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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 6 Mar 2013 - 2:58

One hundred and fifteenth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, October 30, 1889

SPECIAL COMMISSION.
MR. DAVITT DEFENDS THE LAND LEAGUE.

This is the fourth day of Mr. Davitt's speech at the Parnell Commission. Judging by the great pile of documents before his he will occupy the attention of the Court till at least tomorrow night.
On resuming this morning, Mr. Davitt dealt with the charge of the Times that the leaders of the Land League were engaged in the promulgations of designs which were intended to encompass outrage and assassination. He submitted that no evidence had been produced to bear out that gross libel upon the Association. The Land League was formed for a thoroughly constitutional purpose, and had put forward its demands in a proper manner all through. In the original programme Mr. Parnell actually offered the Irish landlords twenty years' purchase at Government valuation of their lands, which he thought at the time, and still thought, was too high. He wondered whether the Irish landlords would now object to be "murdered" - to use the most objectionable word in the English language applied to the League - with twenty years' purchase for their holdings. Further than that, the scheme of land purchase proposed by the League was exactly, or as nearly as possible, the scheme which the Tory Government proposed to apply.

SHOULD THE SPEECHES BE READ?

Coming to the charge that the leaders of the Land League movement never denounced crime or outrage, Mr. Davitt said there was no more unjust, unfounded, or foul accusation made. To refute this charge in a substantial way he proposed to read a large number of extracts from speeches delivered at hundreds of meetings throughout Ireland, the authors of which spoke against the commission of outrage.
The President interfered, expressing the hope that too much time would not be consumed in that way.
The Attorney-General pointed out that it seemed to him the speeches referred to "other persons" charged, and might entail an extension of the case and the calling of other witnesses.
The President said he certainly thought it would involve the re-opening of a great portion of the case and the examination of all these speeches.
But Mr. Davitt thought that he should be allowed to refute, by this evidence, allegations against his country which the Times had not substantiated. He supplemented this observation by stating that the reading of the extracts would at least take three hours. Then he went on to say that the charges were made by the Times with the deliberate intention of prejudicing Mr. Parnell in the eyes of the voters of England, and now the Times had not the manliness to allow -
The President interrupted again, observing, rather excitedly - "No, no; I cannot allow you to make such observations as that."
Mr. Davitt - I only made it against the Times, my Lord.
The President - Yes; but I cannot allow it.

WILL OTHER WITNESSES BE CALLED?

A consultation among the Judges followed after which the President said that the case had been conducted by counsel of the greatest eminence in the country, and they had thought that Mr. Davitt might be content to follow in their footsteps. But considering that he had appeared before them independently, and recognising the great issues at stake, they had decided, though it would entail a great deal of inconvenience, to allow Mr. Davitt to read the extracts; on the understanding, of course, that the Attorney-General should have the opportunity of examining the speeches.
Mr. Davitt offered to make a concession - viz., to refer only to the dates and places of the meetings.
The President, however, said he would rather hear the speeches now, and so
Mr. Davitt, placing a large volume of MS. before him, settled down to his task.

MR. DAVITT AND CONSERVATIVE M.P.'S.

The speeches only occupied a very brief time, Mr. Davitt having curtailed them considerably. Mr. Davitt went on to consider the effects recent legislation had had upon the course of events in Ireland. For the League he claimed that to their action alone was due the Act of 1881, and declared that if the Government who appointed the Commission knew, or believed, that the charges made by the Times were true, it was their duty to have instituted criminal proceedings before the ordinary tribunals. He was arraigned for starting an association for getting rid of landlords - a work which had at length been undertaken by the Government. He contended that every Tory Member who had supported the Ashbourne Act was equally guilty with him of desiring to get rid of the landlords of Ireland. Mr. Davitt then detailed the incidents preceding the formation of the Ladies' Land League.
The Court adjourned for luncheon at twenty minutes past one. Mr. Davitt promising that he would "confiscate portions of his speech" in the afternoon, in return for their Lordships' concession - a promise which the President jocularly told him not to forget.
Upon resuming, Mr. Davitt dwelt upon the evidence offered by such witnesses as Iago and Coleman, to whose careers he referred at some length, analysing the admissions they made in cross-examination.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Wednesday October 30, 1889, Page 3

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