§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called, many times during the last few weeks, to the existence of distress in various parts of South Mayo; whether his denial of the existence of distress in Ballindine, Kilvine, Irishtown, Crossboyne, Ballyhaunis, Aughamore, and Knock is based upon the reports of Mr. Flynn, Local Government Board Inspector; whether he is aware that that Gentleman's method of inspection is to drive through a parish along the main road, and to enter a few houses beside him, as was done in the famine years, 1846–9, and that his reports are literal copies of those issued in that time, in most of which the existence of unusual distress was denied; and whether the Chief Secretary will make further inquiries into the matter?
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
A number of representations have been made to me alleging the existence of exceptional distress in various parts of South Mayo. The information supplied to me, and upon which I based my replies to these representations, was not derived alone from the reports of Mr. Flynn, Local Government Board Inspector, but also from the reports received, and conferences with, Mr. Lynch, an Inspector of many years' experience of this district. I am 28 informed that Dr. Flinn's method of inspection is a very thorough one, and is not as alleged in the question; nor are his reports literal copies of those issued in the period referred to. The Local Government Board will keep me informed as to the condition of the people of South Mayo. If the hon. Gentleman is still of opinion that distress exists of such an acute and widespread nature as to require exceptional treatment by the establishment of relief works, and if he will be good enough to furnish the names and addresses of the various families concerned I will at once cause inquiries to be made.
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN
asked what Mr. Flynn's qualifications for the post were?
MR. J. MORLEY
really did not know, but he examined Mr. Flynn's credentials and satisfied himself that that Gentleman was thoroughly qualified to discharge the duties imposed upon him.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
asked whether, in view of the distress in various parts of Ireland, and of strong divergence of opinion between the Local Government Board's Inspectors and the local authorities, he would take some means other than inquiry by the Local Government Board Inspectors to ascertain the extent of distress?
MR. J. MORLEY
could not possibly do that. As Gentlemen from Ireland were aware, whenever they had brought before him any special case he had made special inquiries. He could not consent to supersede the present officers. Of course, it was very natural there should be differences between the Inspectors and the local authorities, because they looked at matters from different points of view.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
asked if cases in which the local authorities did not at all agree with the Local Government Board's Inspectors had not frequently come under the right hon. Gentleman's notice, and whether it was not more likely that the local authorities were more intimately acquainted with all the circumstances, and better able to give a proper opinion upon the subject than the Local Government Board's Inspectors?
MR. J. MORLEY
was sure the local authorities would give a very good opinion from their own point of view, but the point of view of the Government 29 and of Government officials was necessarily somewhat different to that of the local authorities; they could not take the same view that local authorities naturally took.
§ MR. E. F. VESEY KNOX (Cavan, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he has received a copy of a Resolution unanimously passed by the guardians of the Enniskillen Union, relating to the need of relief works in Gelgeloin and Killinagh, county Cavan; whether he is aware that, owing to the people being landowners, the Guardians cannot effectively relieve this distress; and, whether, having regard to the opposition raised to the Relief of Distress Bill, which proposes to temporarily remove this restriction, he will consider the advisability of preparing to institute relief works in this district?
MR. J. MORLEY
The Resolution referred to has been received. Careful inquiries have been instituted by the Local Government Board into the condition of the poorer classes in the divisions named in the question, and the Inspector's Report appears to show that some of the people are in poor circumstances, and suffered last year from the partial failure of the potato crop. The Union is very well circumstanced, with low poor rates, and there are only 20 persons in receipt of outdoor relief, out of a total population of over 36,000. It therefore appears that the resources of the Poor Law are sufficient to deal with any cases of distress likely to arise in this Union.
§ MR. T. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether his attention has been drawn to the destitution prevailing in Ballincloher and Lixnaw, Lisselton Cross and Ballyegan, and other districts in North Kerry; what has been the result of the recent special inspection by a member of the Local Government Board; and, whether any relief works have been yet proceeded with in North Kerry?
MR. J. MORLEY
I have received several representations alleging the existence of abnormal destitution in the localities mentioned in the question. The condition of the poorer classes in the Listowel Union has recently formed the 30 subject of careful and special investigation by Mr. Bourke, one of the most experienced Inspectors of the Local Government Board, and as a result of his inquiries he is of opinion that no destitution justifying the adoption of exceptional measures of relief at present exists in the Union. In the course of his investigation he conferred with clergymen, Poor Law Guardians, and Relieving Officers, and the general opinion appeared to be that, though there were a number of poor persons in the localities referred to, there was no danger, at present, of anyone suffering from want of food, and that until the Spring work is over, there will be no lack of employment for the people. Under these circumstances, it does not seem to me that any necessity has yet arisen for undertaking relief works in the Listowel Union.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the erection of the pier at Ballyhigue, though sanctioned, had not yet been commenced.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN
asked whether Mr. Bourke, who also visited North Cork, had made any Report about that district, or any suggestion for relieving the distress there?
MR. J. MORLEY
replied that it was quite true that Mr. Bourke had visited Kanturk Union. The Relieving Officers had assured him that no persons in the Union suffered from want of food, and that they did not expect that people would be reduced to any great straits.
§ MR. J. G. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that relief work, sanctioned by the Government at Meenaveen, in the parish of Glencolumbkill, county Donegal, was stopped by the action of the local landlords, who object to the construction of a road leading to a limestone quarry at Creeveen; whether, seeing that the opening up of this quarry was earnestly requested by the inhabitants, and would confer a great boon on the Musgrave tenantry, he will order it to be recommenced; is he aware that the local landlords allowed all preparations to be made for the institution of the relief work thus sanctioned by the Government, and gave no notice or intimation of their objection until the work 31 had been actually begun; and, whether, seeing that owing to this action, a large number of heads of families have been kept out of employment for upwards of three weeks, and will be unable to take relief work unless by allowing their small holdings, which now require cultivation, to lie waste for this year, any allowance can be made to the men who have been thus deprived of employment to enable them to crop their holdings?
MR. J. MORLEY
I must ask my hon. Friend to defer this question till to-morrow. Owing to the interruption of telegraphic communication, I have not been able to obtain a Report on it today.