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"Electric Lighting Contract Controversy and Workhouse Medical Staff Protests | Limerick Gazette Archives

“Electric Lighting Contract Controversy and Workhouse Medical Staff Protests

Limerick, a vibrant and historic city on the western coast of Ireland, is a place of perpetual motion and lively discourse. In this letter, we bring you some of the latest news and views from the city, covering such topics as electric lighting, workhouse medical staff, the prison inquiry, the death of a well-known citizen, Gaelic League classes, and praise for the night watch.

The Electric Lighting Contract

Mr P. Dillon, the recognised contractor for the work of supplying and laving electric cables and providing arc lamps under the Limerick Electric Lighting Scheme, has been the subject of some controversy lately. Three weeks ago, the Ailegamaine Electric Company, hereinafter called the German Company, wrote a threatening letter claiming damages for delay in the erection of the power house. Mr Dillon, in response, stated that any complaint should have come through him. It is to this that Mr Dillon’s vague note, referring all whom might concern the Limerick Leader of November 3rd, presumably refers. It has been stated (on November 6th, and not denied) that the German Company are the actual contractors.

On October 30th, Mr Dillon’s letter was read, which controverted the facts that only came to light on November 6th. That night, it was stated openly in the Council Chamber, and not denied by Mr Dillon’s friends, that payments were being made not to Mr Dillon, who is nominally the contractor, but to the German or Anglo-German firm. Only last night, at the meeting of the Corporation, a letter was read from the London Electric Company, Limited, asking for a cheque for £500 for electrical plant supplied, stating that the applicants had amalgamated with the German Company, and making delay in the work. Does this bear out Mr Dillon’s inference rather than contention that he is the actual contractor?

The point is plain: the tender accepted from Mr Dillon for all the work was several hundred pounds less than other tenders given separately for (1) cables, (2) arc lamps, and (3) laying cables. The higher tender was accepted on the ground that the contractor was a local, and it now appears that payments are being made, not to Mr Dillon, but to a German or Anglo-German firm. The statement does not touch Mr Dillon’s capacity to carry out the work but merely places before the public the actual state of affairs, which has been the subject of an unusual amount of bickering.

Workhouse Medical Staff

It was scarcely to be expected that the medical men of Limerick would accept, without protest, the degradation sought to be imposed on them by the offer of the clerk’s position as visiting physicians to the Limerick Workhouse. Dr Holmes, who may be regarded as the “dean” of the profession here, has announced his intention of not again applying for the position, and I am much mistaken if his brethren of the scalpel do not follow his example. The fact is that the Local Government Board has taken an utterly untenable position, which must be abandoned. The well-paid medical inspectors have cast a nasty slur on their own profession, and the poor will not be better served. Note the result of Local Government arithmetic: Dublin and Belfast Workhouses have an average of 1,500 patients, and for these there are three visiting physicians. Limerick, with 800 patients, has three also—£1 a week, or, to be accurate, 19s 2.7s.9d.

The Prison Inquiry

Apart from the actual subject of the prison inquiry this week, two or three facts are worth mentioning. Mr Lynch, solicitor, Ennis, conducted the case for poor Mr Flanagan’s friends with consummate skill and great patience. Mr John Guinane, J.P., while agreeing with other witnesses that the governor and the officials of the prison were most kind and humane, protested against the barbarity of treating respectable men as Coercion criminals. Mr Guinane, who has visited Limerick Jail with every political prisoner for the past eighteen years, is in favour of having a place apart for such prisoners.

Death of Mr Thomas Kelly

A once well-known and always respected citizen has passed away in the person of Mr Thomas Kelly, who died on Monday. Mr Kelly was a member of an old Limerick family and was Governor of the City Prison at the time that it was converted into a female prison for the city and county. Up to the last, he took a keen interest in public affairs and was full of anecdotes of Limerick in the first half of the century. He lived to a good age, and his declining years were spent in peaceful retirement, blessed by the devoted care of his wife, with whom much sympathy is felt. It is a pathetic fact that had Mr Kelly lived another day, he would have celebrated the golden jubilee of his marriage. The funeral on Wednesday was attended by large numbers of leading citizens who showed by their presence their respect for the memory of the deceased.

Gaelic League Classes

The following classes will be taught by members of the Central Branch of the Gaelic League during the winter. Elementary certificate class at 4 Sarsfield street, Friday, 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; Class A at 4 Sarsfield street, Thursdays, 10 p.m.; Class B, at Bridge Street, Thursdays, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., reading and dictation; Class C, same place and hours, writing; Conversational Classes, senior, Wednesdays, 8 to 9 p.m.; junior, Fridays, 9 p.m. These classes offer excellent opportunities for students of Irish, and ought to be well attended during the session.

Praise for the Night Watch

At the Petty Sessions today, Mr Hickson, R.M., complimented Night Watchman Joseph Hegarty on the way in which he had watched a pair of suspicious characters during the small hours, running them to earth, in capital style. Every encouragement should be given to vigilant members of the Watch, and even Mr Hall, J.P., who does not love the body, spoke highly of Hegarty’s clever capture.

Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph – Saturday 22 November 1902