HC Deb 25 June 1888 vol 327 cc1135-6
MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If he is aware that in the Ballinasloe Poor Law Board the elected Guardians and the ex officio Guardians are nearly equal as regards numbers; that, owing to this fact, close and bitter contests have arisen from time to time at the election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman to the Board; why, having regard to this state of things, did the Local Government Board delay a fortnight before they replied to the objections sent to them against the election of Mr. John Gardiner as Chairman of the Ballinasloe Board of Guardians; whether they have pronounced the action of the gentleman who presided at the election of Mr. John Gardiner, on the 9th of April last, as illegal, and have issued an order for a new election; whether he is aware that the gentleman who acted in this illegal manner had the sanction of the Local Government Board to act as presiding officer, and that he was voted into that position by the ex officio Guardians, and against the will of the elected Guardians, and that this course was at variance with the usage of the Board, which up to that time always got the Clerk of the Union to act as presiding officer at the election of Chairman; whether the Local Government Board have received a formal communication signed by six of the elected Guardians claiming the Chairmanship for Mr. Thomas Byrne, who got 18 votes, Mr. Gardiner getting 19 at the election of April 9, on the ground that some of the ex officio Guardians who voted for Mr. Gardiner had no legal right to vote; whether, at the election held on May 16, a formal protest was handed to the Chairman objecting to a new election on the ground that Mr. Byrne was the legally elected Chairman of the Board, and formal objections lodged against Major Thornhill, Mr. Orme Handy, and Mr. J. W. Potts, as having no right to vote at the election of Chairman; whether it is true that in the interval between the 14th of May, the day on which these objections were lodged with the Local Government Board, and the 23rd of May, the day on which the new Board first met, no answer to these objections had been received from the Local Government Board; that in consequence of such delay the Board had to adjourn, being powerless to go on with business while in a state of uncertainty as to their right to act as a legally constituted body; and, is it on account of this failure on the part of the Ballinasloe Poor Law Board to fulfil duties which, owing to the inaction of the Local Government Board, they were powerless to perform, that paid Guardians have been sent down to transact the business of the Union?


, in reply, said, his answer to the 1st and 6th Paragraphs of the Question was in the affirmative. Last year a close contest did take place in reference to the election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman. That was not the case in 1886 or 1885. The Local Government Board communicated their decision to the Clerk of the Union one week after the formal protest in the matter was addressed to the Board. Therefore, there was no unusual delay. The Local Government Board had not pronounced the action of the gentleman who presided at the election of Mr. Gardiner as illegal. Upon the receipt of the objection referred to the Local Government Board sent down an Inspector to make inquiries; but while such inquiries were proceeding, and before the Board had arrived at its decision, a meeting was held by the Guardians on the 23rd of May; and it was of such a character, having regard to previous occurrences, that the Local Government Board felt constrained to relieve them of their responsibilities. There was nothing to prevent the Guardians performing their ordinary functions, pending the decision of the Local Government Board in regard to the alleged illegality in the election of Chairmen.