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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 28 Feb 2013 - 18:59

Ninety-eighth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, July 2, 1889




The Court presented a much more animated appearance than usual this morning. Mr. Davitt was the source of attraction, it having become generally known that he was about to present himself for examination. He was very early in Court, with his familiar bundle of documents, and foolscaps of blue legal-looking paper. Sir Charles Russell also put in an early appearance, and there was an unusual number of the rank and file of the Irish Parliamentary Party present.


With a brief explanation from Sir Charles Russell to the effect that Mr. Davitt had asked him to examine him, Mr. Davitt, carrying a small black bag, went into the witness-box. At the outset Mr. Davitt said he was not one of the persons originally charged, and then he went on to refer to his parentage. He was, he said, the son of a small Mayo farmer, and he had now turned 41. He remembered the eviction of his father and the burning of the little farm, and he remembered that they went to the workhouse, but were refused admission because his mother would not part with him. Then they went to Lancashire, and there, at 9 years of age - "we were very poor," he explained - he entered a factory. One day he was "kicked across the floor and told to do work which a lad of 18 would ordinarily do; and while at that work I lost my arm."


Then came his connection with the Fenians. He was about 17 when he first joined the movement. In 1855 James Stephens was at its head, and the movement was an open one. Each person swore to take up arms on behalf of Ireland, to implicitly obey his leaders, and to suffer expulsion if he disobeyed.
Is it true that there was anything in the oath which bound you to assassinate any traitor to the cause? - Nothing whatever.
Next came references to Mr. Davitt's participation in the work of the Fenians. He explained that he was one of the volunteers in the attempted raid on Chester Castle, which proved abortive, and that he had been engaged in forwarding arms to Ireland.


It was in connection with the latter that he was arrested on the 14th May, 1870, tried at the Old Bailey on 11th July of the same year, and, for treason felony, was sentenced to 15 years' penal servitude. Speaking of the trial, he denied that he had ever seen the man Corridon, who appeared against him on that occasion, till he was confronted by him. As to the letter produced at the trial which the prosecution said was an incitement to murder, he declared it was written with a directly opposite intention - with the object of preventing the destruction of life. Mr. Davitt only remained in jail nine years, and was then released by the Conservative Government on ticket-of-leave.


Did you, after leaving jail, rejoin the Fenian body? - Yes. I recognised that while Nature had qualified Irishmen as agitators, she never intended them to be secret conspirators, and I rejoined the Fenians in order to raise it to a more open movement. Mr. Davitt went on to say that he thus expressed himself because he believed, being a Catholic, that Irishmen could not engage in any secret conspiracy because of the opposition of the Church. After this departure from the original movement, Mr. Davitt was denounced by several of the more advanced as a traitor to the cause; and, he added, significantly, "I believe - at all events, I have heard - there were plots on foot against me." Having asserted that he had always endeavoured to keep the movement entirely free from outrage of every kind, he went on to say he attended two meetings of the Supreme Council of the Fenian body, one at Paris, and one in Dublin, at which Mr. Matt Harris was also present. The evidence here became slightly disconnected. The next topic touched upon was the new departure comprised in the well-known letter of John Devoy. This, he said, was published without the knowledge of Mr. Parnell, who had nothing whatever to do with it.


He, individually and solely, was responsible for his conduct during all this period. Indeed, he had never been brought into contact with Mr. Parnell until about two days after he left jail.
"I believe (said Sir Charles Russell) you have always belonged to the advanced wing of the agrarian movement?" - "Yes (was the reply); I have always regarded Mr. Parnell as too Conservative on the Land Question. I believe the State should be the owner of the land."
The meetings prior to the formation of the Land League (Mr. Davitt said) were entirely disassociated from any secret or revolutionary body.


