HC Deb 08 July 1880 vol 253 cc1897-9

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If he will state what progress has been made with the proposed public relief works in Lowfark, county Mayo, and in the baronies of Gallen and Costello generally; if any steps have been taken on the recommendation of Dr. Bourke, Local Government Board Inspector, and the paid guardians of the Swinford Union, to deepen the bed of the river at Charlestown; and, if he can state whether the fever has been checked in its progress in the various parts of Mayo where it has shown itself? I hope that the House will allow me to state that since I gave the Notice on the Paper which I have just read, I have received intelligence from both private and public sources that the fever is much more serious than I thought. The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that on Thursday I called his attention to the letter of the Bishop of Achonry on the subject, and I propose to add some information from him with regard to the want of a sufficient staff of workhouse officials in the West. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that owing to the insufficiency of the workhouse staff in that part of the country the parish priest of Charlestown had to undertake the duties of nurse and doctor as well as of clergyman, and had to carry out in his arms, in fever-stricken places, men into carts provided by the charity of himself and his neighbours to be conveyed to the workhouse; and, also, whether, in numerous sections of the country, no one could be found to act as undertakers for the interment of the poor except the nuns of the convent?


I beg to ask my Question at the same time. It is to ask the Chief Secretary, If his attention has been officially, or otherwise, called to a letter from the Eight Reverend Dr. MacCormack, Bishop of Achonry, to His Grace the Most Reverend Dr. Cooke, Archbishop of Cashel, and published in the "Freeman's Journal" of the 6th inst., in which it is stated that fever is spreading in certain parts of Ireland; and, if so, is the Government prepared to at once send medical, or has it already sent assistance and special financial aid to the affected districts?


In reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Mayo, I will first answer him as to the question of works. 58 works have been authorized in Gallen at an estimated cost of £4,311, of which £2,047 has been issued; 72 works have been authorized in Costello, at an estimated cost of £3,843, of which £3,036 has been issued; and nine of the works in the barony of Costello are in the parish of Kilbeagh, which appears to be the locality referred to as Lowfark, and the amount authorized to be expended on them is £692. Of this £315 has been issued. The Board of Guardians stated in May last that the sewage works at Charlestown could not be undertaken until an obstruction existing in the river in the County Sligo and Union of Tobercurry was first removed. The Vice Guardians and the dispensary medical officer concur in this opinion. With regard to the question as to the state of fever in these districts, we have ordered two special Medical Inspectors to go down to inquire into the subject, and they have gone down. I am expecting every day a Report with respect to Swinford and other parts of Mayo, and as soon as I get it I will give the information to the House. We have not only done that, but we have sent positive orders to the Guardians and to our Inspectors to see that no delay takes place in giving medical assistance or seeing what can be done to supply fresh food, or a change of food, or such food as is wanted to prevent the spread of fever, and any other steps it may be advisable to take. I have received rather more encouraging reports lately; but I have not got positive statements from Mayo which I might give to the House. I have had a report of the state of the fever in Dromore, in Sligo, which I will put on the Table of the House to-night, and it is encouraging to a considerable extent. The other Questions of the hon. Member for Mayo are of such a nature that I cannot answer them at once, and I would ask him to put them again.