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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 13 Feb 2013 - 7:55

Seventy-sixth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, May 8, 1889





Our visitors this morning included Mrs. Gladstone, the Duchess of Abercorn, Lady Phelps, the Misses Stanley, the Misses Pollock (daughters of Baron Pollock), Lord Leveson, and Mr. Cunynghame Graham, M.P. The Judges were very punctual. They arrived just as the clock pointed to half-past ten. Mr. O'Brien entered the Court shortly after, unaccompanied by Mr. Harrington, who, however, reached the Court shortly before twenty minutes to eleven.


Resuming his re-examination of Mr. Parnell, Sir Charles Russell produced a list of the committee of gentlemen who received Mr. Parnell on his visit to America. The object was to counteract the assertion of the other side that only extremists managed the American tour. The first meeting in New York was, Mr. Parnell said, attended by the leading gentlemen of the city, and the Irish World found fault with the composition of the committee that was formed to get the meeting up, as not being sufficiently advanced. In his first speech in America, delivered in Madison-square, Mr. Parnell said that, although a great many of his fellow-countrymen in America were in favour of armed rebellion, not one penny of the sum collected during his tour would go towards such a purpose.
Did you ever, in any speech, swerve one hair's breadth from that announcement? - Never. I never led anybody to believe that the money would be used for any purposes save for charitable distribution and the legitimate objects of the Land League. At the meetings held in Brooklyn, Mr. Parnell went on to say, Henry Ward Beecher spoke in favour of the objects of the gathering. Dr. Talmage wrote a letter couched in similar terms. Mr. Beecher entertained him during his stay in Brooklyn.
Sir Charles Russell had recited several names of those who were associated with the Reception Committee, when the President asked Sir Charles - "Do you think it necessary to go through all this?"
"I should not," was the reply, "were it not for the line the Attorney-General took up in cross-examination."
"I think that a few instances would suffice," remarked the President.


Sir Charles Russell said he would take the points as shortly as possible. Chicago, Indianapolis, Springfield, Buffalo, Troy, Newhaven, Baltimore, Pittsburg, and Detroit, were passed through very rapidly, Mr. Parnell showing that men of the very highest eminence in those towns and cities either presided at the meetings, wrote in sympathy with the movement, or appeared upon the platforms. He added that in several States he was entertained by the Governers at the State residences, was invited to address the State Legislatures, and was escorted several times by the State Militia in his progress through different cities. The freedom of the city of Chicago was (the hon. Member incidentally mentioned) presented to him.


Now taking every name that the Attorney-General has mentioned to you collectively, do they represent anything beyond an infinitesimal fraction of the persons who joined in this reception? - A very small fraction. With the exception of Mr. O'Morragh and Dr. Carroll (Mr. Parnell added), he believed none of the chairmen of his committees were Clan-Na-Gael men. He returned to Ireland, he proceeded, in 1880, to take part in the General Election. Later in that year he had a serious conversation with Mr. Davitt concerning crime in Ireland. The result was that Mr. Davitt issued a circular to the people denunciatory of crime, and also delivered speeches in various parts of Ireland strongly denouncing crime; and he continued to do this up to the time of his arrest in February, 1881.


In your judgment, is it a more effectual way to denounce secret societies, or to endeavour to draw men away from the secret societies to the open movement? - Having regard to the history of the country, I consider it is a more effectual way of restraining men from the commission of outrages to point out to them that such outrages are injurious to their cause, and that by the open movement they have more chance of securing their aims.
Reasoning with them on the open movement had the effect of withdrawing them from the secret societies? - I think so. I think a speech showing them the advantages of a different kind of movement is more likely to make them refrain from the commission of crime than public denunciation.
Has the effect of the open movement been to withdraw a large number of men from secret combinations? - I believe that a large number of young men have been drawn, from time to time, from the secret societies to our open movement, but the efficiency of the movement has been militated against by the successive Coercion Acts, and the unconstitutional proceedings of the Government in the arrests made it difficult to restrain men within the lines of the League.
Did you not take pains to secure the best men - Catholic priests and others - to take positions of prominence? - Invariably, the priests were either chairmen of the meetings, or spoke in condemnation of crime.
You spoke as a politician and they spoke from a moral point of view? - Yes. In Kerry the priests did not come forward so well, as the Bishop of Kerry was opposed to the League.


Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Asquith then read numerous extracts from Mr. Davitt's speeches, showing that in 1880 and 1881 Mr. Davitt denounced outrage and crime.


At the conclusion of the reading of these extracts Mr. Parnell told Sir Charles that the persons from whom outrage proceeded appeared to be the lower class of tenants and remnants of the Ribbon Society, who formed themselves into an organisation, and then went about the country committing outrage and crime. He did not think the Fenians ever promoted agrarian crime, because when the Fenian Society was strongest, in 1867, agrarian crime diminished. The Ribbon Society was started for the purpose of protecting the tenantry from the arbitrary and unjust action of the landlords. With regard to Sir William Harcourt's speech in the House of Commons, in which he charged Mr. Parnell with complicity in crime, Mr. Parnell said he was in Paris at the time the speech was made, and, consequently, did not hear it.


With regard to his banking accounts, Mr. Parnell told Sir Charles Russell that he thought it quite legitimate that his accounts should be seen during the periods in which outrages and disturbance was going on.
Sir Charles Russell proceeded to question Mr. Parnell upon these accounts, but the President pointed out that it was practically impossible for him to follow the matter from mere statements, and suggested that the accounts should be handed over to Mr. Cunynghame, and that he - assisted by counsel - should go through them. Sir Charles Russell consented to this course being taken. He, however, asked Mr. Parnell whether it was true that the funds of either the Land League, or of the National League had ever been applied to an improper purpose. Mr. Parnell replied that it was absolutely untrue.
In reference to the books of the League, Mr. Parnell said he had never had anything to do with the books, they were never under his control, and he knew nothing whatever about them.


At this juncture the affidavit of Dr. Kenny was produced. In this the doctor said that the books of the Land League went out of his possession in October, 1881, when he was arrested. The books then passed into the possession of Mr. W.F. Molney, who was himself shortly aftewards arrested. What then became of the books he did not know. The doctor added that he became treasurer of the League in 1886, and remained so up to the present date. The books of the League were in his possession conjointly with Mr. T. Harrington.


"Now," said Sir Charles to Mr. Parnell, on the conclusion of the reading of the affidavit, "so far as your knowledge is concerned, up to the present moment have any of those gentlemen who were formerly members of the Fenian body, since they joined your movement ever had anything to do with that body?" - "None of them have had anything whatever to do with the Fenian movement since they became members of my movement and party," said Mr. Parnell, with emphasis. Then Mr. Parnell went on to declare that the Physical Force Party were opposed to them up to 1880, and in support of this statement he related an incident which occurred in the year he had mentioned. When he was on his way to Cork he stopped at Kilarney. On alighting from the train he was met by a procession of farmers. This procession was attacked by another body of men belonging to the Physical Force Party, who were armed with revolvers. A fight, of course, resulted between the two parties, and ultimately it was arranged that if two of Mr. Parnell's party were handed over to the Physical Force Party as hostages the rest of the party should be allowed to proceed to Cork in peace. Mr. Cowan and Mr. John O'Brien were the two gentlemen who were handed over.


Scrab Nally was the subject of Sir Charles's next question. Mr. Parnell said that after the State trials of 1879-80 "Scrab" never spoke at any Land League meetings, because after he heard of the tone of his speeches he (Mr. Parnell) took steps to prevent him speaking.


You have been questioned by the Attorney-General with regard to the payment of money for the defence of men charged with Moonlighting. Now, is it not a fact that in the Connell case there were about sixty-five men charged, of whom three only were convicted? - Yes.
Is there not in Ireland a widespread distrust of the administration of the law? - Undoubtedly ; and I am of opinion that there is great reason for it.
Now, in the case of Mr. Hugh, in Roscommon - that man was acquitted? - Yes.
With regard to the Weston House case, Mr. Parnell added, he found, on referring to Mr. Campbell's shorthand note-book, that Mr. Matthew Harris wrote to him stating that he had defended the prisoner, and he afterwards sent Mr. Harris 50 pounds.
The President expressed his surprise that that notebook had not been disclosed, as he considered that letter at least referred to the matters under their consideration.
Mr. Parnell said their Lordships were perfectly welcome to see any letter that he had ever written or received.


