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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 21 Feb 2013 - 21:27

Eighty-fifth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, May 23, 1889





Mr. O'Brien was a few minutes late this morning. The Judges had taken their seats when he entered the box. Among the audience were Mr. Stanhope (the secretary for War) and Mrs. Stanhope and the Marchioness of Drogheda, Lady Pease, and Miss James. Mr. Gladstone, for the first time since the Commission has been sitting, had a seat on the Q.C.'s bench, between Mr. Lockwood and Mr. Alderman Dillon.
A few minutes before twelve o'clock the ex-Premier, who had engaged in a very earnest conversation with Mr. Reid during the hour and a half he stayed in the Court, retired. He left by the door on the Parnellite side of the Court, having shaken hands with Mr. Parnell before rising from his seat.
Explaining an answer he gave the Attorney-General yesterday, Mr. O'Brien said he meant to convey the idea that United Ireland was always conducted on constitutional and peaceful lines. The system of exchange in vogue in most newspaper offices was also in vogue in this. In exchange for copies of United Ireland, papers were sent from America, amongst them being the Irish World. This system ceased after 1882, when, under the Coercion Act of that time, the police were enabled to seize papers imported into Ireland. Mr. O'Brien also received copies of the Irish World in the House of Commons; but they usually contained such unpleasant matter that he rarely if ever opened them.


The contents of the articles in United Ireland were again paraded by the Attorney-General. One, especially, contained references to the toast drunk at a Parnell banquet, of the health of the Queen. Commenting upon this, the article used some very strong language with regard to the Queen, who was styled "An old lady who was only known in Ireland by her scarcely-decently disguised hatred of the Irish people." - "Yes; I wrote that article," admitted Mr. O'Brien.
Do you represent that the article is in favour of constitutional action? - I think it is a perfectly constitutional thing to criticise the conduct of the Sovereign, and I think that, in the condition in which we were at that time, it was a perfectly proper thing to write so; for then, as I believe now, the Queen had a very strong feeling against the Irish people.
Do you approve of the terms of the article? - In the present state of the relations I should not. In the then state of things in which I wrote it, and in the same state of things, I should write it again.
(Reading): "Who is only known in Ireland by her scarcely decently disguised hatred for the Irish people." Do you think that constitutional language? - It is strong language, but it is the statement of what is a universal belief in Ireland.


The dynamite scare again cropped up as the cross-examination proceeded. Directly it was reached Mr. O'Brien delivered himself of an emphatic statement on the point. He explained that he was thoroughly convinced that the London papers were far more responsible for the dynamite policy than either Mr. Finarty or Mr. Ford. Those people who took up the dynamite policy did so because the London papers talked so much of it, and gave them the idea that it was the best way to call attention to the wrongs of the people.


The visit of the Prince of Wales, and the series of articles Mr. O'Brien wrote bearing thereon, were briefly referred to in passing, Mr. O'Brien declaring that the articles served a constitutional purpose. The language used by Mr. O'Brien was also referred to in one particular connection. Mr. O'Brien declared that one speech he made was marked by violent language. That was delivered in the Phoenix Park at Dublin, shortly after he had been expelled from the House of Commons under circumstances which he regarded as rather harsh. He was still smarting under the slight. But, although he used the language, and expressed his dislike for the English people, he mentioned that in the same speech he distinctly pointed out that there were several men in the House of Commons for whom the Irish had a very deep regard. At the top of the list he would place Mr. Gladstone, whose kindliness and tenderness for Ireland were like drops in an ocean of cant and ignorance.


Now the Attorney-General reached the articles on the Prince of Wales's visit to Ireland, from which he had digressed. The articles were written in the form of a letter to the Prince, in which he was informed that he landed amid the boom of cannon, with tiers of beautiful women smiling down upon him, and scores of his admirers howling themselves hoarse in their loyalty. It added that were the Prince to call off his loyal troops and hired bludgeon-men, the tiers and flags would be torn to pieces, and the Chairman of the Town Commissioners, when he came to meet his constituents, would be hunted from public life for shaking hands with the Prince of Wales publicly. - "Yes, and so he has been," significantly added Mr. O'Brien.
"You mean that as a joke?" asked the Attorney-General? - "No," was the emphatic reply, "I state it as a fact. That article was written with the intention of preventing the English people being deluded by sham loyalty. I wanted to show that our people were in no mood for such as was then taking place, and that the people were not ready to fall down to worship any Prince who came their way." "If the Prince of Wales," Mr. O'Brien had said previously, "had passed through Ireland himself, I should have been the last in the world to insult him, but he came as a counter-force to our nation, and for the purpose of persuading the English people that Irish feeling was a bogus feeling."
Further extracts from the article were read, in which it was announced that anyone who exposed a flag of England, indicating loyalty, would be an enemy to the nation. Mr. O'Brien explained this. As a rule, he said, these flags were not exposed in loyalty, but as a blow against the Irish nation. There was not a shred of honest loyalty in it.


