Reaction to the Introduction of Poor Relief
The reaction of the local population to the introduction of the poor law in Ireland varied greatly. Some people were hostile to it while a vast majority were impartial to this new development. Although there were those in favour of the idea of the poor law many people were dissatisfied with at least some aspects of it.
At a public meeting held in Derry on 16 May 1837 a petition was drawn up for presentation to the House of Commons. The petition emphasised the approval of the people to the idea of the poor law and the workhouse, but recommended that some form of outdoor relief be introduced so that able-bodied men who were temporarily ill would be entitled to relief without being forced into the workhouse.
Other objections were raised to the absence of a law of settlement and the powers of the poor law commissioners. Another cause for concern was the large number of magistrates to be appointed to the boards.
The petitioners felt that it was only right that the board should be made up wholly of elected guardians as these would be elected by the ratepayers who had to pay for the relief provided.
A meeting held in Letterkenny in July 1837 agreed that a poor law was necessary but publicised the dissatisfaction of locals with the state's "meddling" in matters which they felt would be better dealt with locally. Thomas Doherty (later to become a guardian in Inishowen) stated that "he had never read so destructive a measure as the Poor Law Bill" and feared that it would reduce "the greater part of the population to beggary."
Newspaper report of meeting of Glendermot Landholders
Extract from the Londonderry Journal, giving an account of a meeting of the landholders and landowners in Glendermot, Co. Donegal. The extract gives the peoples' view of the introduction of poor relief.
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Reaction of John Hamilton, a local landlord and guardian to the poor law -
Newspaper report of meeting of Glendermot Landholders -
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