ESTIMATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES. - RAILWAYS.

Thursday, 21 June 1923

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 3 No. 31

First Page Previous Page Page of 17 Next Page Last Page

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I think it was on this Estimate that the question was raised about the publication of the agreement, and, if it is desired, I will leave the Estimate over until the agreement is circulated amongst members. I expect that they will have it within the next twenty-four hours.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  It does not directly affect the Estimate.

[2275]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Then, if there is no objection, I will go on. I move “That a sum not exceeding £34,708 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment for the year ending 31st March, 1924, for expenditure in respect of payments under the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, etc., and for other purposes connected with Irish Railways.” £20,000 already voted. I made a statement about this last November and I expect members have it within their recollection, so I suppose it is not necessary to say anything further about it now.

Mr. McGOLDRICK: Information on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  Zoom on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  On this subject I wish to draw attention to sub-head (c) in regard to the question of light railways. I am particularly anxious to deal with what I consider the inactivity of the Board of Works in relation to the light railways in Tirconnell. I would nearly be inclined to say that this inactivity is deliberate. I do not wish to stress things too much, but, as a Deputy from the area interested, I am very much concerned with the existing state of affairs there. I should perhaps state that the railwals in Tirconnell are light railways in the hands of two separate companies, each of which has its one hundred miles of line. About only one of these two companies I am going to say anything, and that is what is called the Londonderry and Lough Swilly line. This line is, as a parent line, fifteen miles in length, and it is owned by a Company with a capital of £138,000. Its extension to the branch lines was met by funds of the State and the whole capital worked by the Company is £735,000 of which £138,000 is only the capital of their own line. These lines were constructed under the Railway Act of 1896, and when that Act was passed it was considered, even by the British Government, that facilities were nowhere more necessary than in that portion of Tirconnell. These lines were then put in course of construction, but before that a contract had to be entered into and a covenant was signed on January 6th, 1898. By this covenant the British Treasury agreed to aid the construction of the Burtonport Extension Railway by a free grant and the Company agreed to maintain, work and manage it upon [2276] the conditions mentioned so as to develop the resources of the district for the development of which the railway was constructed. By this covenant the Railway Company bound themselves to run so many trains daily with a minimum of two trains each way daily and one train each way on Sundays. Of the hundred miles of railway there are two miles in the partitioned area and ninety-eight in the Free State with thirty-one stations. Its headquarters are in the Free State area and one looks at them more as a source of amusement than anything else. They are constructed of wood and corrugated iron, and the whole construction for a Company that runs £735,000 worth of railway is certainly very ludicrous. In 1918 the Company got a Bill through the British Parliament to enable them to erect buildings necessary for the management and control of the railways. In the interval certain things occurred and the responsibility in connection with facilities given were divided among a whole lot of parties, and now no one appears to take the responsibility. The Northern Parliament has refused, and the British Government have turned them down, and now they come to the Free State officials for authority and have questioned them as to how far they can intervene. If headquarters are to be constructed they must be constructed within the area of the Free State as there is no reason why they should be constructed at the other end because if anything attaches to the Boundaries these two miles of railway will be used only for emergency traffic. The headquarters should, therefore, be within the area which the railway is intended to serve. In 1915 they tried to cut down the train service despite the covenant.

