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ENGLAND'S TREATMENT OF IRISHMEN.

We abb English by birch and Protestant by creed, and because we are both these we feel ashamed and indignant at the treatment which the English Government is according to Irish political prisoners. We detest as much as anyone can possibly do the dastardly outrages which have been committed by Moonlighters and Fenians, ranging over all degrees of crime from the hamstringing of cattle up to the assassinations in Phoenix Park, but, because we abhor such offences as these, we are none the more in sympathy with the blundering administration which absolutely incites to crime by drawing no distinction between criminal offenders and political malcontents. Nay we verily believe that to the confusion of thought upon sucb matters on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, leading as it does to an indiscriminate harshness, is largely traceable the fact that the Irish difficulty has become chronic. To put upon a political prisoner, such as Mr O'Brien, M.P., the monstrous indignity of treating him as a common felon by foroibly stripping him of his ordinary dress in order to clothe him in the prison garb, and to shave and crop him like an ordinary jail bird, is an arbitrary exercise of power, as mistaken as it is uncalled for. Irish tenants who are struggling against the rackrenting of individual (and generally absentee) landlords, and who have merely resolved to stand by one another—that is to say that none of them will agree to terms of rental which are withheld from any of their number — are not to be reckoned in the same category with Fenians and Invincibles, nor ought their champions and sympathisers to be treated as traitors to the Crown and Commonwealth. And yet that it appears to us is exactly what the English Government is doing. Let anyone who doubts this take the trouble to peruse a book just issued intituled " Incidonts of Coercion," being a journal of visits to Ireland in 1882 and 1888 by the Rt Hon G. BhawLefevre, M.P.. and his doubts on the subject will speedily be dispelled. Mr Lefevre is no more in sympathy with disloyalty to the Throne than is — well say — Mr Balfour himself, but his book is from beginning to end a record of blundering maladministration of Irish affairs, which is positively astounding. Indeed one rises from its perusal with the conviction that the worst that has ever been alleged against the autocratic administration of the Russian empire can be fully paralleled by the English administration in Ireland. For example, at page 136, we have the following specimen of English justice (?) in that country : — " It was at Ennis that Mr Cox, the member for this division of the county, was prosecuted on Jan. 28th of this year (1888), for a speech delivered to his own constituents. The speech is worth referring to as an illustration pf what constitutes incitement to crime in the view of the authorities ?—' I would implore,' he said, * the young men of Glare — and I wish my voice could reach the ear and heart of every young man to-night, and this Lisdoonvarna case may point a moral, if it cannot adorn a sad tale for them. Let them shun outrages and avoid the tempter to evil deeds as they would shun Satan him self, and if for no holier and higher motive, at least for the selfish motive of their own safety. There were foolish people in the country who thought revenge shonld be wreaked for every petty acjfc o't local tyranny. Jso not think the common sense of the country will accept their opinions and views ■gainst the opinions and yie^s of our great leader, Mr Parnell, or the greatest statesman of modern times, Mr Gladstone. Wherever and whenever you meet with such men, avoid and shun them, for, believe me, theirs is no good purpose. The louder they boast of their patriotism, and what they are prepared to do and dare, the more reason have you to shun them, for, believe me, nine out of every ten of such men are in the pay of our enemies. We have now the great Liberal party of England at our back, with their great leader, Mr (JladI stone ; wehave the English democracy with us, as will be told you in a few mmutes by Mr Conybeare. f With such allies nothing can stop tr stay our march to liberty, save and except the commission of outrage, which must inevitably drive our allies from our side, and bring jpy, hope, and satisfaction to the miserable gang of ceercionists—the Cullinane Balfour now in office. Hearken then to the advice of the great leader, who never yet gave a wrong counsel or advice { follow the counsel of the veteran leader of the Liberal Party ; be guilty of no crime or outrage, Follow the open and constitutional agitation which has always brought us to the goal of our long-lost right, Adherp to the teaching and doctrine of the National League — but I forgot, my friends, Balfour says the League has been proclaimed in Clare. I ask you, is it ? (loud shouts of "No.") I wish Balfour were here to listen to that thundering shout ; he would know the value you place on his proclamations.' For this speech, which to most people must seem a powerful appeal to the people against crime, Mr Cox was convicted of the offence of inciting the people to take part in an unlawful assembly, and was sentenced by two Resident Magistrates, Mr Cecil Roche and Mr Hodder to four months' imprisonment. The conviction was affirmed on appeal by the County Court Judge, but the sentence $rag reduced to two months' imprisonment as a common criminal." Surely such an instance as this is- proof enough of the draconic severity with which Irishmen are being treated, and the sentencing of Buch men as Mr Cox, Mr Dillon and Mr O'Brien to terms of imprisonment for such speeches as this— without jury be it re membered and on the mere ipsc dixit of a Reßident Magistrate, or rather two Resident Magistrates — and thereafter treating them as common felons is Burely not the way to win the regard of Irishmen for British institutions or to put out the smouldering embers of disloyalty to the Crown and constitution. Such conduct in a colony would inevitably lead to an assertion of, and if need be, a struggle for independence and we cannot understand how irishmen c*n be expected to submit to ft. There are traitors in Ireland no doubt, there are illegal organisations, and there have been disgraceful outrages perpetrated by those organisations, but if Mr Shaw Lefevre paints a true picture, then notwithstanding the existence of these, tie worst enemy of Imperial rule in Ireland is, we verily believe, the frnneriil Goyernmect iftelf,

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890205.2.30

Bibliographic details

ENGLAND'S TREATMENT OF IRISHMEN., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2055, 5 February 1889

Word Count
1,135

ENGLAND'S TREATMENT OF IRISHMEN. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2055, 5 February 1889

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