§ MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid.)
I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture for Ireland whether he will state the circumstances under which malicious damage was done to property of the department near Athenry; what was the nature of the damage; what amount was awarded for compensation; whether the compensation has been paid; and whether any persons were punished for this offence.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
In the autumn of 1907 the Department decided to put into complete habitable condition New-fort House, situated on part of the Agricultural Station at Athenry, which up to 1906 had been occupied by a herd. A tender was accepted from a local builder, who undertook to do the necessary work for about £50, and on the 2nd October, 1907, the builder in question brought into this house a quantity of timber which he intended using in effecting the necessary repairs. At a late hour on the same night the house was found to be on fire; the buildings were completely burned out, only the walls being left standing. As the herd above referred to had practically to be evicted by the Department, and as the Department's meadows containing over forty acres had been spiked about a month previous, and the house of a labourer fired into, while before the completion of the harvest a dispute as to labourers' wages arose, there were 869 substantial grounds for regarding the burning as malicious, and a claim was accordingly made for compensation. The case was heard at Galway Quarter Sessions early last November, and was resisted by the county council, who, however, did not contest the question of malice. The Recorder gave a decree for £470 with costs, to be levied off the town of Athenry. This sum has not been paid to the Department, as the council have appealed against the award on the question of value. This appeal will be heard next month. No person was punished for the malicious burning, as adequate evidence was not forthcoming.