For the last six weeks in Donegal we have been inflicted with a service which only provides one train each way daily. They asked in 1915 to cut down the service to two trains each day, and one on Sunday, and they did this on the pretext that they could not get sufficient coals, and that it was difficult to get skilled labour. They issued a time table cutting down those services, and ignoring the requirements of the community of this wide district, which comprises 100,000 people, with thirty-one towns on all sides of the line. They issued then [2277] a time table, but the Board of Works came at once on the scene, and prohibited the railway company from acting on it, by applying for an injunction. The case came up on the 24th April, 1915, in Dublin, before Mr. Justice Barton. After hearing the evidence, Mr. Justice Barton made a declaration that the defendant company were bound by the covenant to maintain, work, and manage the railway so as to develop the resources of the district between Letterkenny and Burtonport, for the development of which the railway was constructed. This covenant was only relied on as explanatory of Clause 13 by which “the defendants bound themselves for ever after, to run daily as many trains as would fully meet the requirements of the passenger and goods traffic from time to time, with a minimum of two trains each way daily, and one each way on Sundays, and that all such trains should be run at such times as would in the opinion of the Board of Works, afford all reasonable and requisite facilities for through as well as local passenger and goods traffic.” He gave costs against the Railway Company. An order was made, and that order is now sought to be avoided under the pretext that there is a strike of fitters. At that time the strike of fitters was one of the questions put forward for the restriction of train service. The General Manager, Mr. James Clewes, swore that they had seven fitters and that three had left. He also said there was a difficulty in getting copper. At the present time two, three, or four fitters continue to work, and a few of them are gone. That pretext was supposed to be good enough to play tricks on a Government that is not supposed to know as much about those things as the Board of Works of those days did. Recently a representative of the Board of Works went on a visit down there, and as a result ten thousand pounds was released to the company. These people, having put to their credit £12,000 of profit, and having a huge reserve fund, are able to pay a dividend of 7 per cent. when other companies are only paying small dividends. Nevertheless, they want to shut down the County of Tirconnell, and refuse reasonable facilities to the population there It is for the Board of Works here to remedy that, and for the Government, who should control the Board of Works. That should claim the [2278] attention of the Government, and the needs of the people should be considered.

Unless this serious question is going to be dealt with at once I do not see what is going to happen. The railways have paid, so they need not raise that question. The railways will pay at the present if they run them on the plans they had. These are the points I wish to put before the Government, and I hope they will take action so that the Donegal people will have those facilities of a good service given to them. Irrespective of any little difference the railway may have with its fitters it should keep to its agreement. I am almost convinced that the antecedents of this railway company, and its conduct with respect to the Donegal service are very bad, and, therefore, the Government should deal strongly with it.

CATHAL O SEANAIN: Information on Cathal O'Shannon  Zoom on Cathal O'Shannon  Táim ar aon inntinn leis an teachta a labhairt. Thug sé cúntas fior duínn. Níl aon dabht nách d-tabh-arfainn an comhlucht san, cothrom na féinne don chontae sin. Na daoine, gur dheineadar an docair doibh, bhí síad 'na gcomhnuidhe 'san Saorstát.

Deputy McGoldrick has given the history and statutory obligations of this company, and I would like to join with him in asking the Government and the Board of Works to go very carefully indeed into this whole question. So far as my information goes Deputy McGoldrick's complaint is very well founded, indeed. There have been continuous complaints of this kind, and it does seem unless a satisfactory explanation can be given by the Board now, that there is a certain amount of slackness on the part of the Board. This is the Letterkenny and Burtonport Section, and it is universally proved that when there is trouble of any kind, and it is at all plausible to cut down the service, it is cut down on that portion of the railway. It has a length of 50 miles more or less. Even rolling stock and that kind of thing have often been transferred from that part of the company's railway to a different part. The position is this. Things were not going at all satisfactorily there, and in 1917 I think, in virtue of certain powers of the Act mentioned by Deputy McGoldrick, an inquiry was made into the working of this section of the line. As a result of that inquiry made by the Board of Works, the gentleman who is Manager of what is called the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway, Mr. [2279] Hunt, was made Receiver or Manager of the Letterkenny and Burtonport Section.

He has power to act independently. He is still manager of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway. He is Receiver on this section of the line, and still Manager of the Lough Swilly section. As I have stated, so far as my information goes, the policy of himself and his Directors is to serve the interests of certain sections of the community, and to do a big disservice to certain other sections of the community. They are biassed, and undoubtedly there is a bias, rather in favour of what I may call, without any disrespect, the Six County section of the community, and of those on the other side of the border who support the Six County idea of things in Ireland. That, I think, is grossly unfair. Mr. Hunt, so far as my recollection goes, is a gentleman who has been the cause of very considerable trouble on the railways both with his workers and with others, and he is a gentleman who requires very careful watching, indeed. I have no hesitation in publicly calling the attention of the Minister to Mr. Hunt and to his friends in this company. The people, whose area is badly served by the operations of the policy of Mr. Hunt and his friends, happen to be people who, when there were strenuous times in this country three or four years ago during the period of the Anglo-Irish war, took their share, and a pretty fair share in that struggle. Now, I am told, on pretty good authority, that Mr. Hunt at least rather resents that kind of thing. I am told that his manager at least has singled out certain officials, stationmasters and others who are well known for their support of the Saorstát, and on the least pretext has victimised them in one way or another. I am told, too, that one pretty high official has gone so far as to say, on one occasion, that he was not going to keep this portion of the railway open in order to serve the Free State, because the Free State was not going to last, and that he was not going to help to continue its ignominious existence. I think a company and a Director of which these things are commonly, and, as I am informed on pretty good authority, truthfully reported do want some watching.

