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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 7 Mar 2013 - 6:34



Sir Henry James resumed this morning his consideration of the events preceding and succeeding the Phoenix Park murder, and his proposition that "until the evidence from different aspects shall be put together, perhaps no one has quite realised the extent to which this evidence brings home crime, or knowledge of crime, to certain persons whose names have been conspicuously before you in this inquiry." He dealt with this part of the case partially last night. This morning, he spoke of the flight of Patrick Egan, who, it was said in evidence, fled the country just before the commission of the murders. It will be remembered Egan left Dublin and travelled to France through Belfast. Sir Henry produced the evidence of Dr. Kenny and that of Le Caron upon this point, and contrasting the two, contended that that of Dr. Kenny was corroborative of Le Caron in every detail. Egan - be he American Minister or engaged in Presidential elections - was one of the men who fled the country, leaving his wife, who was dangerously ill, with no one to take care of her, in his haste to escape from the hand of justice. This was one of the triumvirate who controlled the Land League - the man in whom Mr. Parnell said in the witness-box he still had confidence. From this point counsel went to a further examination of the evidence of Delaney - especially his statement that money was paid over, in the presence of Frank Byrne, to Invincibles, in 1882, and that the payment was accompanied by the observation that Egan had to be consulted before any other murders could be committed. The only record of such payments would be found in the books of the Land League, for counsel claimed that the money came from that body. But they were never allowed to test the matter, because the books had been withheld with the deliberate intention of preventing disclosure. Now (proceeded Sir Henry), Mr. Justin M'Carthy had declared in his affidavit that such books existed. These books had been in the possession of Mr. George Lewis, and Mr. Reid had promised that they should be produced. There was not a man at the English Bar whose word he would more readily accept than that of Mr. Reid; but, unfortunately, before he had an opportunity of redeeming his pledge Mr. Reid went out of the case, so they found a blank - a blank created by the very men who might have given valuable information.


Discussing the action of Mrs. F. Byrne in bringing over the knives and revolvers intended to be used in the Phoenix Park murders, Sir Henry explained the fact that she was styled "the brave little woman"; and was entertained at a public banquet given in recognition of her and her husband's "bravery." He could not believe that the money paid to the Invincibles came from the impecunious Frank Byrne; indeed, he submitted that it had been shown it came from some national organisation. He doubted not that the death of Lord F. Cavendish came as a severe blow upon the leaders of the Parnellite Party, and he accepted the manifesto which followed as a sincere expression - on the part of Mr. Parnell - of regret and sorrow. The Kilmainham Treaty had been made, and the murder of one so closely allied to the Prime Minister rendered Mr. Parnell's position untenable for a time. Thus he was sincere in his expression of regret. But was Egan? No. He actually dissented from the action of the League in offering a reward for the detection of the murderers. Sir Henry quoted from a letter written by Mr. Davitt to a London paper immediately after the Phoenix Park murders. This contained the opinion of Mr. Davitt that if sufficient precaution had been taken on the part of the authorities the crime could have been prevented.
Mr. Davitt claimed that in justice to his colleagues the whole of the letter should be read.
This request was acceded to, Mr. Asquith, who, is with Sir Henry James, accomplishing the task.
Sir Henry James contended that the context did not justify the accusation of Mr. Davitt. From this he again went to the Kilmainham Treaty, which he admitted showed that Mr. Parnell did something to prevent crime.
Here the Court adjourned for luncheon.


When the Court resumed, Sir Henry James dealt with the forged letters - one of the most important matters connected with the whole of the case. He said that, owing to the ruling of the Court, he was unable to deal either with the motives or the propriety of the Times in publishing these letters. He, however, had to deal with one question - viz., whether these letters were put forward by the Times with the knowledge that they were forged letters. If the question came before the Court - and it could not now, as it was closed by the admission of Sir Charles Russell - he should endeavour to bring evidence on the part of his clients to show the course they had taken. He quoted Sir Charles Russell's declaration that he was not going to suggest that the Times knew these letters were forged when they put them forward."
He presumed Sir Charles acted upon his instructions.
Mr. Davitt - But not from me, my Lord.
Sir Henry James pointed out that Sir Charles Russell spoke on behalf of his clients, and not on behalf of Mr. Davitt.
Mr. Davitt - But there is a letter of mine among the forged letters.
Sir Henry James - That has not come before the Commission.
The President - No, no.
Sir Henry James went on to say that Mr. Parnell's counsel had made this admission, and to ask what else there was for him to deal with. Their Lordships, he presumed, would not allow him to go into the question, nor to justify the course the Times took in the matter. Even if the Court said he could do so, he did not know that he could do it with propriety. At that moment an action was pending against the Times - an action for libel brought by Mr. Parnell - and it would not be right for him to mention matters which would undoubtedly be brought before the notice of the Jury empannelled in that case. Rightly or wrongly, he took upon himself the responsibility of saying that it was not becoming, in face of these facts, for him to deal with the subject.


