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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of the Famine in the mid-nineteenth century to the onset of the Great War in 1914, by which time the Poor Law had been replaced by a range of other policy measures such as the old-age pension and national insurance.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 7The Poor Law and the ‘Plan of Campaign’, 1886–1891 161


Chapter 7 The Poor Law and the ‘Plan of Campaign’, 1886–1891 In the previous chapter the rise in outdoor relief was examined and it was argued that this was, at best, only loosely related to the ‘nationalisation’ of the boards of guardians and the take-over of power by (mainly) Catholic, Nationalist guardians. However, that study relied mainly on aggregate data and in this chapter one specific episode – the plan of campaign – is exam- ined more closely. During the ‘plan’, it might be thought that Nationalist boards would be particularly likely to try to pay outdoor relief in order to compensate evicted tenants and to ‘punish’ rate-paying landlords. In the initial Land War period (1879–82) agitation was widely dispersed through- out Ireland and, as has been seen in the previous chapter, there is no clear link between Land War activities, nationalisation and payment of outdoor relief. However, it may be that this is due to data issues, and the much more tightly focused plan of campaign (1886–91) allows a case study which can look in detail at the activities of the local boards. The plan of campaign The plan of campaign was initiated by senior members of the Irish Parlia- mentary Party in late 1886 and promulgated through United Ireland, local meetings and through the local branches of the Irish National League.1 In contrast to the earlier period, where land agitation was widely dispersed, the plan of campaign was confined to specific estates. The plan involved 1 See...

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