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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 2 Mar 2013 - 14:19

One hundred and sixth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, July 16, 1889




The public manifested an extraordinary amount of interest in the Commission Court today. The doubt as to the step Sir Charles Russell would take on the part of Mr. Parnell acted as an incentive, and attracted a great crowd of spectators. Even before the Court was opened they waited round the doors, and speedily secured seats when the officials allowed them to enter. Mr. Davitt was not present. For the first time for some weeks his seat was usurped by another member of the accused Party. Foremost among the Irish Members present was Mr. Parnell, who sat next to Mr. Macdonald, Mr. J.J. O'Kelly, Mr. J.H. M'Carthy, and Mr. T.D. Sullivan had seats near him. Mr. Sexton sat in the Q.C.'s bench, with Mr. J.F.X. O'Brien, and the gangways were crowded by an excited throng of politicians. Indeed, such a scene has not been witnesses since the period of Pigott's disappearance.
An exceptionally large number of ladies and gentlemen found accommodation in the jury-box, including Lady and Miss Taylor, Lord Arthur and Lady Hill, Lady Kay, General Delby, and Mr. and Miss Godley.
It was twenty-five minutes to eleven when the Judges entered. The hum of conversation was at once suspended.


Sir Charles Russell, in a deeply hushed Court, at once rose, and said, - It will be in the recollection of your Lordships that on Friday I stated that I had received my client, Mr. Parnell, written communications, which practically amounted to an instruction of a certain character - instruction, in point of fact, given to my learned friend, Mr. Asquith, and myself, that we no longer had any authority to represent Mr. Parnell in this inquiry, and he desired that we should cease to represent him. We thought, for several reasons, that we should communicate with Mr. Parnell, so that he could better arrive at a definite conclusion. Mr. Parnell has now fully considered the matter, and the result is that we have received from him in writing definite instructions that we have no longer any right to represent him, and I now respectfully intimate that we must retire from the Court.


The President, who was almost inaudible to the reporters, said he regretted that the step had been taken, in the sense that it would deprive the Judges of the assistance of the counsel. He added, "Mr. Parnell has withdrawn his retainer from you, but Mr. Parnell still remains subject to the jurisdiction of the Court."
At this point Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Asquith rose and left the Court.


Then Mr. Parnell, who looked intensely pale, rose from the well of the Court. Addressing the President, he said: "My Lord, - I have an application to make to your Lordship. Prior to the commencement of these proceedings, some nine months ago, I was served with a summons by Mr. Soames, asking me to attend here day by day until the termination of these proceedings, to give evidence when called before the Commission. I went into the box after the explosion of the letters' portion of the case, and denied their genuineness and authenticity. Then I went into the box some three months since, immediately after the Easter recess. I was examined and cross-examined during six days, four days of which being taken up by my cross-examination. And at the close of my cross-examination, upon my re-examination, the Attorney-General applied to your Lordships that his cross-examination with regard to certain cheque books which I handed into the Court during my cross-examination should be deferred until he had had an opportunity of making inquiries regarding certain of them which he read out to your Lordships. That is now, I believe, nearly three months since; and the application I have to make respectfully to your Lordships is that you will be good enough to appoint a day for my further cross-examination, or else discharge me from further attendance upon this Court. I should wish, if it suited your lordships' convenience, that the cross-examination should take place before next Friday, so as to enable me to fulfill the public engagements which I have postponed until that date in order to be ready for my cross-examination.


The President - We will endeavour to meet your views.
The Attorney-General - I will endeavour to see if it is possible to ask Mr. Parnell the questions I wish to put to him on Thursday. If not, I will endeavour to meet his convenience as far as possible by giving him a few days' notice.
Sir James Hannen - But supposing he could not be taken on Thursday? (To Mr. Parnell.) You spoke of an engagement. At what time after that engagement shall you be disengaged?
"Oh, I should be free at any time," Mr. Parnell answered, "but my object is that my cross-examination should be concluded before I undertake my public duties to my country again."


