§ Colonel Verner
rose, pursuant to notice, to call the attention of the House to the case of Mr. Harpur and others, against whom informations had been sworn, for attending a meeting called by the Lieutenant of the county of Tyrone, at Dungannon, in December last, and for which they had been bound over to take their trial at the next assizes. In bringing forward this subject, the hon. Member contended, that the meeting in question was, if at all a violation of the 299 Processions' Act, much less so than the procession which attended the present Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, when he made his public entry into Dublin. He had received a Letter on the subject, which, with the permission of the House, he should read, for it put the case in a clear and, as he conceived, an unanswerable point of view:—As Grand Master of Tyrone, I feel called upon, in consequence of the interpretation which Lord Melbourne gave to the debate upon Lord Mulgrave's processional entry into Dublin, to request, on the behalf of Mr. Harpur, one of your constituents, and others, members of the Orange institution, that you will, in your place in parliament, ascertain from the Home Secretary (Lord John Russell, I believe), or from the Attorney-General for Ireland, whether their interpretation of the act agrees with that of the Prime Minister.This is of no slight importance to us, whose personal liberty, and property, to a certain extent, are involved in the reply. The late administration, though we were known to be amongst its most zealous supporters, felt it to be their duty to institute prosecutions against some of us for a breach of the procession act, in attending the call of the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Tyrone (of which county, as well as of Armagh, Mr. Harpur is a freeholder) to address the King in support of his prerogative. The meeting took place upon no anniversary, and was connected with no political event. This prosecution still hangs over them, and they are bound over to stand their trials at the next assizes. You will perceive how strong our case is. We were regularly convened by a lawful authority, while the Dublin assemblage originated with the processionists themselves, without any legal sanction, unless the letter of the Lord-lieutenant's State Steward (I think he styles himself), stating the hour at which his Excellency would join them, can be reckoned such.I further beg leave to add, that I witnessed the procession, headed by Lord Mulgrave, into Dublin, which was called a procession of the Trades' Union, but which I assert was one of revolution, for, independent of standards with the harp without the crown, and 'Erin go bragh,' 'Repeal of the Union,' the cap of liberty upon a pole, with the word 'Liberty' placed on it, each member carried a long white rod, with the tri-colour floating from its end—viz. red, white, and green ribbons; and although the streets were lined with military, and the police apparently on the alert, some ruffian was permitted to place the tri-colours in the hand of the statue of King William, in College-green.As friends and constituents, a slight apology for the trouble we impose upon you would, we know, be accepted; but we feel certain that you will readily undertake this matter for the sake of the public, to whom it 300 is of the Utmost importance that it should be distinctly understood to What party and what occasions the law applies; whether an orange or a purple flag is within the act, while a green or a white one is without it? Whether a jury is to be called to investigate the tendency of a Protestant fife, while a priest with his piper behind him, may head a mob unmolested?There could be no doubt that if a riot had taken place at the Dublin procession, the parties would have been liable to all the penalties of the statute regarding processions, and he saw no reason why parties engaged in one meeting should be prosecuted, and those in the other allowed to escape with impunity.
§ The hon. Member was proceeding when the House was counted out.