The Secret Agency

The Secret Agency*

‘The Fenian leaders determined that they should fight Power’s election with all their energy, and it was arranged that the Secretary [Charles Doran, Secretary of the IRB’s Supreme Council] should go to Mayo and take private charge of the campaign. He did not go to Mayo, and this is the story he told me.’

As he was about to start for the West, Davitt came to him, and my recollection is that he was accompanied by Thomas Brennan, but anyhow Davitt and Brennan were going to stump Mayo. Parnell and O’Connor Power were the candidates, and, according to the Secretary’s statement, Davitt proposed to compromise the matter by an agreement that if the organisation would keep its hands off, he and Brennan would not say a word for Power in their speeches, but would let him take his chances with the people and do his own talking. The Secretary agreed and did not go to Mayo or have any orders issued to the men. He admitted that Davitt and Brennan kept the bargain, so far as their public speeches were concerned, but claimed that they carried on a most vigorous private canvass for Power, telling men to¬†‘plump’ for him. Further, he claimed that somebody spread the false rumour that the organisation wanted O’Connor Power elected. Whether he was misinformed on this matter or not, it is an undoubted fact that there were many ‘plumpers’ for Power, and that he received about a hundred more votes than Parnell, who was also elected.

*That Irishman, ‘A Change of Government’, p. 100. ‘Parnell got at least three plumpers for the one I did showing that the ‘secret agency’ was at work all the time … Your action in the barony of Kilmain was the chief cause of placing me at the head of the poll’, O’CP letter to Father John O’Malley, 16 April 1880, the day Gladstone was elected Premier. A month later O’Connor Power introduced the Compensation for Disturbance Bill.