A correspondence between Mr. T. W. Russell and Sir Horace
Plunkett, illustrating the vindictive attitude of the Department of Agriculture towards the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, appears in the Irish papers of last Saturday. Mr. Russell, at the Congested Districts Board, had violently attacked the agricultural banks established under the auspices of the Organisation Society as based on a " rotten and indefensible system," and " unable to pay 2s. 6d. in the pound if wound up." Challenged by Sir Horace Plunkett to justify these charges, Mr. Russell altogether declined to enter into any controversy upon the subject. These persistent and deliberate attempts, with which Mr. Russell has now identified himself, to wreck voluntary effort in agricultural organisation are part of a very disagreeable page in the record of the present Government,—the driving of Sir Horace Plunkett from office at the bidding of Mr. Dillon. We note with regret, but not with surprise, the comments of the Belfast Northern, Whig on Mr. Russell's hostility to a Society but for whose labours the Department over which he presides would never have been created. " Especially did the agricultural banks arouse the hostility of those whose craft as gombeen men these banks had endangered. But even the gombeen man, the curse of Irish rural life, was able to secure an ally in the Vice-President of the Department. The electors of South Tyrone had refused to have him as their representative in Parliament, but this was positively an advantage in respect of his assaults upon agricultural organi- sation, for it was no longer possible for him to be called to account for his actions in the House of Commons."