Under the 1896 Act the Government of the Saorstát, and the Board have power to make an inquiry into the working [2280] of this railway to see whether the complaints that are now being made are justified or not. Our position is that they are justified, that discrimination is made against a certain section of the community, particularly the Saorstát section of the community up there as against other sections. We do not want to introduce in any sense anything that would not be creditable, but we think that things are being done there that are not creditable. We think it is not fair or right, where the public funds of the Saorstát are being used, that there should not be a fair deal so far as the community is concerned. I would urge on the Ministry that it is about time the powers given them under the 1896 Act were again made use of, and that another inquiry should be made now. If that were done it might help to remedy the state of affairs prevailing in that area for some years past.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I would urge upon the Minister responsible that where the funds of the Free State Government are being voted to railway companies that he should interest himself if he can, and if he cannot, he should use his influence as far as he possibly can to see that open competitive examinations are instituted in the case of all railway companies, small or large, where public funds are being given away. It is customary, I think, in the case of some of those companies, one of which has already been referred to, adopt the back-door method of entry to the service, and wherever public funds are spent there should be a fair and reasonable opportunity given to all the citizens to stand on equal terms for any position in any service in any company of that kind. I want also to draw attention of the Minister again to the position of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway and to its dealing with the Arigna Coalfields. I understand that the Directors of this particular Railway Company, some of whom have interest in other mines, are restricting, to a considerable extent, the facilities for the export of coal out of the Arigna area. They have laid down that there must be a maximum number of ten waggons per day from the Arigna extension, out of that particular area; and at certain parts of the year very considerable restriction is put upon the output, and my information is that the people who are endeavouring to develop the resources of [2281] the Arigna mines have, on many occasions, lost many big contracts because they were not able to carry out these contracts for lack of transport facilities. I happened to be speaking to one of the owners some time ago, and he said that a new seam was ready to be opened up in the Arigna mines, where 200 extra men could be employed if anything like reasonable transport facilities were provided by the Cavan and Leitrim Company. I contend that as this Company is in receipt of Votes of money from this Government, the Government should insist on this particular aspect of the case and do all it really can to get reasonable facilities for the export of coal out of that particular area. The charge for the limited amount taken out of it at the present is very excessive and is a very considerable restriction upon the value of the coal in the market. When the Arigna extension was first set up, it was set up because the British Government at the time were unable or had not the necessary amount of shipping to bring coal from South Wales and other places, and because of that necessity they agreed to make an extension close to the Arigna pithead. Now, as far as one can see from observation, the extension is absolutely useless and probably was intended to be useless by the people who decided upon the project in the beginning. There are people who hold the view that if there is no chance of proper facilities by rail then, at any rate, some attempt should be made by the Government to give connection between Arigna and Limerick by water, and that can only be done by opening up the Lough Allen Canal as an alternative to better facilities than the railway offers. The point is, there is the very serious complaint about the output of the mine, involving as it does the employment of a large number of men—and I am informed that a good many more men could be employed if given proper facilities—and this matter should receive the immediate attention of the Minister responsible.

