Responding to Poverty in the West: 1891 – 1923
In 1891, Arthur J. Balfour, the British Chief Secretary for Ireland, established the Congested Districts Board to provide assistance to ‘congested districts’ – areas regarded as exceptionally poor and underdeveloped – along the western seaboard. The Board was given the power to amalgamate holdings; fund migration; encourage agriculture, fisheries and local industry; and improve housing and sanitation. In 1909, the area of the congested districts was extended to take in over one-third of the country and a quarter of the population. Following Irish independence, the Board was dissolved and its functions were assigned to the Land Commission.
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