The next point touched upon was Mr. Davitt's tour in America in the early days of the movement. He said that before going to America he wrote suggesting that he might receive from the Skirmishing Fund - then known as the National Fund - a sum of money to carry on the work of the cause, during his absence from Ireland. That suggestion was accepted. He solely was responsible for the whole transaction, and Mr. Parnell was never cognisant of it.
Then followed the declaration of principles and rules drawn up by Mr. Davitt and accepted at a Land League Convention at Castlebar on August 16th, 1879, which were read by Mr. Asquith.
Resuming, Mr. Davitt said Mr. Parnell had no hand in this Convention. In fact, it was one of the incidents connected with the agitation he (Mr. Davitt) was then carrying on in the West of Ireland.


After dealing very shortly with the famine, and the efforts made on all hands to meet the distress then prevailing, Mr. Davitt's attention was directed to the statement of Delaney that Mr. Davitt was at the Rotunda meeting, as the friend of O'Hanlon, the Fenian, who disturbed the meeting. Mr. Davitt denied that he was O'Hanlon's friend. He had never seen him before, in fact. O'Hanlon took a body of men to the meeting to break it up, and when he created a row Mr. Davitt simply appealed that O'Hanlon might be heard. Delaney's statement that he (Mr. Davitt), Mr. Egan, and Mr. Brennan held a conference with the leading Fenians subsequent to the meeting, was also absolutely without the least foundation. Yet another denial. Delaney had said that he saw Mr. Davitt talking with the man Dan Curley in a timber yard in Dublin, just about the time of the Phoenix Park murders. Mr. Davitt declared that he had never known Curley, and had never been in a timber-yard in Dublin - in fact, the last timber-yard he was in was at Dartmoor Jail. (Laughter.) Passing on to Mr. Davitt's American tour, Mr. Asquith read the report of the first Convention held at New York, and then Mr. Davitt produced a series of official documents, which he said he wished read, as they were an indication to the inner life of the League in America. Those documents were of the nature of circulars dealing with the land question, and were largely circulated during Mr. Davitt's tour in various parts of America.


"While in America did you ever visit any of the camps of the Clan-Na-Gael?" asked Sir Charles Russell.
"I did," was the reply. "I attended some five or six meetings. Wherever I was asked to attend a meeting of Irishmen, I always did."
"What was your object?" - "I wished to describe to them the nature of our organisation, and to prevent the Clan-Na-Gael attacking it. I may say that, being a member of the Supreme Council, I at that time had the entree to the Clan-Na-Gael. I certainly attended a meeting at Bradewood (where Le Caron lived), which I think Le Caron organised, and I believe I was his guest on that occasion.


Did you, in all the speeches you made, and in all your conduct of the agitation, try to keep this movement free from crime? - I did, honestly. I don't wish to take any credit upon myself, because every other member of the Land League had the same object in view. While denouncing crime I always considered landlordism at the bottom of it, and I always shall so long as it remains as it is now. I know that the Clan-Na-Gael in the years to which I refer was no more a murder club than the Carlton, nor do I think it is true now.
Was there any connection between the Land League and the Clan-Na-Gael? - None whatever.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Mr. Lockwood read the letter of Devoy on the political situation which the Land League circulated through Ireland, together with a letter of Mr. Matt Harris, published at the same time. Then Mr. Davitt referred to his acquaintance with Mr. Alexander Sullivan. He declared that he formed a high opinion of Mr. Sullivan as a citizen and as a professional man, and considered him incapable of doing anything dishonourable. Turning again to Ireland, Mr. Davitt said he always considered agrarian outrages the work of small local bodies of perhaps four or six men, and it was singular but true, that the heads of those bodies were invariably ex-militiamen.


