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Mr Parnell in the Witness-box.

The examination of Mr Parnell was looked forward to with great interest, but proved sadly disappointing. Sir C. Russell, contrary to expectation, delegated the examination to Mr Asquith, who allowed Mr Parnell to volunteer autobiographical history. The witness himself displayed a strong tendency to become discursive, and Sir J. Hanuen was compelled more than once to protest against the range the examination was taking. The gist of Mr Parnell's examination in chief was that throughout the whole of his political career ho had confined himself to constitutional methods in influencing his colleagues and associates to take a similar view. He denied ever being a member of any secret society even, or dirpetly or indirectly having counselled or sanctioned Fenianism, or what witness persistently called "physical force." He frankly admitted having advised in certain instances a resort to boycotting for purposes of selfprotection, but never suggested intimidating. It was utterly untrue, so far as he knew, that the League's funds were ever used for criminal purposes. He was actually ignorant of the Phoenix Park plot till the day after the tragedy actually occurred. The most important part of the crossexamination in chief was the reference to the celebrated " last link speech." It will be remembered Mr Parnell, in the course of a speech delivered at New York, was reported to have said: " None of us, whether we are in America or in Ireland, or wherever we may be, will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last . link which keeps Ireland bound to England." Mr Parnell was very unsatisfactory in his answer in regard to the question whether he had ever used this language. He thought it improbable he had said it, and did not believe he had, but could not, at this distance of time, undertake to say he had not done so. The Attorney-General cross-examined Mr Parnell with hardly more jsatisfactory results. Mr Parnell displayed an indication to fence with Sir R. Webster, and persistently resorted to answers which, if not intended to be evasive, had that appearance. The general result of Sir R. Webster's cross-examination was that Mr Parnell was quite content to make whatever constitutional use he could of the Irish party as he joined it. When closely pressed he admitted having, as far aB he remembered, only once publicly denounced the dynamite party, and admitted that in the light of subsequent events his condemnation cf outrages and violence had been insufficient. Just before the Court adjourned on Friday, May 3, occurred the most remarkable incident in the cross-examina-tion, so far as it has gone. The AttorneyGeneral was quoting from 'Hansard' a speech of Parnell's in the debate on Mr Foster's Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. As one of his arguments against the Bill, Mr Parnell said that secret societies had ceased to exist in Ireland. "Did you believe that?" asked the Attorney-General. "No," coolly replied Mr Parnell; "at any rate it was a grossly exaggerated statement." There was a buzz of surprise at this throughout the Court. " Did you not," continued the Attorney-General, " intend to mis-state a fact when you made that statement?" "I have no doubt I did," was the reply of Parnell, said with the most cynical nonchalance, and there was a renewed expression of astonishment, mingled with not a few hisses. "You deliberately made that statement knowing it to be untrue?" "Yes; if not untrue very extravagant and boastful." "And you have never from that day to this withdrawn it ?" " No, I have not," replied the witness, leaving the audience in a state of very considerable astonishment at this revelation, coming as it did after so many protestations by Mr Parnell of his perfect straightforwardness.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890615.2.41.7

Bibliographic details

Mr Parnell in the Witness-box., Evening Star, Issue 7934, 15 June 1889, Supplement

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621

Mr Parnell in the Witness-box. Evening Star, Issue 7934, 15 June 1889, Supplement

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