§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evictions recently carried out on the estate of the Messrs. Knox, in the parish of Curry, County of Sligo; whether the following statement made by the Sligo Champion, regarding some of the 17 families evicted, or visited by the evicting party, are substantially true—Michael Walsh is a widower, and has six little children. On the 2nd of last January one of the children caught fever, and the whole family was attacked in turn. The father has but just recovered, and the last child attacked was actually suffering from fever when she was carried out of her home and placed on a little straw on a bleak hill-side. She was subsequently removed by the relieving officer to the fever hospital.… After the door of the next house attacked (Thomas Millar's) had been broken in, it transpired that Mrs. Millar, terrified by the attack on her house, had fainted, and could not be removed.… Pat Walsh is over 80 years of age. For more than ten years he has been confined to bed. His wife is nearly as old and as helpless as he. He was wrapped in a few pieces of bedding, and carried out from the miserable hut, and thrown on the street;and whether, if those statements are well founded, the Government will, in future, take care that the forces of the Crown shall not be employed to carry out evictions under similar circumstances?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The statements are not substantially nor even approximately true. The evicted persons were not tenants, but trespassers, having been in unlawful possession for several years. None of them appear to have been suffering from fever, nor was any person suffering from illness carried out and placed on a bleak hill side. I am informed that there is no hill-side, bleak or otherwise, at Walsh's house. The Relieving Officer was not present. Mrs. Millar complained of illness, but, so far as I know, she did not faint. She expressed her readiness to move, but subsequently declined to do so, and was not further disturbed on that day. A woman named Kennedy was also left undisturbed on that day, as she pleaded illness. On the following day she was examined by the doctor, who said there was nothing the matter with her, and on the next day she walked about the place using strong language. Patrick Walsh was examined by the doctor, and 1572 apparently there was nothing the matter with him. His wife, who is stated not to be helpless, several times proclaimed her intention of again taking forcible possession.
§ MR. CLANCY
Inasmuch as these statements have appeared in the Irish papers for a fortnight without any contradiction from the parties concerned, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us the authority on which he bases his contradiction?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The authority on which I base my contradiction is the information supplied to me by the officers in the district. I may point out that if I were to correct every erroneous statement in the Irish Press I should certainly require an additional private secretary to assist me.