HC Deb 15 May 1882 vol 269 cc666-8

asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether it is the fact that sixty-one prisoners are now confined in Cork Gaol without bail, because the Crown was not ready to try them at the last assizes; whether during the month of January these prisoners only got one hour's exercise out of the twenty-four; whether since then, while they have nominally got two hours, this period has very frequently been shortened by fifteen or twenty minutes; whether these two hours are badly apportioned, the first hour on week days being from half-past six to half-past seven a.m., and the second from two to three p.m., and on the Sundays from seven to eight and ten to eleven a.m., when the prisoners are locked up until Monday morning; whether he will ascertain if it is the fact that this confinement and want of exercise tells so much upon the prisoners that some of them would be glad to go upon the treadmill for exercise sake; whether, during the past month, the heating apparatus has been stopped; whether any of the men have been put upon bread and water, and placed in dark cells; and, if so, on what grounds, and how many of them have been so treated; whether it is the fact that, some days ago, the dinner supplied them by the Ladies' Land League was stopped because it was a few minutes late, and the men had to take gaol food; whether, until the last fortnight, the gaol authorities paid postage on the letters the prisoners wished to write to their families; whether this has now been stopped; and, if so, why the expense of postage was originally defrayed; whether it is the fact that, owing to the great number of these prisoners confined without bail, they have Very little room to walk in the exercise yard; whether one of these yards is occasionally covered with mud; whether in both yards there are closets without any sewers, of which, the prisoners complain; and, whether the Government can do anything to remedy this state of affairs?


Sir, the hon. Member asks me 14 Questions at once. In answer to the first paragraph, I have to say that 64 prisoners are now confined in Cork Gaol without bail. Of those, 45, I believe, were committed for treason-felony and crimes of violence and outrage, and are generally known as the "Moonlighters" from the Mill Street district. In reply to the second and third paragraphs, all these prisoners have had two hours' daily exercise since the 1st of last January, and that period has not been shortened—in fact, the two hours is exclusive of the time occupied in going to and returning from the exercise yard. In reply to the fourth paragraph, the exercise hours on week days are from 6.15 to 7.15 a.m., and from 4 to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from 7 to 8 a.m., and from 12 to 1 p.m. In reply to the fifth paragraph, the prisoners have not complained of insufficient exercise, and the medical officer has not found their health suffer. In reply to the sixth paragraph, the heating apparatus is discontinued in April each year, subject to the advice of the medical officer. In reply to the seventh paragraph, seven of these prisoners have been punished for repeated disobedience of the rules, in spite of cautions. In reply to the eighth paragraph, these, on one occasion, received prison food at dinner. The food sent to them did not arrive for nearly half-an-hour after dinner-time; but it was served out to them as a supper meal afterwards. In reply to the ninth and tenth paragraphs, the Governor is permitted to stamp letters for destitute prisoners only, and I am informed that that permission has been liberally used. In reply to the eleventh paragraph, I am informed, also, that there is ample room for the prisoners at exercise. In reply to the twelfth paragraph, it is not the fact that one of the exercise yards is occasionally covered with mud; and with respect to the rest of the Question, I am informed that the closets are all connected with pipe-laid sewers, and are constantly flushed and cleansed inside with gas-tar. I am told no complaints have been made by the prisoners, and I do not think there is anything calling for the interference of Government.