HC Deb 19 March 1900 vol 80 cc1197-8
MR. HAYDEN (Roscommon, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that Dr. Courtenay, one of the Irish Inspectors of Lunacy, recently held an inquiry in the Mullingar District Lunatic Asylum touching the death, through alleged ill-treatment or negligence on the part of some of the attendants, of a patient named Reilly in that institution; and that the inspector declined to admit any representative of the press to the said inquiry; will he explain why no answer has been given to a resolution passed by the committee of management expressing regret at this exclusion, and requesting an explanation from the inspectors; and whether he will give instructions to the inspectors to have all such similar inquiries in future open to the press, so that the public, the friends of patients, the ratepayers who are taxed for the maintenance of the institution, and the electors who control the committee, should have an opportunity of getting independent information as to the proceedings which, though relating to matters of discipline, affect the lives of people unable to look after themselves.


The facts are correctly stated in the first paragraph. A resolution was received by the inspectors expressing the regret of the committee of management that the press had been excluded from the inquiry, but no request for an explanation has been received by the inspectors. With regard to the third paragraph, the inspector, influenced by a regard for the feelings and interests of the insane and their friends, in the exercise of the discretion vested in him by Statute, excluded the press from the inquiry held in the present instance. The evidence taken at such inquiries is always forwarded by the inspectors, together with their own report thereon to the committee of management, and if the committee, regardless of the pain which the publication of the names, delusions and other weaknesses of the patients must, in many cases, inflict upon their friends and relatives, take upon themselves the responsibility of publishing the evidence, they are of course at liberty to do so. It has always been the practice to exclude the press from such inquiries in Ireland, and, so far as I am aware, a similar method is followed in England also.