In passing, Mr. O'Brien referred to what would be the possible result if England had any desire to prevent the national aspirations of the Irish people being realised. He felt confident if such a contingency arose - and God forbid that it should - there would be nothing to prevent the Irish people at the earliest favourable moment attempting to realise their aspirations by force.
In a further article which the Attorney-General read the "hated notes" of the National Anthem were referred to. The learned counsel laid special stress upon the adjective, and Mr. O'Brien explaining, said, at the time to which the article referred the National Anthem was played with the same object as "The Boyne Water" - with the obvious and direct intention of arousing the feelings of the Nationalists. Indeed, since 1885, when the public opinion of Ireland underwent a revolution, the Loyalists were not nearly so anxious to parade the tune, and he would swear positively that it was not played half so frequently now as before.


Mr. O'Brien's attention was next called to a speech which he was reported to have made in May, 1885, in which he said he was sorry to see that the landgrabber was a reptile not quite extinct in Ireland, and urged that no laws that could be passed could prevent the people from showing their scorn, contempt, and loathing of landgrabbers. - Mr. O'Brien thought that such a speech would not in the smallest degree endanger either the life or limbs of a landgrabber. Next came an extract from United Ireland, headed "Allan, Larkin, and O'Brien honoured by our Chicago kindred."
"Those are the Manchester murderers?" asked the Attorney-General. "No; most certainly no," came the emphatic reply. Mr. O'Brien added that he did not regard them as murderers. They had, he considered, taken part in a perfectly open and honest warfare, in the course of which, by accident, a policeman lost his life.
"The men were convicted and executed," said the President, interrupting a long discussion - in which Mr. O'Brien was being pressed as to what he considered a murder - "and in that Court at least, they must be regarded as murderers."
"I am only stating what I believe to be the truth," Mr. O'Brien replied.


What did Mr. O'Brien get as editor of United Ireland? - This was the next question. "Well," said the President, interrupting the Attorney-General, "I give you the full benefit of thinking it is material; but I must say I cannot see how it can be material." Mr. O'Brien, nevertheless, mentioned that his salary as editor of United Ireland was even less than the sum he previously received as a reporter on the Freeman's Journal. For six years he had (he said) only received half that salary - namely 200 pounds a year.
"Did Mr. O'Brien write in the last number of the Flag of Ireland a paragraph commencing, The Flag of Ireland will next week appear as an enlarged and entirely new paper under the name of United Ireland. Everything will be changed about it, except its principles?" This was the next question. Mr. O'Brien at first denied that he had written the paragraph; but as the learned counsel continued the reading, he admitted that he thought he must have written portions of it. He was, however, almost "dead" certain he did not write the particular sentence - as it was his wish that United Ireland should be in no way recognised as a continuation of the Flag of Ireland.


When Mr. O'Brien visited America he was met by a number of gentlemen, including Mr. Pepper, Mr. Austin Ford, and Mr. Patrick Ford. "Did he make any inquiries as to whether any of these gentlemen were connected with the extreme section? "Certainly not," Mr. O'Brien replied; his mind was a perfect blank on the subject. "My instructions from Mr. Parnell," added the hon. Member, "were to address the people of America, to accept no dictation from anyone, and identify myself with no section whatever. I certainly think it would have been very insulting," Mr. O'Brien added, amid laughter, "to put those men through a categorical examination as to their characters."
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.

On resuming, Mr. Reid shortly re-examined Mr. O'Brien, who then left the witness-box.


Mr. T.D. Sullivan, M.P., for the College-green Division of the City of Dublin, was the next witness. He told Mr. Reid that he was the proprietor of the Nation, and that paper had always been opposed to secret societies and every form of crime and outrage. The paper, he added, was also strong against landlordism, and was strong for Home Rule. Mr. Sullivan added that he himself had been a member of Mr. Isaac Butt's party, of Mr. John Morton's Constitutional party, and also in hearty sympathy with both the Land League and National League. He, in fact, had been on the committees of these Leagues. Like Mr. O'Brien, he had never heard in private or in public any suggestion on the part of the League in favour of crime or outrage. On the contrary, many public speeches had been made by prominent members of the League strongly denouncing crime and outrage.
(The report will be continued.)


The London Correspondent of the Freeman's Journal says the conference between Mr. Parnell, his legal advisers, and those of the Times, and the Judges had reference to Mr. Parnell's voluminous correspondence. He handed to the Times the whole of his correspondence from 1881 to 1888 inclusive. The Times was evidently not satisfied with the result of its researches among these epistles. They asked for Parnell's correspondence from 1879 to 1881, and this Mr. Parnell immediately handed to them.
The Press Association is requested to state that the interview at the Law Courts between the Judges, Mr. Parnell, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Reid, referred to yesterday, was not for the purpose of arranging the business of the Court, but to enable Mr. Parnell to make affadavits respecting certain of his correspondence sought to be discovered by the Times.


CHICAGO, May 23. - The body of Dr. Cronin, the Irish Nationalist, who disappeared from this city more than a fortnight ago, under suspicious circumstances, has at length been found under condition which leave no doubt that the deceased was murdered. The body, which bears wounds evidently caused by a hatchet, was hidden in a culvert, and stripped of all clothing.

Source: The Echo, Thursday May 23, 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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