Mr. Parnell then resumed his seat, and Mr. Reid, Q.C., at once rose. He said - I had intended to rise immediately after Sir Charles Russell but your Lordship commenced speaking, so, in deference to you, I did not do so. I have to state to your Lordships that those gentlemen whom I have represented have communicated to me likewise definite instructions which leave me no authority to appear before your Lordships on their behalf any longer. I have to state to your Lordships that I was under an engagement that Mr. T.T. O'Kelly was to be called. He is one of the gentleman whom I represent. He is now in Court ready to answer any questions that may arise.


Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., next rose. He said, What I have to say is similar to what my learned friend, Mr. Reid, has said. I and those associated with me in this case have received instructions from those whom we represent that they do not desire us to represent them any longer in this Inquiry. At the last sitting I spoke of Mr. Matthew Harris, and my intention to call him. If I had the authority to call him now, I should have done so. I, however, trust I am not going beyond what I am entitled to do when I tell your Lordship that he is here. I also wish to remind your Lordships that I made an application with regard to the attendance of Dr. Tanner. Your Lordships, on my application, made an order, which has resulted in Dr. Tanner being brought over. I may state he is also here. Further, I wish to say on behalf of those members whom I represent that they are all willing to pay every respect to any summons from this Court to attend and give your Lordships any information you may require.


"But the position is in no way altered," Sir James Hannen remarked, "although they are unfortunately no longer assisted by counsel. We are entitled to call what evidence we think necessary."


Then followed a general exodus from the Court. Mr. Reid led the way, and he was followed by Mr. Lockwood, all the juniors on the Parnellite side of the Court came next, then Mr. Parnell, Mr. Biggar, and several other members of the party. The benches formerly occupied by leading counsel were secured by Mr. John O'Connor, Dr. Tanner, and Mr. Matt Harris; while the junior counsels' seats were filled with spectators.


The commotion all these movements caused having ceased, Mr. J.J. O'Kelly, attired in a long black frock-coat, went into the witness-box. He said - "I understand that charges are made against me in this action, and with reference to any of them I am willing to answer any questions put to me."
The President - You don't intend to tender evidence on your own account?
Mr. J.J. O'Kelly - I have none to tender.
The President (to the Attorney-General) - Well, what do you intend to do?
Sir Henry James - Of course, cross-examination is intended to attack evidence given in chief. But there are circumstances under which cross-examination can be conducted in the absence of examination-in-chief. I submit that it applies to this case.
The President - Yes. I think so.
Mr. J.J. O'Kelly was accordingly cross-examined by Sir Henry James. At the outset the examination revealed nothing of interest. But Mr. O'Kelly proceeded to say that he was a member of the I.R.B. up to 1870, when he went to the Franco-German War, and subsequently to America. He had never been connected with the organisation since; but, prior to that, he had been engaged in the importation of arms to Ireland.


Sir Henry James produced an undated letter, written to Mr. O'Kelly after he left London, from 128, Penton-place, Kennington, in which occurred the passage, "By the way, what about the night-glass you used to have here? Jim told me to get it, and on asking Walsh and O'Farrell they said they knew nothing about it." "What did that mean?" asked Sir Henry; "had it not some reference to arms?" "Well, it had, but only this way. He had, Mr. O'Kelly explained, a very powerful field-glass, which the boatmen used at night on the Thames when embarking arms, for the purpose of discerning the whereabouts, and avoiding the river police. In conclusion, the writer of the letter stated that he understood the French were just about to give in. "Then," he added, "your occupation, like Othello's, will be gone. What I should advise you to do is to find some rich French heiress, and get spliced at once." - (Laughter.)
"Unfortunately," Mr. O'Kelly said, amidst loud laughter, "I never succeeded in that."