Mr. Parnell, in proceeding, explained his position with regard to the newspaper company which started United Ireland. He said he had nothing to do with the paper after the negotiations for the purchase of the paper had been completed. Mr. O'Brien had complete control of it.
The President remarked that copies of the Irishman subsequent to its purchase by Mr. Parnell and others had been produced, and he thought the volume preceding that purchase should also be produced.
The Attorney-General undertook to produce it.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.
(The report will be continued.)


It is not so certain that Dr. P.H. Cronin has been murdered, as the New York papers were yesterday so ready to assert. He is missing; but there is a notion that he is still alive. One suggestion is, according to the Standard New York Correspondent, that he is on his way to London to testify that the American subscriptions for the Irish Nationalist movement have been diverted from the object intended by the subscribers, less than one-tenth of the total subscribed having been sent to Ireland. Another theory is that he has gone to make a search in regard to the deficit of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars in the revolutionary treasury, he being the Chairman of the Committee of Investigation and the custodian of the report prepared for the approaching Convention. This suggestion, however, adds the Correspondent, affords a ground for fearing that he has been the victim of violence. The Sullivan faction of the League suggest that Dr. Cronin has absented himself in order to create a mystery.


Other authorities take a more sombre view of the subject. The Times Philadelphia Correspondent states that Dr. Cronin was summoned by a stranger at about seven o'clock on Saturday evening to attend a man who was said to be lying terribly injured at Mr. Sullivan's house, Lakeview. Dr. Cronin drove off with the man in a buggy towards Lakeview, and has not since been seen. On Sunday morning, in the suburbs, the police found a large trunk, which had been thrown into a ditch. The interior was bespattered with blood, and there was some blood-stained cotton in it, containing a lock of fine brown hair. The police theory is that the corpse had been thrust into the trunk, cotton being packed round it to absorb the blood. The hair was bloody, and looked as if it had been chopped from the head by a blunt weapon. Dr. Cronin's friends think that the hair resembles his. A vigorously-conducted search has since failed to elicit any clue to the trunk mystery or the whereabouts of Dr. Cronin. More than fifty detectives are working on the case. Dr. Cronin's friends accuse Mr. Sullivan of complicity in the matter, but he denies the charge, and says that Dr. Cronin will turn up, and that the disappearance is an advertising dodge of the missing man's.


Alexander Sullivan, when seen, said, "I feel that Dr. Cronin will turn up presently, after he has made a sufficient sensation. I am not inclined to think that he has been murdered. For three years I have had nothing whatever to do with him, and I knew nothing of his comings or goings. The reason for the interview with Mr. Sullivan was, the New York Herald says, a statement made by Mrs. Conklin, in whose house Dr. Cronin lived, that Dr. Cronin had often said, "If I am every foully dealt with, Alexander Sullivan will be the man who will instigate it."


"Certainly I believe Cronin was murdered," was the remark of Michael Breslin, a well-known Irish Nationalist, and ex-President of the Land League. "I have seen it stated," he added, "that Cronin was a personal friend of Le Caron, the spy. That is a malicious mis-statement, and in my mind tends to prove that Cronin was murdered. So far from his being a friend of Le Caron, he was his pronounced enemy. Le Caron, in his testimony before the Parnell Commission, testified that he was present at the meeting of the revolutionary organisation at which Cronin was expelled."

Source: The Echo, Wednesday May 8, 1889, Pages 2-3

N.B. I believe that Dr. Cronin was giving information about the Clan-Na-Gael, Fenian Society and Land League movement to the British spy, Le Caron, and was murdered before he could testify at the Parnell Commission.

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

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