Mr O'Dwyer presented a Petition from an individual of the name of Ryan
Henessey, residing in the county of Carlow, and complaining of the
oppressive treatment which he had experienced from certain magistrates
in that county. The petition stated, that on the night of Saturday, the
24th of January last, after the petitioner had gone to bed, a driver
belonging to Mr. Kavanagh, a Member of that House, accompanied by a
party of police, knocked at his door, and stated that the priest of the
parish wanted to see him; that the petitioner, on opening his door in
consequence of this message, was immediately seized and handcuffed by
order of the driver, and that he was then dragged to the guardhouse,
where he was put in irons, and where he remained handcuffed during that
night and the following Sunday.
The petitioner further alleged, that he
was arrested without any summons having been previously served upon him,
and without any warrant having been issued for his apprehension. He also
stated, that a person offered to become security for his appearance, but
that on his inquiring of the Magistrate, who was a Mr. Doyne, what
amount of security would be required, Mr. Doyne called him a ruffian,
and threatened to send him to the county gaol. In conclusion, the
petitioner alleged, that he could not expect justice from the Bench of
Magistrates at Carlow, as Mr. Doyne was one of them, and with another
constituted the whole Bench. He had to present another petition from
Thomas Butler and his wife, complaining of the misconduct of the same
Colonel Bruen begged to interrupt the Hon Member. The first petition
presented by the hon. Member was not signed. There was only a mark
attached to it, and it was not vouched by anybody that that mark was the
mark of the petitioner. The authenticity of this petition should be
established before it could be received, inasmuch as it contained
allegations of a must serious nature against the character of a
Magistrate. For his own part he did not believe that there was the
slightest foundation for any of the charges which the petitioner had
made against Mr. Doyne.
Mr. O'Dwyer said, that the petitions had come to him in the usual way,
but in consequence of what had just fallen from the hon. and gallant
Member, he must now add that they had come to him recommended and
confirmed by a gentleman of unquestioned honour and respectability. For
his own part, he firmly believed that every allegation in the petition
could be substantiated.
The Speaker said, it appeared that the petitioner was not able to write,
but that his mark was attached to the petition. Now, the question for
the House to decide, was, whether the man was to be deprived of his
right of petition because he could not write?
Mr. Roebuck said, that the signature of a petitioner was not a stronger
proof of the authenticity of a petition than his mark would be. The
House had no better means of ascertaining the authenticity of a
signature than it had of ascertaining the authenticity of a mark. Why,
then, should they place obstacles in the way of the poor unlettered man,
who had already difficulty enough in getting his petition put into a
shape in which it could be presented to them, when they removed the same
obstacles out of the way of the rich man, who found no difficulty in
Sir John Campbell. The petition is already signed, for a man may sign by
his mark. That is admitted to be a signature in every Court of Law. You
are bound to give credit to it as a man's signature, until the contrary
Mr. Littleton said, that to the petitions which had been received and
printed last year there were the names of at least a hundred thousand
marksmen attached. It was not many hundred years since Members on
entering that House, made their marks, in consequence of their being
unable to write their names.
Mr. Ewart observed that what had been stated by the hon. Gentleman who
presented the petitions was quite sufficient to authenticate them; and
the objection which had been made to them ought not to enter into the
equitable consideration of the House.
Mr. Kavanagh contended, that there ought to be some voucher to prove the
genuineness of the petitioner's mark. If there were no attestation
attached to it any man might libel the character of another in that
House with impunity. He believed, that the allegations of the petitioner
were all false, especially those which reflected on that respectable
magistrate Mr. Doyne.
Mr. O'Dwyer thought that when the hon. Member for the county of Carlow
rose, he was going to propose the appointment of a Committee to inquire
into the charges which the petitioner brought against Mr. Doyne, the
Magistrate. That would have been the most proper and manly way to meet
the charge, and do justice to the petitioner. If the hon. Member would
propose that course, he would undertake that every allegation in the
petition should be proved. He had received the petition from a source of
the highest respectability, and the House was bound to believe the
allegations of it till they were disproved by some better evidence than
mere assertion. Petition laid on the Table.
Mr. D. O'Dwyer presented a Petition from Thomas Butler and Judith his
wife, of the county of Carlow. The petition complained, that on
Saturday, the night of the 24th of January, after they had retired to
rest, a party of police, accompanied by the under agent of Thomas
Kavanagh, Esq., a Member of that House, had called at their cottage,
dragged them out of their bed and conveyed them to Borris, where they
were kept in confinement the remainder of the night, and the whole of
the following day; that Judith, one of the petitioners, was the mother
of seven children, one of whom was dangerously ill ; that she requested
to be left with the sick child till morning, and promised to be ready at
that time to meet any charge which might be preferred against her; that
she was forced from the embraces of her children, and compelled to
accompany her husband; and that she was imprisoned with him in a dungeon
for the time already mentioned, on a charge which she did not know.
The petition further stated, that when the reverend John Walsh inquired
of the police serjeant by what authority he had arrested the
petitioners, he replied that he had not had any warrant, but that he had
arrested them on the order of Mr. Doyne, the Magistrate, and of Mr.
