§ MR. SEXTON
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention has been called to the fact that a number of families of tenant farmers, including a large proportion of old and infirm persons and infants, were, on the 1st instant, evicted from their homes at Gweedore, county Donegal, at the suit of Mr. Wybrant Olpherto, chairman of the Dunfanaghy Board of Guardians; whether it is the fact that notice of the intention to evict was not given, to the local relieving officer, and that he was not present at the evictions to afford relief and shelter to the destitute; whether an application to the Board of Guardians by the Rev. James M'Fadden, P.P. Gweedore, as a warden of the Union, on behalf of the evicted families, was disregarded; and, what steps will be taken to assure due relief of the evicted, and to exact the appropriate penalty for a breach of the Law?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
It is a fact that a number of persons, most of them owing two years' rent, have been evicted in the district mentioned. It is not the case that notice was not given to the relieving officer. The requisite notice was given to him. The law does not require the relieving officer to be present at evictions. His duty in the circumstances is regulated by Section 4 of the Act 11 & 12 Vict. c. 47, which provides that applications may be made to him by persons who become destitute through being dispossessed. I am aware that the Rev. Mr. M'Fadden did make some application to the Guardians, but I have not had time to ascertain from that remote district any particulars with regard to it. I do not know whether it reached the relieving officer, or whether, if it did reach him, it was one he could comply with. If applied to, it would be his duty to afford relief until he should obtain the directions of the Guardians, and the Guardians have power, if they think fit, to give outdoor relief for one month. Until I receive a fuller report, I cannot say whether there was any neglect of duty on the part of the relieving officer. The Local Government Board have drawn the special attention of the Guardians and of the relieving officer to the case, and have also called upon their Inspectors to report.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether he was aware that these evicted families were now lying in the ditches, that the helplessness of their condition was intensified by the fact that not one of them could speak or understand a word of English, and accordingly could not make application to the relieving officer; whether the Government would themselves take immediate steps to ascertain the condition of these people, and afford them relief, or induce the Board of Guardians to give the relief allowed by law?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The Government will take all such steps as they are allowed by law to take to induce the Guardians to give these people four weeks' relief. I do not wish to pronounce any opinion on the conduct of those concerned on either side; but, however painful the circumstances, it is obvious the Government cannot depart from their legal duties and powers in the matter.