Sedition charge

The morning train puffs its way out of Waitati, bound for Dunedin. - Otago Witness, 17.7.1918.
The morning train puffs its way out of Waitati, bound for Dunedin. - Otago Witness, 17.7.1918.
Mr H. A. Young, S.M., presided at the Police Court yesterday, when Thomas Padraic Cummins, of Green Island, and Albert James O'Ryan, of Dunedin, were charged with having caused to be published in the ''Green Ray'', a monthly newspaper, printed in Dunedin, a seditious utterance, entitled ''The Memory of the Dead''. 

Mr B. J. Dolan (Napier) appeared for both defendants, who pleaded not guilty. Mr W. C. MacGregor, K.C (Crown Prosecutor), prosecuted. Mr MacGregor said the utterances complained of were published on May 1, and the charges were laid under ''The War Regulations of December 4, 1916''. In these regulations ''seditious intention'' and ''seditious tendency'' meant respectively an intention or tendency (a) to incite disaffection against his Majesty or the Government of the United Kingdom, or of New Zealand, or of any other part of his Majesty's dominions; (b) to incite, procure, or encourage violence, lawlessness, or disorder, whether in New Zealand or in any other part of his Majesty's dominions, (c) to incite, procure, or encourage the commission, whether in New Zealand or in any other part of his Majesty's dominions, of any offence which is prejudicial to the public safety in respect of the present war. The accused O'Ryan or Ryan, acted as publisher of the ''Green Ray'', and the speaker understood from his plea that he admitted publication, but denied that the contents were seditious, Cummins, it would be proved, acted as editor and also admitted the publication, denying, however, that it was seditious.

The first reference in the article was a reference to Easter week, 1916, the date of the Dublin revolution, which resulted in the death of 200 people.These were among the passages complained of, and it was admitted that these were published in the ''Green Ray''. It was suggested that the accused in these words openly advocated treason and rebellion in Ireland, and it was clear that they were published with seditious intention.

[Appearing], the Green Ray founders wished to give a better account of Irish politics to the citizens of Dunedin. The article complained of stated that the measure of Home Rule conceded was not satisfactory.

He contended that the Green Ray could be searched from cover to cover, and nothing seditious could be found. It was contended by the prosecution that the article incited disaffection against the Government, but it had not been remembered that it only circulated among 600 people.

His Worship said that the contention of the Crown Solicitor was that the published utterances of the two defendants showed a seditious intention on their part. It seemed to him that the intention manifested in the utterance was the intention contended for on behalf of the Crown.

Looking through other pages of the Green Ray, it seemed to him that on every page there was a seditious utterance. The article pointed out that Home Rule would be no good to Ireland at all; there must be a republic. It was apparent that this newspaper aimed at assisting in every way possible the establishment of a republic in Ireland.

It seemed to him a very serious matter to encourage people in Ireland to levy war against us for establishing a republic there. He considered both defendants equally culpable. Both men were of military age, and he would sentence each to eleven months' imprisonment, with hard labour.

- ODT, 25.7.1918


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