Relieving Officer

With the passage of the Irish Poor Relief Extension Act 1847, and consequent introduction of Out Door Relief, the boards required additional staff to carry out this new service. Eight relief districts were established within the Ennistymon Union. A relief officer was appointed to each one and all applications were made to him. The duties of the relieving officer were outlined in 1st Report Irish Poor Law Commissioners 1848 "It will be his (relieving officer) duty forthwith to examine into the circumstances of every case by visiting the home of the applicant, by making all necessary inquiries into the state of health, the ability to work, and the means of such applicant; and he will have to report the result of such inquiries, in a prescribed form, to the Board of Guardians at the next meeting. Under ordinary circumstances, the amount of relief to be granted in each case will be fixed by the Board of Guardians exclusively."

In cases of urgent necessity the relieving officer had the authority to grant provisional relief but this had to be approved by the board of guardians at their next meeting.

The relieving officer had to keep detailed accounts of all money and material given in out door relief. The account had to be authenticated by the clerk and approved by the Board of Guardians. He was expected to reside in the relief district to which he was appointed "devoting his full time to the performance of the duties of his office." This in effect meant that he could not have any other trade, profession or business. The Poor Law Commissioners were trying to prevent a situation arising where the relieving officer’s objectivity and partiality could be compromised by customers or clients attempting to "conciliate his favour." They believed that the relieving officer should possess the same qualities as a policeman, "he ought to possess firmness of mind, so as to be enabled in the discharge of his duty to resist intimidation from whatever quarter it might come."

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