Mr. Davitt described the events immediately following his release from Portland, and the meeting of Mr. Parnell, Mr. O'Kelly, and Mr. Dillon, these gentlemen having, he said, visited him to induce him to accept the ticket-of-leave. Then came the receipt of the intelligence of the Phoenix-park murders, and the effect they had upon the party. On the day following the murders Mr. Parnell entered his bedroom, and, (throwing himself in a seat, said, "Davitt, I am going to send in my resignation to Cork tonight. I refuse to remain any longer in the Irish movement when unknown men can come behind our backs and perpetrate deeds of this kind." "Mr. Parnell was utterly prostrated (continued Mr. Davitt), and I had the greatest difficulty in persuading him that then, more than ever, it was necessary he should remain in the movement."
Is there any ground for suggesting that you were privy to or knew of the tragedy? - None whatever.
Have you any reason to suppose that any of your colleagues, from Mr. Parnell downwards, had? - None whatever.
(The report will be continued.)



The rumour that Dr. John MacInerny has been murdered by the Clan-Na-Gael, mentioned in The Echo yesterday, was first published by the New York Herald. Nothing positive beyond his disappearance on the 19th of April is, however, known. He left on receiving a telegram, which is apparently fraudulent, summoning him to Omaha, to take a professional position. The sender of the telegram cannot be discovered; nor is there any trace of MacInerny in Omaha or elsewhere. As agent of the Clan-Na-Gael and the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, MacInerny became aware of the secrets of the organisation, and was one of four - Cronin, MacInerny, M'Cahey, and Devoy - who were believed to have been under sentence by the Inner Circle. Attempts on the lives of the others have been made, and in the case of Dr. Cronin successfully.


A Correspondent writes that Dr. MacInerny was born in the city of Limerick, and was apprenticed to an upholsterer. Though of limited means, he educated himself with great care, and became a linguist of no mean ability. He was forty years of age, and had been engaged in Irish politics for nearly twenty-five years. He became a Fenian in early life, and worked on behalf of that body in the South of Ireland, subsequently transferring his labours to the North of England, where he found a congenial fellow-worker in John Daly, the dynamitard. He was distinctly opposed - says our Correspondent - to the Butt movement, and was the organiser of the party that attacked the Butt demonstration in Limerick - an event known as the battle of the "Cross and the Crescent." Dr. MacInerny went to the United States about eight years ago, obtained an engagement on the New York Press, and secured his diploma. In 1887 it will be remembered, he visited his native city to unveil the memorial to the Manchester martyrs.


According to the New York Correspondent of the London Edition of the New York Herald, the doctor's Clan-Na-Gael acquaintances there assert that if he were in a small city like Omaha - whence, it is said, came the telegram that caused his departure - in twenty-four hours his presence would have been known to the faithful of that ilk. His route lay through Chicago, and in that town Dr. MacInerny's bones probably now rest. There is a strong suspicion that Dr. MacInerny was assassinated. John Devoy has been openly threatened, and men have watched his movements, not knowing, however, that their own movements were also being watched.


Ten Gweedore peasants, who will be arraigned at Maryborough on a charge of the wilful murder of District-Inspector Martin, left Derry Jail, this morning, for Maryborough, under a heavy escort. Owing to the early hour, there was no demonstration. On the same occasion, the Rev. James McFadden, at whose arrest Mr. Martin met his death, and fourteen peasants, will be arraigned for conspiracy, &c. There is reason to believe, however, that the trial of Father McFadden will be postponed until an adjourned Assize, probably in October.


The Freeman's Journal publishes a statement by Timothy Sullivan, the porter who was shot at Charleville Station, after Mr. O'Brien's arrest. He says he does not believe any of the persons who crowded to welcome the persons returning from the Cork meeting knew that Mr. O'Brien was in the train. He "checked" the tickets until he came to a compartment where there were five constables, who referred him to the officer in command for their tickets. The officer would not listen, and pushed him off the footboard. A crowd gathered about the door, and Sullivan tried to keep them back. He next signalled to the guard to start the train. Just as the train was moving off a shot was fired from the carriage. This struck Sullivan on the face, knocking him down. The cut was under the right eye and on the nose. His escape from death was remarkable.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday July 2, 1889, Page 3

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

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