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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 28 Feb 2013 - 0:10

Ninety-fifth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, June 26, 1889




Mr. Sexton's cross-examination was resumed this morning. The preliminary questions referred to what is known as the Rotunda meeting. The Attorney-General sought to know whether he attended a meeting prior to that in the Rotunda, with James Carey, Egan, Brennan, and others, at which the probable proceedings at the Rotunda were discussed. Of this Mr. Sexton confessed he had no recollection, and, though pressed, could give no other answer.


Later on, the Attorney-General put certain questions which drew from Mr. Sexton a declaration upon Fenianism. He said he believed that when a man, for the love of his country, became a Fenian, believing that their methods were the best for achieving the objects he had in view, it was a perfectly justifiable step.
Was it not a fact that he himself had been asked to join the Fenians? asked the Attorney-General. - Yes; but he declined.
Who asked him? - He declined to answer.
The Attorney-General pressed the matter, and the President came to his assistance.
Mr. Sexton replied, very carefully, "Rather than disclose the name of any man who by my disclosure would be brought into a position subjecting himself to the penalties of the law, I would incur any of the penalties the Court has the power to impose upon me."
"You need not make any such remarks, Mr. Sexton," replied the President. "I must say that I see no plausible ground for your taking such an objection. If there were, I should take such steps as I think necessary to prevent what you anticipate. Therefore I see no ground why the question should not be answered."
"Now," said the Attorney-General, "I put it to you to give me the name of the person."
Mr. Sexton still objected. "It was not," he said, "a person whose name has been mentioned in connection with these proceedings, and I decline to answer."
Mr. Lockwood - Mr. Sexton's position is this: he comes here to deny accusations made against him -
The President - But a witness is here, not to give such information as he thinks fit, but to give evidence. The witness is not entitled to put a limit upon the amount of information he is to give the Court.
Mr. Lockwood - He has said that it is not a person whose name has been mentioned in this inquiry.


The President - That does not diminish its materiality.
Mr. Lockwood - I only suggest that my learned friend, having heard the explanation, and knowing Mr. Sexton's objection, will not press the question.
The President - Well, I do not want to comment upon that observation. But I must point out that any such difficulty must tend to diminish the value of the case presented.
The Attorney-General (to Mr. Sexton) - I again put it to you, Who was the person?
Mr. Sexton - I have heard, very respectfully, the remarks of the learned President, but I am satisfied that if I disclosed the name it would not in the remotest way further the proceedings. I act on the personal belief that if I disclosed a name under such circumstances, I should despise myself all my life afterwards.
The President - It is possible for any witness, though he would not, perhaps, express himself so well to make a similar answer. I say that to treat our ruling thus is not to treat the Court with respect.
Mr. Sexton - Having myself refused to join the Fenian Brotherhood, and knowing nothing of their secrets, I respectfully submit, especially after the statement I have made, that it would not assist the case; that I should not be asked to say.
The President - You are not the Judge.
The Attorney-General - Though I reserve my right to comment upon the matter, I will not press the question further now.


There followed a lengthy reference to boycotting, and then the Attorney-General obtained from Mr. Sexton the assertion that he (Mr. Sexton) knew of the existence of secret societies in America before he went there, through the public Press. He denied that he understood the Irish Party, as a party, had received large contributions from the extreme party in America. He explained that he did not seek to know whether Mr. Egan was associated with the extreme section. For this reason: He did not think the leaders of a party were called upon to inquire into the avowed principles of every individual with whom they might be associated. Indeed, directly he did so he assumed responsibility. This brought us to Mr. Sexton's American tour, and the incidents which marked that event. The Attorney-General read various speeches made in Mr. Sexton's presence, and asked his opinion upon them - whether that of approval or disapproval. After a brief reference to Mr. Sexton's imprisonment, the cross-examination closed.
Mr. Lockwood briefly re-examined Mr. Sexton, who said his whole object was to push the Constitutional cause.


Mr. Timothy Harrington, M.P. for one of the Dublin Divisions, was the next witness. He described the establishment of the Kerry Sentinel in 1878, and his tour on the western coast of Ireland two years later as a special commissioner for the Freeman's Journal. During that tour, he said, he found families living on turnips, and several approaching starvation.


Mr. Harrington denied most emphatically that he had ever, as O'Connor, the Times witness said, been a party to the intimidation of electors in a Board of Guardians election, or that he had ever given one penny towards such an object. He also denied that he had been a party to any midnight expedition for the purpose of compelling electors to vote as he wished. He asserted most positively that no speech of his could be produced which did not show that he denounced crime of every kind. He, like other witnesses, denied that the funds of the League had ever been used for payment for outrage or crime, and went on to say that, whenever a case of injustice on the part of a branch of the League was brought to his notice, he reprimanded, and in some cases suppressed, the branch. Several letters showing that Mr. Harrington had so acted were produced and read. Mr. Murphy conducted the cross-examination, which had not produced anything of importance when the Court adjourned for luncheon.


After luncheon there was a brief but lively scene. Mr. Murphy was cross-examining as to opposition offered to a certain claim for compensation, when Mr. Harrington informed Mr. Murphy that he was sure, if he (Mr. Murphy) were a ratepayer in the neighbourhood, he would see that he was not saddled with any greater increase than was necessary.
"Well, we won't discuss that now," rejoined Mr. Murphy.
"No, Mr. Harrington," interrupted the President, "you must restrain yourself, and not indulge in personal observations."
"But, my Lords, if Mr. Murphy puts the question upon me I am allowed to explain."
"Not as counsel," replied the President and Mr. Justice Smith simultaneously, and the former added, "You surely ought to know, Mr. Harrington, as counsel."
"I do, my Lord, and as counsel I shall conduct myself."
(The report will be continued.)


The Rev. Father McCarthy, parish priest, of Kilmeer, co. Cork, having been sentenced - under the Crimes Act - to four months' for intimidation, at Clonakilty, the sentence was today confirmed on the priest refusing to express his regret.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday June 26, 1889, Page 3

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

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