§ MR. THOMAS J. HEALY (Wexford, N.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the case of Mr. John F. Harris, lately stationed at Slyne Head Lighthouse, who has been dismissed by the Irish Lights Board, in consequence of charges of drunkenness and absence from duty; if he is aware that Harris states that he has been a teetotaller for the past 11 years, and that the only absence from duty which can be alleged against him is, that on one occasion he went, on the instruction of his superior officer, a distance of about 20 yards from the lighthouse for the purpose of clearing a lobster pot; and that the only evidence against Harris is that of two men, both of whom have been repeatedly fined for drunkenness, and one of whom was in prison for nine months on a charge of murder; whether Harris was afforded any opportunity of clearing himself of the charges brought against him; and whether he will order a sworn inquiry into the case with a view of having Harris re-instated?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. J. BRYCE, Aberdeen, S.)
I have no control over the discipline of the Lighthouse Staff in Ireland. I have, however, received a letter from the Commissioners of Irish Lights, in which they state that the specific charges against Mr. Harris were of drunkenness and quitting the station in a boat. The charges were investigated at the station. The keepers of the station as well as Mr. King, the boat contractor, and his two men, were duly examined, and their evidence was corroborative of the charges preferred. Mr. Harris was duly afforded an opportunity to clear himself, but he failed to do so, and though he did affirm that he was a teetotaller, he produced 946 nothing in support of that statement. The Commissioners further say that they have no reason to undervalue the evidence of the two witnesses referred to. I have no power to order an Inquiry.
§ [No answer was given.]