Poor Law Guardians Election - Aftermath

Two Contrasting Reports

Two local newspapers published contrasting reports on the aftermath of the Carlow Poor Law Guardians Election. The Carlow Sentinel was Conservative and Unionist in bias. It frequently reported on matters concerning the British Crown, the local landed gentry and the Established Church. It ran from 1831-1920. The "Leinster Reformer" was a Liberal newspaper from Carlow 1839-1841.

Carlow Sentinel 17th Oct 1840


After the election the Sentinel was loud in its delight at the result, which gave the Conservatives a 3 to 1 majority in the Carlow Union. According to Rev. James Maher "none should hold office under the Poor Law but Catholics". He maintained that "Protestants can have no sympathy with the poor". The editorial replied that with one voice "the cess-payers of the Carlow Union" had given that intolerant assertion a "flat contradiction". It was obvious to them that the cess-payers had done their duty admirably. The successful candidates were, after all, interested in their welfare and "identified with the soil". They would discharge their duties well and faithfully represent them. The Radicals only managed to acquire ten out of the forty seats. They have been rendered a salutary lesson and were disappointed and "filled with dismay".

Leinster Reformer 14th Nov 1840

The Leinster Reformer took a different view. In its opinion the Poor Law Guardians were not acting fairly to the press and to the public at large. The Tory Poor Law Guardians were seemingly determined to conduct their proceedings behind "closed doors". The Reformer stated that this attitude typified Toryism where "deeds of darkness shun the light". They felt obliged to register a protest on behalf of the rights of the Ratepayers. The Ratepayers have appointed the Guardians to transact their business. They must not therefore be kept in ignorance of the proceedings of the Board. Every public department should be open to the surveillance of the press. The duties of the Poor Law Guardians should be discharged openly. The people had a right to follow the proceedings.

The Reformer hoped that those in Carlow should follow the example of the Poor Law Guardians of Cork, Limerick and Ennis where they have authorised the public press to give publicity to their proceedings. Functionaries then would no longer be able to closet their agenda from the public. A recommendation would be sent to Liberal members of the Board at their next meeting, to propose a resolution for the admission of the press.

The exclusion policy seems to have been changed because the Sentinel reported that "our reporter was in attendance" at the meeting of the Poor Law Guardians held on 31st Jan 1842.

Gallery

Sentinel - Election of Poor Law Guardians

An extract from the "Carlow Sentinel" newspaper dated October 17th 1840. It deals with the Election of Poor Law Guardians - the first election for the Carlow Poor Law Union. There was a large conservative majority following this election. The extract includes a quotation from the Rev. James Maher an outspoken advocate of the poor and of Catholicism. He was of the opinion that only Catholics could hold office under the poor law. He maintained that protestants had no sympathy with the poor. The Unionist and Conservative Sentinel state that the cess payers have proved him wrong. Twenty Conservatives had been returned plus a further ten among the ex-officio Guardians.

Carlow County Library

Sentinel - Election of Poor Law Guardians - Carlow County Library

Sentinel - Admission of the Press to meetings Sentinel 5th Feb 1842

Extract from the "Carlow Sentinel2 of February 5th 1842 regarding the admission of the press to the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Carlow Poor Law Union. The Board of Guardians had been conducting their meetings "behind closed doors". Accordingly, both the "Carlow Sentinel" and the "Leinster Reformer" Newspapers had been campaigning to reverse this situation. They finally succeeded on December 1st 1841 when Joseph Fishbourne proposed that the press be admitted in future and his proposal was seconded by William Richard Stewart.

Carlow County Library

Sentinel - Admission of the Press to meetings Sentinel 5th Feb 1842 - Carlow County Library

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