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ABOLITION OF NAAS WORKHOUSE

The Kildare Observer, December 25, 1909

The Abolition of Naas Workhouse
REPORT OF REFORM COMMITTEE
DISCUSSED BY THE BOARD OF GUARDIANS
AND REFERED BACK FOR FURTHER PARTICULARS

At the weekly meeting of the Naas Board of Guardians, on Wednesday, Mr. Myles Healy presiding, the following report was read:-

1. That the Government be pressed to introduce a Measure embodying the chief, if not all the recommendations of the Viceregal and Royal Commissions on Poor Law Reform.
2. That a District Relief Board be established for Naas No.1 and Naas No. 2 Districts, consisting of Ten Members of the present Board of Guardians and Five Members of the County Council, with a Sub-Relief Committee of Seven acting under them, in the following Districts:- Naas, Newbridge, Kilcullen, Kildare, Clane, Ballymore-Eustace, and Blessington, for the purpose of selecting the number of deserving poor in each.
3. That the district Relief Board have the power of granting from the rates weekly pensions from 2s. to 5s. in all cases of deserving poor under the age of 70, and for this purpose and arrangement be entered into with the Postmaster-General so as to have all such pensions paid by the same method as at present adopted in paying the “Old Age Government Pensioners,” that is by cash order books payable at any Post Office, the County Council, on receipt from the Postmaster-General, to transmit twice in each year the amount stated therein required to meet all such pension payments.
4. That the present salaries of Doctors and Midwives, rents and allowances to caretakers of Dispensaries, be paid quarterly in future by the County Council.
5. That the present District Hospital be managed by a Board of Local Governors, as is at present done in the case of the Kildare Infirmary, and a set annual sum allowed for same from the rates by the County Council.
6. That the unused portion of the Naas Workhouse be sub-let at the existing head rents charged (a) for Workshops or Factories for the purpose of employing the people; (b) a County Agricultural Technical Schools; (c) a Sanatoria, or other useful purpose.
7. That the destitute weak-minded people at present located at the Workhouse be transferred to an Asylum, the cost of maintenance to be discharged by the County Council, and levied as a county charge in future.
8. That the Clerk of the Union, so far as Union charges are concerned, be directed to only raise in his estimates the required amount for three months – for instance, from the 31st March to the 30th June, 1910. 
9. That all future instalments of loans charged against the Guardians be paid by the County Council, and raised by them as a Poor Rate.
10. All classes in Ireland agree upon the proposition that the eminence of the Poor Law system on the existing standard is both inefficient and unenomical. The poor Law relief, as at present administered, has only a demoralising effect, while it involves a reckless waste of money and time.
It is ludicrous to have able-bodied men and women supported out of the rates in sheer idleness. These we would propose to be ejected from the Workhouse. As for the remaining inmates, those of them who feel able to leave the House, and having a doctor’s certificate to that effect, we will give them 5s. a week conditionally – that is, they are neither to beg, steal, get drunk or, in other words, break the law; for three-serious convictions of any of the above-named will deprive them of their weekly allowance. And the sick poor we would suggest that the Hospital be renovated, and keep apartments for paying patients, and likewise to see that both paying patients and poor will be better treated than heretofore. Then as is mentioned in No. 6 of this Scheme, that every hole and corner of this vast establishment be utilised to the best advantage, so that, after some little time, it is our conviction, that this Naas Workhouse, instead of being a drag on the ratepayers, will turn into a paying institution.
Now we, the members of this Committee, consider it may not be in our power to abolish the Union just now. However, we feel that at least two good results will come from this motion. First, it will hurry up the Viceregal or some other Commission to action; and, secondly, it will prove conclusively to the world that there has been, not a fraudulent, but a terrible waste of money in the Naas Union.
That the master and several relieving officers furnish a correct report under the following headings – (1) number, age, name and former address of all able-bodied inmates at present in Naas Workhouse, male and female, stating the period resident therein; (2) number, name, age and address (if any) of all children at present in the workhouse; (3) number, name, age and address of all people receiving outdoor relief in Naas Nos. 1 and 2 districts; (4) a return of the amount paid in temporary relief by the relieving officers of the union in their several districts for the year ended 30th September, 1909.
The Clerk said the usual course was to have an important report like that printed and sent out to members, to be considered at another meeting.
The Chairman said what he considered would be the best way would be to send copies of the scheme to the members of Parliament for the county.
The Clerk said it would be first necessary that the suggestions should have the approval of the board.
Mr. J.S. O’Grady said they had no particular information in connection with the matter. They had nothing to show that the cost under the proposed scheme would be less than the present cost. Finance was the whole thing, and financial information they should have before them (hear, hear).
The Chairman said the committee considered that under the new scheme proposed the cost would be about half what it is at present.
It was decided on the proposition of Mr. J.S. O’Grady, seconded by Mr Charleton – “That the report be referred back to the committee to give particulars as to the probable financial result of the proposed scheme as compared with the expense of the existing system.”

 


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