish World ceased to collect funds for us. During 1882, 1883, 1884, and a part of 1885, no money was collected by that paper for, or transmitted to, us. At the latter part of 1885 the policy of the paper changed again, and favoured our policy."
During what period did the paper advocate the dynamite policy? - Between 1882 and 1884. After that I believe Ford realised that, from the attitude of the Irish in America, he could not, his circulation falling off, continue his opposition to us.
Sir Charles Russell produced passages from articles which appeared in that journal in direct opposition to the Parnellites. One of these asserted that the paper had always maintained that it was absolutely useless to send representatives to America.
"That," said Mr. Parnell, "is a direct attack upon us, and, is intended, I think, to show that we were useless."


Turning his attention to secret societies, Sir Charles asked Mr. Parnell to describe the organisations, especially the moonlighting section. Mr. Parnell said outrages were committed by the lower classes of Fenians, who banded themselves together in different localities, and went about for the sole purpose of intimidating tenants, and attempting to prevent them paying rent. Small farmers and the sons of small farmers were members of these bodies, and participated in the attacks.
They differed, I may take it, from the Fenian organisation? - Yes. They were not directed or controlled by a central body.
They were local associations, then? - Yes; and controlled by local organisers.
Connected with the League? - In no respect were they connected with the League.


At this point there was an unusual sensation in Court. The doors on the Parnellite side opened, and Mr. George Lewis entered. He pushed his way down to the solicitors' table. He was followed by two gentlemen, one clad in a long light brown check Inverness, and the other in a blue velvet-collared coat. There was a movement amongst the Nationalists. First one rose, and then the other, and warmly grasped the hands of the new-comers. Even the counsel stood up and whispered words of welcome. From their personal appearance one could scarcely recognise that these were Messrs. Harrington and O'Brien. In the personal appearance of the former an almost indescribable change has been wrought. His face, formerly round, jovial, and the very embodiment of robust, healthy manhood, is drawn and pinched. The moustache, once very voluminous and luxuriously cultivated, is short and bristly, and the hair is cropped close and thin. Indeed Mr. Harrington bears unmistakable traces of illness and care, and unusual fatigue and unrest. Mr. O'Brien has apparently not suffered so much from his imprisonment. Besides his long Inverness, he wore round the neck a chocolate and gold scarf, and carried an umbrella. He was very pale, and his beard, usually carefully trimmed, was unkempt. He, too, shows traces of his hard prison life. Having taken their seats, they continued for some little time to be the recipients of congratulations from their confreres, many of whom appeared to be acutely affected by their appearance. Neither Mr. O'Brien nor Mr. Harrington wore the prison clothes.
(The report will be continued.)

On Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Harrington arriving at the Court they were detained in a room under the Court, where they held a long consultation with Mr. Reid, Q.C., immediately on their arrival. As the result of the consultation, Mr. Harrington, who was at the time in prison clothes, consented to change them for his ordinary attire.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday May 7, 1889, Pages 2-3

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

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