On this case we wish to abstain from all exasperation of language. It is in the hands of justice, and we are confident that the affair will properly, impartially, but sternly conducted. He cannot a heart in his breast who can read, unmoved, the evidence at the coroner's inquest. Men and women were shot while standing peaceably and talking to one another. An unfortunate cripple, who could not move out of the line of firing, was killed, and a policeman aimed twice at Dermody "who was crying, and clapping his hands over a corpse on the street." Patrick Dignum was shot while standing with his hand in his breeches pocket.
Slevin was killed at the door of a tent. Mary Kernan was shot, while conversing with another woman, by Todd the policeman, who knelt down and took deliberate aim at her. Patrick McCormick was shot while standing inoffensively with five or six persons, some of whom were children; and not one was shot while rioting, or in any manner violating the peace. The conduct of Blake, the chief constable, what shall we say of it? It is sworn he gave orders not to spare man, woman or child. In direct contradiction of his assurances to Mr. Dease he ordered out the police, commanded them to fire, and when Mr. O'Neill, of Ashfield, besought him for God's sake to cease the firing, he gave orders to fire another round. The orders were obeyed. Mr. O'Neill again remonstrated with the police, Blake again ordered another round to be fired, and the orders were obeyed. Mr. O'Neill continuing to remonstrate with him, he turned on Mr. O'Neill, asked what was his name, or why did he interfere, that "he had better withdraw, or perhaps he might meet the same fate as the rest."
There never was a case, to the facts of which there was less controversy. A riot occurred in the early part of the day, and the police made a prisoner, who was rescued by the crowd. At this time Mr. Blake told Mr. Dease (a magistrate), there was near being a bad job, he had been struck with a stone, and had the police seen it, they would undoubtedly have fired on the people, that they were much infuriated; that they had very strong party feelings, and that when ignorant men of that class had arms in their hands, they did not care whom they would shoot; Mr. Dease then said he hoped it would not be necessary to call them out, and remarked the town was getting very thin; Blake said it was so, but that there were a great many people drinking in public houses, but that it was better not to meddle with them, and that if they quarrelled amongst themselves, they might fight it out, as he said he would not interfere without orders from a magistrate.
The police accordingly retired to the barracks; about two hours after a riot occurred between the country-people-- it had ceased, but a crowd remained, when the police interfered. It is proved that one of them knocked down a man with the butt-end of his gun-- nevertheless they dispersed the crowd, and then wheeled off. At this moment some boys and girls threw a few stones (Mr. Bushe, the Chief Justice's son, thinks three, at the utmost), no one was struck-- several witnesses, at least, did not see it-- the police, twenty-four in number, instantly wheeled round, threw themselves into six parties, and fired in all directions on the crowd-- and continued to fire for eight or ten minutes on them, while running away and seeking shelter! No resistance was made-- not a stone was thrown after the first shot yet they continued the slaughter-- no distinction, no effort seems to have been made even to kill those who had been engaged in the riot, if blood were shed that was enough. It was indifferent who were murdered, provided a good number was murdered. As Blake said, those men of strong party feelings did not care whom they shot. The riot was a mere pretext. It is proved that one of the police (Mairs) the next day declared, "That the people deserved what they got. That they had earned it long ago. That it was due to them since that day 7 years, and that if they did not take care they would get more of it!" Such are the facts. On the result of this case depends the peace of the country.
We beg the people to await the event with patient confidence. The government, we are convinced, will act with that energy and impartiality which the necessity of the circumstance prescribes. The sending down the Solicitor-General, a man of honour and humanity, is a strong proof of its anxiety to render justice.
Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland), May 30, 1831.