§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether a newsagent named Ferriter, residing at Dingle, was recently sentenced to three months' imprisonment, with hard labour, for selling United Ireland; and, whether that sentence was on last Saturday confirmed on appeal?
THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The man referred to appears to have been sentenced in March last to the term of imprisonment stated for selling United Ireland newspaper containing reports of illegal meetings. This sentence is stated to have been confirmed on appeal, after the refusal of the prisoner to give a promise that he would not repeat the offence.
§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD
May I ask whether, if such sentences can be passed and confirmed, it can any longer be affirmed with truth that freedom of the Press exists in Ireland?
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid.)
; May I ask upon what principle persons are selected for prosecution for the selling of newspapers; and why any difference should be made between Ferriter and myself, I having often sold papers containing reports of suppressed meetings?
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether Ferriter is the only person under sentence for selling United Ireland; whether prosecutions have been stopped for that offence; and whether, under the circumstances, he can see his way to allowing the release of this man?
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not quite catch the connection between the 330 concluding part of the Question and that which preceded it. If the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question on the Paper, I will be able to tell him whether any other person besides Ferriter is in prison for this offence.
§ DR. TANNER
Arising out of the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave to me, I wish to ask him if he makes such distinction between individuals, or between an humble person like myself, and a poor, honest fellow like Ferriter—
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I desire, Sir, with your permission, to ask the Chief Secretary a Question with reference to the sentence on Ferriter, whether he is aware that Ferriter, who is now under sentence of three months' imprisonment for selling, five months ago, a copy of United Ireland containing a report of a meeting in the county of Clare, has been eight times prosecuted within the last year by the authorities for these offences, and in February, 1887, received a sentence of two months.
§ MR. SPEAKER
This is a Question that would require Notice, and to be put upon the Paper in the usual way.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
If you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to argue the question; but what I wish to submit are facts which are quite within the Chief Secretary's knowledge, and I simply wish to ask him whether, bearing in mind those facts, he does not consider that Ferriter has been already sufficiently punished? And, further, I would like to ask him. whether the fact of there being prosecutions with a punishment of three months' imprisonment still in force, were in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, and account for his pleasantry as to the importance of Ferriter.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Gentleman full information with regard to the previous career of Ferriter, although he appears to bear a bad character.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
With regard to the question of whether I think that he has been adequately punished, I 331 would point out that that rests with the Judge and not with me.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin, Co., N.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman repeat outside the House that Ferriter is a bad character?