Another letter, which was written in a solution, and had undergone a chemical process, the contents thus being discovered, was here produced. This had reference to the supply of arms for Ireland, and told Mr. O'Kelly - to whom it was addressed - to telegraph, if his man was at his post in London ready to receive the arms, "Ship goods," or, if not, "Delay shipment." The letter was signed "F.N."
"Is not the person 'F.N.' lately dead?" asked Sir Henry James.
"I believe he is."
"Was he not the person known as General Millen?"
"I would rather not say," replied Mr. O'Kelly, and there the matter dropped. As to General Millen, Mr. O'Kelly denied that he had met him in Ireland in 1878, 1879, and 1880. "In 1879 (Mr. O'Kelly went on) I came to England on behalf of the Clan-Na-Gael. The object of my visit was, I will tell you candidly, to reorganise the Clan-Na-Gael here and in Ireland. I came simply as a military officer to take charge of the military organisation in Ireland. When I got here the heads of the organisation on this side of the water declined to co-operate with me, and that brought my mission to a close. I was never associated with them on this side of the water, because they would have nothing to do with my mission. I at once went to France, and from there I sent in my resignation to America. I never had anything to do with the organisation since."


It was not till 1880, he continued, that he entered Irish political life of a pacific character as Member for Roscommon. He supported Mr. Parnell because the majority of the people seemed to have confidence in the movement, and he took the same view. As to the evidence of Le Caron, Mr. O'Kelly said it was the account of a transaction very improbable on his part. For instance, he would not be the man to introduce another to Mr. Parnell without having some knowledge of him. He had, in fact, no recollection of having seen Le Caron.


Mr. Matthew Harris followed. He seemed extremely ill and weak, and ascended the witness-box with the very greatest difficulty. At the outset he referred to Sir Charles Russell's reference to himself as to his mental powers after a severe illness. This, he said, was incorrect. Mr. Harris was examined at some length as to his connection with the Fenian body, but he asserted he could not recognise the constitution of the body as put in in Delaney's evidence as being correct.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.

After luncheon, Mr. Harris was further examined as to the importation of arms into Ireland. He said he received the arms at Ballinasloe in 1867 and 1869, and they were distributed among the farming classes. Mr. Harris was examined at great length as to the letters he had written in support of the Land League movement and the inception of the movement.

Welcome to the new open movement...........


The Freeman's Journal reports a convention of Lord Clanricarde's tenants at Portumna to hear an address from Mr. W. O'Brien, M.P. The authorities were taken by surprise. The police, on arriving, were informed that it was not a National League meeting, but a meeting of tenants. On being refused admission they threatened to break in, but did not do so. Mr. O'Brien, in his speech, said: - "Our opponents say that the new Tenants' Defence League means the abandonment of the Campaign. No! The new organisation is not a Campaign movement, and is not responsible for the "Plan of Campaign"; but if we are going to abandon the Campaigners, we are going to do it in a very peculiar manner."

Welcome to the new inner circle/closed movement..........


The following account is given of the meeting of the Parnell Party at the House of Commons yesterday. On the motion of the Chairman it was resolved - "That we, the members of the Irish Parliamentary Party, declare it is imperatively necessary that the tenant farmers of Ireland should be invited to combine for self defence against their attempted extermination by the landlords' conspiracy, as instanced by the wanton attack upon the Ponsonby tenants and the threatened application of such aggressive combination of landlords to other estates." It was next unanimously agreed, on the motion of Mr. Justin M'Carthy, seconded by Mr. Sexton, "That a select committee, consisting of seven members, be appointed to prepare and report upon a proposed constitution for the new organisation, to report to a further meeting of the party on Monday next." Mr. A. O'Connor proposed, and Mr. Molloy seconded, the following resolution - "That Mr. Parnell, Mr. J. M'Carthy, Mr. Sexton, Mr. T.P. O'Connor, Mr. W. O'Brien, Mr. T. Harrington, and Mr. Gill constitute the committee." The meeting then separated.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday July 16, 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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