HC Deb 22 March 1894 vol 22 cc875-6

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland will be explain why it was that a, convict named Michael Walsh was removed in a dying condition from Mountjoy Prison to the Mater Miserecordia Hospital, Dublin, about a month since, receiving 15s. out of £3 10s. earned by him while confined, and that he was discharged in prison clothes, which he is still wearing; whether it is usual to give prisoners civil outfit and all their earnings on discharge; and, if so, why was this man differently treated; whether he is aware that this man is anxious to go to his family in America; whether it is usual to give discharged prisoners means to go to their relatives on discharge; and will he order that suitable clothes be supplied to this man at once, and that the balance of his earnings in prison be given to him, and that be will be provided with the passage fare to America when sufficiently recovered to undertake the voyage?


The General Prisons Board inform me that it is not a fact that the convict Walsh was removed to the hospital in a dying condition from Mountjoy Prison. The medical officer of the prison states that on the convict's removal he was quite fit to be removed, though he was suffering from pneumonia. The gratuity payable to him was £3, not £3 10s. as stated in the question, and out of the former amount he received 15s. on his discharge, the custom being to hand to the convicts portion only of their gratuities on their discharge, and to remit them the balance when they have returned home. I think the hon. Member will see that there is some prudence in not paying the full gratuity until the prisoner has returned to his home. The object of this arrangement is to prevent men suffering from reaction on their discharge after long imprisonment frivolously squandering the whole of their gratuities. He was not discharged in prison clothes, but in an outfit of Irish tweed. He did not say to the Governor of the prison that he intended to emigrate. It is the practice to defray the expenses of the convicts to the place of their arrest or conviction, or any other place which they may select which would not involve greater expense. In the present case, Walsh has not applied for his travelling expenses, but as soon as he does so they will be provided in the ordinary way. The Prisons Board have no funds at their disposal to defray the cost of his emigration to America, but I may add, however, that, in addition to the 15s. given to him on his discharge, the Governor handed over to him a sum of £5 private cash, which, though speaking from memory, I am inclined to think was sent him from America.