In seconding the amendment I wish to ask what have the farmers of the South Cork area done to this House? What did they do to the gentlemen who got this brain wave? Why should Dublin be regarded as a separate entity, and why should Limerick, which is only one-third the size of Cork City, be regarded as a separate entity? Why should the rural population of Cork be scourged in this way? We are entitled to ask what was the reason for making Dublin and Limerick separate entities for home assistance purposes and then taking in a portion of Cork county, which was considered so far away from the city that it was put into Waterford County for Parliamentary election purposes? Why should the area represented by Deputy Broderick, which is now in the Parliamentary constituency of Waterford, pay for the poor of Cork city? Did anyone ever hear of anything so outrageous as that?
Those people knew well what they were doing. I will give some figures to show what it means. In 1921-22 Cork City paid to the board of guardians £54,190 for poor law purposes. In 1924-25, after the amalgamation, the demand on the city was £23,000 odd. That meant that £30,000 was clapped on to the ratepayers in the rural areas stretching as far as the constituency of Waterford. If there is anything more outrageous than that, I do not know what it is.
We are looking for justice now for an outrage committed 17 years ago. For 17 years the unfortunate people of that area have been groaning under this injustice, and we are only looking for fair play for them. I do not know what reason, political or otherwise, brought about that extraordinary condition of affairs. Limerick City, as I said, was made a separate entity for home assistance purposes, but Cork City was not. I will now give the figures for 1939-40. The demand of Cork City for poor law services for that year was £46,990. The amount paid in home assistance alone in Cork City was £24,440. The demand in the South Cork area was £113,927 and they got back only £22,000 of that. In other words, they paid over £50,000 last year for the upkeep of the poor in Cork City. It is time that was ended. As representing the unfortunate agricultural community in that area, the small farmers, the cottiers and the workers generally, we are only looking for the same justice that was meted out to similar classes of the community in County Dublin and in County Limerick. Surely we are entitled to that.
We should be told the reason, if there is a reason, for keeping that area in Cork. If there is a reason, there should be an equal reason for extending the area in Dublin and Limerick on the same lines. If it is right that this liability should be put on to the South Cork area, it is equally right that a similar liability should be put on the County Dublin and County Limerick people. On the other hand, if it is right and just that Limerick City should pay its own poor law demands, it is equally right and just that Cork City should pay its own poor law demands. You cannot have it both ways; you must have it one way or the other. If it is right and just that Limerick City and Dublin City should be separate areas for home assistance charges, it is equally right and just that Cork City should be made a separate area for home assistance charges. On the contrary, if it is right and just that the South Cork area should pay for the upkeep of the poor of Cork City, it is equally right and just that County Dublin and County Limerick should be made pay for the poor of Dublin City and Limerick City. You cannot blow hot and cold. It must be one thing or the other. I do not know why this iniquitous procedure was first put through by the Department of Local Government. What did the unfortunate farmers in the South Cork area do either to the Local Government Department or to the Government of that day?
If Limerick City is treated as a separate area for poor law purposes, why should not the same apply to Cork City? Why should the agricultural community down as far as Waterford—the constituency represented by Deputy Broderick—have to pay for the poor of Cork City? That area is so far away from Cork City that a piece of Cork had to be sliced off and transferred to another county, but the people there, under the present arrangement, have to pay for the poor of Cork City. If there is any justice at all, this amendment should be accepted by the Government. That is if there is any justice left in them, and I have my doubts. The position, at any rate, is that since 1923, under an Act passed by the last Government, the agricultural community surrounding Cork City, and extending, as I have said, into the County Waterford, have been saddled with a charge of £50,000 a year. That means that almost half a million money has been taken from them in the last 17 years. It is time, I think, that that injustice was removed. If it is held to be a good thing that Cork City should have other areas attached to it, then why not apply the same principle to the cities of Dublin and Limerick? If, on the other hand, it is right that Dublin and Limerick should be separate entities, surely there should be the same consideration for the agricultural community surrounding Cork City.