Now we have been told a good deal about the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Company. Deputy McGoldrick has spoken from personal knowledge and practical experience of the people who control that railway in that area. I desire to deal with it from the point of view of reliable information given to me [2282] by representatives of the men who on many occasions suffered through the tyranny and the irresponsibility of the people who control this particular railway. Now the Letterkenny and Burtonport Section was closed down during the Black and Tan regime because of the raids and activities of the I. R. A. in that particular quarter. And it seems to be assumed, perhaps rightly by a good many people, that it was because of the attacks delivered in that particular area during the period of the Anglo-Irish war that the authorities now responsible for the administration of this particular section are now endeavouring to get a little of their own back. It is a notorious fact that wherever trouble developed on the line the first portion to suffer was the Letterkenny and Burtonport section. It is here the first curtailment of service takes place. The engines and rolling-stock belonging to the line and purchased out of public funds, are taken away, and it is now proposed to take them for the purpose of giving a service to the area served by the Londonderry and Lough Swilly system. I do not think that should be allowed to go on. The area served by the Derry and Carndonagh section and the Derry and Letterkenny section contains evidently a large section of people dear to the heart of Mr. Hunt and the Directors of the Lough Swilly Company. Hence their requirements receive first consideration at the expense of the people served by the Burtonport line. Now under Section 7 of the Railways Act of 1896 the Free State Government has power to institute an immediate inquiry into the working of the Letterkenny and Burtonport Railway, and they can insist upon the Company running the prescribed number of trains, two each way per day. It is suspected that the activities of the people in the Burtonport section during the Black and Tan war influenced the policy of the management and directorate of the Lough Swilly Company ever since.

There is also a grave suspicion that there was a strong desire on the part of certain responsible people administering the Londonderry and Lough Swilly line to assist the Irregulars, in the hope that by smashing the Free State the British power would be restored. Station-masters and others, known to be friendly [2283] towards the Free State administration, have been reduced in salary and status on the slightest pretext. A responsible official has been heard to declare at one stage that “the Free State would only last a few months and he was not going to help to keep the railway open to prolong its ignominious existence.” It might I suggest be well to inquire as to whether it is a fact that the gentleman acting as receiver on behalf of the Board of Works, tours the line under the influence of drink, insists on being supplied with food by station-masters, and then swears at them if it is not to his liking. That is a very serious statement which I make upon the responsibility and authority of people who can prove it. In general, through his correspondence and conversation, he acts in the same way as a British officer in India would deal with the “natives,” and I ask if this attitude is likely to promote industrial peace or efficient service in this line built by public money. Now, some people think that this particular gentleman and those officials who work under his direction, being responsible to the Free State Government their conduct should be inquired into in these matters, and that if they are not prepared to accommodate themselves to the requirements of the Free State which provides the money for the greater portion of the line, the Government should take the only alternative open to them and appoint some one else to carry out their work, and who would be willing to abide by their directions.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  What the Deputy stated with regard to the Cavan and Leitrim Railway in regard to the service to the Arigna mines, where a certain amount of information was gathered some time ago by a body appointed by what I was going to call an earlier edition of this Dáil, it is a fact that some of the natural resources of the country there which could be economically worked are now being held back from adequate working because of the lack of transport facilities. That is a fact. It is a fact, also, that some of us saw on a certain occasion very large coal dumps for which orders had been received at prices that were remunerative, but there were no trucks to carry the [2284] coal, and even if trucks had been made available for the carrying of the coal there were no locomotives to draw the trucks. This is a railway that has been supported very largely out of public funds, and I think this is a clear case, probably one of the most glaring cases, of the way in which a railway system of the country is holding back, very seriously holding bask, the economic development of this country. That leads to a further matter, that the entire railway system of this country needs reorganisation. It is primarily with a view to eliciting some information in regard to that reorganisation that I rose to speak. There have been many rumours, many public statements, semiofficial and wholly unofficial, indicating that certain railway companies in Ireland had come together with regard to regrouping and reorganisation—amalgamation in a word.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Might I just draw attention to the fact that this matter of a general discussion on railway policy has been, by understanding, deferred pending the production of the arrangement with the railway companies. I suggest it would not be wise to enter into that discussion on this Vote, because it is a very big question which is purposely left aside on this Vote for the Light Railways.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I feel the justice of that, but I had not gathered that such was the understanding. I am quite prepared, however, to leave the matter over if that would be to the general convenience of the Dáil, or to any particular Deputy. I do not wish to press it now, except to say that some of the matters that have been raised here to-day hinge upon that larger issue. I know for a fact, from independent examinations that have been made, and very exhaustively made, that the question touched upon by Deputy Davin in respect of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway, the bad working of the Railway and the insufficiency of its means, are holding back the economic development of the region of the country that it traverses. That problem, a large problem, cannot be adequately dealt with although touched upon in this debate, until we get a larger issue. I really rose to speak to the larger issue, not having gathered the understanding that it should [2285] be postponed. I should like to have a ruling, when that larger issue is raised that we shall not be precluded from touching upon matters that are dealt with here on this Vote. Perhaps we are now edging into the subject crab-wise, but I did not understand that these matters should not be raised on this Vote.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  May I urge the seriousness of the situation with regard to Arigna by stating that I have been reliably informed at any rate that an English syndicate is endeavouring at the moment to get hold of this coalfield. That is a serious thing, if it is true. In fact, I heard other Deputies referring to this some time ago.