There was, however, one subject, perhaps of a personal nature, he was asked to mention. He was desired to say that Sir Charles Russell was misinformed when he said that Mr. Buckle had separated himself from his colleagues (and here Mr. Buckle, who was present, was the centre of observation), and dissented from the course they took in the publication of the letters. Such was not the case, as Mr. Buckle was with them all through.
The President - It is purely a personal matter, and I may say that I thought Sir Charles Russell was only referring to the fact that Mr. Buckle did not approve or did not authorise the publication of the letters.
Sir Henry James said he only desired to make it clear that Mr. Buckle did not dissent from the conduct of his colleagues.
(The report will be continued.)


PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 19. - Today the defence has been basing its case upon mistaken identity, also endeavouring to prove alibis. It desired to show that Coughlin could not be at Carlson-cottage on the night Dr. Cronin was murdered, because on the same night, May 4, he was at East Chicago-avenue Police-station. To corroborate Whalen's testimony to this, John Stift, who was formerly desk-sergeant there, but was discharged on account of his friendship with Coughlin, was called. He testified to seeing Coughlin with Whalen outside the station-house door about 9:35 on the night of May 4, and he invited them to take a drink with him at the saloon adjoining the station, and they had drinks, remaining there some time.
The State's Attorney asked - "How do you know it was the night of May 4 that you all went out to get a drink?" - "Because when I got back I found an order for inquiries to be made at all livery stables regarding a white horse, such as is said to have been driven away by the man who decoyed Dr. Cronin."
Policeman Redmond M'Donald testified to seeing Coughlin at East Chicago-avenue Police-station about nine o'clock on the night of May 4. The cross-examination brought out the fact that it was between nine and 9:15 o'clock, and that the witness was a member of Camp 20 of the Clan-Na-Gael.
In cross-examination the witness was asked: -
When did you first learn that Coughlin's name was connected with the horse that drove Dr. Cronin away? - I think about a week after they first began writing about it in the newspapers.
Now, in what paper did you read about Coughlin being connected with the horse and buggy? - I do not know.
Was that before the body was found? - Yes, Sir.
Now, do you not remember that it is a fact that Coughlin's name was never connected with that in any manner whatever in the public Press until the 25th of May, three days after the discovery of Dr. Cronin's body? (Sensation.)
The witness (hesitatingly) - It was written in the papers about him in connection with the rig from Dinan's.
William Mulcahy testified to knowing O'Sullivan since April 4th. He was not a member of the Clan-Na-Gael. A few days after he first met O'Sullivan he was with him on an ice-waggon when they met a man who resembled Coughlin. The latter asked O'Sullivan if he knew many people at Lake View. He said "Yes." The man then asked him if he knew a young man of the name of Kunze. If he saw him he was to telephone to the Chicago Police-station and tell him that the man wanted to see him. The witness had heard O'Sullivan speak of his contract with Dr. Cronin. The witness, who was an employee of O'Sullivan, complained that one of his feet hurt him. O'Sullivan told him to go and see Dr. Cronin about it, as he had a contract with him to take care of his men. This was said in the presence of O'Sullivan's other men. O'Sullivan also told the men on another occasion that he had a contract with a doctor to attend anyone who was hurt on an ice-waggon. The witness went on to say that in the latter part of April, James Meehan, one of O'Sullivan's men, went to the office of the Lake View Record to get a lot of Sullivan's newly-printed cards. He gave the witness about fifty of them, and he distributed them. On the day of the murder the witness and O'Sullivan were on the ice-waggon together. They had supper together; both read during the evening, and went to bed at the same time, sleeping in the same bed. Later on two of O'Sullivan's men and a carpenter who was working there came to the door, and were let in.


CHICAGO, Nov. 19. - This afternoon the Court heard the evidence of Patrick Brennan, who testified, under cross-examination, that the lawyers for the defence got several of the witnesses together at O'Sullivan's house last Sunday, and went over their evidence in presence of the entire company.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 20, 1889, Page 3

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

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