Local Government Board for Ireland

The Local Government Board for Ireland was an agency of the Dublin Castle administration that liaised with the various local authorities in Ireland. It was created in 1872 and lasted until Partition in 1921–22.


The Board was created under the Local Government Board (Ireland) Act 1872, mirroring the Local Government Board created for England and Wales in 1871.[1] Upon its establishment, the Board took over the functions of the Irish Poor Law Commissioners with respect to Boards of Guardians of Poor Law Unions, and also dealt with urban municipal government (town commissioners and borough corporations). Its headquarters were in the Custom House, Dublin. There were five Board members: two political ex-officio members, the Chief Secretary for Ireland (who was President) and the Under-Secretary for Ireland; and three permanent technocratic members, including the Vice-President and the medical commissioner (a qualified physician for addressing public health issues).[2][3] The first three permanent members were the three final Poor Law Commissioners. Generally the Vice-President was in effective charge with the political members absent; but in Arthur Balfour's presidency there were tensions.[4] Dublin Castle tried to maintain a balance of Catholic and Protestant Board members.[5]

The Congested Districts Board for Ireland was set up separately in 1891 to deal specifically with areas with large numbers of small uneconomic farms.

After the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, the Local Government Board dealt with the new county and district councils, including the initial recommendations for county boundary adjustments under the 1898 act.[6] Many local councils were nationalist-controlled and these frequently resented the Board, regarding it as bureaucratic and imperialist.[7]


County and district councils controlled by Sinn Féin after the 1920 local elections bypassed the Local Government Board in favour of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic's Department of Local Government, with W. T. Cosgrave as Minister.[8][9] On 25 May 1921, near the end of the Republic's guerrilla war, the Custom House was burned out by Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, destroying most of the Board's records.[10][11]

After Partition, in Northern Ireland the Board's functions passed to the Department of Home Affairs in 1921 and the Department of Health and Local Government on its creation in 1944. In the Irish Free State the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 formally transferred the Board's functions to the Department of Local Government and Public Health,[12] whose successor, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, is still based in the Custom House.[13]



  • Local Government Board for Ireland (1873). First Report. Command papers. Vol. C.794. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  • "[35 & 36 Vict c.69] Local Government Board (Ireland) Act 1872". The Public General Acts. Vol. 35 & 36 Victoria. Edward Bret Ince for the Law Journal. 1872. pp. 302–304.
  • "Local Government Board, Ireland". The Statutory Rules and Orders Revised, being the Statutory Rules and Orders (Other Than Those of a Local, Personal Or Temporary Character) in force on December 31, 1903. Vol. Index (4th ed.). H.M. Stationery Office. 1904. p. 382. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  • Crossman, Virginia (31 October 2006). "The poor law system in nineteenth century Ireland". Politics, Pauperism and Power in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland. Manchester University Press. pp. 16–26. ISBN 9780719073779. Retrieved 14 October 2016.


  1. ^ "Local Government Board (Ireland) Bill – [Bill 90] – Committee". HC Deb. 22 July 1872. vol 212 cc1587–8. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  2. ^ Carroll, Patrick (2 October 2006). Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation. University of California Press. pp. 136–137. ISBN 9780520932807. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  3. ^ Local Government Board (Ireland) Act, 1872, sec.2
  4. ^ Crossman 2006, pp.16–17
  5. ^ Crossman 2006, p.18
  6. ^ Clancy, John J (1899). A handbook of local government in Ireland : containing an explanatory introduction to the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 : together with the text of the act, the orders in Council, and the rules made thereunder relating to county council, rural district council, and guardian's elections : with an index. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker. pp. 44, 47, 151, 167, 232–236, 276. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  7. ^ Bromage, Arthur W. (1941). "Central Control of Local Authorities in Ireland". Public Administration Review. Wiley. 1 (2): 190–200. doi:10.2307/973084. ISSN 0033-3352. JSTOR 973084.
  8. ^ Jackson, Alvin (16 March 2010). Ireland 1798–1998: War, Peace and Beyond. John Wiley & Sons. p. 250. ISBN 9781444324150. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Department of Local Government – Break with English Local Government Board". First Dáil debates. Oireachtas. 17 September 1920. No.17 p.20 cc.221–222. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Sinn Fein Fire Dublin Customs House". Sacramento Union. 26 May 1921. pp. 1, 5. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  11. ^ "The Custom House". Dublin Docklands. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924: Schedule". Irish Statute Book. Third Part. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Custom House Visitor Centre". Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. Retrieved 13 October 2016.

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