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and also recommending one Nugent, who came up to Dublin to solicit the advice and assistance of the Sub-committee on behalf of his brother, then a prisoner in Dundalk gaol. Mr. Sweetman being then Secretary, accordingly brought the man and the letter to several gentlemen of the Sub-committee, who happened to be assembled. With regard to the question of bail, he was informed, by a professional gentleman present, that it was impossible to give any opinion, the examinations in which the offence was specified not appearing; and with regard to Nugent himself, on examining him closely, good reason was found to doubt bis being a person of the description mentioned in the address of the General Committee, dated July 25th, that is, “ one “ who, if attacked in his house, property, or person, should duti“ fully appeal to the law of the land for redress, and who had * never assisted in any riotous and disorderly meeting,” to which class alone protection had been promised; in consequence of which he was dismissed without advice or assistance, or promise of either, and returned, as is expressed in Mr. Sweetman's letter on that occasion, dated 9th August, 1792, “truly disconso“ late at not being able to effect something towards the libera66 tion of his kinsman." And this Committee do solemnly pledge the whole of their veracity and credit with the public, collectively and individually, that this is the single instance in which they, or any of them, with the knowledge of this Committee, had communication with any of the people at present called “Defenders,” or any person on their behalf, and in this instance they refused to interfere; neither did they ever directly or indirectly authorize or impower any member of their own body, or any other person whatsoever, to correspond, on their behalf, with the Defenders, or any of their agents or friends, nor did they assist them with advice, counsel, or money ; nor did they ever fee, retain, or employ any barrister, attorney, or agent, for the purpose of defending the said insurgents.
With regard to the second imputation attempted to be thrown on this Committee—that of levying money to be applied to illegal and improper purposes, and especially to that of supporting the Defenders, this Committee does assert that such charge is utterly unfounded and groundless, and evidently calculated
for the purpose of destroying that confidence, harmony, and - union amongst Catholics, from which such great and beneficial
consequences have resulted; and that this is the case, a plain statement of the facts will evince.
The General Committee was founded in 1773, and their first object was to prevent an unjust and oppressive levying of money under the denomination of Quarterage-a tax imposed by the Corporation of Dublin, and other towns corporate, upon Catholic tradesmen and artizans almost exclusively; for this purpose they employed several eminent counsel, among whom were two who are now on the Bench, to plead on their behalf as well at the Bar of the House of Commons as before the Privy Council; and at length they succeeded in the removal of this odious badge of inferiority; the expense of their various applications was defrayed by a voluntary subscription of the Catholics.
Previous to this time, it had been thought necessary that a Catholic nobleman of this country should go to England for the purpose of making personal application there on behalf of the Catholics; his exertions proved unsuccessful, but his lordship's expenses, amounting to £1500, were defrayed by a voluntary subscription.
Some years after, it being thought advisable to revive their applications for relief, and that, in consequence, an agent should be employed in England to bring forward to the notice of Ministers there, on all occasions, the loyalty and claims of the Catholics of this Kingdom, a professional gentleman of great respectability was employed by the Committee for that purpose; and it being thought fit that his exertion should be rewarded in a manner worthy of the cause which he was engaged to support, and of the dignity of the body who employed him, sums were at different times remitted to him, amounting, in the gross, to upwards of £2000, the whole of which was, as in the former case, made good by voluntary subscriptions; and this expenditure happened with the knowledge of a noble lord high in legal situation, and a member of the present Committee of Secrecy.
Previous to the last session, another professional gentleman, to whose family the Catholic cause had been indebted for the most generous and the most disinterested exertions of great and splendid talents, was employed as agent in England, and his presence being rendered necessary here, he attended through the whole of that session. At the rising of Parliament it became
necessary to reward his services, and, therefore, rather as a token of their gratitude than as an equivalent for the benefits rendered to the Catholic cause, he was presented by the Committee with the sum of two thousand guineas, raised, as before, by a voluntary subscription.
When an address was presented in 1791, striking at the existence of the General Committee, the great body of the Catholics stepped forward to vindicate their Delegates, and poured in addresses and resolutions from every quarter of the Kingdom; the General Committee felt it their duty to insert those in the public prints, at an enormous expense, as must be obvious to every man who is at all acquainted with the rates of advertising; by this a sum of nearly £1000 has been exhausted, independent of which a considerable arrear yet remains to be liquidated.
