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Irish Crown Jewels

Volume 44: debated on Friday 6 December 1912

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I ask to be allowed to deal with the subject I am about to raise without interruption. The proposition I ask to be allowed to make is this: The police charged with collecting evidence in connection with the disappearance of the Crown jewels from Dublin Castle in 1907 collected evidence inseparable from it of criminal debauchery and sodomy being committed in the castle by officials, Army officers, and a couple of nondescripts of such position that their conviction and exposure would have led to an upheaval from which the Chief Secretary shrank. In order to prevent that he suspended the operation of the Criminal Law, and appointed a whitewashing commission with the result for which it was appointed.

Even now he refuses to give the names of these criminals to the Director of Public Prosecutions. That is a serious proposition, and I propose now to make it good, so far as I am allowed. I go on the assumption that no man in this realm has any legitimate power to suspend the operation of the Criminal Law before trial, and that if it be done it is an abuse and perversion of power. No Member of the Government has been candid enough to claim the right to shield the criminals or suspend the operation of the Criminal Law. But that is what the Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General have been, in effect, doing and are doing now. In the absence of a credible explanation the public must form their own conclusion. Crime in Dublin Castle is no new thing. It did not begin with the present Lord Lieutenant's term of office and is not likely to end with it. Most of what I have to say will be new to most hon. Members present, but not so new to the Attorney-General—if he were here — stale and abominable to the Chief Secretary—if he were here, and to all connected 'with the official life of Dublin at that time. We often hear and read idle platitudes about the purity of public life. I am going to test whether anything practical can be done towards that end by grappling with a concrete case of grave impunity and crime. I want to afford persons in public life, who might find themselves implicated, the opportunity of vindicating themselves—if they can—and to take the consequences if they are unable to vindicate themselves. It has been said that it is unfair to avail oneself of the privileges of a Member of Parliament to make charges in this House against persons not entitled to answer and defend themselves here, and that if made at all the charges should be made outside, the range of privilege. I quite agree that if there was a legitimate vehicle outside through which a Member could make his charges he should do so. Had such a vehicle existed I would have availed of it long before now. None exist, and the charges have to be made here or not at all. Those in power who have created that state of things must not complain that I use the only vehicle they have left open to me. One of the most powerful means for fostering crime in high places is the boycott placed upon its exposure by the legitimate Press. Any crime among the poor is paraded and magnified, but the character of the wealthy and official class is treated as sacrosanct and any word impeaching it is rigorously suppressed. I hold that that boycott is itself a crime in addition to being complicity in crime by silent condonation of that conduct. The Chief Secretary and those in power with him—

Notice taken that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at Fifteen minutes after Five o'clock, until Monday next, 9th December.