ASSISTANT MINISTER for INDUSTRY and COMMERCE (Mr. Whelehan): Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  As the Minister for Industry and Commerce is more or less concerned in the matter of the Tirconaill Railways to which Deputy McGoldrick refers, and as it is a complaint of inactivity on the part of those responsible, I should like just to state that we have not been altogether so inactive as Deputy McGoldrick seems to be under the impression that we have been. We have been in communication for weeks with the people in control of the lines in Tirconaill to which he refers. They are running one train each way daily at present, and the case they made as to why they could only run one train daily in each direction did seem to us, in all its circumstances, a reasonable case. The Deputy dissents from that, but he did not see the case put up. I have seen it as late as yesterday afternoon.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Will you let us have the information?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I am letting you have the facts of the position as they stand. Speaking from memory, a letter —the last letter, I think—that we wrote to the management of the railway line was to the effect that that service of one train daily in each direction could only be tolerated until the 30th June, that is ten days more to run. Since the 11th June, seeing that the circumstances had improved, we have already communicated with the Company stating that as soon as possible and before the 30th June [2286] a minimum of two trains per day in each direction must run for the accommodation of the people in the area served by that line. That has been already done. As far as the Ministry are concerned, we have not been so inactive as the Deputy may think. As to the reasonableness of the case, he admits that they had very few fitters during the labour trouble which did exist and which, I am glad to know, he did not deny. He said “alleged labour trouble,” but he has not maintained that there has been no labour trouble up there. There has been. Several of the engines have got out of condition for working and it, naturally, will take some time to have these re-conditioned. That is the position, and that is why they have been allowed until the 30th June to have the minimum of service restored. These are the facts of the case as far as we are concerned. They have not been allowed to do just what they please, and I do hold that the Deputy is altogether incorrect if he thinks that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been less active than the old Board of Works. It certainly has not been less active, and I submit that if the Deputy had seen the file of correspondence which has passed between the Ministry and the Railway Management he might perhaps come to the conclusion that we had been much more active.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  Deputy Davin did make a serious charge—and I am sure Deputy Davin would not without good cause have made a serious charge—against an official of which, I think, some cognisance should be taken by the Minister, and some kind of answer given, because the charge is an exceedingly serious one.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The statement as to our representative on the Londonderry and Lough Swilly line is a strange one. We have no such representative. One of our officers from headquarters recently went to Derry to examine the accounts, but he did not go on the line, so that he must have been an official of some other organisation, perhaps from Deputy Figgis's or from Deputy Davin's, that gentleman who was under the influence of drink.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I did not hear the last part of your statement.

