TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 p. m. ] The Ashburton Guardian. THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 1881. The State of Ireland.
The Liberal party were no sooner in power in England than they found themselves face to face with a difficulty in Ireland —a section of the people of that country having taken up a position verging on revolt. That position has now degenerated into something even worse, and a condition of things very like anarchy has been brought about. The Land League raised the agitation against landlordism, and so excited the minds of the populace that neither life nor property is safe, and agrarian outrages are more frequent and more daring than they have ever been before. The ease with which these outrages can be committed and the almost certainty of escape from detection, or at least from punishment, of those who are guilty of them, has become too great a temptation to the worst class of people, and under cover of the political agitation that has been fermented local ill-will and hatred fires its cowardly ambushed shots and raises its incendiary fires. The worst passions of the w r orst of the people have been aroused, and the League now finds it has all too easily raised a spirit of evil that it is powerless to allay. Tardily the Ministry have been brought to take action in the matter, but at last, owing apparently to the activity of the Hon. W. E. Forster, the Secretary for Ireland, a Coercion Bill has been introduced, and within the next few hours we expect to hear that it has passed. The Home Rulers are obstructing to the best of their ability, and one demanded that reforms should be brought about in Ireland before coercion was tried ; another did his best to hinder the passage of a motion for urgency, and apparently forgot his Parliamentary manners so much that he was called to order several times, and eventually suspended. It is evident that now the Liberal Government, which has always been averse to that “ spirited” policy of Disraeli, which would continually flourish the sword, have been terribly put to it by the state of Ireland, and are now at last resolved on stern measures. The needful reforms -will come, no doubt. In fact, public opinion has already recognised their necessity; but before a step in the direction of reform is taken it is apparent that the quelling of disorder is meant, the discovery and punishment of those who have been guilty of crime, and the restoration to calm of the disturbed country. While life and property are unsafe legislation in the direction of social reform is uncalled for; but so soon as the first duty is performed by the Government, and which the state of the country demands, then the way wall be prepared for a redressing of the Irish tenants’ grievances. Late telegrams tell us that the jury who tried the Land Leaguers failed to agree, and had to be discharged. We have no doubt that the same result will again follow, so long as the jury are empannelled from the Irish population, and if a fair and unbiassed jury is wanted—one not likely to be influenced by the feelings that so powerfully agitate the Irish breast at this moment —the trial must take elsewhere than in Ireland. We would look with suspicion on any decision a jury would come to that had been recruited from Ireland, and in fairness both to the cause of the country and the men accused, we hope the venu will be changed to London, or other place where the jurymen are likely to be removed from the influences that at present weigh with the Irish people—where at least they will not for being jurymen have anonymously sent to their wives suggestive presents like widows’ caps.