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Poor Relief in Ireland, 1851-1914

Mel Cousins

This book examines the provision of poor relief in Ireland from the immediate aftermath of the Famine in the mid-nineteenth century to the onset of the Great War in 1914, by which time the Poor Law had been replaced by a range of other policy measures such as the old-age pension and national insurance. The study establishes an empirical basis for studying poor relief in this period, analysing over time the provision of indoor and outdoor relief and expenditure levels, and charts regional variations in the provision of poor relief. The author goes on to examine a number of issues that highlight political and social class struggles in relation to the provision of poor relief and also considers in fascinating detail the broader role of the Poor Law and the Boards of Guardians within local communities.

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Chapter 4The Poor Law in the Post-Famine Decades, 1851–1878 81

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Chapter 4 The Poor Law in the Post-Famine Decades, 1851–1878 This chapter examines issues which highlight political and social class struggles in relation to the provision of poor relief in the period from 1851 to just before the Land War (the late 1870s). It outlines developments in the period (both general and those specific to the poor law) before going on to look at a number of key poor law issues including, first, the complex governance of the poor law. Secondly the appointment of a Select Com- mittee on the poor law is examined, as well as the subsequent passage of amending legislation in 1862 which legalised the broadening of the poor law system to provide hospital services to a wider public. The chapter con- cludes by looking at debates concerning union rating, showing how land- lords retained an ef fective control over poor law policies despite nascent politicisation. One of the bitterest debates in the 1860s and 1870s was about proposals to move from a system of rating by electoral divisions to one of union rating. The system of rating by electoral divisions had been introduced as a part of a compromise with the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords in 1838. The ef fect was, in general, to increase the level of rates paid by one or two electoral divisions, usually the main town(s), to the benefit of rural electoral divisions and, obviously, their rate payers. 82 Chapter 4 Political, economic and demographic change...

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