[2287]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  No such man from the Board of Works was there, and we ought to get the name.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  May I ask for the repetition of the last part of the President's statement?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Either a representative of your own or of Deputy Figgis's —not one of mine.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  Why should I be dragged into this?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  You thought it a very serious statement, and I suppose it is. It is just as serious as it is true. It is either true or false. It is false in so far as the Board of Works is concerned, as far as my information goes, and I am entitled to know the name of the person.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I agree that the President should have been furnished with the name. I merely referred to the matter because the Deputy had made a very serious charge that ought to be given cognisance to.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I am just as well able as Deputy Figgis to realise whether it is serious or not, and I do not want to be lectured by Deputy Figgis as to whether a statement is a serious one or not. I have just as much responsibility here and, perhaps, a good deal more than Deputy Figgis, and I am entitled to know the name of the person, if there is such a person.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: Information on Cathal O'Shannon  Zoom on Cathal O'Shannon  On a point of information, will the Minister say who is the receiver of the Letterkenny-Burtonport Railway, appointed in 1917 under the 1896 Act, Section 7, and what is his relationship to the Saorstát?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I do not know.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: Information on Cathal O'Shannon  Zoom on Cathal O'Shannon  The moneys that this railway is receiving are being received by virtue of the Act of 1896, and by virtue of a Clause of that Act a receiver or manager was appointed to control the working of the section in 1917. If it is the fact that the receiver or manager is not in any way responsible to the Saorstát well and good, we know where we are.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  On a point of personal explanation, I can assure the President [2288] and the Dáil that there is no collusion between Deputy Figgis and myself on this matter. I tell the President, who has a very happy knack of turning down these questions, that he cannot turn them down by saying he contradicts them, without giving some explanation in support of that. I think I am entitled to that.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  If it comes to that, that I have got to go up to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway to identify every person who comes off it under the influence of drink and to say that that person is not an official of the Board of Works, I say you are asking me to do too much.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I suggest that you have officials behind you on your right-hand side who can give the information.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I have all the information at my disposal, and I want the name of the person if he is in the employment of the Board of Works.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The whole position has surely been clearly stated by the Deputy, that Mr. Hunt, manager of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway, was appointed under the powers of the Board of Works as the receiver of the Letterkenny and Burtonport Railway. He was re-appointed. He is still acting as the manager of one railway and the receiver of the other railway, and, of course, being the receiver he is the receiver on behalf of the Government.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I suggest that you ask the officials on your right-hand side whether that is correct or not.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Whether that is right or not, if he has been appointed receiver, he is not an official of the Board of Works.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  That is not an answer.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  To whom is he responsible for his management of the line?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I should say to the Court, if he has been appointed as a receiver. It is the Court which usually appoints the receiver or the company itself.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: Information on Cathal O'Shannon  Zoom on Cathal O'Shannon  The Board of Works had an inquiry into the mismanagement of this section of the railway [2289] in 1917. The gentleman who conducted the inquiry was a Mr. Tatlow. As a result of that inquiry, Mr. Hunt was appointed receiver or manager of this section of the railway.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  He is not the receiver of a bankrupt line; he is the receiver of a prosperous line.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  What would the Board of Works have to do with the appointment of a receiver on a prosperous line?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Your predecessors acted under the law you are still acting under.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The law we are acting under here is that there is a certain liability in respect of certain works that have been done. As far as we are concerned this liability is down here in the shape of a Vote for a certain sum of money and we are bound to that. We have frequently taken action in the past to keep this Company up to its obligations. They have suffered within the past 12 months. There is no railway company I know of that has not suffered, and that would not be entitled to claim that they could not have been kept up to their obligations.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That is not the issue.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  There are a number of issues, and this is one of them. It is a much more important issue to us and the public than the fact that a certain person was under the influence of drink.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Is it a much more more important issue than the proper management of a line? This manager, it is alleged, has used his power on one section of the line to the detriment of the people served by the other section of the line.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  If the manager of a railway company is found or seen under the influence of drink it is not my responsibility to deal with him. If it is held that it is, it is another matter. The manager of this railway company, Mr. Hunt, is not an official of the Board of Works.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  He is responsible to the Government for the proper management of the line.

[2290]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  He is not, that I am aware of, at any rate, I suppose I can get away from Mr. Hunt now.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I do not think so. I think the President should give an assurance that he will inquire into the relations between this manager and the Government.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  That is quite a different thing. It is rather a serious thing to suggest that an official of the Board of Works was under the influence of drink.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I was not accusing him I ask you to produce the exact wording, or the shorthand notes and say if these are the exact words.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I would suggest that this debate be conducted with decorum and in the ordinary way.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I am sorry if I misinterpreted what the Deputy stated. I understood the Deputy to state that a Board of Works official on that line was under the influence of drink.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I read this carefully: “It might be well to inquire as to whether it is a fact that the gentleman acting as a receiver on behalf of the Board of Works tours the line under the influence of drink.” I have it carefully down.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  What does it mean?

