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Distress In Ireland

Volume 32: debated on Tuesday 9 April 1895

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On behalf of the hon. Member for North Donegal (Mr. J. Mains), I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Inspectors of the Local Government Board have yet reported on the state of the fishermen of Glenvar, County Donegal, as to whether they report that any necessity exists for supplementing the machinery of the ordinary poor law in the district?

As I have already stated in reply to a question by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Donegal, it is proposed to open a relief work at Glenvar. The work will consist of the construction of a boat slip, and will be started either to-day or tomorrow.

On behalf of Mr. Mains, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Local Government Board Inspector, who attended the meeting of the guardians on the 11th February last, has yet reported the result of his further investigations in the districts of Malin, Glengask, and Clonmany, County Donegal?

The result of the Inspector's inquiries into the condition of the people in this part of Donegal was brought under my notice towards the end of March. The inspector states that the people in the districts mentioned depend to a large extent upon the fishing, which will very shortly commence. The Guardians applied for and were afforded extended powers in relation to the administration of outdoor relief in the Union, and the Local Government Board are of opinion that the resources of the poor law will be able to deal with any individual cases of distress that may occur.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to a resolution unanimously passed at a meeting on the 4th April of the Carrick and Kilcar Committee for Relief of Distress, proposed by the Rev. P. M'Devitt, parish priest of Carrick, and seconded by Dr. Harkin, stating that at least 100 families in the Carrick and Kilcar districts were still in great need of employment, and urgently pressing upon the attention of the authorities the absolute necessity of at once providing work for these poor people; and whether the Government will take immediate measures for the relief of this distress?

The resolution was received by the Local Government Board this morning, and no unnecessary delay will take place in inquiring into the matter. I may add that some 61 families from the Kilcar Division have so far been afforded employment on the Relief Works in operation there.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether his attention has been called to complaints of the manner in which relief works are administered in the parish of Party, Ballinrobe Union; (2) whether he is aware there is but one relieving officer for the five East Divisions (all in a state of distress) of Ballinrobe Union, and that he is a tenant of Mr. Lynch, the landlord of the poorest portion of this distressed district, who is the Local Government Board inspector of this district; and that the administration of the relief works by Mr. Lynch and the relieving officer is impugned by the priests of the district and by the Ballinrobe Board of Guardians; (3) will he explain why the priests are not only not consulted in the administration of the relief works, but their recommendations are neglected; (4) whether he has been furnished with a list of 86 families (550 individuals), tenants on the estate, all of whom, in the opinion of the parish priest, are in need of such help as they might obtain from the relief works which are being carried on in the district, but are excluded by Mr. Lynch and the relieving officer; and (5) what steps he proposes to take for the due consideration of so grave a state of affairs?

(1) Complaints have been made from time to time as to the alleged insufficiency of the Works in Ballinrobe Union, and as to the refusal of the Government to put on the works persons named by the local clergy. (2) Mr. Lynch is not the Inspector in charge of this district. There is one Relieving Officer in charge of the Western District, where works are in progress, and the Local Government Board are not aware whether he is a tenant of Mr. Lynch, the Inspector. The Union is in charge of Dr. Flinn. (3) The Inspector has interviewed the priests in this District, though he may not have found it practicable to carry all their suggestions into effect. (4) Large numbers of names of persons for employment on the works have been forwarded by the local clergy, but it is not considered necessary, at present, to increase the number of persons employed on these works. (5) If it should be found necessary to extend the relief works in this union the matter will be at once reported to Government. I may say, in answer to my hon. Friend, who has asked me a good many questions very naturally on the condition of the people in this district, that I have directed special reports to be ready for me when I go over to Ireland next week.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give some special consideration to the list of names I have given him on this subject?

I would rather not give any undertaking of that kind until I have actually seen the inspectors who were on the spot, and who, therefore, know how matters stood.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has received lists of families in great distress, namely, 86 families in Aughamore parish and 68 families in Loughanboy; and whether, in considering the cases of these people, the priests and the poor law Guardians of these districts will be consulted?

I have received the lists referred to, and have sent them to the Local Government Board for immediate inquiry. The Inspector is already, I understand, in communication with the clergy of this district on the subject of the relief operations.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the resolutions of the Milford Board of Guardians with reference to the distress existing in their district and the need of relief works there; whether the names of 300 persons in Cranford and Loughkeel electoral divisions have been sent to the Local Government Board Inspector, all of whom are in extreme destitution; whether the above named electoral divisions are scheduled as congested; and what the Local Government Board intend to do in the matter?

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether in the electoral divisions of Cranford and Loughkeel, in the Milford Union, which are scheduled as congested districts, any relief works will be opened to enable the people to live through the privations they are now enduring, brought on by the failure of the potato crop and other such causes, and which threaten, if no remedial measures be adopted by the Government, to become yet more serious in a very short space of time?

The Local Government Board are informed by their Inspector that there is not, at present, any abnormal distress in the electoral divisions mentioned in the question. The Inspector is now making further inquiries into the condition of the people, and will report at once if any special measures require to be adopted to relieve any distress that may exist. He has also been supplied with the list of persons referred to in the question of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Donegal.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether the Local Government Board have received representations from the Guardians of Stranorlar Union, that to relieve the distress existing within it by additional poor rate would be impracticable, by reason of the poverty of the ratepayers, and that without help it is impossible for many families to subsist till harvest time, and that there are within the Union several partly formed roads which are useless in their present condition; and what answer the Local Government Board have given, or intend to give to these representations?

A Resolution of the Guardians of this Union to the effect stated has been received. The Local Government Board understand that there are a number of poor families in the Union who have suffered from the failure of the potato crop and who may require assistance shortly. At the present time, however, there are only three persons in the entire Union in receipt of out-door relief and the rates are low; and so far as the Local Government Board can see, the resources of the Poor Law should suffice to deal with any cases of distress that have arisen.