By William O'Brien

Page 79


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presumed that Mr. Morley will not follow the example set by the late Mr. W. H. Smith, and appoint an Evicted Tenants' Commission of three Nationalist members of Parliament. The combinations to be inquired into are few and definite. Mr. Balfour's view of them is on record. They were born of dishonesty, conducted by crime, and disposed of once for all by Coercion. Here are questions of facts easily ascertainable, one way or the other. What better salve could be applied to Mr. Balfour's wounded feelings than an official exposure of the wickedness of the thousands of persons he was obliged to evict and cast into prison, and an imperishable record of the triumphant results which attended his heroic proceedings? Nevertheless, the proposed Commission does not excite the same enthusiasm in Tory breasts as the Times' Commission. It is a notable fact that the merits or demerits of any combination under the Plan of Campaign have never been, to this hour, investigated in a court of justice. In the Coercion Courts any reference to the crushing character of the rents, or to the landlords' unreasonableness, was invariably ruled to be irrelevant. When, in the case of the Mitchelstown estate, I proposed to show that the evictions I denounced were fixed for a few days before the Royal Assent to the Land Act of 1887, and that my remarks had the effect of protecting the tenants from an attempt to defraud them of the benefits of that Act, I was informed by my Removable judges that that had nothing to do with the case. In the case of each and every agrarian combination formed since 1886, the tenants have courted arbitration and, failing that, public investigation. They have done so, I hope to be able to show, for the same reason for which the landlords and coercionists have as steadily set their faces against either arbitration or investi- ...continue reading »

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