In the progress of the business, attacks in the public prints were made on the Catholic cause by a variety of bodies of men and individuals; it was necessary to repel those attacks on the ground where they were made; and this produced further publications on the part of the Committee, and, of course, additional expense, great part of which also remains still undischarged.
A deputation of five gentlemen was appointed by the General Committee for the purpose of presenting to his Majesty, in person, the petition of the Catholics of Ireland, which has produced his most gracions interposition in their behalf, and the consequent benefits which they have received. The expenses of that deputation, which have been very heavy, it is not equitable that the gentlemen appointed should sustain; in devoting their time to the public cause, they have sufficiently discharged the duty which they owed. These expenses, therefore, remain a charge on the justice and honor of the Catholic body.
The Sub-committee has, in this enumeration, stated, as instances, but a few of the heaviest expenditures of the body; there are a great many others inferior, but unavoidable, which they have passed over. They have frequently had occasion to fee counsel, but it is not their intention to go into detail; what they have said will, they trust, evince two facts material for their vindication from the charges invidiously endeavored to be attached to them: first, that the expenses of the General Com
mittee are, and have been, very heavy; and, secondly, that it has been the uniform practice, from the foundation of their body to this hour, to defray those expenses by voluntary subscription; and, of course, that the one now instituted is no innovation, but a sequel of a string of precedents for the last twenty years.
When the Catholics of England, who, like their brethren of Ireland, were compelled by penal and restrictive laws to act as a separate body, applied to the Legislature of their country for relief, they found it necessary to raise a fund by subscription, which was accordingly effected. The General Committee in Ireland have done no more. It is presumed that, what was carried on immediately under the inspection of the British Minister, with all possible notoriety, cannot be, in its nature, very unconstitutional or alarming; the present subscription is, therefore, sanctioned by the acquiescence of the Minister of England, and by the practice of the Catholics of both countries.
With regard to the application of the money, which it is insinuated has been, and may be, misapplied to the use and support of the Defenders, the Sub-committee beg leave to repeat what they cannot too often recur to—that nothing could be so fatal to that cause which they have so long labored to raise, and, at last, with success, as any thing like tumult or disturbance; of course nothing is so monstrous and incredible as that they should be the fomenters and supporters of either. But not to rest on the reason of the case, if they were so foolish or so wicked as to endeavor to misapply this money, they have not the power. No man, nor body of men, has dominion over the funds of the General Committee but the General Committee itself; not a shilling can be drawn from the treasurer but by their order, except in particular cases, when they authorize the Sub-committee to a limited amount, and for a special purpose. The treasurer has always been one of the most respectable mercantile characters in the Kingdom: the last person who bore the office was the late Mr. Dermott; the present is Mr. John Comerford, of the house of O'Brien and Comerfords, men whose names it is sufficient barely to mention, to satisfy the nation that they would not be concerned in so base a misapplication of the public contribution as that which is affected to be at present apprehended.
The Sub-committee trust they have now exonerated themselves of the two imputations thrown out against them; and they pledge their whole credit, as men of veracity and honor, for the truth of every fact advanced in the foregoing statement. They are ready to submit the whole of their conduct to the most solemn investigation that can be devised; for, as they have no secret, they have no fear; and they solicit the inspection of every member of the Legislature, and of every respectable gentleman in the Kingdom, to their accounts, which lie open at the treasurer's, from which will appear, at once, the sums collected, and the mode and object of their application. With regard to the present subscription, the General Committee is probably drawing to a close: they owe many debts; they have incurred many obligations; it is necessary that those debts and obligations be discharged; the expenses incurred in the pursuit of emancipation have been hitherto principally defrayed by the Catholics of Dublin, who, of £3000, collected within three years, which is the whole sum that has been subscribed, have paid above £2,500. The body at large are now called upon to furnish their quota, to enable the General Committee to terminate their labors in a manner worthy of the object they have pursued, of the cause which they have supported, and the people whom they have represented; a people who, the Sub-committee rely, with confidence, will, in the manifestation of their sense of the servi. ces which have been rendered them, support, in their elevation, that dignity which they have maintained unimpaired through a century of unexampled slavery and oppression, and shew that the same spirit which, in adversity, preserved them loyal and obedient, in prosperity will make them magnanimous and grateful. The Sub-committee consists of the following gentlemen: Edward Byrne,
M. F. Lynch,
Randal M Donnell, Esqrs. and of every country gentleman delegated to the General Committee.