On , Thomas Condon, an Irish member of parliament, gave a speech in Mitchelstown advocating tax resistance. This was in the wake of the “Mitchelstown Massacre” in which police fired on a meeting of the Irish Land League, which had been organizing rent strikes (a variety of tax resistance also) against absentee English landlords. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for one month for inciting tax resistance. Here’s what got him in trouble:
You have heard from Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Healy that a tax of £1,000 is being levied off the barony for his unconstitutional conduct in being the first to lead the baton party that broke through your meeting on . I hope the men of the barony of Condons and Clongibbons will do in the future as they have done in the past — namely, organize themselves to make the collection of that tax as difficult and expensive for these landlords and for the taxgatherers. All this may be illegal. I do not know whether it is or not, and, furthermore, do not care. It is quite possible that you will have policemen out in a day or two, but I will ask you to feed yourselves and your families before you part with this money for Constable Leahy. It is one of the most infamous acts that was over perpetrated by a Grand Jury. It was not out of love for Leahy, but it was poor revenge for the triumph that you had over them and their class on the Kingston property; not that one shilling will come out of their own pockets. If you contrast their action in the Grand Jury room in Cork with their action in the country you can see the motive that actuates the Grand Jury of the County of Cork in levying this infamous tax. I hope that you will send back a message to the Grand Jury of Cork that by the time this tax is collected it will cost them ten times more than the original tax levied. I have not the slightest doubt but that you will make the collection of this tax impossible, and that before a few months they will have reason to remember it. This is no time to be mealy-mouthed in speaking on these subjects.
Edward Gibson, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, explained:
It was an offence so obvious and so patent that the laws of no country could exist if words recommending that taxes and rates should not be paid were allowed to pass without notice, and if such language was not to be punishable the laws of no country would be able to keep civil society together. The advice of Mr. Condon had, unfortunately, been taken, and efforts were being made to make the collection of that tax, as Mr. Condon had advised, as difficult as possible. He would not refer to that matter further than to say that if noble Lords looked at the Irish Press they would at once see that the advice was being acted on. Placards had been posted within the last few days actually quoting portions of the speech just read, showing the danger of using such language and the necessity of bringing those persons who employed it to the test of legal examination before properly constituted tribunals like those which existed in the present case.