I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the proceedings of the Holywood Urban District Council in relation to the embezzlements by James H. Barrett, the ex-clerk of the council, extending from the year 1899, when he was appointed clerk, down to 1905, when he was dismissed, of moneys received by him on account of the cemetery, town court, and general funds of the council; whether the Local Government Board of Ireland advised the council that they would approve of the council instituting the criminal proceedings advised by senior counsel who had been consulted by the council's solicitor, or of a compromise of the felony; whether he is aware that the council, acting as alleged upon the advice of the Local Government Board, submitted the person accused to a cross-examination on the 8th instant, and a suggestion was made to the accused that a payment by him of £30 and £25, moneys expended by the council in connection with the matter and of the amounts not accounted for by him, would secure him immunity from a criminal prosecution; and whether he will at once consider the entire facts, in the interest of the ratepayers of Holywood and of public official life.
The attention of the Local Government Board was drawn to the proceedings referred to in the first part of the Question. The Board received a deputation from the Holywood Urban District Council who laid before them senior counsel's opinion and other documents in the matter. The Board informed the deputation that the matter was one for the council to decide, but suggested that, before taking any proceedings against Mr. Barrett, the council should give him an opportunity of attending and making a personal explanation in respect of the allegations made against him. Mr. Barrett attended before the district council on 8th instant, but the minutes of proceedings do not show that any suggestion of the nature referred to in the Question was made to him. Mr. Barrett is no longer in the employment of the district council, and the matter has therefore passed out of the jurisdiction of the Local Government Board. The question of taking proceedings is still under the consideration of the district council.