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  You put a wrong construction on everything I say. You can draw your own conclusions.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  You will have to explain what you mean. I don't understand it. I understood it to mean that an official of the Board of Works was touring the line under the influence of drink—that that was the allegation. I am not going to say any more about it.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I read out the words.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I have explained that the Board of Works has taken action with regard to this line on which a good deal of damage has been done within the last 12 months. Deputy Whelehan has explained the other part. [2291] I am not aware that Arigna coal has been held up, but I will inquire into it. I understand there is only a trifling amount of coal mined there, that the place has been flooded for 15 months, and that the company is not dealing with a very considerable amount of coal.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  The point of criticism with regard to Arigna is this: it is perfectly true as I understand from the latest facts that a great deal of coal is not being mined. The reason, if I am correctly informed, and it is some time since I was there, is that there are no transport facilities to remove the coal.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The converse is usually the case, that the transport company provides facilities if there is any business.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  They have neither trucks nor locomotives for them.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I think that in an assembly like this before a charge is made against any individual who is not present to defend himself, if any definite charge can be established, that it should be made to whatever Minister is held to be responsible for the conduct of that individual. In elementary justice I think that ought to be done before anyone is named in the National Assembly, and charged with things which on due investigation, may be found to have no foundation in fact. I am not now going to refer to any particular case, but the Ceann Comhairle some time ago ruled, and I think, ruled very wisely, that before one Deputy could make a charge against another Deputy, who was present to defend himself, he should be prepared to establish the charge and substantiate it. Now, a fortiori before any Deputy here would name a person who was not a member of this Assembly and charge him with conduct which may be considered criminal——

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  On a point of explanation.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I will not be interrupted.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Did I make a definite charge?

[2292]Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I will not be interrupted. I have not referred to the Deputy.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  May I ask for a ruling. Did I make a definite charge? I have re-read the language I used carefully. Did the Minister receive any communication from any source with regard to this particular aspect of the case?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I did not, and I would like to know what the charge is that the Deputy has read. He does not understand it, I do not understand it, and I am sure the Dáil does not understand it.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce did he receive any communications with regard to this particular case.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I said I would not be interrupted. I must again say that I think it is not justice. If there are facts which can be substantiated against any person, and that person is responsible to any Ministry, the facts ought to be brought to the notice of the Ministry, and the person responsible brought to a sense of his duty. I do not think it is proper to have the person named here first in this National Assembly, publicly, especially if the Press take notice of this matter. The man's good name suffers, and perhaps, may suffer unjustly, and even if afterwards the things are not found to be facts at all, that never reaches the public. The injustice has been done. I am not now referring to anyone, and I do not want to raise any name, and I do not suggest that any Deputy who mentioned a name to-day wished to do an injustice, but there is a very obvious possibility of the injustice being done. In regard to the question I have been asked I will answer it straight. I have no information whatever of any complaint coming about anybody from that district to the Board of Works. I have no information about it.

Mr. McGOLDRICK: Information on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  Zoom on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  I merely wish to state here that I have not the slightest notion at any time of making personal charges about anybody. I made charges against the actions of a company and the inaction of our Department, and I confined it solely and exclusively to that. With each of the gentlemen I am personally acquainted. They are all gentlemen [2293] in every sense of the word, but that does not deter me from doing my duty to the community who are suffering hardship owing to the fact that these gentlemen are not doing their duty and not discharging their duty to the country.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: Information on Cathal O'Shannon  Zoom on Cathal O'Shannon  They may be all gentlemen, but they could take action against the forces of this country when this country's forces were fighting.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  On a point of personal explanation——

Mr. DANIEL McCARTHY: Information on Daniel McCarthy  Zoom on Daniel McCarthy  On a point of order, I want to know if the Standing Orders will be carried out? How many times is the Deputy to speak?

