HC Deb 09 July 1883 vol 281 c778

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the following statement in a letter lately published in a London paper by Mr. Ernest Hart:— I have recently been in Gweedore. I took with me copies of official reports, declaring that there was no exceptional distress in that part of Ireland, and nothing but what the resources of the Poor Law could deal with.… I found 14,000 persons in dire destitution and tragic suffering, utterly unrelieved by the Poor Law, the whole of the children in one district living on two biscuits a day each, distributed at the schools, and no small proportion of adults kept alive by a daily pennyworth of meal, made into a stirabout and given by the priests, chiefly in return for small local relief works set on foot and organised by them; and, whether he is still prepared to maintain that the existing system of relief is equal to the task of dealing with distress in Gweedore and the neighbouring regions?


I am not aware, Sir, that it has been stated in any official Report that there is no exceptional distress in the Gweedore district. What has been stated is that there is no exceptional distress which could not be relieved by the operation of the Poor Law. That has been, and still is, the opinion of the officers by whom the Government is advised, and who are fully alive to their responsibility in giving such advice. I may say, with reference to the ease as stated in the Question, that the whole population of the Gweedore district is under 5,000; and I have no doubt, therefore, that some paragraph must have been omitted which would throw light on the figures given.


As to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Poor Law could relieve the destitution in Gweedore, I would like to ask him, is it not a fact that the two principal members of the Dunfanaghy Board of Guardians, instead of doing anything to relieve the destitution, at the Lifford Quarter Sessions last week obtained ejectment decrees against a number of these poor people; and is it not a fact that Father M. Fadden had to pay a half-year's rent out of charitable funds in order to save them from eviction?