Richmond Asylum Board (Irish Times, 1904)

1.128. The Irish Times, (Dublin), Friday, 17 June, 1904, 4, 6.

Extracts from The Irish Times on the Richmond Asylum Board.

The meeting of the Committee of Richmond Asylum took place at noon on the 16th of June, 1904. It was sufficiently important  to merit an editorial in The Irish Times on the following day. The Asylum was clearly going through a somewhat critical period in its history. The passage conveys some sense of the political tone of local hospital management after the Local Government Act (1898):

We are exceedingly glad that the attempt made at the meeting of the Committee of Richmond Asylum yesterday to oust Mr. RICHARD JONES from the chair, and to substitute someone else for Mr. R. K. CLAY as Vice-Chairman, failed. Both gentlemen were unanimously re-elected, which goes to show that the opposition had apparently found out in the course of the discussion that they had better accept the inevitable. Alderman HENNESSY was proposed as against Mr. JONES. Both are excellent public representatives. Indeed, as Mr. JONES observed, the Richmond Asylum Board contains many men highly qualified to fill the chair. “He did not think,” Mr. JONES said after his re-election, “there was any other Board in Dublin where there were so many men qualified to fill the chair as on the Richmond Asylum Board.” We have a good deal of knowledge of the Richmond Asylum Board, and we must say that the chairman was perfectly justified in marking [sic] this remark. We do not profess to know the reason why the re-elections were even questioned. Mr. JONES has given a great deal of time to the business of the Asylum Board, and Mr. CLAY has made heavy professional sacrifices in the same cause. Alderman HENNESSY would be a most impartial and competent Chairman, but why should an equally competent Chairman, who has far more of what we may call local experience, be ejected in his favour from a position which he has filled to the satisfaction of everybody for many years? One speaker said he thought it advisable that they should have a change in the Chairmanship, and the only argument used in favour of the change was that it was undesirable that the two positions should be occupied by the same individuals for several years in succession. The answer is, could better men be got? Have the occupants of the offices in question failed in their duty? Have they neglected in any way to attend to the charge entrusted to them? The answer must be an emphatic negative. Mr. JONES is a most admirable Chairman, and there could not possibly be a more desirable Vice-Chairman than Mr. CLAY — he probably saves the ratepayers a good deal by gratuitous legal advice. We should very much like to know the reason of yesterday’s assault on the chair and vice-chair.

In fact, according to The Irish Times’s own report on the meeting, given a couple of pages later in the same edition, the ‘one speaker’ – Mr. J. J. Lawler — had more than just the one argument: “People outside had been complaining very much that that institution was managed extravagantly, and that there ought to be a change in the chairmanship. . . . There had been no such thing as economy, and people outside were complaining of it very much.” On being re-elected, Mr. Jones expressed “his indebtedness to the permanent staff, commencing with Dr. Norman, for the manner in which they had supported him during the past twelve months in carrying out the orders of the board.”