State of pier at Newcastle raised in the House of Commons
From the News Letter of June 1896
South Down Irish Parliamentary MP, Mr Michael McCartan, raised a number of questions in the House of Commons during this week in 1896.
His first question was directed to the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He asked whether his attention had been called to “the state of the ruins of the pier and harbour works” at Newcastle Co Down.
“Is he aware that Newcastle occupies a central position on the coast between Strangford Lough and Carlingford, and is the most suitable place for a harbour or refuge or safety?”
Mr McCartan added: “Will he inquire as to the necessity for the erection of a safe harbour works there in the interest of the lives of the fishermen who are now exposed to great danger in pursuit of avocation?”Replying to Mr McCartan’s questions, Gerald Balfour, remarked: “The attention of the Irish government has frequently been directed to the condition of Newcastle Harbour, and as recently as February last certain proposals were made on the subject to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, by whom the recommendations of the Irish government were approved.
“These proposals were – that in consideration of an Exchequer free grant of £5,000 in aid of the reconstruction of the harbour, the Grand Jury shall contribute the balance of the cost of the undertaking, estimated at £8,000, to be obtained by means of a loan from the Board of Works, repayable within seven years at four per cent interest; and it was stipulated that the Grand Jury should admit ownership and pledge themselves to keep the harbour in proper repair if reconstructed.”
Mr Balfour concluded: “The proposals of the government were before the Grand Jury at the late spring assizes, held in March, when that body declined to admit ownership, or pledge itself to maintain the reconstructed harbour.”
Mr McCartan also addressed a question concerning Mew Island of Donaghadee in north Co Down to the president of the Board of Trade. He asked if the board was “considering the extremely important position” of the island “at the entrance to Belfast Lough, and the very large number of ships and steamers which pass it daily” and specifically the “desirability” of having “telephonic communication” established with the mainland. Mr Charles Ritchie replied: “I presume the honourable member refers to the electrical communication between the lighthouse and the mainland? A Royal Commission is at present sitting to inquire what lighthouses should be electrically connected with the shore.”