HC Deb 26 May 1905 vol 146 cc1533-5

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what was the result of the inquiry held into the escape of convict Maurice Sheehan, on 10th March, 1903, from Dundrum Lunatic Asylum; whether he is aware that the governor got information from another convict on 9th January of Sheehan's intention of escaping from the workshop, and will he say what experience and length of service the attendant in charge of Sheehan had; and why he was forbidden to hold any conversation with the senior attendant in charge of the shops; did a special guard escort Sheehan from the workshops to the wards; whether, seeing that convict Feeley got through the bars and window of the workshop in March, 1902, and was injured, he will say what report did the governor make or what action did he take to secure the workshops; whether he will explain why the convict who gave information as to Sheehan's intention of escaping was locked up after the escape, and not liberated until after the inquiry was held; whether he is aware that the inspectors and the engineer responsible for the security of the workshops doubted the statement made at the inquiry on 20th March, 1903, by Attendant J. M 'Keough as to Feeley and Sheehan getting through the bars and window, and that this statement was proved to be true; and if so, will he explain why M'Keough was called upon to resign.

(Answered by Mr. Walter Long.) The result of the inquiry was that certain structural improvements were made in order to guard against escape. The governor received information as mentioned, and the escort between the workshops and dining-hall was thereupon strengthened, as it was supposed that Sheehan would attempt to escape when passing between those places. The attendant in immediate charge of Sheehan had six months service, but the senior attendant in charge of the workshop in which he worked had many years service. The attendant was not forbidden to converse with the senior attendant. The escort was strengthened as above stated. Convict Feeley temporarily escaped from the workshop, but it was not ascertained that he had got through the window bars. The bars were, however, examined by the responsible official, but no alteration was considered necessary. No patient was locked up in connection with Sheehan's escape, but the patient who had given information of the intended escape was about that time placed in seclusion for irritating a fellow patient. It was proved that a man could get through the window bars, but it was also proved that Sheehan escaped by removing one of the bars by means of a turnscrew. There was no connection between Sheehan's escape and Attendant M'Keough's dismissal. M'Keough was called upon to resign for insubordinate conduct and failure to satisfactorily discharge his duties. He refused to resign, and was dismissed.