HC Deb 16 May 1881 vol 261 cc557-8

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the complaints of the political prisoners detained in Limerick Gaol, contained in the "Cork Examiner" of the 10th instant, as follows:— Mr. Hodnett said the governor was most hostile towards him, and on this morning (May 9), without any reason being assigned, he was detained in his cell until ten o'clock, whereas he should have been permitted to quit the apartment at eight o'clock for breakfast, Mr. Hodnett said his apartment was the ordinary convict cell, twelve feet by six, with defective ventilation. The window was inclined slightly inwards, with an aperture of six inches to admit fresh air. He hoped that, if the prison authorities insisted on keeping the prisoners in those cells, a freer passage would be provided. Eighteen hours' detention in such cells rendered the want of pure air the more disagreeable. More suitable apartments were available for the accommodation of the political prisoners, and, as a promise had been made by the Government to provide them with the best rooms in the prison, detention, not punishment, being the object, they hoped the promise would be fulfilled. All the prisoners complained specially of the number of hours for recreation and the distribution of those hours. The total number of hours was six, four of these being in the exercise yard, and two in friendly intercourse. There was no exercise before breakfast, it was confined to the middle portion of the day. Mr. Hodnett having been in the habit of rising at six considered it a cruelty, and the other prisoners shared the same opinion at being deprived of the poor privilege of sauntering in the yard before breakfast. The doors had hitherto been locked after five o'clock in the evening; and, whether the Government will take any action in the matter?


, in reply, said, that he had received a Report from the Inspector General of the Prisons Board, stating that he had seen the prisoners confined in Limerick Gaol, and in reply to his inquiry whether they had any complaint to make, they answered in the negative, excepting the prisoner Hodnett, who made a complaint with regard to the hours of exercise. The special rules required that prisoners should be allowed four hours' daily exercise—two before dinner and two after dinner—subject to the limitation that the Governor, who was responsible for the management and discipline of the prison, should fix the hours. He did not, therefore, think it reasonable that the prisoner Hodnett should be allowed to commence exercise at 6 o'clock in the morning. With regard to the ventilation, the medical officer pronounced the cells amply sufficient for all purposes, both as regarded space and ventilation.