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Nationalist Members And The Commission Of The Peace

Volume 91: debated on Monday 25 March 1901

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I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Mr. Kendal E. O'Brien, an hon. Member of this House, has been deprived by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland of the Commission of the Peace, which he held by virtue of his office as chairman of the Tipperary District Council, and that Mr. O'Brien has been twice since re-elected to the position, and each time refused the appointment by the Lord Chancellor: whether the evidence on which Mr. O'Brien was deprived of the Commission of the Peace was based on extracts taken from two alleged speeches which appeared in newspapers, no representatives from which were at either meeting; and whether, seeing that Mr. John O'Dowd and Mr. Conor O'Kelly, both hon. Members of this House, were similarly superseded, and subsequently re-ap-appointed, there is any reason why Mr. O'Brien should not be similarly treated by the Lord Chancellor.

The circumstances of the case of the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary were different from those of the Members for South Sligo and North Mayo. The first hon. Member, so far from seeking to lessen the disqualification in respect of which he was removed from the magistracy, or allowing time to mitigate its force, gave utterance in further speeches, as reported in the press, to sentiments amounting, in the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, to further disqualification. The language reported to have been used by the hon. Member was communicated to him by the Lord Chancellor, but he neither I denied having used it, suggested any inaccuracy therein, or disclaimed its obvious meaning.

May I ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the hon. Members of this House who were deprived of the Commission of the Peace, and have since been restored, admitted or denied the language they had used; and also whether these hon. Members made any apology whatever previous to their re-appointment to the Commission of the Peace?

I have already given the grounds which guided the Lord Chancellor in this matter, and I can add nothing.

I beg to say that in the circumstances in which I was reappointed I made no apology whatever for the views I had stated. I wish to say that I was deprived of the Commission of the Peace for sympathising with the Boers, and afterwards, on my re-election as Chairman of the District Council, I was re-appointed to the Commission of the Peace, and I made no apology for my views with regard to the Boers.

Is there any appeal from the decision of the Lord Chancellor in these cases? MR. WYNDHAM: No, Sir.

In what particulars did the case of the hon. Member for Mid-Tipperary differ from the cases of the hon. Members for North Mayo and South Sligo?

Order, order! The hon. Member cannot call on the right hon. Gentleman to argue these points. [Ministerial laughter.]

I think this is not a matter for laughter. I think it is a very serious matter.

Order, order! The hon. Member is not entitled to make observations of that kind.

Allow me, Sir, to point out that you may not be aware that the hon. Gentleman who has just risen is one of the hon. Gentlemen referred to in this question, and he may have a personal explanation to make.

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman why the Lord Chancellor refused my application after being re-elected last June as Chairman of the District Council?

I think the hon. Member will see that, since I have put these questions to the Lord Chancellor, I cannot answer them without notice.