On Friday 23 February 1827 Viscount Lorton, holding a Petition in his hand, addressed the House of Lords.
My Lords, in rising to request permission to lay upon your Lordships’ table a Petition from the Protestants of the county of Sligo, I shall beg leave to say a very few words upon the subject matter it contains.
In the first place, I must premise by observing, that it has the signatures of nearly (or entirely) the whole body of the resident Gentlemen, and in the strongest but most respectful language prays that no further concessions may be granted to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. With my countrymen, my Lords, I most decidedly concur; but at the same time think it necessary to stand forward as an advocate for Emancipation, though not exactly for the description of persons who have for so many years been urging claims hostile to the Constitution in no very qualified terms.
No, my Lords, those for whom I would claim this boon are the Protestants of Ireland, who, I do not hesitate to affirm, are at this moment the most oppressed portion of the British subjects. In fact, they are a proscribed people, and if some strong measures are not adopted for their relief and security, all who are capable must leave the country, and we may expect to hear of the remainder being annihilated in one way or another.
It may be unnecessary for me to inform your Lordships, that a Roman Catholic Parliament has been permitted to sit in Dublin, from nearly the period of passing an Act in this House for putting down the late Roman Catholic Association, and that it is of a much more dangerous nature, in as much as it combines the entire mass, from the highest to the lowest. At first the higher order seemed to stand aloof, but no sooner did the founders of this tremendous engine contrive to enlist under their banners the clergy, than all ranks, from the highest peer downwards, were put into requisition, and from that time have exhibited as much zeal in the cause as the most furious demagogue in the land: such is their infatuation, and such, my Lords, is the very extraordinary power and controul that the Pope maintains over the hearts and understandings of those who belong to his church.
Having said thus much of the Dublin Convention, I must further observe, that, at its sittings, the most bitter denunciations are uttered against every thing that is Protestant, both as to the public institutions as against individuals, who, in the most cowardly manner, are held up to the detestation of the Romish peasantry, by the propagation of every species of the most malignant falsehood, and are thus marked as fit subjects for assassination, when a proper opportunity may occur.
My Lords, the philippics of Messrs O’Connell and Sheil are, no doubt, familiar to most of your Lordships, but more particularly the base and dastardly observations of the latter person, when our late Illustrious and lamented Commander-in-Chief was lying on his death-bed!
My Lords, it is difficult to think or speak upon the subject with patience; the speeches of these people have so excited the country, that the general opinion is a rebellion must take place. Should such a calamity befall the land, I trust, my Lords, the strongest measures will at once be taken to prevent any of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Association from leaving Ireland, for no doubt they will be among the first who will endeavour to make their escape from the mischief they have occasioned. But, my Lords, they should be forced to fight it out, and should not be permitted to leave their poor deluded victims to the just vengeance of the Government.
Some of these bitter enemies to the British Protestant Constitution have pointed out in the most exulting manner, that the invasion of Ireland by a foreign foe would now be an easy matter, in consequence of the perfection that the navigation by steam had been brought to. But here, my Lords, they have shewn their ignorance nearly in as strong a manner as their malignity; for never was there a discovery made which so completely secures Ireland from being taken by surprise by a hostile power, in as much as hundreds of thousands of gallant British soldiers could be landed and set in motion against an enemy in the course of from ten to twenty hours; and it should also be told these threatening boasters, that one British Company possesses more steam vessels than all Europe besides.
From the Morning Post 24 February 1827