HC Deb 09 February 1891 vol 350 cc207-10
MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland what steps have been taken for the relief of distress in County Cavan; whether he is aware that at a largely attended meeting of the Guardians of the Cavan Union, the Guardians present, elected and ex officio alike, complained that they had not been communicated with by the Inspector sent to report as to the existence of distress in the Union; and whether that Inspector did communicate with any Guardians; and, if so, with what Guardian or Guardians?


The condition of the County Cavan is very carefully watched, but so far no relief works have been deemed necessary. As regards the concluding portion of the question, I beg to refer the hon. Member to my reply on this subject to his question on the 27th January.

MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the serious distress existing among a large number of the small householders and poor of the town of Ballyshannon, in the County of Donegal; whether he is aware that potatoes, of the quality which this time last year fetched 4d. per stone, are now sold at 7d. and 8d. per stone, and that the destitution is so great that in some cases, the straw of beds has been burned for fuel; whether he is also aware that in previous failures of the potato crop families have been mainly supported by the work of the women at sewed muslin, but that at present the McKinley tariff had almost destroyed the sewing trade; and whether, having regard to their great distress, there is any immediate prospect of employment being afforded to the people of Ballyshannon in order to avert the necessity of giving gratuitous relief?


Resolutions containing representations to the effect indicated in the first paragraph have been received. I have no official information as to the second paragraph, but I am aware that potatoes are now, I regret to say, being sold in parts of Ireland at the prices mentioned. There is reason to believe that the McKinley Act has injured some of the Donegal home industries. Employment appears to be scarce in the town of Ballyshannon, but such scarcity of employment at this season of the year often exists to a greater or less extent among labourers in towns. This is much to be regretted, but it is not to meet cases of this kind that so exceptional a course should be taken as starting relief works out of Imperial funds. As regards the rural portions of the Ballyshannon Union, the Local Government Inspector, reporting a few days ago, was of opinion that there was no serious destitution therein existing. He hopes very soon to make a further inspection and report.


I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland if it has come under his notice that a Memorial from Bundoran, County Donegal, was forwarded to the Government in November last praying for the construction of a light railway from Sligo to Bundoran and other works of public utility with a view to relieve impending distress; if he is aware that two very influential meetings were held on 1st January at the villages of Tullaghan and Cliffony, calling on the Government for employment by the construction of said railway, and asking for a proper official to examine the distressed state of the district; if he is aware that the Sligo Corporation Harbour Board and Sligo Board of Guardians have forwarded Memorials with the same object; and what steps, if any, have been taken to inquire into the matter?


Numerous representations have been made in regard to this and other places, but the Government have no funds which would enable them to take any steps to provide the relief asked for.

MR. MORROGH (Cork, S.E.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he has received copies of resolutions passed at a public meeting of the National League, Nohoval, County Cork, on Sunday, 1st instant, conveying the information that fever was prevalent in the district owing to the use as food by the destitute people of "blighted and unripe potatoes;" has any Report been received from the Local Medical Authority on the subject; and what steps do the Government propose to take to cope with the distress and outbreak of epidemic?


Careful consideration is being given to the Resolutions in question.


I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he has received copies of Resolutions adopted at a public meeting held at Tracton (County Cork) Petty Sessions Court on 30th ult., drawing attention to the distress in the district, and urging upon the Government the necessity of starting some public works (which were named in the Resolutions), so as to afford employment to the destitute people, and what action do the Government intend to take in the matter?


A copy of the Resolutions referred to has been received and will be carefully considered.


Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to state that the Government are not in possession of any information as to this district?


The Government are making the fullest inquiries possible.

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