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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 6 Mar 2013 - 23:39

One hundred and twenty-first Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, November 12, 1889


The earlier portion of Sir Henry James's speech, when the Court resumed today, was not particularly interesting to the audience which had assembled in the Court. It was made up of a large number of extracts from speeches, the reading of which occupied about half an hour. He then proceeded to show the alleged connection between the Land League and the Clan-Na-Gael. Sir Henry quoted the evidence of Le Caron, who swore that between each of the organisations - which, by the way, he spoke of as one body - there was a system of transfer which ensured that a member of one branch would meet with a fitting reception by and be able to associate, with members of the other. He went on to show the connection of O'Donovan Rossa with the League, and the work he did - in the first place with Mr. Parnell's acknowledgment, on the part of that body. He pointed to the advocacy by Rossa of the active policy, reading parts of "leaders" in his paper in which he urged the despatch of a body of men to blow up London and other large English cities. He said that the Parnellites had represented that they were not in sympathy with dynamite, urging as an argument in support that they got rid of Rossa for that reason. He declared that that argument did not prove that the party was not favourable to a policy of dynamite. They got rid of Rossa, not because he was a dynamitard, but because he was an indiscreet and undesirable ally. Their representations and arguments on this point were altogether false, for Rossa being a garrulous man, they got rid of an indiscreet dynamitard, but the policy of dynamite remained what it had been.


Sir Henry denounced O'Donovan Rossa as unworthy of the name of man, and then went on to deal with Patrick Ford. He said that, like the evil genius in the melodrama, who kept himself in the background, Ford kept himself within the secresy of his editorial room; but it was he who was responsible for the policy which Sir Charles Russell had rightly described as a dastardly policy. Sir Henry enumerated several cases in which men in Ireland had been charged with crimes which were, as he asserted, traced to the machinations of the revolutionary party. He especially referred to the part Patrick Ford had played in urging these men on, from his editorial chair, to the commission of crime and outrage - ay, and even murder. Then he produced Mr. Davitt's testimony about Ford, laying stress upon the former's statement that he regarded Ford as one of the most moral, Christian, and philanthropic men he had ever known, to whose house he always directed his steps whenever he landed in America. Sir Henry described Patrick Ford as a "murderer and procurer of murderers," and expressed his astonishment that any man, with a claim to humanitarian feelings, could describe another as a Christian and philanthropist when he was acknowledged to be guilty of such a terrible crime against society as that of counselling murder. "What," exclaimed the learned counsel, "has become of the judgment of man when we are confronted with such incidents as these?" Turning to another point, Sir Henry set himself the task of exploding the argument of Sir Charles Russell that crimes in Ireland were due to secret societies rather than the Fenians. In this connection he read extracts from evidence, notably that of Mr. Parnell. These went to show that the witnesses had no cognisance of speeches denunciatory of any secret societies. Indeed, he could find no trace of Mr. Parnell or Mr. Dillon, or any of the leaders of the party denouncing secret societies. Mr. O'Brien was asked, as editor of United Ireland, "Did you ever denounce secret societies by name?" "Indeed I did not," was the reply. Thus they found it throughout the whole of the case. No one was found to have denounced secret societies as enemies of the Land League in the commission of crime.


Here Sir Henry dealt with the statement of Mr. Parnell in the witness-box that on one occasion he attempted to mislead the House of Commons as to the extent of secret societies in Ireland. He declared that if a Member of the House of Commons had made such a charge he would have been withdrawn from performing his duties in the House until he had substantiated that charge. Self-accused, Mr. Parnell made the charge, and had he, asked Sir Henry, given any explanation of it? There were amongst politicians men who had hoped it could have been explained. He (Sir Henry) could not speculate as to how those words affected Mr. Parnell, but he had only one feeling when he heard them, and that was one of deep, sincere pain. He did not attempt to pass judgment upon Mr. Parnell. He left it to their Lordships. Mr. Parnell had not spared himself, but he would do so.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.


After the usual interval Sir Henry James continued his speech. He explained that he was about to show that evictions in Ireland were not mere acts of hostility by a landlord to a tenant, but that they were evictions sought for by the tenant, that they were so sought for in order to meet the orders of the Land League, which caused them, and that they were sought for in order to secure the compensation which the League offered. He read voluminous extracts to support this contention.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Tuesday November 12, 1889, Page 3

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

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