HC Deb 09 April 1883 vol 277 cc1824-6

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the following telegram from Rev. James M'Fadden, P. P., Gweadon, county Donegal, contains an accurate description of the condition to which the people are reduced in that neighbourhood:— Attitude of poor one of frenzy and despair; in the grip of starvation; without seed to crop land; disease amongst children breaking out at different points in the parish, so that very few townlands are untouched; medical inspector did not visit tenth of cases affected; medical officer physically unable to be present at every case; knows about a sixth of the sickness in the I district; last week a child died in next townland to doctor, to whom he had not been called at all; the prevalent and fatal disease amongst the children is pronounced by medical officer scarlatina with diphtheria; relief was not 'offered and declined,' as said by Chief Secretary on Monday night; relieving officer called at only one house; all are in receipt of private charity and are dependent on it; I am daily besieged by crowds of people asking for meal and seed; Poor Law officialism here a thorough mockery; Government inspector avoids meeting those who are competent to give him a right knowledge of the state of the people; and, whether, in view of such a state of things, he will continue to leave the destitute population of this and other parishes dependent upon fluctuating private charity for the next four months and a-half?


Sir, from the information which has reached the Government, I believe that the telegram quoted contains exaggerated statements in regard to the condition of the people of Gweadon. However, as it impugns the efficiency of the recent inspection of Dr. Woodhouse, the Local Government Board Inspector, and the accuracy of his Reports—the substance of which I communicated to the House on this day week—it has seemed only right to invite his further observations on the subject, and this has been done; but there has not yet been time for his reply to come to hand, except a few lines by telegram indorsing what he said before, and stating he was going again to Gweadon, and would report further. I may observe that the sender of the telegram quoted in the Question appears to be under a misapprehension as to what I said about Poor Law relief being offered and declined. My statement on that subject referred very distinctly to one family only, and, I should have thought, could not possibly be misapprehended.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether he has any objection to Dr. Woodhouse, in his further Report, stating that persons would have died from starvation but for the private charity which by his Reports he is destroying and bringing to a standstill?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, if, in case the Poor Law Inspector's Reports are impugned, he will make any provisions for Reports by an impartial authority?

[No reply.]