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who have a very obvious interest in so doing. They not only receive money by way of quarterly payments from the members, but, as publicans, they have a farther advantage in their houses being constantly frequented by them. These publicans appear to keep up a sort of connection the one with the other, and in order to maintain their influence more securely affect a certain degree of mystery. They give out that they act under some high and nameless authority, and that leaders will be forthcoming when the time is ripe, who will ensure the restoration of the forfeited estates, and other such objects as the lowest and the most needy commonly look to as the results to be desired from political changes. Their uniform advice, however, of which they never lose sight, is that for the present all that can be done is to increase their numbers. Their object is, manifestly, to keep up a delusion among the ignorant, and to conceal their real motive, which is nothing more or less than to raise money. The promoters of the system are knaves, and the members their dupes. All the information laid before Government tends to confirm this opinion; and such is the conclusion I have come to, from the examination of the whole of the evidence. A different conclusion may, of course, be drawn by others from the same data. [The fact that Ribandmen are all Roman Catholics does not appear to me to make against this conclusion.] There is so marked a distinction between Roman Catholics and Protestants that it would be almost impossible to find a society in Dublin in which it does not exist. There are Burial Societies consisting exclusively of Protestants, and Burial Societies consisting exclusively of Roman Catholics. In like manner, Benefit Societies, to provide for cases of sickness, &c., are also of an exclusive character. The members of the two Churches keep themselves separate in all cases; there is unfortunately little mixture of the lower classes especially. Even the Temperance Societies are sometimes exclusively Protestant or Catholic. The great Temperance Society of Dublin is not ; but there is an exclusive Catholic Temperance Society in Liverpool. The two classes, as I have stated, keep themselves very much apart. The society of the Protestants corresponding and antagonistic to the Riband So
ciety is the Orange Society. Within the last two or three years the Orange Societies have, I think, considerably decreased. [Along with this fact) should be noted a manifest distinction between Ribandism as it is now reported of, and Ribandism as reported formerly. In all the cases reported previous to 1835, it was common to apply the designation of Ribandmen indiscriminately to all Roman Catholics engaged in contentions with the Orange party—not that it was intended to represent all Catholics as Ribandmen, any more than to describe all Protestants as Orangemen."
It was alleged that there existed a difference between outrages committed in the counties in which Ribandism was believed to exist, and those in which its existence was not suspected. The difference was said to be, that in the former the outrages were always perpetrated by men from a distance, and in the latter by men from the neighbourhood. Of course, it was believed that the Riband outrages were designed at their club meetings. This opinion Mr Drummond was not inclined to hold.
“There is no evidence, except the unsupported assertion of informants, of an outrage having been planned at any of their meetings; and a strong presumption against this supposition is furnished by the remarkable fact, that in no one instance during several years have our informants, though members of these societies, and present at their meetings, ever given notice of such intention prior to its execution. It is quite manifest that an association composed of men who are some of the worst characters in their respective neighbourhoods, and who are pledged to stand by one another, must give a faci
* Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee, contained in Part III. of “ Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee of the House of Lords, appointed to inquire into the State of Ireland since the year 1835, in respect of Crime and Outrage, which have rendered Life and Property insecure in that part of the Empire, and to report to the House."-Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 2d August 1839.
lity for the perpetration of outrages which does not exist in other places; but if such outrages were planned in the society, I have no doubt we should be far more successful in detecting them. A member of the society who meditates an outrage from motives of private resentment will apply, after the manner of the county, to his neighbours for assistance, and he will feel a greater security from their being bound together by a secret oath that they will not betray him. This tends, no doubt, to the commission of crime; and for that reason, with others, the Government have all along considered it to be a matter of the utmost importance to put down such societies, no matter what their objects might be, whether agrarian, political, or religious; and they have felt it a paramount duty to put forth every possible exertion for that purpose. The chief difference between the outrages in the Riband and the other counties consists in this, that in Tipperary (for example, where there is no Ribandism), it is usual specially to swear the participators in each particular outrage of any considerable magnitude imniediately before they set about it. The man who has an outrage to commit selects his party from those whom he thinks he can trust, and they bind themselves to him and to one another by an oath ; therefore I do not perceive any material difference between an outrage committed in that way and one committed by Ribandmen bound by the general oath of their society. It is not proved that in the Riband counties the outrages are committed by persons from a distance. In all those cases in which we have been able to bring home the charge we find that the perpetrators are persons from the neighbourhood.”
Mr Drummond thought it highly probable that Ribandism had its committee-men, parish masters, and so forth; as its object-the collection of money in exchange for termly passwords-could not otherwise be effected. He did not believe, however, that there was any central board forming a link between the various societies, or that any person of consequence was at the
* Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee.
head of Ribbandism. Supposing the societies to exist for political objects, he had the meanest opinion of their power to effect them.
“Having read carefully every information that has been transmitted to the Government-having seen that those societies are composed of the very lowest of the people ; and, as far as the information goes, not only that there is no man of note connected with them, but scarcely any respectable person of any class in society,-knowing that they are denounced publicly and constantly by the Roman Catholic clergy, and continually, fearlessly, and powerfully assailed by the very man [O'Connell] whose elevation they profess to have in view,—I think it is impossible to doubt that their power of effecting any political object, supposing them to have such in view, is utterly despicable. Their organisation is not at all adequate to such an object [as turning out at a few hours' notice on leaders appearing to head them). I believe, if they were to turn out, they would fall instantly to pieces like a rope of sand—that they would disperse almost before the means (of putting them down) possessed by the Government could be brought to bear upon them. Their organisation is not perfect enough to enable them to turn out, or, if turned out, to keep them together. There is no evidence that they have any arms; the evidence is, in fact, against that supposition ; nor is there any person even of respectability to place himself at their head. I cannot conceive that such a body of men would not immediately be dispersed. No danger to the public peace could flow from them-I mean danger of any duration. They might, perhaps, make a temporary disturbance.” *
The outrages which had their origin neither in Orangeism nor Ribandism were of two sorts. They were properly Agrarian, connected with evictions which, at the time, were numerous, the country being in a state of transition from the results of subdivision to the system of large farms ; or they were connected
Mr Drummond's Evidence before the Roden Committee.
with Faction Fights, which sprung from the family and clan feuds of the Catholics. On well-understood occasions, such as holidays or fairs, the people in the South and West of Ireland turned out and fought with one another in factions. As many as 3000 were sometimes ranged on each side in these conflicts, which were commonly permitted to pass unnoticed by the Government. It had been considered hopeless to attempt to check them. The policy corresponding to this despair was “ to let the people fight it out,” which some justified on the ground, that so long as they fought with one another they could neither fight with nor plot against the State.
It was the policy of the Normanby Administration to deal vigorously with all those sources of social disorder. They resolved that nothing should be left undone to remove such copious springs of ruffianly feeling in the people. In carrying out this policy, most important changes had to be effected in the police and magisterial establishments.
The whole of the agencies for repressing crime in Ireland in 1835 were in a high degree inefficient. The police were inefficient, partly from defects in their organisation, partly because they had never been properly handled. Criminal prosecutions were mostly left to be carried on by the injured parties. There was an indisposition to prosecute, due to the same odium attaching in Ireland to a prosecutor as to an informer. There was a general indisposition to give evidence, and there were no means of dealing promptly with unwilling witnesses. There was no general and sufficient Crown agency for the preparation of cases for trial. In consequence, commitments were few in proportion to crimes, trials in proportion to commitments, and convictions to trials.