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Three times on a motion.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  On a point of personal explanation, allowed for by the Standing Orders, I wish to say that as my name has been mentioned that I subscribe fully and heartily to what has been said by the Assistant Minister for Industry and Commerce in this matter. The only reason I rose here was, charges had been made and I assume that such charges being made, if there was rebutting evidence to offer, it should be taken up by the Ministry for Industry and Commerce, on behalf of that person. It was not to press the charge home, but to evoke such rebutting evidence in the interests of the very case that the Assistant Minister for Industry and Commerce has made.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Can we have the name of the person who wrote the document? A gentleman is charged with being under the influence of drink. I do not know him, and I never heard of him before. Some person charges him. I think in justice the name of the person who charges him should be disclosed.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I have stated it may be well to enquire whether it is a fact that a gentleman acting as receiver under the Board of Works tours the line, etc. The Minister denies there is any such person. He says he knows of no such person acting as receiver or on behalf of the Government. I have already told him, and he knows it perfectly well, that I do not want to be disrespectful to any person, [2294] and I would be the last person to make a charge against anybody in this manner where there is not good reason. I suggest, to say the least of it, that the President has treated me very unfairly in regard to answers given to fair criticism. He can ask the Ministers on his left, and the officials responsible, if there is a receiver acting on behalf of the Board of Works for the administration of that line, and ascertain for himself who he is. That is not an unreasonable request.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I have asked for the name of the person who has made a charge against Mr. Hunt. I think Mr. Davin should give that name. If it be Deputy Davin who makes that charge, I am satisfied, but if it be some other person, I think, in justice to Mr. Hunt, he should know the name of the person who has made this charge.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I did not mention Mr. Hunt's name.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I think that Deputy Davin ought not to take advantage of the privilege of the Dáil to make a personal charge. It may sometimes be necessary in the public interest to do it, but where it is done unnecessarily there is, if I may say so without offence, a certain element of meanness attaching to such a use of the privileged position a Deputy occupies in the Dáil. People ought not in general to make any statement in the Dáil that could not be made outside the Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle at this stage resumed the Chair.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  What is the point raised in regard to the Standing Orders?

Mr. McCARTHY: Information on Daniel McCarthy  Zoom on Daniel McCarthy  Deputy Davin has spoken about ten times and Deputy Figgis has spoken several times. There is no use in having Standing Orders if they are not carried out.

Mr. HENNESSY: Information on Michael Joseph Hennessy  Zoom on Michael Joseph Hennessy  That is a small point.

Mr. McCARTHY: Information on Daniel McCarthy  Zoom on Daniel McCarthy  Deputy Hennessy says that it is a small point, but if he were on the Committee framing Standing Orders, sitting morning after morning at the work, he would not think it was a small point.

[2295]Mr. EVERETT: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  Deputy McCarthy has spoken four times.

Mr. McCARTHY: Information on Daniel McCarthy  Zoom on Daniel McCarthy  I have not.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  There is not much point in asking that the Standing Orders should be carried out. They should be carried out.

Mr. HENNESSY: Information on Michael Joseph Hennessy  Zoom on Michael Joseph Hennessy  I did not say anything on the Estimates, and therefore I do not suppose that I am breaking any rules or regulations. I want merely to draw attention to the state of the railway service between Mallow, Mitchelstown, and Waterford. There has been practically no train service on that line for the last ten or twelve months.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That has nothing to do with the Estimate.

Mr. HENNESSY: Information on Michael Joseph Hennessy  Zoom on Michael Joseph Hennessy  I thought we were dealing with the railways?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Not at all. Shall I now put Vote 12—Railways?

[2296]Mr. HENNESSY: Information on Michael Joseph Hennessy  Zoom on Michael Joseph Hennessy  I understood I was in order in discussing Railways now.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  When I rise to put a motion I should not be interrupted, and if a Deputy wishes to speak on the Estimates, he should have the Estimates before him.

Mr. HENNESSY: Information on Michael Joseph Hennessy  Zoom on Michael Joseph Hennessy  I have them.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Deputy is late now. I am really straining a point in replying when I am putting a motion.

Question put and agreed to.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  If the Deputies are agreeable I will now move the adjournment of the Dáil until 3 o'clock to-morrow. The next Vote that could be taken up is in connection with the Ministry of Local Government, and that may take some time.

The Dáil adjourned at 7.47. p.m.


Last Updated: 16/05/2011 19:48:35 First Page Previous Page Page of 17 Next Page Last Page