Charges of kidnapping children dropped
George Bernard Shaw, addressing a large audience at the Royal Albert Hall in London, was highly critical of the the behaviour of the Catholic clergy in Dublin. Photo: National Library of Ireland, PD 2159 (20) 99

Charges of kidnapping children dropped

George Bernard Shaw speaks at rally in London

Published: 1 November 1913

The charges of kidnapping children preferred against Ms. Lucille Rand and Ms. Dora Montefiore have been dropped.

The charges arose in connection with the scheme for the deportation of the the children of strikers to English homes for the duration of the Lockout. The scheme was bitterly opposed by members of the Catholic clergy and their supporters, although a small number of children were sent to England despite protests.

The court heard that the two women who organised the scheme were to leave Ireland and ‘were grieved to think that their first visit to Ireland should have any association of unpleasantness in any quarter.’

Attempts by Fr. T.F. Ryan, a curate at Westland Row church, to ensure that the matter would not be settled until the children who had been sent away were returned, were dismissed when the magistrate said that he had no jurisdiction with regard to that matter.

Meanwhile, priests such as Fr. Ryan were criticised at a meeting organised by the Daily Herald newspaper at the Albert Hall in London. The meeting was part of a campaign to demand the release from prison of Jim Larkin and was addressed by George Bernard Shaw.

The meeting was also addressed by 'Æ' George Russell. He was similarly critical of the Catholic clergy: "...they have so little concern for the body at all, that they assert it is better for children to be starved than to be moved from the Christian atmosphere of the Dublin slums". (Image: National Library of Ireland, Ir 300 p107)

Shaw said that he was there as a Dublin man to apologise for the priests of Dublin. He said that the honest truth was that although these priests were doing a great deal of good work, they were very ignorant and simple men in the affairs of the country and especially in industrial affairs.

He continued by saying that the horror of their actions was made worse by the fact that the Church to which they belonged had been made the catspaw of someone like William Martin Murphy.

Shaw concluded by commenting on the behaviour of the police in Dublin: ‘If you put a policeman on the footing of a mad dog it can only end in one way, and that is that all respectable men will have to arm themselves. I suggest you should arm yourselves with something which should put a decisive stop to the proceedings of the police.’

‘I hope that observation of mine will be carefully reported. I should rather like to be prosecuted for sedition, and to have an opportunity of explaining publicly what exactly I mean by it.’

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