Hawkshawe, the chief of the police. The petition added, that Mr. Doyne,
was an agent of Mr. Kavanagh, at a salary of 80/. or 100/ a-year, and
that he was harsh, vindictive, and oppressive as a Magistrate. He would
not enter into a description of the other charges which the petitioners
brought against Mr. Doyne; but the circumstances, if true, were of a
nature to challenge the immediate attention of the Irish Government. As
to Mr. Doyne, who was spoken of in this manner, he would mention one
fact, which he had upon the authority of a gentleman to whom he was sure
the House would give implicit credit — he meant Mr. Vigors, who
represented Carlow in the last Parliament. Mr. Vigors had told him that
he was an eye-witness to this circumstance. Two persons were brought
before the bench, On which Mr. Doyne was sitting, as a Magistrate. One
of them, a woman, was charged with having excited a tumult, and was
sentenced to pay a fine of 20s.
A warrant had been issued against the
other, who was in Mr. Kavanagh's employ, for an aggravated assault. He
was proved to have struck another person on the head with a stone, and
for this he was fined 5s. Now, let the house mark the difference in the
sentence on these two cases. The woman was fined 20s, who had committed
no assault, and had been guilty of no actual breach of the peace, whilst
the man was fined 5s. who had committed a savage assault, and had been
guilty of a gross breach of the peace. But this was not all. This very
respectable Magistrate, Mr. Doyne, who had adjudicated on the case, had
had the indecency on the bench to pay the fine of the latter offender.
He implored the House to consider what hope could the people have of
justice from a bench of which such a Magistrate composed a part? He
would not use delicate phrases on a subject like this; but he would
openly call on the right lion. Secretary for Ireland, if he could obtain
his attention for a moment, to investigate this transaction, and, if it
were proved to be of the nature which he had stated, to remove this
Magistrate from the commission of the peace.
Mr. Kavanagh said, that among other phrases which he had heard the hon.
Member for Drogheda utter he had distinguished this— "If this case be
proved." He (Mr. Kavanagh) would use that phrase too. He would say — "
If this case can be proved." But it could not ; for the information on
which the hon. Member was proceeding was in every respect incorrect. In
short, the only reply he should give was, that the charge was wholly and
perfectly false. Colonel Bruen was far from hushing up inquiry, like the
hon. and learned Member for Drogheda, he challenged the fullest
investigation into the allegations of the petition. He was sure that
upon a proper and full investigation the allegations would be discovered
to be wholly unfounded. He must observe, at the same time, that it was
most extraordinary that it should be proposed to investigate these
matters here, instead of leaving them to the proper tribunals in
As to the charges contained in the last petition, he knew
nothing about them; but this he did know, that Mr. Doyne was incapable
of acting in any manner unbecoming a Magistrate and a gentleman. He
again repeated that the Courts of Law were the proper tribunals for the
investigation of charges like these, and that Magistrates ought not to
be ruthlessly dragged before that House upon allegations which must
circulate to their disadvantage until they were refuted.
Sir Henry Hardinge said, that if the hon. Member for Drogheda had
previously informed him of his intention to bring forward such a charge
against a Magistrate, he would have been prepared to meet it; but as the
hon. Gentleman had not acquainted him with the allegations beforehand,
he could only refer the matter for inquiry to the authorities at Dublin.
It was due to the accused Magistrate to stale, that from what he (Sir.
Hardinge) had heard of his character, there could be little doubt that
he would be able to give a satisfactory explanation of the transaction.
Mr. O'Connell thought, that much would depend on the quarter in which
the inquiry should be made. He had little doubt that if the right hon.
Secretary, or any individual who would act with equal fairness, took the
matter up, the charge would be established. This was the conclusion at
which he had arrived. The matter seemed quite susceptible of legal
evidence; and any man acquainted with Ireland would think few things
impossible of Carlow Magistrates.
Sir Henry Hardinge said, he should have been happy to let the inquiry
proceed in due course of law, rather than have it taken up by the
Government; but as the hon. Member had suggested the latter course, he
was ready to concur in it.
Mr. O'Dwyer would undertake, if the right hon. Secretary supplied the
money that the transaction should be brought before a Court of Justice.
The right hon. Gentleman must know that individuals in the situation of
the petitioner, could not go into Court without assistance.
Colonel Evans complained of the bias that operated upon the minds of
most of the Magistracy of Ireland. From what he knew of recent
occurrences in the County of Carlow, his impression was, that probably
the Magistrate would not come clear out of the inquiry.
Mr. Shaw thought that when a serious charge was brought against an
individual holding a public office, the accusation ought to rest upon
the authority of some person who could be held responsible for its
correctness; but this was not the case here; no name was signed to the
petition: there was nothing but a mark, and no attestation that this was
the mark of the person in whose name the petition was drawn up. The
individual could not read the statements made in his name, and might
never have heard them read.
He knew one of the supposed facts stated in the petition to be untrue,
and hence the House .might, perhaps, judge of the rest. It was asserted
that Mr. Doyne was the agent to Mr. Kavanagh, and had no property to
qualify him to sit as a Magistrate, when the truth was, that Mr. Doyne
had necessarily sworn to a qualification of 600s a-year before he could
sit on the Road Sessions. He was personally acquainted with Mr. Doyne,
and a worthier or more respectable man did not exist. He agreed that the
charge should be thoroughly investigated.
The petitions were laid upon the Table.
1922 - 1924
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